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Moreton Island MICAT Ferry Day Trip

Home > Brisbane > Day Trips | Family | Island Hopping | National Parks | Outdoor
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published July 27th 2022
Get wrecked at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
Mulgumpin or as it used to be known, Moreton Island, is a popular destination that is actually part of Brisbane. One way to get there, and really the only way if you have a 4-wheel drive, is on the MICAT ferry. This is also a popular way to just head over to the island for a day trip. Let's look at the ins and outs of a day trip on the MICAT ferry.

The MICAT ferry drops you off at the wrecks on Moreton Island
The MICAT ferry drops you off at the wrecks on Moreton Island


What are the wrecks

Before starting, I need to talk a little bit about The Wrecks and what is there. To create a sheltered place to anchor, a number of ships have been deliberately sunk off the coast of the island. This has also created a wonderful underwater haven for marine life, making it a lovely place to swim, snorkel, SCUBA, kayak or do stand-up paddle boarding.

The wrecks were deliberately sunk off the beach to create a safe anchorage & are now home to a myriad of sealfie
The wrecks were deliberately sunk off the beach to create a safe anchorage & are now home to a myriad of sealfie


Important to note

However - and this is important - while the MICAT ferry drops you off there and there are places to hire kayaks, snorkels and wetsuits, there is not much else there. So if you go, you have to bring your own water, food and fun. Yes, you can get food and drinks on the ferry, but some people have been caught out when they go across not realising that there is nothing at The Wrecks itself.

You can hire kayaks, snorkels & wetsuits from Moreton Island Adventures at The Wrecks
You can hire kayaks, snorkels & wetsuits from Moreton Island Adventures at The Wrecks


Taking the ferry

The MICAT ferry leaves from the Port of Brisbane, and there is no public transportation to the ferry terminal. I have read that you can walk from the train station to the terminal and some budget travellers do this, but looking at the roads, I am not sure how doable this is. Instead, if you want to save money, you can take the train to Wynnum North Train Station and then take a taxi or ride share to the terminal.

Most people take the ferry that leaves around 8 or 8:30 am depending on the season and takes 90 minutes to get to the island. During the low season, the ferry leaves the island at 3 or 3:30 pm. During the busy season, there is also one at 5 am in the morning and another that leaves the island a bit after 6 pm. They serve drinks and food on the ferry for people who skipped breakfast to get to the ferry on time. For the passenger service, there is usually lots of room on the ferry, but for people taking the 4-wheel drives across, expect to book 2 or 4 weeks in advance.

The MICAT ferry carries both passengers and vehicles
The MICAT ferry carries both passengers and vehicles


At the wrecks

Moreton Island adventures, who run the ferry service are the main business at The Wrecks, hiring out clear kayaks, snorkels and wetsuits (good in winter) from an orange truck that they park at The Wrecks. They also run a number of tours and other activities that you can book through them if you are looking to do more.

Snorkeling at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
Snorkeling at The Wrecks on Moreton Island


The Wrecks create a great sheltered spot that is good for anyone who is getting into the water. You do get boats, especially from Tangalooma Resort, passing through that area, so it is important to keep a lookout. But you can easily spend an hour snorkelling and an hour kayaking there. I don't have any underwater photos, but you can be completely surrounded by fish as you get close to the wrecks.

Clear bottom kayaks give you a great view of the sea life and can be hired at The Wrecks
Clear bottom kayaks give you a great view of the sea life and can be hired at The Wrecks


There are some facilities at the wrecks. The main shelter comes from the trees lining the beach, but they provide better shade in the morning and less in the afternoon. Just in from the beach is a small shelter with benches. Because there are no tables and because people came to chill out on the beach, it is not that popular as a place to sit.

There are only basic facilities at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
There are only basic facilities at The Wrecks on Moreton Island


There are also toilets and showers in the area as well. Rather than post a photo of the toilets, I have included photos of the camping area at The Wrecks which you need to walk through to get to the toilets.

The camping area at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
The camping area at The Wrecks on Moreton Island


Beyond The Wrecks

So a lot of people I know will be happy to just sit and enjoy a day on the beach, maybe having a little bit of a swim, kayaking, doing other beach activities and so on. But there are other things to do in the area.

About a 20-minute walk from The Wrecks is the Tangalooma Island Resort. You will see a big sign on the beach saying that the resort is private property. Okay, that is true, and while the beach bans vehicles, as does the beach at Cowan Cowan, all the public information that I have says that (and this is not legal advice) the beach itself, up to the spring tide high water mark (not the visible high water mark, but actually above it) is crown land and can be accessed by anyone.

The problem for the resort is that they only really have basic resort facilities while also welcoming up to 4500 guests per day. This means they don't want people coming up and using their picnic tables, barbecues, joining free tours or swimming in their pools. It is not tightly enforced, though people have been harassed on occasion when walking on the beach, there are no signs demarcating the private resort land from the public land. So I am sure people do walk up to eat in the restaurants and buy ice cream from the shop, even though this means they are trespassing on resort land. But then also, the police station is in the resort, so members of the public going to seek police assistance can obviously go onto the resort land.

It is simple though, if you want a day trip to The Wrecks and access to the Tangalooma Resort facilities, then you can book a day trip through them. It costs more than the MICAT ferry, but includes a $20 lunch voucher, plus free coffee, tea or soft drink on the ferry across, and with the resort access, it really comes down to about the same value.

Tangalooma Island Resort doesn't like sharing their beach with others
Tangalooma Island Resort doesn't like sharing their beach with others


One thing you can do is walk past the resort to The Desert. This is an area that, for reasons unknown, lost all of its vegetation and has never recovered it. It is famous for sand tobogganing, but walkers will often walk down to and cross the giant sand dunes. From The Wrecks, you can make a circuit following the beach then returning via the Desert Road and the Tangalooma Bypass Road.

Walk past the Tangalooma Resort towards the point, and you will find the walking track to The Desert
Walk past the Tangalooma Resort towards the point, and you will find the walking track to The Desert


An alternative walk is to head north for a bit over 3 kms up to Cowan Cowan. This township again has no facilities or services as such, but it does have the interesting Cowan Cowan Battery built in WW2, as well as the remains of other WW2 fortifications. Beyond this is Bulwer, which does have a shop and cafe, but unless you plan to do 16 kms in one day, it is a bit out of the reach of most people.

Cowan Cowan is about 4 kms away from The Wrecks
Cowan Cowan is about 3-4 kms away from The Wrecks


Tours & Longer Trips

If you want to access more of the island, then it comes down to 3 options. Either join a tour, take a 4 wheel drive with you, or stay longer. Moreton Island Adventures runs a number of day tours and this is often the most popular way to visit the island because you get to visit various parts of the island plus do a number of activities, such as sand tobogganing at the desert.

The MICAT ferry also takes you to the tour pickup for day and weekend trips on Moreton Island
The MICAT ferry also takes you to the tour pickup for day and weekend trips on Moreton Island


Taking a 4 wheel drive across is an option, and you can easily drive to various parts of the island in one day. However, most people taking a vehicle across are planning to stay longer. There is also the Moreton Island 4 wheel drive taxi service if you want to be taken somewhere. Some people also choose to hike around the island, from overnight walks up to Bulwer or down toRous Battery, through to multiday hikes that take in various locations, like Blue Lake and North Point.

Tips
  • Be self contained as much as possible, especially when it comes to food and drink.

  • If you want a catered day trip experience, then do the Tangalooma Island Resort one instead.

  • Worth bringing a beach shelter for the afternoon in summer.

  • If you want to take underwater photos, you can get a cheap cover for your phone so you can go underwater.

  • Do activities like walking up to the desert or down to Cowan Cowan first, then swim, paddle and relex in the afternoon.

  • You will enjoy this trip more if you just love relaxing on the beach.

  • If you need more fun and adventure, then book in for a tour.

Overall

Taking a day trip over to Moreton Island on the MICAT ferry is a popular way to get to the island. It can be an independent day out to the island, and perfect for people who love to just sit and relax on the beach. It can also be a popular way to go to the island to do a bit of walking followed by a swim. But most people will find that they get more out of a day trip by joining one of the tours also run by Moreton Island Adventures who run the ferry service.
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Why? Get wrecked at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
When: Ferries leave Brisbane as early as 5 am and return as late as 7:30 pm, but times and options vary on season
Phone: (07) 3909 3333
Where: The ferry leaves from 14 Howard Smith Dr, Port of Brisbane QLD 4178
Cost: About $65 return
Your Comment
What a memorable experience Roy and right in our backyard.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5098) 15 days ago
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