Australia, Community

A Natural Wonder (Two Days in Tin Can Bay)

Continuing the travel journal:

Whilst we were hand feeding the dolphins at the Barnacles Boat Ramp, one of the staff suggested we go out to Rainbow Beach and visit the Carlo Sandblow, a natural wonder.

Family 2013 184

What is that, we wondered? The mind boggled, but as Rainbow Beach has a bit of a reputation for being a very “cool” place to go, we had to investigate. It is really quite embarrassing to say that I have lived in Queensland most of my life, yet never have I set my foot on the sands of Rainbow beach…. ooops. Now wait a minute, I tell a lie…. If you count the Teewah Coloured Sands as being almost as cool as Rainbow, being located a few hundred metres from the official Rainbow beach site, then yes I have been there. If you don’t, well I am pretty uncool, until now….

Rainbow beach is approximately 20 minutes from Tin Can Bay on the outer coast of the peninsula that provides the protective wing for the calm waters of Tin Can Bay. Mecca for the surfies, ferals, saronged, thonged chicks, and the Hilux driving 4 WD enthusiasts. Rainbow beach is the gateway to Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world and World Heritage Area. (See more info on Fraser below*)

Family 2013 231

But I am getting a little ahead of  myself.

My very uncool family car with decorative roofracks is not 4WD and could not cope no more with beach driving than a lizard could cope with flying, so Rainbow was as close as we got to Fraser today, and thank god for that. Being Easter, the hordes and I do  mean that literally, of 4WD maniacs were everywhere. There was a line up of twenty cars waiting to fill up with fuel and supplies, at the last garage before the ferry departure point to  Fraser, and it was a hub of activity. Fishing rods, bait, fuel was flying out the door. The gas station owner must have become a millionaire that day. What did I purchase? Nothing but directions to the Carlo Sandblow.

But before we did that, we drove through the township, and being Good Friday, shops and facilities are always closed. Conversely, or perversely, some might say, in Rainbow beach, everything was open. People right left and centre. On the beach itself, there is a surf lifesavers club and public toilet facilities. Apparently you can walk along the beach to see the Teerwah Coloured Sands, but the mercury had reached ” foot blisteringly hot”, so that was out of the question.

Instead we followed the directions and the signposts to the Carlo Sandblow, passing by luxurious apartments with million dollar views of the beach and water.After a few minutes of encircling a hill, we reached the Cooloola Water tower and adjacent parking lot. No sand within sight, but people were getting out of cars and making their way along a track in some dry heathland/sclerophyll forest, so we followed: what sheep we are!

After 5- 10 minutes of walking, we were getting quite cynical about this natural “wonder”,  but trekked on, despite the complaints of Miss 13 who could think of better ways to spend an afternoon, preferably one that involves technological options!!! I was, however, enjoying the forest stroll, and stopped to take a few photos. Suddenly Miss 13, who had run on ahead out of sheer boredom, let out a cry of excitement. Mum, you have to see this… it is awesome.

And without warning, hidden behind the foliage, was the Mini “Sahara desert” we had been searching for….

Tin Can BayCarlo1

The Carlo Sand blow covers 15 hectares and was named by Captain Cook, after one of his deck hands, Carlo, in 1770,  so was definitely present 250 years ago. Carlo would certainly have been able to spot this feature from the poop deck!

Kids (big and small) absolutely love to run or toboggan down the sandhills, and it can be a great fitness activity, if you are into soft impact exercise. One certainly shed a few kilos of fat and fluid walking the length of what looks like an alien moonscape in the middle of sub tropical beach/woodland.

The Sandblow was enormous, looked like it was spreading and swallowing trees with each passing year, and it was hot. In fact, we soon realised it was what we could see all the way across the inlet at Tin Can Bay. The heat of the sand was a bit of a problem, you could not stand still with bare feet. We simply had to remove our shoes, or else they would have become completely filled with sand. Even on an Autumn day, the heat reflected off the sand was fierce. Hubby was impressed, and it takes quite a bit to impress him. ( he is so not a sightseeing tourist).Tincanbay2

The 360 degree views are spectacular, to the East has magnificent views of the ocean where one can often see the migrating whales from August to October. You can also see Double Island point and the orange colour of the Teewah coloured sands, which we were allowed to collect, as children, to the south.  Tin Can bay lies to the West.   When the thermals are right, you will often see Hang Gliders taking off and landing at this beautiful piece of Nature’s sculpture.Family 2013 243

This was really something to see, such a weird thing, and Miss 13 loved it…Next time we visit, I think we will try to approach it from the beach side, although:

A website also offers this warning to tourists:
Keep well clear of cliffs and edges. They are unstable and may collapse without warning, resulting in serious injury. Do not attempt to access the beach from the sandblow. Supervise children at all times.

The beach can be a treacherous place at the best of times, yet people take risks, as you see in the clips below….Unnecessary risks is something I hope I will only have to ponder about.

See Related Posts  about Day 1 and 2 Tin Can Bay Holiday here:

More pictures of the Carlo Sand Blow here:

* (Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding natural universal values. It features complex dune systems that are still evolving, and an array of rare and unique features in this sand environment, including dune lakes and tall rainforests. Fraser Island was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992.Fraser Island was one of 15 World Heritage places included in the National Heritage List on 21 May 2007.)

4 thoughts on “A Natural Wonder (Two Days in Tin Can Bay)”

  1. This is an awesome part of the world. I remember going through here on the way to Fraser Island. Great travel write up. I wonder if Carlo’s name was really Carlisle, but his shipmates gave him that nickname – it stuck – and Captain Cook kicked off another lasting Aussie tradition of nicknames ending in “o” or “a” (fellow Aussies will get what I mean)


    1. That would be an interesting fact to research, or was it a ship- hand he employed (picked up) when in Spanish territory, docking somewhere en route to Australia?
      Great Aussie tradition that no doubt stems back to convict aka Cockney culture in part. Appreciate your comment!


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