Long derided by Brisbane residents, including being the subject of a bawdy ditty by a very well know local radio announcer in the late 70's or early 80's, Bribie Island has come of age! Colloquially known as "Bribie," the island now boasts ritzy canal estates and championship golf courses and is a sought after destination for the well-heeled and all just a one hour drive north of the Queensland capital.
Bribie also boasts suburbs that would pass as quaint beachside "villages" and of course, beautiful golden beaches. But, for us at least, the jewel in the crown is the national park. The park covers approximately 55.8 square kilometres and with the adjoining 25 square kilometres of state forestry, protects most of the island.
Although only accessible by four wheel drive, the national park is well worth a visit. The northern access track winds past Gallagher's and Poverty Creek campsites on the Pumicestone Passage (Western) side of the island and ultimately onto the eastern beach. Both are basic campgrounds – there are no facilities at Gallaghers and only toilets at Poverty Creek. The lack of facilities is well compensated by the stunning views over the tranquil waters of the passage to Queenland's iconic Glasshouse Mountains.
Camping is also allowed at the Ocean Beach Campground (bush camping) at the end of the northern access track. The campground consists of approximately 60 individual sites (varying levels of seclusion) nestled behind the dunes. It is also accessible via a 30 minute drive along the beach (subject to tides) from Woorim.
Activities to suit most ages and fitness levels are available. Exploring the natural surrounds, beach walking and swimming are amongst the most popular. There is also the ruin of the old fort to explore. The fort, a remnant from WW2, existed to protect Brisbane's shipping channel – the shallow waters of Moreton bay are littered with sandbars and islands, forcing larger ships to stay in the main north–west channel which runs beside Bribie. The passage of time and tides has left the northern searchlight structure exposed on the beach, and the weathered remnants of the gun emplacement is hidden behind the dunes, although accessible by a well signed walk.
Goannas and wallabies abound and there are also occasional sightings of dingoes and emus. Over 300 different species of birdlife have been identified - from raptors such as brahminy kites, ospreys and white bellied sea eagles to the beautiful but tiny red-backed fairy wren. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 migratory waterbirds use Bribie as rest stop on their trip from breeding grounds as far away as Alaska, China and Siberia.
Wetting a fishing line is also a very popular and often rewarding pastime, as there are many different ways and places to make a catch. Species will obviously depend on where on the island you choose to throw in your line, as well as the season, but whiting, flathead, dart and bream are common catches. Sand and mud crabs are also plentiful according to the locals.
Of course there is also the option to kick back, relax and enjoy the uninterrupted beach vistas - a fantastic pastime best enjoyed at dusk from the dunes in front of the ocean beach campsite!
For the camera enthusiasts, if this hasn't whet your appetite, as an added bonus there is the opportunity to capture both sunsets and sunrises over water and we have been fortunate indeed to witness some stunners.
The national park is managed by the Department of Environment and Resource Management – camping and driving permits are required (facilities are limited, but the rates are modest considering you get waterfront real estate) and can be arranged via their website.
As both the northern access track and the beach involve driving on sand, extra care is needed.