Members Trips

stories from Australia



Moreton Island September 2005

by Craig & Alison

    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