15 Best Things to Do in Tannum Sands

This town is a quirky one, and it’s located on Queensland’s central East Coast.

Tannum Sands is a name that dates back to the 1930s when a group Sunday School kids returned from a picnic on the beach with sunburn. “We can really tan’ ‘um over here,” they said. The beach is the most popular day out in the Gladstone Region since the 1950s. It is bordered with a welcoming ribbon of greenery called the Millennium Esplanade. This area also hosts a popular market every month.

Boyne Island is located on the opposite bank to Tannum Sands. It houses one of Australia’s biggest aluminium smelters. This is in keeping with the region’s combination of subtropical beauty and large-scale industry.

1. Millennium Esplanade

Millennium Esplanade

For more than 50 years, the Gladstone Region has made Tannum Sands the preferred leisure destination.

It’s no surprise that this stretch of greenery is so long and wide. There are tall palm trees, pines, palms, and large shelters. Little gardens and playgrounds provide a great view of the ocean.

Looking east, you will see the Southern Great Barrier Reef islands and Rodds Peninsula about 15 km to the east.

This beautiful space hosts the Beach Arts Music Markets once a month. We’ll be covering more details below.

2. Tannum Sands Beach

Tannum Sands Beach

600m of golden sands stretch from the rock flats to the mouth at Wild Cattle Creek to the south.

This beach is the main surfing spot for Gladstone and the location of the Tannum Sands Surf Club.

The beach is patrolled between September and May. A surf club is available on weekends for light meals and treats.

In strong south-easterly winds, waves can reach up to one metre. The reef breaks are best at mid-tide.

This is a safe area to swim, but it’s best not to go into Cattle Creek at a rising tide.

3. Beach Arts Music Markets

Concert in the Park

A popular community market is held every Saturday along the Millennium Esplanade, in the picturesque greenery.

Beach Arts Music Markets offer a variety of products, including homemade goods, fresh produce, and food and beverages made on-the-spot. They also feature live music and arts and crafts.

The Blackboard Sessions is a platform that allows up-and-coming musicians to showcase their talents.

Every market has more than 100 stalls, and all are surrounded by greenery, gum trees, and the ocean.

4. Canoe Point Beach and Parklands

Canoe Point Beach And Parklands

This beach, with its tranquil foreshore, can be found at mouth of Boyne River just above Tannum Sands Beach.

You can walk on land into bushland reserves and across dunes, or over a boardwalk that leads to the beach at the neighboring beach.

There are also shelter huts, open grassy areas and wood-fired barbecues available for picnics.

There is a huge difference between Canoe Point’s two beaches: Canoe point’s exposed eastern beach has strong waves but is generally free from riptides.

The beach to the west of the picnic area is calmer with lower waves but shelves deeper and stronger currents.

5. Gladstone

Gladstone Marina

It is worth a closer inspection to see the capital of the region, not least because it balances the natural beauty of the barrier reef with massive heavy industry.

This is the fourth-largest international coal export terminal and state’s largest multi-commodity port.

This industry is kept in check by Gladstone’s marina and protected by the Spinnaker Park if it sounds too scary.

A fantastic regional art museum, a fascinating maritime museum, and many places to view the Southern Great Barrier Reef islands and scan the ocean looking for humpbacks are all available.

Gladstone is also home to Heron Island which is a top ecotourism destination on the Great Barrier Reef. It is a nesting area for green and loggerhead turtles.

6. Wild Cattle Island National Park

Wild Cattle Island National Park

Wild Cattle Island National Park is located just a few kilometres from Tannum Sands. It feels remote.

The island is not far from the town, but it is separated by a creek. You will need to cross the river at low tide using 4WD, foot or by boat/kayak.

The park’s main attraction is its long, sandy beach which runs almost the entire length of the island.

This is where loggerheads, flatbacks and green turtles nest. Dugongs can be found just offshore.

Bring binoculars, as Sooty Oystercatchers or Beach Stone-curlews are known to be active between March and October.

7. Boyne Tannum Turtleway Artscape

Boyne Tannum Turtleway Artscape

Turtleway, an award-winning bikeway that crosses the Boyne River, connects Tannum Sands and Boyne Island’s most important assets like Canoe point, the Millennium Esplanade and the recreation areas at Dennis Park, Boyne Smelters, and Canoe Point.

An art trail was created along the route to make the experience even more enjoyable.

As you move between the attractions, you can stop to admire stunning mosaics, sculpture, and interactive art.

8. Lilley’s Beach

Lilley's Beach

The Gladstone Regional Council and the massive aluminum smelter on Boyne Island take care of this sensitive section of Boyne Island’s coast.

You will need to obtain a permit online to visit the abandoned 7.1-kilometer Lilley’s Beach. The only way to access the beach is to drive a Four Wheel Drive at low or high tide.

This secluded spot is surrounded by dense rainforest and delicate dunes systems. It also has vulnerable seagrass meadows within its intertidal areas.

Camping at the northern end of the park is an option.

9. Lake Awoonga

Water Dam In Lake Awoonga

The main water source for the Gladstone Region is found in the vicinity of Tannum Sands. It covers 6,750 hectares and is used for boating, fishing, and nature-spotting.

Lake Awoonga, which is located on the Boyne River was dammed in mid-1980s.

First, we must mention the sheer number of wildlife, which includes over 220 bird species as well as vulnerable mammals such the yellow-bellied glider or the grey-headed flying Fox.

The reservoir is home to 200,000 fish every year, including mangrove jack, sea mullet, and barramundi. However, if fishing is not your thing, you can rent a boat to just drift about and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Two campsites are available, as well as walking trails. Swimming is allowed.

10. Tondoon Botanic Gardens

Tondoon Botanic Gardens

You’ll find yourself about halfway from Tannum Sands to Gladstone, where you’ll see a lush display of Queensland’s plant life.

You’ll find dry rainforests and tropical plants on more than 80 hectares.

You can walk up the beautiful slopes of Mount Biondello and pull away from Lake Tondoon. This was Gladstone’s main source of water before Lake Awoonga became impounded.

Gladstone’s sister-city is Saiki in Japan, where a tranquil Japanese tea garden is located at the pavilion by the pond.

11. Ocean Breeze Gallery

Ocean Breeze Gallery

Ocean Breeze Gallery, a community gallery that is free to enter, showcases the talent of the Gladstone Region. It is run by volunteers.

The gallery is now permanent and is open from Thursday to Sunday. It first opened as a pop up at the Beach Arts Music Markets.

Artists can sell their work here, including paintings, watercolours and sculptures, as well as jewellery, accessories, ceramics and glasswork.

It’s constantly changing and you can always get involved in workshops or events.

12. Calliope River Historical Village

Calliope River Historical Village

This outdoor museum allows you to go back in time to the Gladstone Region’s origins by exploring buildings dating back to the early 20th century.

They have been moving here piece by piece since early 1980s.

Two notables are the Raglan Memorial Hall, built in 1932, and the Yarwum Railway Station. These serve as ticket offices and kiosks for the village.

A wooden Queensland Rail carriage, dating from the 1940s, is another beautiful piece of railway heritage. It also includes two historic camp wagons.

Keep up-to-date with the village’s calendar. There are regular markets that host traders from all over the world, including the Gold Coast.

13. Cedar Galleries

Cedar Galleries is located off the Bruce Highway, just west of Tannum Sands. It’s a flexible attraction that focuses around a variety of arts and crafts galleries.

Browse the work of artists and craftspeople in the area, or learn techniques in a variety of disciplines, including stencilling and sculpture.

Cedar Galleries also has a herd with around 30 alpacas. Children will enjoy meeting these animals and hand feeding them.

The annual alpaca shearing event is always family-friendly so keep checking the schedule.

14. Boyne Smelters

Boyne Island is home to the nation’s second largest aluminium smelter, producing more than 540,000 tonnes annually. Nearly 1,000 people work in the area.

Rio Tinto Alcan, a consortium comprising Japanese manufacturing companies, owns Boyne Smelters. The massive facility was built in the 1980s and expanded over the years to accommodate more customers. The Smelter Visitor Centre offers guided tours of the site, but information was not available at the time of writing, May 2020. You may need to contact them ahead of time.

15. Boyne Tannum HookUp

On the first weekend in May, Boyne Island hosts the largest family fishing contest in Australia.

This event is casual and fun, with the goal of bringing together family, friends, and workplaces.

Boyne Tannum HookUp offers a variety of activities, including catching and releasing tagged Barramundi in Lake Awoonga and a treasure hunt at Gladstone Harbour, where you must solve riddles and clues to determine which fish species was tagged.

There are generous payouts for all age groups and fish species, with a prize pool exceeding $230,000