Surrounded by country and nature, the region of Gympie is more than the city of the same name. It might be most famously known for the annual Gympie Music Muster held in Amamoor State Forest, but there is so much more to Gympie than meets the eye. Home to the fabled Rainbow Sands at Rainbow Beach and the Mothar Mountain Rock Pools that is just the start of what you can uncover in this beautiful region. Best of all, many of them are free, which makes an outing into Gympie hip pocket friendly. Discover some awesome free things to do in Gympie and its region of the same name and where to find some gems in this spectacular hidden wonderland.
(There are a tonne of activities that you can do at Rainbow Beach in the Great Sandy National Park if you have a 4WD, but this list is catered more towards those who have a conventional vehicle as there are still plenty of free things to do even if you can’t go off-roading.)
Walk The Rainbow
One of the most spectacular free things you can do while in the greater Gympie region is to see the rainbow. No, not an actual rainbow made up of light hitting water particles at certain angles and reflecting coloured light, not that kind of rainbow. Yeah, yeah, I know, quit raining on people’s rainbows. Shh. But this rainbow is a little less fleeting.
I’m referring to the famous coloured sands that Rainbow Beach is named after. Starting from the end of Griffin Esplanade, it’s a leisurely stroll south along the beach, and before long you’re walking amongst dramatic 40-metre cliffs that, well, calling them “rainbow” coloured is a bit of a stretch.
It’s more like 50 shades of red, and it’s not just the sands that are coloured. It’s the wind-carved cliffs that are the most impressive. Various shades of red, orange, yellow are particularly beautiful when the light hits them directly showing off their true colours and bringing out the depth and contrast of the colours and shapes.
These incredible naturally coloured cliffs extend to Double Island Point, 15kms away, which, unless you’re cruising the sandy highway in a 4WD is a bit of a stretch for the average visitor, but you only need to walk about 1km (one way) before you start seeing these amazing geographical features.
Note: While tempting, don’t follow Skittles advice. Don’t touch the rainbow, and for the love of everything good and tasty, please don’t taste the rainbow.
Sandboard An Elevated Sand Slope
When heading into Rainbow Beach, don’t just check out the Carlo Sandblow above the Coloured Sands, ride it.
Wax on, wax off a sandboard, boogie board, skip board, surfboard… Okay, maybe not a surfboard, and slide your way down the slopes that make up the side of the sand blow. (Just don’t slide down the cliffs to the beach and the ocean below. Yikes! That won’t end pretty.)
It’s an easy 600m walk to get to Carlo from the Carlo Sandblow Carpark, and there are breathtaking views across to Double Island Point to the east, and the southern end of the Great Sandy Strait around Tin Can Bay in the west from the wooden lookout.
There’s also a natural lookout point on the south side where you can view the coloured cliffs from the top and see all the 4WDs passing by. It’s also the starting point for the Cooloola Great Walk and the takeoff area for hang gliders and paragliders, so whether you choose to visit casually, get some thrills or hike through the coast a trip to the Carlo Sandblow is a must do activity when visiting Rainbow Beach.
Take A Dip In A Gorgeous Freshwater Lake
Poona Lake, Great Sandy National Park
Are you looking for a hike through a rainforest with a side of wild swimming? Poona Lake is here for you to uncover.
It’s a beautiful and picturesque lake in the middle of pristine rainforest, and its warm deep coloured waters are particularly inviting for swimming on balmy days.
(Walk starts at Bymien Picnic Area which is 2WD accessible.)
Snorkel A Crystalline Creek
Seary’s Creek, Rainbow Beach
One of the coolest free activities you can do in Gympie is to take a trip to the underworld. The underwater world. (Ha! I’ll let myself out.)
Seary’s Creek is a small, crystalline yellow creek just outside Rainbow Beach in Gympie’s east and is an incredible shallow waterway to go wild swimming in. (Even if it’s a touch on the freeze-your-ass-off side.)
For an enhanced swimming experience, be sure to take some goggles or a snorkel with you so you can explore the world that lies beneath.
The close quarters of the shallow and narrow waters combined with fallen logs and tree roots taking up residence with the fish, the eels and the yabbies while the current guides you down the river make an exhilarating and empowering experience for those who’ve always wanted to go full fish.
It’s such a cool and unique way to experience the river world and the best part about it, besides that it’s free, is that it’s only a short walk to get to such magnificent place. It’s guaranteed to be a highlight of your trip.
Walk Alongside Mary
River To Rail Walk, Mary River, Gympie
Gympie is a city perched on the Mary River, a narrow river that occasionally breaks its banks and floods the surrounding areas. When the river is not overflowing, which is most of the time, the waterway is a beautiful natural recreation spot to discover when you’re in town thanks to the new River To Rail trail.
The circuit which also goes through town to various tourist and historical destinations also follows the picturesque Mary River and allows you to run or walk along the river or launch your kayak.
Even though it’s right in the city near a national highway, the denseness of the trees between the buildings and the river makes you feel like you’re a long way away and is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle without venturing too far.
It’s also home to numerous birds and the elusive platypus, so if you’re lucky on your stroll along this beautiful calm river, you may spot one of the animal kingdoms most unusual animals.
Drive The Mary Valley
Mary Valley Tourist Drive – Gympie – Imbil
If you’re looking to save a few bobs or historic trains don’t light your wick, you can take the Mary Valley Tourist Drive.
Stretching for 45kms just outside Gympie and extending down to Imbil, the road takes you down a similar path to the famous Mary Valley Rattler train journey.
It’s also a great alternative to the Bruce Highway when traversing the southern expanses of the Gympie allowing you to take life at your own pace where you can stop wherever you like and drink in the pretty undulating scenery.
You can visit the tiny towns of Dugan, Amamoor, Kandanga and Imbil and visit the historic train stations that the Rattler passes.
Imbil and Amamoor are also home to State Forests of the same name if you’re looking to stretch your legs in nature along the drive. (Amamoor State Forest is also home to the famous Gympie Music Muster)
There’s also the Dugan-Amamoor Lookout and the Imbil Lookout that you can drop by and view the scenery (Imbil lookout is a spectacular place to view the stars!)
It’s a chill way to spend a day exploring the southern side of the Gympie countryside that beats the need-for-speed Bruce Highway.
Rock Hop At Mothar Mountain Rock Pools
Woodum National Park, Mothar Mountain
Tucked away in some mountains in the southern-eastern parts of the Gympie region lies some pretty little rockpools in Woodum National Park.
It’s a fantastic place to explore, especially for families as the rocks are quite large making navigating to and from each side of the Boulder Creek a fun and exciting micro-adventure.
And if it’s hot and you’re looking to cool off, and wild swimming is your beat, then the Mothar Mountain Rock Pools are a picturesque place to do so. Be warned though, that the waters might be stagnant and so if you’re looking to get wet here, try to time it after a lot of heavy rain.
Whether it’s flowing or not, it’s also a beautiful place to do some photography and capture some stunning landscapes shots with the boulders and pools serving as incredible focus points.
(There’s also an easy 600m stroll around the forest or a challenging Class 5, 3.2km track up Boulder Mountain if you wish to stay around here a bit longer.)
Drive Spectacular Mountain Roads With Fun Tight Curves
Numerous Roads Around Woondum National Park/ Mothar Mountain Area
The heralded Mary Valley Tourist Drive is a lovely way to experience the undulating countryside around the southern end of the Gympie region, but as a road that follows a similar path to that of the famous Mary Valley Rattler, well, train tracks generally don’t follow the most exciting landscape unless there is no other way. (I’m looking at you, Canadian Mountaineer)
If it’s spectacular scenery you’re looking for, and a road that has a hell-of-a-lotta curves and is a hell of a lot of fun to drive, a spin on the bitumen around Woodum National Park is a must. Tight bends, blind curves amongst beautiful scenery, it’s a fun way to explore the countryside, be in your four-wheeler or on your two-wheeler. (Be very careful of the animals, especially at sunrise, sunset and at night)
While it’s an epic motoring adventure around the mountain, there aren’t a whole heap of spots to stop and take photographs, so you’ll just have to remember the spectacular scenery by memory.
Combining this with Mothar Mountain Rock Pools and James M. McKane Memorial Lookout makes for a fantastic day out in and around Woodum National Park.
Sit Back And Watch The Sunset
James M. McKane Memorial Lookout, Cooran
Having lunch at restaurants is fantastic. There’s no preparing, no cooking and no cleaning up after. But what a lot of them don’t offer is a view, and they don’t have solitude. Sometimes it’s nice to sit down in a picturesque place by yourself or with your friends or family and make dinner while the sun goes down. The quiet helps you connect with mother nature.
A superb place to do that in the southern Gympie region is James M. McKane Memorial Lookout. This quiet, elevated lookout on the outskirts of the Woodum National Park north of Cooran provides sheltered picnic tables and a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains to the south, including the formidable Mt Cooran.
It’s a fantastic place to drink in the surrounding scenery as you drink up your beverages and if you combine it with the Mothar Mountain Rock Pools and circumnavigating Woodum National Park, it’s a great way to cap off a day ofadventuring.
Stretch Your Limbs At A Peaceful Lake
Lake Alford, Gympie
With the region having the same name, the city of Gympie is the big kahuna here. Located on the Bruce Highway/A1 and surrounded by hundreds of square km of the countryside, Gympie is a place that you will likely pass-through whether you’re staying a while or passing through.
After long stretches of sitting in the car driving the landscape, it’s always great to be able to get out of the automobile and limber up those limbs. A beautiful place to do that is Lake Alford on Gympie city’s southern side.
The small, picturesque lake has water fountains and thousands of birds such as ducks, magpie geese, ibises and swans. It’s a great place to unpack a snack and get the blood flowing back to those extremities. It’s also home to the regions information centre so you can stock up on knowledge of things to do and a museum so you can learn some history at the same time. (Although the museum isn’t free.)
Walk To Your Own Little Tidal Island
Norman Point, Tin Can Bay
Have you always wanted a private island? Well, they don’t come cheap!!! But at Norman Point at Tin Can Bay, they do come tidal.
There’s not a lot going on at Tin Can Bay. (You can’t even look at wild dolphins from a public pier… I’m not even kidding. It’s ridiculous) It’s a quiet little town that sits at the end of a peninsula on the Great Sandy Strait and is mostly for boaties who want to fish and tourists who want to feed wild dolphins.
But if you happen to be in town during low tide, you can explore the tidal flats that expose the shoreline and if it’s down enough, make your way over to a temporary island.
Sure, it doesn’t have the mansion and the luxury yachts, and it’ll be gone in a couple of hours, but I mean, you can’t have everything.
Take a flag, stake your claim and enjoy your fleeting slice of paradise. Discover hermit crabs, beach worms, MILLIONS of soldier crabs and other cute sea-faring creatures as you make your way to and from your awesome temporary sand kingdom.
Discover A Hidden Gorge
Kinbombi Falls, Kinbombi
Tucked away in the furthest reaches of the Gympie reaches lies something rather spectacular. Kinbombi Falls lies a short distance from the township of Goomeri and a short walk from the car park reveals a small but impressive gorge that is sure to leave visitors in awe.
Three vantage points split from the one path, but just because it’s short, doesn’t mean you’re not getting a workout. There are stairs and a lot of them! There are approximately 200 for the first one, 30 for the second and 130 for the third one. Prepare for some butt cheek and calve burn!
The first one descends close to the waterfall itself, but even though it’s best to go after a heavy downpour or months of steady rain, it is still a beautiful, rugged sight to see even when it’s dried up, which is somewhat frequently.
The second is the shortest and does the least damage and provides incredible panoramic views of the gorge below with views of the waterfalls plunge pool and the dramatic rocks surrounding it.
The third path takes you down Smith’s Steps where you follow a spectacular ridgeline with open views every which way and see the Kinbombi Creek as it makes its way through the jagged, rocky gorge downstream from the falls. Venture past the end of the steps to get down to base level, and you can explore the creek furthermore, but be warned, the path down is steep and slippery with little to hold onto, and you could find yourself buttscooting your way down like a kids ass on a sticky slide.
- Read about my buttscooting adventure down to Kinbombi Falls as part of my foray into the Gympie Region while exploring NE South Burnett.
Swim In A Stunning Lagoon
The Lagoons, Toolara State Forest
As you make your way to Rainbow Beach from Gympie along Tin Can Bay Road, you’ll notice three things. The first third is beautiful undulating country scenery, the middle third takes is extensive pine plantations, and the last third is a wildly fun drive through noticeably coastal vegetation.
There’s not a whole lot to do between A and B except enjoy the scenery. But hidden within the vast plantations that line the road along the midsection is a fantastic little known gem that is worth the time and the effort.
It’s known as The Lagoons, or sometimes the Three Lagoons, and it is a spectacular location where you can take your choice of the three natural swimming holes and rope swing into its divine warm waters.
It’s a bit of a rough road, and there are plenty of gutted sections and big puddles, so a 4WD’s recommended, but once you get there, it’s such a beautiful isolated location, you’ll want to stay for hours.
Are you thinking of venturing out into this region? Which one of these free things to do in Gympie sound like fun to you? Have you explored this beautiful part of the world? Which were your favourites to visit and have I missed any gems in the greater Gympie region? I’d love to hear from you.
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