Maybe I should be calling it Teewah Beach. Cooloola refers to a large recreation area that extends from south of Rainbow Beach town to Double Island Point, down to the Noosa River and west to parts of the Great Sandy National Park where there are long-distance walks by dunes, open heathland, Banksia and Scribbly Gum woodlands, rainforest remnants and freshwater lakes. On one map I have, however, the northern half of this extensive sweep of beach is called Cooloola and only the southern part is Teewah. I've always called it Cooloola. Please put me straight if you know.
Following a couple of days in Rainbow Beach, we decided to return to Brisbane via Teewah Beach and the Tewantin ferry across the Noosa River. We accessed the beach along Freshwater Road from Rainbow Beach Road, and a most pleasant drive through the forest it was. But the beach looked vastly different from previous visits. Extensive mounds of pumice lay along virtually the whole of its 40 kilometres; there were large amounts of other debris ranging from small bits of plastic in a rainbow of colours to lengths of string to thongs, wooden flotsam and larger pieces of plastic. All in all, it wasn't pretty. Scum was the word that came to mind. On my beautiful Cooloola.
Coolum Boardriders Club reported back at the beginning of April that they'd noticed a lot of pumice washed up on the beaches of both the Sunshine and Gold coasts as well as drifting offshore. They speculated that it had originated in underwater volcanic eruptions off Indonesia and in the western Pacific and had been carried south by ocean currents before being cast up on the beach by storm surges or large swells and tides. Some pieces had sea growths on them and others were quite round, suggesting they'd been around a while. While most of the pumice was light grey, some was black. Curiouser and curiouser.
The Queensland coast usually experiences damage to beaches during cyclones, when huge waves are generated by strong onshore winds. If large waves coincide with high tides then erosion is far greater. If a cyclone is severe, more than 400 cubic metres of sand per metre of beach may be removed and the beach recede by 50 metres.
But back to the pumice. I would like to know if there's been a pumice deposition like this before. And exactly where it's come from. And whether the Parks Department think it will gradually be removed back into the ocean. And whether all the sand eroded away will eventually be redeposited back on the beach or will visitors to Red Canyon need stepladders in future. I am on the case*.
Cooloola was, of course, still beautiful. But there was an awful lot of pumice.
** Get your tide tables here: http://msq.qld.gov.au/Tides/Tide-tables-2013.aspx.
You cannot drive in Cooloola Recreation Area without a valid vehicle access permit: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/recreation-areas/vehicle_access_permit_fees.html
This post was last updated on 1 June 2013