Moreton Island (part 2)

So yes we have returned back home from holidays and already looking forward to the next!  We had a great time away and spent a lot of time catching up with all our Queensland based friends.  We enjoyed our first visit to Moreton Island, it’s very different to Fraser Island, a lot smaller, fewer people and less ‘things’ to see.

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So how do you get to Moreton Island you might ask?  Well it’s on this ferry below, the MICAT. We arrived at the Port of Brisbane early in the morning and were loaded on to the ferry.  Once you are parked up you can set about deflating your tyres ready for your adventure ahead.  To help on your return back to the mainland, they even have air hoses on board the ferry.

Once that’s done its time to head upstairs where you can relax and enjoy the 1 1/2 hour journey to the island.  Snacks, tea, coffee, alcohol and souvenirs are all available for purchase on board.  The ferry ticket was by far the most expensive part of the trip at about $250 per vehicle, then factor in that we were towing the trailer so we had to double that cost, it was a fairly expensive journey! 

We spent 4 days on the island and saw most of it during that time.  It really is a beautiful place.

The main thing people know about Moreton Island is the Tangalooma Wrecks and who doesn’t love a shipwreck!

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Here you will find 15 shipwrecks which were deliberately sunk to form a breakwall for small boats and to also create a dive and snorkel site, Brisbane’s only shipwreck snorkelling site.

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In recent years the tops of the wrecks were cut off for safety reasons, but the ship hulls are still there waiting to be explored.  The waters are clear and full of marine life and coral and only a very short swim from the shore and you can be amongst this.

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There seems to be quite a bit of history associated with Moreton Island and I guess we will have to explore this during our next visit!  From 1952 to 1962 a whaling station, Queensland’s only whaling station, operated on the western side of the island and the remains now form part of the Tangalooma Resort facilities.   Each season up to 600 humpback whales were harvested, with a maximum of 11 whales per day.  Thankfully these actions don’t take place today, but it’s still an interesting part of history.

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During the wars, major coastal defence bases were located on Moreton Island with the purpose of protecting the approaches to the port of Brisbane.  Cowan Cowan Point provided a main defence base in World War I and World War II saw two defence battery complexes built at Cowan Cowan and another on the eastern side of the island.  Remains of the batteries and other relics still remain on the island and hopefully during our next visit we can explore these.

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Moreton Island offers the most stunning sunsets, every day is different and the colours can vary so significantly.  It was so beautiful to watch the sun set over the calm waters after a fun filled day of exploring.

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Below is the view from our camp ground.  We were camped in the Ben Ewa camping zone and it was very central to everywhere.  It was your typical National Parks campground with facilities and they do allow you to have your own campfires on site.  There are numerous different camping zones available on the island, some basically on the beach and some more remote, as well as accommodation at the resort and various holiday houses.

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Below is the photo of Blue Lagoon.  This lagoon is a natural fresh water lake on the north-eastern side of the island.  The interesting thing about Blue Lagoon is that it features equal parts of cool clear water and tea tree oil.

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Next up it was on to visit the Cape Moreton Lighthouse.

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Cape Moreton lighthouse was built from local sandstone in 1857 by the NSW Government (Queensland was not declared a separate state until two years later).

It stands 23 meters high and is the only example of a stone lighthouse in Queensland.

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The walk up to the lighthouse from the car park is relatively short and well worth it for the views, these are spectacular.

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After leaving the lighthouse we made our way to the township of Bulwer for lunch and this is where you’ll find ‘Castaways at Bulwer’.

This little township consists of holidays houses and permanent residents, but the main drawcard is the cafe/bar.  We had lunch and beers here and the food was great, highly recommended.

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After leaving the town you head back down to the beach for a short while and this is where we came across the Bulwer shipwrecks, these we had not heard about so looked to google to find out about them!  It turns out that 3 ships were deliberately sunk there back in the early 1930’s by a gentleman named Robert Alexander Gow.  Why would he do this? …. well apparently it was so he could have a sheltered area to load and unload his 12 metre boat!

If you head towards the southern end of the island you will find yourself in the township of Kooringal, home to the ‘Gutter Bar’.  We found this end of the island to be a lot more secluded, not too many people on the beach or tracks.

We stopped at the Gutter Bar for a beer, great little pub.  At the time we were the only ones there, but when it was busy it would have a great atmosphere.

After leaving the pub we had to make our way back to camp via the eastern beach, before cutting across the island half way up.  As it turns out, this trip ended up being a little concerning as we ended up having to race the tide.  It was starting to get dark and we were still a fair way from the road that cuts across the island.  As we were driving and the light was fading it became harder to see any drop offs in the sand and our  spotlights got a good work out that night!  It was really just a matter of trying to follow the water line, which in places was very narrow, or waiting for the wave to go back out.  With us monitoring our progress via phone maps I think we were all relieved when we reached that turn off and we were off the beach!  Getting stuck on the wrong side of the island, at night, with the tide coming in was not really our idea of fun!

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After a great few days exploring the island and spending time with great friends it was our time to leave and head back to Sydney.  As always, we had a great holiday and glad we were able to share it with all of you.

Would we head to Moreton Island every year like we do with Fraser? ….. probably not.  Would we go back to visit again at some point …. definitely.

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Moreton Island

Yesterday we arrived on Moreton Island for our 3 night stay.  This part of the trip we are spending with our friends Danny and Cat and their two young children.

After arriving on the island we proceeded straight to our campsite to set up the camper trailer and tent.  We are staying in the Ben-Ewa camping area which is just behind the beach but, as with a lot of national park camping grounds, the sites are well set out and this zone even has toilet facilities.

After lunch we all took a drive down the beach and then crossed to the eastern side of the island for a look.

We arrived back on the western beach just in time for sunset, which turned out perfectly for Shelly to take yet more photos!

Day one on the island is over, but we still have plenty of exploring to do.  Hopefully the fact that we both got bogged (at the same time, but on different tracks!) today isn’t a bad omen for the rest of the trip!

Goodbye Fraser Island, hello Moreton Island!

Unfortunately Saturday meant the end to our time on Fraser Island. As usual we had an amazing time and it was sad to leave, the only silver lining this time was that our holiday continues on Moreton Island!

After leaving Fraser Island we detoured to visit Rob, one of Shelly’s old school friends for a quick catch up.  It would have to be about 25 years since they last saw each other! We then headed back to our home for the next two days at Danny & Cat’s house.

Sunday we all went round to see our friend Stewy’s new house and spend some time together.  We all had a great afternoon of beer and BBQ while catching up with all our friends, always great to catch up with our Queensland friends we don’t get to see too often.

Monday morning was an early start for our trip to the Port of Brisbane to board the barge to Moreton Island.  We were the first on the barge for the 1 1/2 hour trip to the island.

Moreton Island here we come!

First time visit and we are a little excited!

Western beach of Fraser Island

Fraser Island is so diverse in its landscape, from the long white sandy beaches and dunes, coloured sand cliffs, swamps and freshwater lakes to bush and rainforests, there is so much to offer.

Take a drive over to the Western Beach and you’ll feel like you are in another world, it’s the complete opposite to the Eastern Beach ….. remote, unspoilt, very few people and very flat water, compared to the rough waves on the eastern beach.

One of the reasons it’s so unspoilt is that it doesn’t get the same amount of  tourists as other areas of the island do. It’s relatively remote, the sand is very soft and there are numerous creek crossings. Time your visit wrongly by not checking the tides and you could easily find yourself bogged, submerged or stranded until the tide goes down.

Well that’s exactly what we did on Friday. Tides times were good on both sides of the island for a day trip to the western beach.

Our friends, Leah and Brendan were camping on the western beach so we called in to check out their campsite, wow! Right on the water, surrounded by a clear creek perfect for swimming or floating down. They certainly had a great spot.

You are unable to drive the whole length of the western beach, but we drove as far north as you can and stopped for an early lunch on our own section of beach without another person in sight.

Dinner Friday night was Beer and pizza night!  Homemade pizza made in the Webber, yum!  Sometimes you just need to compromise when camping and if that means using a tin of canned capsicum as a rolling pin, then you just go with it!

A day of adventure and friends 

On Wednesday we caught up with some other friends, Leah and Brendan, who are also currently staying on the island. They are camped on the western side of the island so we met them in a central location and set out for a day of exploring some more of the inland tracks.

We had planned to meet at Black Lagoon so we set out early for the drive to our starting point.

The track we drove on wasn’t exactly the smoothest of tracks, it was a little overgrown and had quite a few trees down, but little did we know things were going to get a whole lot worse the further the day progressed!

We decided to find ‘Old Bellert’s Hut’ and used our trusty HEMA maps app to guide us there. You know how I said the tracks in the morning were bad, well the ones to the hut were atrocious!  To say these were overgrown would be an understatement.  If you like the paint work on your 4WD, do not even attempt these tracks!  It felt like we were the first cars down this track in years!

We finally made it though and were greeted by a few thousand mosquitoes, not the place you want to spend too much time at!

Old Bellerts Hut ruins used to be owned by Hans Bellerts, a linesman who maintained the telegraph line to Sandy Cape in the 1930’s. We are lead to believe that Bellert used to run along the old telegraph line in an old T Model Ford to see that the line was properly serviced.

The weather started to turn again so we headed back to our camp to eat lunch under the gazebo and Mr Dingo came for a visit just as we arrived back.

Speaking of weather though, check out the video below of what we drove in earlier in the morning! Fraser Island sure puts on the weather at times!​

Exploring the lakes 

Day started off with two dingo sightings. It doesn’t matter how many times we see dingoes during our travels, it’s still exciting to see one, they are such beautiful animals.

Again on the inland tracks we made our way first to Lake Boomanjin.  This is a pretty special lake ….. at 200 hectares it’s the largest perched lake in the world, AND it sits on the largest sand island in the world! How cool is that!

Perched lakes form when a build up of organic matter raises the lake floor to above sea level.  Lake Boomanjin’s water is stained a tea colour and at times appears in shades of red, purple, blue and brown.  This staining is due to the tannin from surrounding trees.

Next lake to visit was Lake Birrabeen.  This is another of Fraser Island’s perched lakes and its crystal clear water and pure white sand makes for another spectacular view.

This would have to be the little brother of  Lake McKenzie and we love it for that reason.  The view is very similar, but hardly anyone goes here so quite often you will have the beach to yourself.

While at the lake we found this adorable little turtle.  He was struggling in the small waves and floating on his back, every time he managed to flip over a wave came and pushed him on his back again.

So we picked him up and moved him in to the shallow water and reeds. He had a little rest on the sand and then took off through the reeds.

Next stop for us was Central Station.  This now beautiful rainforest area was originally established as a forestry camp when tree logging was allowed on the island.  Back in the day this logging village was home to about 30 houses and a school.

Central Station now houses displays explaining the history of the area.   There is also a large array of staghorns and some of these are huge.

Central Station is a great picnic area and also the point for many walks. One small walk is along the boardwalk around Wanggoolba Creek and through the beautiful rainforest.

The water in this creek is crystal clear, at a quick glance you will think it’s sand only, but there is actually clear water flowing through.  This creek was a sacred area for the traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people.

Arrived back at camp in time for a beautiful rainbow over the ocean!

Exploring the inland tracks 

Tuesday morning saw us say goodbye to Lauren, Liam, Tas and Ash as they started their journey back to Sydney.  We had a great couple of days with them playing tour guides for their first visit to Fraser Island!

After saying our goodbyes we decided to explore a few of the inland tracks at the southern end of the island and first stop was Tobys Gap Airstrip.  We aren’t sure if this Airstrip is ever used anymore, but we certainty wouldn’t want to be landing on it! It’s certainly a lot more overgrown than it was last time we visited.

The track then lead us around to Deep Creek and Ungowa. Deep Creek has great views over the western side of the island and you can also see another shipwreck from here.

The tracks weren’t very popular and we didn’t see another car in 2 1/2 hours driving, which is just how we like it!  The boat ramp and jetty at Ungowa aren’t exactly in good condition!

Walking down the jetty to take photographs was a balancing act of trying not to fall through the wooden planks!  Oh and if you ever visit this area, lather up in insect spray beforehand, they are fierce around here!

After a day of driving the tracks we were glad to get back to the eastern beach. The inland tracks are very bumpy and slow going, and on this day it involved dodging many trees and branches on the track as well, at times you are lucky to even reach the inland track speed limit of 30km / hour.

Once we reached the beach we stopped for lunch and found this little guy sitting in the sand.  ​​First time we’d seen one outside of an aquarium.

Later in the afternoon we took a drive down to the shipwreck to take some photos in the days fading light. We got some great photos, but of course this mean driving back to camp in the dark, not really fun at all!  The video below shows just a short section of the drive back to camp.​