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A Day on Moreton Bay

Home > Brisbane > Beaches | Day Trips | Escape the City | Nature | Outdoor
by Jenny Rossiter (subscribe)
Writer, photographer, educator, explorer of places new, with a passion for adding fun back into life.
Published January 17th 2016
A Delightful Day of Island Hopping
A Day on the Water

A peaceful day out in the cooling breezes of Moreton Bay was the perfect antidote to the crowds, pavement pounding and heat of Brisbane.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Russell Island, Moreton Bay
A Beautiful Day on the Bay. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


For the tiny cost of $10.00 return, you can hop on the ferry departing Redland Bay and visit any of the Islands of Southern Moreton Bay. The ferry travels between Russell, Lamb, Macleay and Karragarra Islands. Ferries travel between the islands in this order and also in reverse order.

The ferry offers air conditioned inside comfort or natural cooling outdoor seating with the opportunity to watch for other water craft and Bay bird and water life (turtles, dolphins and dugongs).

Russell Island

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Russell Island, Moreton Bay
Russell Island welcome mosaic. Photograph by JA Rossiter.

Russell Island is the largest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, at 8 kilometres long and nearly 3 kilometres wide.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Russell Island, Moreton Bay
A safe swimming enclosure. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Russell Island, Moreton Bay
Watch the crabs playing. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Russell Island, Moreton Bay
The vehicle ferry. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Russell Island has a range of cafés and shops and holiday accommodation. It would be a peaceful place to spend a week, leisurely exploring by bicycle or foot. It features swimming beaches, fishing spots, picnic areas, barbeque facilities and wetlands.

We enjoyed drinking in the view from Aunty Alice's Café.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Russell Island, Moreton Bay
Sipping a cool drink while enjoying a stunning view. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


A Future Change of Identity?
Russell Island residents still feel the stigma of the land scams of the 1970s, when blocks of land were sold that were found to be underwater at high tide. Until the 1940s the Island was known as Canaipa Island, a traditional name of the Quandamooka People. Residents would like to revert to this traditional name and put forward a request to use dual names eventually changing to the Aboriginal Island name. For now, the Queensland Department for Natural Resources and Mines decided (in December 2015), that 'Canaipa will be recorded and published as the alternative name for Russell Island in the Queensland Place Names database'.


Lamb Island

On Lamb Island, we set off to find the wetlands, and on the way found Lamb Island is home to lots of interesting residences.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Lamb Island, Moreton Bay
Dome house. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Lamb Island, Moreton Bay
Hexagonal house. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Lamb Island, Moreton Bay
Paddles ready for that super high tide. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


At the wetlands we saw birdlife, frogs and a green carpet of algae surrounded by paperbark trees. These gave the Island its original name of Nguderoo, meaning paperbark trees.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Lamb Island, Moreton Bay
Paperbark Wetlands. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Lamb Island, Moreton Bay
Lamb Island Convenience Store. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Lamb Island Convenience Store is a kiosk and general store. Meals and snacks are served to outdoor tables in a bush setting.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Lamb Island, Moreton Bay
Outdoor seating at Lamb Island Convenience Store. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Macleay Island

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Macleay Island, Moreton Bay
The passenger ferry arriving at Macleay Island. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Macleay Island has a large residential population and is self-sufficient with two shopping centres, a medical centre, school, church, library, golf club, community centre and arts complex. Holiday houses and Bed and Breakfast accommodation are available for extending your stay. The best way to see Macleay Island, the second largest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands would be to hire a bicycle or bring a vehicle.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Macleay Island, Moreton Bay
The Blue Parrot Café. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


There are several choices for lunch on Macleay Island. Just don't over extend your exploring time too far into the early afternoon. The kitchens in The Blue Parrot Café and Pub Paradise close at 2.00pm. Luckily a handy supermarket provided us with everything we needed for an impromptu picnic.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Macleay Island, Moreton Bay
Pub Paradise. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


There are a number of art works that are perfect for sitting and taking in the view on Macleay Island. Thanks to the community partnership, Cheeks on Seats, between Macleay Island and Redlands City Council, beautiful pieces of mahogany, bloodwood and paperbark have been turned into sculpted seating with calligraphy.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Macleay Island, Moreton Bay
Regina's seat provides a peaceful viewing place. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Macleay Island was called Jencoomercha until the 1840s.

Karragarra Island

Karragarra Island has retained its indigenous name. Of the four islands, it has the most striking white sand beach. Walking around Karragarra Island you have a sense of escape from civilisation, as there are no shops at all.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Karragarra Island, Moreton Bay


Karragarra has a safe swimming enclosure.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Karragarra Island, Moreton Bay
Safe swimming enclosure. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Karragarra Island, Moreton Bay
Picnic facilities and playground. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


It is possible to walk around Karragarra, the smallest of the four islands, in an hour. On your stroll you can see views of the other three islands, Mt Cotton and the Gold Coast hinterland.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Karragarra Island, Moreton Bay
The Bay offers beautiful scenery. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


Look out for old mango trees planted in 1896. Island produce was sent to Brisbane up until 1999. Large timber trolleys were used to transport Island goods to the ferry. The last goods trolley used on Karragarra Island sits near the ferry as a reminder of earlier farming times.

Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Karragarra Island, Moreton Bay
Historic goods trolley. Photograph by JA Rossiter.


All too soon it is time to head back to the mainland.

Bay Island Transit operates eco-friendly fast ferry services to Russell, Lamb, Macleay and Karragarra Islands. Ferries depart the Weinam Creek Marina on Banana Street at Redland Bay 7 days a week and run approximately every half hour. Tickets and a helpful Visitor Guide to the islands are available from the ticket office at the Redland Bay Marina. Timetables can be viewed at www.transitsystems.com.au/bayislands.
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Why? Enjoy the simple natural pleasures of life.
When: Ferries depart every half hour, 7 days a week.
Where: Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Queensland
Cost: Adult fare $5.00 Children under 4 free
Mainland to mainland return is $10 and includes all travel between islands.
Your Comment
I wasn't aware I could use my go card on the ferry.
This post doesn't point that out so I thought I'd mention it
by susie (score: 1|26) 1215 days ago
I took your suggestion to do the island hopping on the ferry given you gave such good reviews. Can I please point out that the return fare (without the go card) cost me $19.78!! It is not $10 return. Are you on any special concession fare because I checked with the ferry master and he confirmed the $10 was incorrect. Indeed if you had also indicated go card is acceptable, I would have brought my go card which would have saved me lots. Russell Island was our first stop and the locals indicated its a 8km walk to other end of the island if we want to swim. With no car, it was too far to walk. Taxis are expensive so we caught the ferry within the next half hour to the other islands. it was really a disappointing trip as all the other islands have nothing to offer in terms of swimming. I am an outdoor person but I have to rate this trip as being non-eventful and too expensive just to take a ferry ride with nothing to do on the islands!!
by sgowl (score: 0|8) 1204 days ago
Congratulations getting third place.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12353) 1209 days ago
Congratulations on winning third prize.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6160) 1209 days ago
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