Tin Can Bay: the jewel of the Cooloola Coast

Where is Tin Can Bay? The coastal village remains hidden to some, but a gem for those in the know.

Story: Peter ‘Spida’ Everitt

Still not quite sure where it is? Well you have no idea what you’re missing out on.

You have more than likely driven right past Tin Can Bay on the way to the Sunshine Coast. The secret travellers gem is nestled just off the Bruce Highway, north of the Sunshine Coast. Head towards the ocean when you hit Gympie and from there it’s an easy 50km journey to the Cooloola Coast.

The sleepy little coastal village maybe understated in appearance, but is home to some of Queensland’s most stunning scenery and a fantastic ocean passage.

If you’re travelling by boat, this is a fantastic spot to drop anchor for few days. The beautiful harbor offers shelter and is dotted with an array of yachts, fishing boats and houseboats.

Tin Can Bay also offers sensational fishing, water sports and is a doorway to explore the ocean. It’s a real pick your poison type of adventure, where you can relax in a quiet and scenic environment or be spoilt for choice with activities.

Its suited for just about everyone with couples, families, backpackers and solo travellers all finding something to do whether it be an adventure or kicking back and relaxing.

During our stay, we set up shop at the Tin Can Bay Tourist Park, which is perfect for those travelling with kids, thanks to a great resort pool and spacious grassy areas. The park is also home to multiple wildlife, including a huge flock of parrots who come by to see what you might have on offer, every afternoon.

For the foodies out there, Tin Can Bay is littered with great little restaurants. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to food, but seafood is always a top option.

Need more of a reason to experience Tin Can Bay? Try the wild dolphin feeding which runs 365 days a year. Held at the Barnacles Dolphin Centre, at the Norman Point boat ramp between 7am and 10am, this is a must do experience. Head down there early as there are no set times for the wild dolphins but they generally come in early.

It’s one of the only places in the world where you can feed wild dolphins in their natural habitat. Mystique and his pals come ashore to meet and greet you, for just $5 you can get a bucket of fish and stand in the water with them.

We had to wait a few hours for them; they obviously had better things to do. But, never fear, Barnacles Café, which is perched on the waterfront right where the dolphins come in, has some great food and coffee.

Once the dolphins do arrive, you are told of their life history, as the locals know it. It’s informative and being up close and personal with these amazing mammals is well worth the wait.

Aside from dolphins, Tin Can Bay offers great bushwalks through the native tropical bushland and along the harbour front. It is fully interactive, with plenty of information boards and well sign-posted walkways. There are also plenty of great fishing spots either from the wharf, beachfront, estuary and Mary River or you can take a charter boat out to sea.

Tin Can Bay deserves a place on your travel bucket list. So do yourself a favour and next time you’re driving up the Bruce Highway, take the detour out to the coast and visit Tin Can Bay. You will not regret it.

Fast facts

  • Tin Can Bay is located just off the southern tip of Fraser Island.
  • It is part of the stunning Cooloola National park.
  • An extensive variety of fish can be caught in the Great Sandy Straits and estuaries due to the mangrove breeding grounds found throughout the straits.

Travel tips

  • Tin Can Bay has phenomenal fishing and crabbing so remember to pack your fishing gear.
  • You’ll need at least three days in Tin Can Bay to enjoy it all.

Check out more of Peter ‘Spida’ and Sheree Everitt’s adventures on The Great Australian Doorstep. You can catch them on radio every Sunday year-round from 6 – 7am on the TripleM Network / Southern Cross Austereo Stations or on television, Saturdays at 2.30pm on Channel 7Two.