Meg Forbes is a mum, freelance writer, and photographer living in the Redlands, South of Brisbane.
Published July 21st 2020
An accessible South East Queensland island adventure
Coochiemudlo Island, south of Brisbane on Redlands Coast, is a small, easy to access island that sits just an 8 minute passenger ferry, or 20 minute vehicle barge trip from Victoria Point. This beautiful island in the sheltered waters of southern Moreton Bay is popular amongst day-trippers, and as a holiday destination, and at just 5 square kilometres in area it is an ideal destination for recreational exploring.
Beautiful Coochiemudlo Island is just a short ferry trip from Victoria Point on Redlands Coast near Brisbane
Exploring Coochiemudlo Island by peddle or paddle power
Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to circumnavigating Coochiemudlo Island, or Coochie as the locals call it. Kayaking is a popular option, especially at high tide, and arguably the most difficult for visitors to get lost on as they follow the coastline around the entire island. Visitors with their own kayaks can launch from the Victoria Point boat ramp and paddle across the channel, or take their kayaks on the vehicle barge and launch from the island. Alternatively, visitors to the island can hire kayaks on the island from Coochie Boat Hire, or book a guided tour from the mainland with Redlands Kayak Tours. Finally, visitors who would prefer to explore the island by bicycle can bring their own bikes over on the vehicle barge, or hire one from Coochie Boat Hire as well. A map for exploring Coochie is displayed at the exit from the passenger ferry, which is just a short distance from the vehicle barge landing point on the island's Main Beach.
Coochie, with its beautiful beaches, wildlife, and visitor friendly sign-posting sits just waiting to be explored by land or sea
The other popular way for visitors to explore Coochie is by foot. Although the rest of this article will focus on circumnavigating the island by foot, the beaches, parks, and rest stops are equally accessible by kayak or bicycle. While circumnavigating the island is equally enjoyable in either direction, this article will guide readers in an anti-clockwise direction from the passenger ferry terminal. The "Coochiemudlo Track" is well marked and signposted all the way around the island.
Upon leaving the ferry terminal, visitors are greeted by Pioneer Park, which has a playground, electric BBQs, shaded picnic tables, water fountains, and public toilets. There are pathways beneath huge eucalyptus trees here, or you can choose to walk along the lovely sandy beach that is often passed by dolphins.
Well-equipped Pioneer Park provides visitors with a chance to regroup, have a snack, and apply sunscreen before starting on their adventure
Following the beach and pathways around two corners, you will come to Norfolk Beach. This sandy beach faces east towards Minjerribah / North Stradbroke Island, and has access paths to a shady parkland with two electric BBQs, picnic tables, water fountains, and public toilets.
Beautiful Norfolk Beach is fringed by shady parklands with great facilities
Much of the area behind Norfolk Beach is undergoing dune restoration, and is popular with small birds such as striated pardalotes, sacred kingfishers, and many types of honeyeaters. It is also a good spot to watch laughing kookaburras as they dive down into the undergrowth for their next meal.
Many birds, such as sacred kingfishers, call Norfolk Beach home
Continuing in an anti-clockwise direction, following a break, you will come to a few fallen trees near the corner that marks the beginning of Morwong Beach. This remains passable at high tide, although if you would like to walk along the sand rather than the pathways behind the beach it is best to wear shoes that you don't mind getting wet.
Transitioning from Norfolk Beach to Morwong Beach near high tide
Morwong Beach is one of the many places on Coochie that is great for spotting white bellied sea eagles and brahminy kites. It is also a popular location for rainbow lorikeets and sulphur crested cockatoos.
A white bellied sea eagle catching a flathead at Morwong Beach at low tide
There are a couple of benches and picnic tables installed along the parklands behind Morwong Beach, and towards the end of it there is a water fountain and public toilets. Morwong Beach is quite heavily affected by the tides, so if you chose to kayak around the island it will be easiest to land here at high tide.
A picnic table overlooking Morwong Beach at high tide
From here you can either take Elizabeth Street back down the centre of the island to your starting point, or you can continue towards Flinders Foreshore around footpaths and quiet streets to complete your circumnavigation. This interesting track takes you up a small hill side with beautiful views through the trees across Moreton Bay to the mainland, and on to Victoria Parade West.
This section of track provides stunning views across Moreton Bay
Walking back towards your starting point on Main Beach takes you along more shady pathways, access paths to the beach, and other interesting island locations such as this pink bus animal rescue that allows photographs in return for donations towards animal feed.
Stop and support animal rescue in return for an unusual photograph
Returning from this loop to Main Beach and Pioneer Park, you have the option of picnicing or BBQing in the park, or of ordering a hot meal from either the Red Rock Cafe, or the Curlew Cafe, both of which are equally excellent options.
Follow the shady pathways or Main Beach to complete your circumnavigation of Coochiemudlo Island
In addition to the abundance of marine and bird life that can be seen around the island, this trail will take you past a number of interesting heritage sites. Coochiemudlo Island sits on Quandamooka Country, and remains culturally significant to the Quandamooka People today.
Coochiemudlo Island is on beautiful Quandamooka Country
More recently, Matthew Flinders landed with his sloop, the Norfolk, on 19th July 1799, and settlers such as Doug and Mary Morton who were early farmers on the island left a number of interesting innovations such as steps down to a sheltered bathing area.
Moreton's Steps leading down to a sheltered bathing area
There are a few things that visitors should check before embarking on this adventure, which is suitable for many children either in baby or toddler carriers, or walking with snack breaks if they are older. These include:
Tides and weather can be checked here. While high tide is best for kayaking, walkers may prefer a slightly lower tide for easier passage around some of the trees at Morwong Beach.
Sunscreen, insect repellent, and sun-smart clothing and hats are essential when circumnavigating Coochie by foot, kayak, or bicycle. It is also advisable for visitors to keep their shoes on if swimming at Norfolk Beach and Morwong Beach as bull routs (similar to stonefish) can be present.
Although there are water fountains at Norfolk Beach, Morwong Beach, and Pioneer Park, taking freshwater (and snacks) allows visitors to spend a longer time exploring each area of the island.
Finally, visitors walking with dogs should be aware that dogs are prohibited on some parts of the island for conservation reasons such as nesting shorebirds. This includes all reserves on the island, and the foreshore and seashore of Coochiemudlo Island from the boat ramp at Main Beach, extending in:
- an easterly direction to Norfolk Beach; and
- a northerly direction to Morwong Beach; and
- a westerly direction to the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Parade at Morwong Beach.
Dogs are welcome on some areas of the island, while others are protected for conservation
Coochiemudlo Island, with its small size and close proximity to Brisbane, provides visitors with a perfect day out that combines adventure, beautiful sandy beaches, great facilities, and good food options. Have you visited this accessible island paradise yet?
Coochiemudlo Island's size and accessible location make it a perfect South East Queensland day trip adventure