The Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park Master Plan is being undertaken by council and proposes to guide the future use and management of this coastal area, balancing the needs of users and the environment, for all the community to enjoy.

In 2022 the community were asked what their values and visions were for the site.

Watch what the community had to say in this video below.

Specialist background reports have been prepared to explore the cultural, environmental and recreational values of the site. Through these reports we learned about the diverse ways that the site is currently use by the community.

Together Pt Cartwright reserve and LaBalsa Park offer one of the most diverse range of uses in one space on the coast. This unique set of recreation experiences include: nature trails, beach walking, dog walking, bicycling, paragliding, picnicking, playgrounds, snorkelling, surfing, diving, paddling, fishing, to name just a few.

Our data counts indicate that on average, over 2500 people use the space every day!

LaBalsa Park is heavily embellished and is very popular for family outings and celebrations.

Pt Cartwright is largely a natural open space with people bringing their own picnic blankets and informally using the space in nature.

The Pt Cartwright landform is of prime cultural importance, in terms of ceremonial significance, being a place that could sponsor special festivities like the annual mullet and tailor runs and pandanus festivals. The project area has complex layers of cultural significance which relate to both residential and special use functions. Both the Mooloolah River and Pt Cartwright are saturated with the essence of Kabi Kabi creation stories and the creation ancestors

Environmentally the site has gone through significant documented changes since 1961. The site was used for sand mining during the development of Buddina. There are several vegetation communities with a diversity of habitat values, in addition to maintained grass areas.

The area is home to a large number of fascinating fauna species including ospreys, turtles, snakes, frog mouth owls, brush turkeys, shellfish and migratory birds. It is fantastic for whale watching and dolphin spotting.

It has been highlighted that over 600 species of nudibranch are located in sunshine coast waters. A large number are located in the river fronting LaBalsa Park. The river is used by divers to explore and study these fascinating creatures.

What's next?

Early in 2023, we will ask the community ‘Have we got it right?’ Watch this space!

The next stage of engagement will be translating these values and vision into a draft masterplan, where council will ask the community 'Have we got it right?'

Community engagement

From the 29 November 2021 to 9 January 2022, the community were invited to share their values and future vision for the Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park area resulting in:

  • 2350 online survey responses - thank you!
  • 100 plus community members speaking to the project team at 3 pop up sessions at La Balsa park
  • a community workshop at Kawana Community Hall
  • a school workshop and visioning session
  • first meeting for the Community Reference Group
  • 830 signatures submitted to council via a petition to retain the dog areas.

  • Council has collated all feedback received through the consultation process. We are now coming back to you to outline the main responses and confirm that community aspirations have been captured and incorporated into the direction for the draft Master Plan document.

    What we have heard is that you love it as it is.

    Project Update

    The visions and values you want council to embrace are:

    • The environment - preserve and enhance the sites natural environmental values and scenic amenity.
    • Improve awareness - provide education and awareness of the rich history of the site, the environmental values, and the significance of the land for Kabi Kabi people.
    • Social and recreational - maintain social connections, exercise opportunities and pet friendly activities
    • Inclusive - create an inclusive place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy

    In addition:

    • Residents and visitors love Point Cartwright and La Balsa Park's unique natural environment, peaceful amenity and don't want too much to change.
    • One of the most important values for the reserve and park was the recreation, exercise, and active transport opportunities available.
    • Residents and visitors are passionate about dog access for different reasons. We need to work together to ensure the the behaviour of dogs and dog owners can allow continued access at Point Cartwright and La Balsa Park

    Maintenance and management items included:

    • Residents and visitors would like to see more shade, seats, and picnic tables to better enjoy the area.
    • Residents and visitors would like to see path improvements, including widened paths, more paths and separated bike and foot paths to improve safety.
    • A strong focus was to increase the frequency of maintenance, so rubbish bins, paths, toilets, and vegetation are better maintained and managed.

    The retention and celebration of the natural environment:

    • Residents and visitors would like all visitors to Point Cartwright and La Balsa Park to appreciate the importance of the natural environment of the area and contribute to enhancing it.
    • Feedback included concerns for the biodiversity of the area, overcrowding and increased traffic.

    If you feel something is missing please contact us via the webpage or on email to the mailbox.


    The Master Plan seeks to consider the future of the project area up to 2041, with a focus on the next 10 years. It will include an analysis of the site, uses, opportunities and constraints, the community’s values and vision and associated actions, priorities, and costs for implementation consideration.


    Point Cartwright Reserve and La Balsa Park are much loved, having highly valued recreational, ecological, and cultural heritage characteristics. High cliffs in the coastal headland reserve provide spectacular views of Mooloolaba, the Mooloolah River mouth, Mount Coolum to the north and Kawana Beach to the south.

    The Point Cartwright headland was a sacred place to First Nations peoples. It is understood that rock engravings existed of local flora down on the soft sandstone below the headland. The point has been a beacon to shipping since 1978 when the new 32 metre pentagonal lighthouse replaced use of the Caloundra Lighthouse.

    La Balsa Park on the Mooloolah River is one of the most important protected lowland areas of the Sunshine Coast. A wide range of recreation facilities cater for the popularity of the park including three playgrounds, a fitness station, amenities, shelters, barbeque and picnic facilities, a wedding rotunda and boat ramp.

    The park obtained its name from the famous 1970’s La Balsa expedition in which a raft made of balsa logs carrying four men and a cat travelled from Guayaquil, Ecuador to the Sunshine Coast. The La Balsa expedition was to show that it was possible for contact to have occurred between pre-Columbian South American cultures and those of the Pacific region.

    The reserve and park are regarded as some of the most beautiful environments on the Sunshine Coast. They offer people an opportunity to get away from the town centres and connect with nature and the ocean.

    Where to from here

    Council is currently collating all feedback received to develop a draft Master Plan. The next phase of community engagement will take place in early 2023 to test and confirm that community aspirations have been captured and translated into the draft Master Plan. This stage of engagement is anticipated to include more on-line surveys, pop up stalls, meetings, workshops, and round table events.

    Council will keep the community updated as the project progresses.


    For more information, please contact council’s project officer at or on (07) 5475 7272.