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Exploring Moreton Island

Home > Brisbane > Beaches | Environment | National Parks | Outdoor | Walks
by Roz Glazebrook (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published May 6th 2019
Love Moreton Island
I'm sitting in my sister's beach shack on the East Coast of Tasmania. It's cold and I'm wearing my Ugg boots, thermal underwear and three jumpers. It is hard to believe a couple of weeks ago I was swimming in Blue Lagoon and in the ocean at Easter on Moreton Island.

View from Mount Tempest
View from Mount Tempest


I came to Tasmania for three weeks to look after my sister's rescue greyhound while she goes overseas with her English husband to visit his family.

It had been two years since I went camping on Moreton Island with my bushwalking club. I wrote about the last trip
here

The trip two years ago at Easter was wonderful and so was the one this year. We did some of the same walks and some different ones. There was only one woman who was on the previous camp. This time, she brought her new partner to enjoy the Island.

Birds on beach
Birds on beach


Eighteen of us caught the 6 am ferry across to the Island on Good Friday. Alan Genninges, from Moreton Experience Camp, our host and bus driver took us to the steep sand dunes at The Desert where we all had a lot of fun sliding down the dunes on waxed boards.

Sand slide
Sand slide


Alan then dropped us off at the start of the 10-kilometre track to the historic Rous Battery. He arranged to pick us up on the beach at the end of the walk. It was a beautiful walk with lots of lovely wild flowers, scribbly gum forest and patches of beautiful green feathery ground plant called foxtails (Caustis blakei). It was interesting exploring the ruins of the World War 11 forts and underground bunkers. We hadn't been able to visit them on the last trip.

Rous Battery
Rous Battery


The Rous Battery is near the coast on the Eastern side of the Island. The concrete fortifications were built to defend the Brisbane coast during World War 11. Some of the buildings had steps leading underground. Tom, who had been in the army, told us ammunition would have been kept in some these underground bunkers.

Rous Battery Track
Rous Battery Track


After our walk, Alan picked us up on the beach in his bus 'Heidi' and drove us to his well-set up private campsite behind Blue Lagoon. A few people set up their own tents, but most of us slept in the large spacious permanent canvas camp tents. One woman even set up her small tent inside one of the large tents. She had been there last year and had a few ants in her bed. The campsite has fridges, gas stoves, a hot water shower and compost toilets near by. It was very luxurious as we could have fresh food and cold wine.

Fungus on Rous Battery Track
Fungus on Rous Battery Track


A few of us went for a swim in Blue Lagoon. It was cold when you first got in, but we soon warmed up.

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon


No one had their packs eaten this time. On my last trip, a couple of people who had left food in their day packs got their packs eaten by hungry native rats. We were all warned not to leave any food in our tents or packs for hungry rats to find.

Campsite
Campsite


On Saturday we walked fifteen kilometres along the beach to North Point after walking the Honeyeater circuit around Honeyeater Lake. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we saw lots of beautiful birds and amazing driftwood structures. I saw flocks of pelicans this time, which I hadn't seen on the same walk previously. We walked along the beach, crossing creek outflows, and swam in the Champagne Rocks again, but this time the tide was low and the waves weren't as spectacular as last time. It was still fun though and we saw some lovely striped black and white fish in the pools.

Pelicans on beach
Pelicans on beach


Trusty Heidi met us at North Point and took us back to camp, where we swam in Blue Lagoon again and enjoyed pre dinner drinks and nibbles.

Heidi the bus
Heidi the bus


On the walk to Honeyeater Lake around Blue Lagoon, we came across a snake skeleton and tortoise shell. A few people braved the mud to swim in Honeyeater Lake.

Snake skeleton
Snake skeleton


At night we sang to Helen's accompanying ukulele and watched the moon rise over the sea. Alan's resident bush stone curlews also came for a visit.

Beautiful flowers on Mount Tempest
Beautiful flowers on Mount Tempest


The Easter bunny joined us on Easter Sunday on our climb up 285m Mount Tempest. The road had deteriorated since last time with some eroded parts the bus couldn't navigate, so we had to walk an extra 2.2 kilometres return to the start of the 2.5 kilometre track up the mountain.

Mount Tempest Track
Mount Tempest Track


The mountain track was lovely with lots of flowering plants and magnificent 360-degree views of the island. This mountain is the highest stabilised sand dune in the world.

Wading across creek
Wading across creek


A highlight for me was seeing a large spider sleeping on the wooden ledge at the top. I found out from a spider identification site that was a bark huntsman (Pediana regina) of the spider Family Sparassidae. These spiders are usually found on tree trunks or under loose bark in eucalypt forests. They are usually camouflaged for hunting on tree-trunks. They can be elusive because they move very quickly when disturbed. Our huntsman was asleep and wasn't bothered by us. It had its front two pairs of legs close together, which is distinctive from other huntsmen spiders. The Y-shape pattern can be dark brown to medium brown in colour. Ours was dark brown.

Bark Huntsman
Bark Huntsman


We saw lots of processionary caterpillars along the track back to the bus. These caterpillars turn into bag shelter moths. I saw a large Erebus terminitincta moth, which was on the wall of Tom's tent one morning. These moths have two large eyespots on their front wings.



Walking along beach
Walking along beach


After our mountain climb, Alan took us to the big sandhills. After a bit of scrub bashing we walked to the top of the large sand hills, passing some interesting formations along the way. We even found an old war relic, which we left where we found it. We walked about thirteen kilometres on Sunday.

Across the sand dunes
Across the sand dunes


On Monday we had a more relaxed day. Alan drove us to the Cape Moreton lighthouse. We explored around the museum and lighthouse, then walked down to the Boulders beach where we swam in the ocean. We only walked about eight kilometres that day. Five people had to return on the Monday ferry to work on Tuesday.

Boulders on beach
Boulders on beach


On our last day, Tuesday, after another swim in Blue Lagoon and walk along the beach, we went to Tangalooma. Some people in our group went swimming and snorkeling around the wrecks while we waited for the ferry. I didn't go swimming because I didn't have my snorkel and mask with me.

Wrecks at Tangalooma
Ferry and Wrecks at Tangalooma


I'm glad I didn't because the people who went had a few dramas. A couple of people almost got run over by the ferry. They were snorkeling and didn't see it coming. One man got picked up by a jet ski to avoid a near collision. One woman got bitten on the finger by a fish, and another one got scraped against one of the rusty wrecks by the strong current. They all enjoyed their swim though, even though one had to go and get a tetanus injection when she got back to Brisbane.

Figures on sand dunes
Figures on sand dunes


This year, we didn't catch the sunset over the Glass House Mountains from the lighthouse like we did last time. The tides weren't right to do this, but we did see some beautiful moon rises over the ocean.

Detonator
Detonator


Captain Cook made the first recorded European sightings of Moreton Island. He named the main headland Cape Moreton in May 1770. The Traditional name for the island is Mulgumpin, land of the Ngugi people. The Ngugi people from Mulgumpin form a part of the traditional estate of the Quandamooka peoples, known as cungen zungun people, or people of the dugong.

This year I set up my wildlife trap camera behind the tents and captured two small creatures. I can't make out what they are, but there were short nosed bandicoots and native rats around the camp. I was hoping to capture a photo of the Pale Field Rat (Rattus tunneyi), which is one of two native rats that live on the island. They shelter by day in shallow burrows in dense grass or sedges and come out at night to feed on grass stems, seeds, roots and sedges, and insects.

Small creatures on wildlife camera
Small creatures on wildlife camera


We had lots of storms over the five days of our visit, but we had shelter at camp and were lucky it didn't rain hard while we were out walking and exploring the island.

Campsite
luxury campsite


Alan told us he wasn't getting as many school groups coming to his camp, and he may have to reconsider what to do about his business. He is a wonderful host and has great facilities for an amazing stay on the Island. He has an intimate knowledge of Moreton Island gained through over thirty years. I asked him if groups could arrange one of his trips and he said they could contact him for a quote. So if you want to go to the Island but you don't have a four-wheel drive, get a bunch of friends together and give Alan a ring on 0428 783 781. You can choose to be very active or just relax and go fishing or do small walks, swim or watch birds.

With Alan's bus support, you can get to see a lot of the island and many different habitats including long deserted sandy beaches, mangroves, champagne pools filled with bubbles, Mount Tempest, little and big sand hills, heath lands, freshwater lakes, creeks, salt marshes, tidal flats, perched lakes, melaleuca swamps, sedgelands, heath and eucalypt woodlands. You will also learn a lot about the history, wildlife and plant life of the island. You only need to take your own food, sleeping bag or blankets, and clothes.

Walking on Boulder beach
Walking on Boulder beach


I hope to get back again to the Island next year. It would be a great place to escape to in winter too.

View from Moreton lighthouse
View from Moreton lighthouse


Walkers and driftwood
Walkers and driftwood

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Why? Explore a wonderful island
When: Anytime
Where: Moreton Island
Cost: Ferry and camping fees
Your Comment
I too really like Moreton. I laughed imagining you in Tassie when we are still enjoying beautiful autumn weather in the Sunshine State,
by May Cross (score: 3|4654) 15 days ago
I enjoyed reliving the Moreton Island experience through your eyes, Roz. It is a magnificent island right on our doorstep. Great article thanks. Deb
by dwyer (score: 0|4) 12 days ago
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