I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published January 27th 2020
I kayaked across to Coochiemudlo Island about six years ago with a friend. We had a swim and lunch and then kayaked back. We didn't see much of the Island on that trip. Recently I went on a walk around the Island with four friends and discovered what a beautiful and interesting place it was.
I met up with the others at the ferry at Victoria Point, early on a weekday morning. The ten-minute ferry ride goes to and from the island every half hour from very early in the morning. It only cost a few dollars.
There is also a car ferry if you want to take your car across, although the island is only five sq km, so you probably don't need a car for a short visit. I suspect the only cars belong to residents. We did see a lot parked near the ferry terminal, probably for people who work on the mainland.
It was a short 4-8 kilometre walk, but was very interesting with a variety of habitats including long sandy beaches, Bribie Island Pines, Scribbly Gums, Brush Box, Melaleuca Wetlands, Mangroves, Casuarinas and Pandanus.
There were information boards along the way describing the history of the area. English Explorer Matthew Flinders was the first white person to land on the Island on 19th July 1799 in his ship the Norfolk. Flinders called the island 'Sixth Island'. The Aboriginal families had called it "Kuychi Mudlo" for generations. It was a place where they obtained red ochre stones used as body decoration and as red pigment for their shields and skin.
As we walked along, we could hear the call of the colourful noisy pitta bird. The bird's call sounds like "walk to work".
The walk was fairly flat, with only a few slight rises and steps to negotiate. After walking along the beach for a short time, we walked through the forest to get to the other side of the island. There was a beautiful beach there with a few families fishing and enjoying the beach.
That beach ended in mangroves. We didn't stay long there because of the mosquitoes. We headed off up "Morton's Steps" to explore around the area near the scenic, nine hole course golf course which is next to the Coochiemudlo Community Centre.
Doug and Mary Morton were long time residents of the Island.
They farmed on the Island.
Doug was repatriated to the island after the war and spent 41 years living there. During that time he built five jetties and a five-hole golf course on the Western flats, two sets of steps down to his jetties and a lookout, named Flinders Lookout where it is thought Flinders viewed the southern reaches of Moreton Bay. There is a reserve and set of steps named after the Mortons.
Morton's steps led to one of Morton's jetties, which provided access and a safe haven in southerly gales. He also built a canal for his dinghy and a bathing yard, reached by a causeway consisting of a corduroy of saplings and a rock section.
After having a short rest at the lookout, we walked down a road and admired a beautiful old historic homestead with lace around the verandahs. We also passed an interesting yard, which contains some old train carriages and duck pond.
A replica of Matthew Flinders sloop the Norfolk was built by Bern Cuthbertson in Tasmania and was used on 19th July 1999 to re-enact Flinders Landing on the island. A local resident Edward Field Jones played the part of Flinders. My Brisbane friends' mother was a Cuthbertson and she had family who were boat builders in Tasmania and was related to Bern.
The toilet block at the end of the walk had some colourful murals of Matthew Flinders and his cat and boat.
After lunch at the café, we headed back to the mainland on the ferry and then drove home to Brisbane. It was a very enjoyable day. The beaches are beautiful and safe and shallow for swimming. You can also hire boats along the foreshore. I am sure the island is home to lots of creative people like artists and writers. It is quiet and unspoilt.
Unfortunately, you can't camp on the Island, but there is accommodation in Air BnBs and cottages for rent. You can find out about these here: www.visitcoochiemudlo.com
I remember camping there from Xmas to NYE back in about 1974. We camped near the golf course (I think we got permission from a land-owner). Problem was mosquitoes at night and sand flies all day. I think we gave up due to these pests before the week was out.