Project information

Project Summary

Sunshine Coast Council has undertaken early planning to improve to the eastern end of Cotton Tree Park, including Des Scanlan Park and Black Swan Park, situated along Cotton Tree Parade, Maroochydore.

This project was initiated in response to the need for a guiding document that addresses Council’s long term planning for this site.

Council’s design and placemaking team will carefully assess all feedback and survey results from community enegagement undertaken between 25 November and 12 December 2022.

This will include further design exploration, identifying our community’s priorities, speaking with other council teams as applicable, developing a final plan for presentation to council, and scoping indicative costs so that potential funding opportunities and construction stages can be identified over the following years.

While these improvements are not currently included in Council’s 10-year Capital Works Program, community feedback on the plan will help Council to determine the priorities for improvements and guide any future grant applications and/or funding opportunities.

Council will continue to keep our community informed as the project progresses.

Project site location plan

Concept Ideas

Council has developed a Concept Ideas Plan to create better connections throughout the park and to the beach, to help manage erosion, and to provide more recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

Cotton Tree Park is classified as a council-wide recreation park, this means it is a large parkland that attracts visitors and residents from the broader region, as well as providing spaces, settings and facilities to cater for a large numbers of people and a variety of activities and events.

While these improvements are not currently included in Council’s 10-year Capital Works Program, community feedback on the plan will help council to determine the priorities for improvements and guide any future grant applications and/or funding opportunities.

Through the plan, council aims to enhance what people already love about the space and address the challenges currently facing the park.

Some of the opportunities/challenges include:

  • Access/safety: The pathway network throughout this section of parkland has poor continuity and is compromised by some narrow paths intersected by driveways and vehicle movements.
  • Beach erosion/access to the beach: The rock revetment wall at the rear of the aquatic centre in Black Swan Park was constructed as emergency works in 2016 in response to a severe erosion event. The rock wall has obstructed access to the small beach that was previously used by families to access the shallow, calm water.
  • Building capacity for a growing region: There is a lack of public exercise equipment in the Maroochydore locality with an opportunity to address this in Cotton Tree Park.
  • ‘A special place with a deep connection to the Maroochy River, bringing community together.’

    The plan celebrates the ways people currently use and love the park, with a strong focus on making it easier and safer for people to navigate within and around it. The plan endeavours to achieve six objectives:

    1. Provide a high-quality continuous pathway network throughout the park and to the surrounding area.
    2. Investigate opportunities to maximise open space.
    3. Provide public infrastructure and spaces that support community gathering, events and recreation.
    4. Enhance the sense of place by referencing the existing Cotton Tree Park character in future plans for the park.
    5. Maximise views to the Maroochy River.
    6. Create seamless, interconnected spaces.

    Interactive Plan

    Click on the icons on the plan below to reveal more information about each of the proposed ideas.

    Please note this plan is to communicate possible ideas for this consultation and is subject to further investigations, detailed design and available funding. Download a pdf version of this plan here.

    Artistic impressions

    Move the slider to compare before and after for some of the proposed improvement ideas. The location of each artistic impression is labelled on the interactive plan above.

    Before: After:
    Before: Boat shed pathway before After: Boat shed pathway sketch
    Before: Aquatic Centre entry before After: Aquatic Centre entry sketch
    Before: Public ceremony lawn before After: Ceremony picnic lawn sketch
    Before: Black Swan Park before After: Black Swan Park sketch

    The Concept Ideas Plan and artistic sketches show how the park could look in the future. Council invites you to share your feedback on the plan via survey.

    When considering your feedback, please consider each question carefully to help identify your priorities for the park upgrade, given the project will most likely be progressed in stages and as funding becomes available.

    Complete the online survey by clicking on the survey tab at the top of this page.

    Site History

    Our Traditional Owners

    We wish to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live, particularly the Kabi Kabi / Gubbi Gubbi and Jinibara Peoples of the coastal plains and hinterlands of the Sunshine Coast. And pay respect to their Elders – past, present and emerging, who have continued to protect, preserve, maintain, and manage our traditional native lands, waters, and sea country since creation.

    The Traditional Owners of this Country identify as Murulla people on Jhdungah Country (pronounced ‘Judingah’) within the Gubbi Gubbi/Kabi Kabi Nation and Language Groups. The Language Group is Unda. The Murulla are Saltwater People, Shellfish Eaters, Canoe Makers, and People of the Fishing Nets. This is Matriarchal Lore Country meaning Women hold the Lore and are the Decision Makers on Country.


    Meaning red-bill, the name of the black swan


    Meaning the place of the black swan

    In recognising the significance of this land, community is encouraged to embrace our ancient connection of walking and working together on Country. This will contribute to the healing process for a healthier community and well-being overall.

    *Lyndon Davis 2012

    The Cotton Tree area began to be developed as a place of resort in the 1880s where a Wharf and Water was gazetted and holiday makers camped on the reserve among the native Cotton Trees. The use of the reserve and calm and shallow section of the Maroochy river, reflected the seaside swimming, boating and fishing culture of the Victorian era and the first half of the 20th century. Over the years the area was formalised as a caravan park and the Cotton Tree Holiday Park is now State Heritage listed.

    ^ Queensland Heritage Register 2020

    Included in Cotton Tree Park is Des Scanlan Park which is the park area at the front of the Cotton Tree Aquatic Centre (see Map of Project Area).

    This park was named in memory of community leader Michael Desmond (Des) Scanlan OAM. Des worked tirelessly to establish a rescue helicopter service on the Sunshine Coast in 1979, a service that continues to help thousands of people in the region every year. Des earned his place in history through his outstanding support of many Sunshine Coast charities and his community spirit continues to inspire others.

    “A society grows great when people plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” Greek proverb - Michael Desmond (Des) Scanlan OAM


    The lower Maroochy River provides important habitat for migratory and resident shorebirds. Migratory shorebirds fly more than 10,000km each year from the Arctic to spend the summer on our shores. Once here, they need rest and food to recover from the journey and to prepare for their return journey in autumn.

    During low tide, they are probing the exposed mudflats and sand banks for beachworms and other prey with their long bills. At high tide, when their prey is under water, they find a suitable dry beach to sleep and preen their feathers.

    It is vital these incredible migratory shorebirds can feed and rest undisturbed while on our shores, for them to survive their return journey to the Arctic. Any disturbance while feeding or resting can cause them to fly off and waste precious energy. These shy birds are easily disturbed by people, dogs, and watercraft getting too close.

    Beachgoers can help to share our shores by

    • Observing from a distance using binoculars
    • Choosing a location away from the birds for your activities
    • Keeping dogs under control
    • Taking rubbish home.

    For more information visit Shorebird Protection on Council’s website

    Erosion event

    Move the slider to compare before and after an erosion event in 2015 which triggered the rock revetment wall as emergency works. Aerial photography courtesy of Nearmap 2022.

    Before: After:

    Council's long term planning

    This project was initiated in response to the need for a guiding document that addresses Council’s long term planning for this site.

    These documents include:

    • The Sunshine Coast Environment and Liveability Strategy (ELS) provides long-term strategic direction to shape the region by guiding growth and delivering the transformational change required to maintain a healthy environment and liveable Sunshine Coast in 2041 and for future generations. The strategy focuses on the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment and the liveability of our region, enabling a good quality of life for all residents and supporting a strong economy in an accessible and well-connected built environment. The strategy seeks to guide decision-making and actions that will continue to protect and respect the importance of the natural environment as the foundation for the Sunshine Coast way of life.
    • Sunshine Coast Design is part of a long term Design Strategy to help our community and Council manage the challenges of population growth, economic development and climate change so that the liveability of the Sunshine Coast is maintained and enhanced into the future.
    • Sunshine Coast Recreation Parks Plan (RPP) outlines the strategic direction for recreation parks across the region. The RPP highlights the key recreational functions of our parks and provides guidance on the distribution of infrastructure (both living and built) to support these functions.
    • Coastal Pathway Linear Open Space Master Plan is one of many recreational infrastructure projects delivered by council to help the Sunshine Coast community achieve a healthy, active and sustainable lifestyle. It also helps people connect to local destinations, services and businesses. The master plan report is accompanied by 119 maps detailing a Coastal Pathway alignment capable of meeting the strategic outcomes.


    Share your ideas

    Share your ideas

    Once you complete the survey please use the Ideas Board below to share your ideas for improvements to

    Cotton Tree Park.

    Your ideas will be posted publicly providing the opportunity for others to vote on each idea.

    Ideas Board

    What is your idea?

    12 December, 2022

    anna says:

    Change location of new pedestrian crossing to less risk/safer location in front of Argyle Apartments.- away from multiple car entry/exits et

    11 December, 2022

    Barbara says:

    The aquatic centre is in desperate need of an upgrade. There are not enough toilets. The showers do not have any privacy& do not meet demand

    11 December, 2022

    Rockin Rob says:

    More shade & picnic tables yes, but not at expense of car parking spaces. More parking not less

    10 December, 2022

    Ollie says:

    Car parking (& bike stations etc) must be increased. Please include dog hydration & wash stations. & Beach equipment (eg kayak) wash areas.

    10 December, 2022

    David says:

    Only one comment. Please stop removing car parks! Increase accessibility not reduce it. A prime example is Mooloolaba foreshore.

    9 December, 2022

    Ken O'Connell says:

    I support the council initiative in the enhancement of Cotton Tree Park. I cannot support removal of the existing necessary car spaces.

    8 December, 2022

    Skimmink says:

    I think there is plenty of parkland , loosing any car parks would be a bad idea . Hard enough to park now.

    8 December, 2022

    malcolm herbert says:

    Clean up and modernize approach to Boatshed Restaurant . Screen pumping and storage area of swimming pool. Additional shower areas

    7 December, 2022

    Don Currell says:

    Bikes and E scooters race through this area and needs to be addressed. I E 10 KMS I've nearly been cleaned up, no bells, no sorry.

    7 December, 2022

    AlidaC says:

    Safety for all on the shared pathway. Please separate those on foot from those on wheels. Cottesloe Beach in WA has managed this with lanes.

    7 December, 2022

    Alida says:

    Safety for all on the shared pathway. Please separate those on foot from those on wheels. Cottesloe Beach in WA has managed this with lanes.

    7 December, 2022

    Bec says:

    Many dog owners use the park, I'd love to see a dedicated water play feature and drinking station for the dogs, could be on-leash or fenced.