Amazingly, at 8am in
the morning, just 20 minutes from home, and we already feel like we're on
holiday. That has to be one of the great advantages of a Moreton Island trip for
those of us living in Brisbane - its proximity and relative ease of access.
Moreton was our first 'real' 4wd holiday. It was the first
time we'd taken our Customline camper trailer on the beach, and really the first
time we'd taken it anywhere that you would class as a proper 4wd location. The
only misgiving we'd had was spending $380+ on ferry, national park entry and
camping fees. Easily our most expensive camping trip ever!
As the ramp lowered onto the beach at Tangalooma my mind was
full of concern .... would we get bogged within the first 10 metres and endure
the embarassment of a clumsy recovery in front of 50 or more vehicles all trying
to get off the ferry as quickly as they could? I shouldn't have worried. Our
Pajero didn't miss a beat getting off the ferry, even with a very heavily laden
camper in tow, and performed flawlessly throughout the whole trip.
After a quick rendezvous on the beach with our travelling
companions - none of whom had a camper trailer - we were off south to find the
cross-island 'Middle Track'. Five families, fours cars and 13 kids on our way!
Our trip across the island that morning, and in fact all of
our travels around Moreton, were relatively uneventful. So read no further if
you are seeking horror stories of vehicles bogged to their diffs, at the mercy
of fast rising tides etc.
However, pretty quickly we did learn one important lesson -
leave plenty of room to the vehicle in front. Being anxious to get off the beach
we followed too closely to the vehicle in front and, upon slowing down to avoid
rear-ending them, very nearly found ourselves stuck half-way up the steep
incline off Tangalooma Beach.
The rest of the Middle Track was a fun, albeit bumpy, trip.
We took it pretty slowly and were really impressed with how the Pajero, left
pretty well to its own devices, hauled the trailer solidly up and around the
sometimes steep, somtimes rutted and frequently soft and deep sand track. The
only minor incident was a 'squashed' shackle connecting the trailer safety chain
to the vehicle - a casualty of our bottoming-out on some of the rutted sections.
In about 30 minutes (I told you we were going slowly), we
were across the island and onto the Eastern Beach. Turning north we enjoyed the
easy run of a wide beach and hard-packed, nearing low-tide sand. After the
Middle Track the biggest challenge was keeping the speed down.
Our travelling troupe had met beforehand and decided
collectively that we would camp on the Eastern Beach side, but exactly where had
not been agreed. So what followed was an hour or so of trekking backwards and
forwards over about 5 kilometres of coastline trying to find an "ideal"
campsite. We eventually settled on a spot about 2 kilometres south of the more
established Blue Lagoon camping area, in the lee of a small hill and about 50
metres off the beach. Being a reasonable distance off the beach was important,
as we were concerned about having a large number of children near a quite
heavily trafficked "road".
Lesson number two for the trip was you can never have too
many sandpegs, and these can never be too long! Our welcome to Moreton that
evening was an enormous stormfront that passed over around midnight and, we
heard later, blacked out something like 80,000 homes on the mainland. The wind
was the strongest we'd experienced in our camper, and I was up much of the night
replacing pegs that had blown loose, causing the annexe walls to flap noisily.
During the night we could hear the stronger gusts come over the small hill
behind us, then moments later the camper would be rocking on its suspension as
the wind slammed into the heavy canvas walls.
The morning brought no immediate reprieve to the wind,
although it was clear and fine otherwise. We ended up hosting our entire group
for breakfast in the annexe of our campertrailer (we have an extended 12 foot
tent version, with a fully-walled annexe area). It was the only place where you
could have a cup of tea out of the wind and blowing sand!
The outcome of a (somewhat crowded) breakfast planning
meeting was for us to head north up the ocean beach, visit the lighthouse, and
then try to find the more sheltered Honeymooners Bay to ride out the howling
wind. Our convoy of two Pajeros and two prados loaded up and hit the beach.
Honeymooners Bay was a real find - though our brilliant idea
to shelter there for the day was obviously shared by many others. We enjoyed
nevertheless a great day on the beach, swimming, surfing and playing cricket,
before returning to camp to find the wind had dropped to barely a light breeze.
The beauty of camping behind the beach was that, on some
days, we didn't drive anywhere at all. Except of course for our daily trip to
the Blue Lagoon camp ground to top-up our water containers, and for the more
civilised of us to use the 'facilities'!. We fished, swam, walked up the beach,
played bocce and cricket, and just sat around - with no need to pack ourselves
into cars and go anywhere. The perfect holiday.
Day three we did venture around the island, crossing back
over the Middle Track to go snorkelling at the Tangalooma wrecks. One of our
party had a small inflatable boat, which we used to ferry everyone across the
deep channel to a knee-deep sandbank against one of the wrecks. This turned out
to be the perfect base for kids and adults to snorkel and explore from, suiting
everyone from beginners up.
For me it was a great introduction to sand driving with the
camper trailer, and allowed us to make the most of a short five day break from
work by avoiding the need to spent hours and hours travelling to get to our
destination. Once you are onboard the ferry, you feel immediately in 'holiday
mode' and it only gets better once you get onto the Island.
As for our camper trailer, we're still very happy with it.
Away for five full days, Moreton was our longest trip yet and we definitely
noticed that our 'comfort levels' by day five were a bit above our companions in
smaller dome tents, sleeping on air mattresses and eating every meal 'outside'.
Probably the biggest advantage was the enormous storage capacity of the trailer.
Gear in our vehicle was limited to our enormous esky and a few smaller, fragile
items. Everything else needed for a family of five beach camping for five days
fitted easily into the trailer.
Lesson three, of course, was to never underestimate the
amount of sand that can accumulate in your vehicle after five days on the beach.
Now, months later, we're still finding little hidey-holes full of sand.
The verdict overall - one of the best family camping holidays
we've ever had. On the return ferry back to Brisbane I had barely reinflated the
tyres before talk started of planning a return visit to Moreton next year.
Moreton suited all of us perfectly. Those that wanted to sit around and relax
did, while those who wanted to explore the island and try some of the more
adventurous tracks and activities did that too.
thanks to Craig & Alison for this
great trip report