There’s something to be said about a place that can only be accessed by boat and explored with a sturdy and dependable 4WD. Moreton Island, Queensland, is just a one-hour ferry ride from the Port of Brisbane, but feels as far from the big city as the Mongolian steppe or the fjords of Norway.
Quite distinct from the typical portrait of a tropical paradise, the island is a wonderland of the weird and wild. Expanses of rolling sand dunes tumble into bright seas, stretches of coastline meet eerie forest and underwater there are manmade reefs whose splendour is matched by the creatures living in them.[related_articles]62493,61249,59449[/related_articles]
For adventure lovers, Moreton Island will boggle the mind and deplete adrenaline reserves. But before you buckle up and get over there, here are some hot tips to help you prepare for the ultimate thrillseeker’s weekend escape.
Moreton Island was made for off-roading. The island is a tangle of sandy highways that fracture into narrow tracks and expansive beaches, and it’s the kind of place where even a short trip to the general store becomes an adventure.
You won’t find a single sealed road, so having access to a 4WD is essential if you want to make the most of your time here. Choose one of the campsites on the beach, and spend your days exploring the fishing spots, surf breaks, inland lagoons and sand dunes. It’s not the kind of place where you’ll be satisfied with kicking back at the campsite for days on end.
Hot tips for 4WD
While there are 4WD hire and taxi services available on the island, your best bet is to organise something before you arrive and book your spot on the MICAT vehicle ferry as early as you can. Make sure you’ve purchased a vehicle access permit and a camping permit before you travel, as rangers patrol the island regularly. Also ensure that your tank is full and you’ve got some reserves as there are no petrol stations on the island.
If you’re desperate, there’s a general store in Bulwer that sells jerry cans, but be prepared to fork out a small fortune for your fill.[related_articles]60930,62452,60619[/related_articles]
You must also beware of the tides, as some beach tracks aren’t passable during high tide. And for god’s sake, take a map. Most of the Moreton Island has no phone reception and it’s is a little trickier to navigate than a Google Maps screenshot will prepare you for.
While nearby Stradbroke Island and Double Island Point are known for their incredible surf, Moreton often slips under the radar because it’s more challenging to get to. If you’re able to plan your trip around the swell forecast, you’re guaranteed to find some of the best waves in Australia on its unassuming shores.
Hot Tips For Surfers
On a small easterly swell you’ll find fun beach breaks all along the eastern coast, with a few small coves such as Honeymoon Bay offering dreamy little point breaks. If you’re lucky enough to get a larger east/north-east swell with southerly winds, the north-western tip of the island will turn on the magic. North Point is a luxuriously long right point break, and the sandy points around Yellow Patch offer picture perfect barrels that break right onto the beach.[related_articles]58066,55011[/related_articles]
Great whites have been known to pop their heads up in the waters around Moreton Island, so be sensible. Always avoid surfing alone, and remember that dusk is for beers, not for barrels.
The aptly named Big Sand Hills are vast mounds of rippled gold sand with views of Brisbane City for those who don’t mind a little leg burn. Far from just a great place for a cheeky sundowner, these hills are steep enough that you can hit some pretty high speeds with a sand toboggan and a bit of a run up.
It’s the tropical equivalent of snow tobogganing, and the huge aquifers that lie beneath the dunes mean that the sand even remains bizarrely cold despite the scorching Aussie sun.
Hot tips for sand-tobogganing
Baffling though it may seem, it’s best if you have an actual sand toboggan for this. Boogie boards and surfboards simply don’t cut it (trust us, we’ve tried). There are companies on the island that provide tours or board hire if you can’t rustle up your own.
Snorkelling and diving
The Wrecks of Moreton Island are a stunning marine feature consisting of 15 ships that were deliberately sunk in 1963 to provide a breakwater for small boats. It has since become a world famous snorkel and dive sight, and when you see the clarity and brilliance of the waters that encase this peculiar masterpiece it’s not hard to see why.[related_articles]60619[/related_articles]
On the northern end of the island you’ll also find Flinders Reef, which is home to the only coral reef in the Brisbane region. Curtin Artificial Reef is another spectacular manmade wonder that is home to wobbegongs, gropers, trevally, rays and schooling fish.
Hot tip for aquatic sports
The Wrecks are a short swim from the shore, but if you’re not comfortable with currents or deep waters you can join the Tangalooma snorkel tour which will drop you there by boat. You can also hire canoes to explore The Wrecks from a different angle, and this is a great way to see some of the larger marine creatures that frequent the island including dolphins, whales and stingrays.
How to get to Moreton Island
- Fly Qantas into Brisbane Airport
- Take the Australian Explorer to Holt Street Wharf
- Take the MICAT ferry (90 mins) to Tangalooma Wrecks, from where you can access the island
[qantas_widget code=BNE]Check out Qantas flights to Brisbane.[/qantas_widget]
(Lead image: Tourism & Events Queensland)