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Tin Can Bay, QLD

Southern entry point to Fraser Island.

Although it was once the main southern access point for Fraser Island, Tin Can Bay has remained relatively unchanged. It is situated in a small, jutting promontory in Tin Can Inlet and consequently is surrounded by quiet, sheltered waters which are ideal for fishing and other leisurely water activities including boating, sailing, windsurfing and canoeing. Along the shoreline is an excellent boat ramp, a substantial marina, a jetty and fish market. There are safe places for family swimming, a number of coastal parks, picnic and barbecue areas, and playgrounds at Norman Point, along Oyster Parade and around The Esplanade.

Given the modern holiday development of many of the nearby towns (Rainbow Beach, Noosa, Tewantin) Tin Can Bay seems almost old fashioned. It is a tranquil and picturesque holiday destination for those who want quietness, relaxation and simple pleasures.


Tin Can Bay is  220 km north of Brisbane via the Bruce Highway and Tin Can Bay Road.


Origin of Name

Although there is some dispute as to the meaning of the word it is widely accepted that Tin Can Bay's name is a variant of the local Aboriginal word 'tuncanbar' which may have referred to the dugongs which abound in the area. The word also may have meant a vine or the local mangroves.


Things to See and Do

The Dolphins
There are very few places in Australia where dolphins, knowing they are going to be fed, come right in to shore and allow themselves to be hand fed. At Norman Point (the furthest northerly tip of Tin Can Bay) they have become a major attraction. Wild dolphins come to the jetty to feed. Always remember that you won't see them at low tide and their appearance is totally unpredictable. They are wild animals.

 Environmental Walkway
There is an excellent and pleasant 9.5-km environmental walkway which runs along the foreshore of both Snapper Creek (known as the Wildflower Walk and ideal in spring) and Tin Can Inlet. While it is a well maintained path through the foreshore bushland, when necessary it becomes a raised wooden walkway. There are lots of detailed signs explaining the flora (did you know, for example, that Pink Bloodwood was ideal for stumps and telegraph posts?). There is a specific Foreshore Bird Walk with phots (for identification) and detailed descriptions of such unusual birds as the Nankeen Night Heron and a small bridge offers a superb opportunity to study the strange intricacy of mangrove swamplands.

Boat Hire
The waters of Tin Can Inlet and Snapper Creek are well protected from the ocean and consequently ideal for sailing, boating, sightseeing, bird watching and fishing. It is possible to hire both yachts and houseboats can be hired at the marina on Emperor Street. If you sail north out of Tin Can Inlet you reach the extensive waters of the Great Sandy Strait which lies to the west of Fraser Island.



Other Attractions in the Area

Great Sandy Strait
The Great Sandy Straits extend for 100 km from Rainbow Beach to Hervey Bay and lies between the mainland and Fraser Island. It is ideal for people who love spending time on boats as there are numerous places that provide safe anchorage and, apart from excellent fishing, there is the opportunity to see dolphins, dugongs (it is a designated dugong sanctuary), turtles and migratory trans-equatorial shorebirds.



* In the 1850s a dugong station was established at the mouth of the Kauri Creek, just north of Tin Can Bay, and dugong were killed and their oil extracted in much the same way whales were exploited at the time.

* A European settlement was established around 1870 primarily as a port to ship timber to the Maryborough sawmills. There was also some oyster cultivation.

* Although Norman Point is now a pleasant park and a jetty for the Coast Guard it was originally the site of one of Queensland's first railway lines. The railway was constructed to transport logs to the jetty where they were loaded onto barges and shipped to the mills in Maryborough.

* In 1922 township lots were sold and by the 1930s it had become a popular and cheap holiday destination used mostly by people who lived nearby in the hinterland.

* By 1957 Tin Can Bay had become a fishing village. There was a prawning fleet and by 1971 it had its own fish market.



Visitor Information

The Cooloola Region Visitor Information Centre is located at the Matilda Truck and Travel Stop, on the Bruce Highway at Kybong, 14 km south of Gympie, tel: (1800) 444 222. There is also the Tin Can Bay Tourist Information, Norman Point, Tin Can Bay, tel: (07) 5486 4198.


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website with information about accommodation and eating in the area. Check out https://tincanbaytouristpark.com.au/tours-activities. As well the University of Queensland has a detailed history of the area at http://queenslandplaces.com.au/tin-can-bay

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4 suggestions
  • Is there anywhere safe to leave car and boat trailer, over night, near the boat ramp?
    Yes. Lots of places along the road to the point where you cross over to Fraser Island … although I think “boat ramp” is a bit generous.

    Reg James
  • Love Tin Can Bay and appreciate the info given on your site.

    Trish Guihot
  • Is it safe to swim at tin can bay?

    Karen Ey
    • Yes. It is generally recognised that stingers start around Yeppoon east of Rockhampton. There is excellent surfing at Rainbow Beach … in fact it is regarded as one of the best surfing locations in Australia.

      Bruce Elder