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Moreton Island, Qld
Matthew Flinders decided to name the island to the east of the bay, Moreton Island. It was Flinders who established that Moreton Island and Stradbroke Island were separated from the mainland.
Moreton Island is ah uge 192, 600 hectre wilderness, it is a rare example of a virtually untouched sand island with a wide range of related features, including aeolian landforms, perched lakes, wetlands, and the unusual Mount Tempest which is reputed to be the highest permanent sand dune in the world.
It is also claimed that the sand dunes are the steepest in the world. There are no established roads on the island although 4WD vehicles can be driven along the tracks which run beside the 40-km beach.
There are three trips which can be taken across to Moreton Island. They are all delightful and interesting daytrips which involve travelling from the centre of Brisbane to the appropriate ferry, jetty or wharf. The vehicular ferries travel regularly and are the major means of access.
The appeal of Moreton Island is that it is only a few hours by ferry from the centre of Brisbane. Moreton is a sand island it is important to understand the rules of staying on recognised tracks and driving according to the beach-driving rules.
Bulwer from Scarborough trip
The boat harbour at Scarborough is the mooring site for the Combie Trader, a vehicular ferry travelling between the mainland and Bulwer on Moreton Island every day but Tuesdays. The ferry trip takes two hours. Phone (07) 3203 6399 for departure times.
The ferry from Scarborough to Bulwer is an ideal way of experiencing the particular delights of the northern half of Moreton Island. Bulwer is a tiny village which is really geared to deal with the travellers who arrive on the island and require food, bait and supplies.
From Bulwer the most popular routes across Moreton Island are to North Point and across to the island's eastern beaches. The roads pass through the thick forests of the Moreton Island National Park and at various points it is possible to stop and admire the island's large dunes and freshwater lakes (Lake Jabiru - the largest lake on the island is located to the south of the Bulwer-Cape Moreton track and Blue Lagoon is inland from the beach near the south-eastern road from Bulwer).
There are two major tracks to the east from Bulwer. Both head east from the village for 5 km. The northern track, which is 8 km long, leads out to Cape Moreton and North Point. The major structure of interest in the area of Cape Moreton and North Point is the lighthouse which was built at Cape Moreton in 1857. The Cape Moreton lighthouse was the first built in Queensland and was a vital aid to shipping trying to enter the shallow and complex waters of Moreton Bay.
It is possible to drive south along the beach from the lighthouse and to join the other major road from Bulwer south of the Blue Lagoon. The southern track heads east from the village for 5 km and then heads south-east for 8 km until reaching the beach. It passes the Blue Lagoon.
Tangalooma and Kooringal
The Moreton Venture is a vehicular ferry which runs to both Tangalooma and Kooringal on Moreton Island. The trip takes around 2 hours. A four-wheel drive is a necessity although many journeys to Kooringal at the southern end of the island are for fishing. Phone (07) 3895 1000 for ferry departure details.
Tangalooma was originally established as a whaling station. It closed down as recently as 1962 and more recently has become the location of the one major resort on Moreton Island which also runs a catamaran service to Tangalooma.
It departs from Brisbane every day but Monday, tel: (07) 3268 6333.
Like Bulwer in the north, Tangalooma is essentially a departure point. Roads head out of the small village across Moreton Island to the eastern beach and north along the coast to Bulwer. There is a common track for 5 km to the north of Tangalooma. The route then turns either north or east. 7 km east is the island's main beach and it is possible to drive north to Eagers Creek and Mt Tempest, reputedly the highest sand dune in the world.
Alternatively travellers can continue north to the tiny settlement of Cowan Cowan and drive along the island's western coast until they reach Bulwer. Tangalooma's greatest attraction is the coloured sand desert which lies behind the small settlement. There are no recognised roads out of Kooringal although there is a route up the eastern beaches. Like the island's other settlements, Kooringal is a tiny village which services 4WD visitors and bushwalkers.