I am a consulting structural engineer, walker, birder and occasional writer.
Published September 22nd 2022
One of the best walks in Moreton Bay requires a tide table rather than a map. When the water recedes at Nudgee Beach, the rippled sand can be alive with people, dogs, birds, crabs and the occasional horse or empty but for the 'kit kit kit' voice of a handful of birds. Shorebirds cross the world to spend their summers here. This scenic and ephemeral place - between the land, water and sky - is the closest beach to the Brisbane CBD.
My usual walking route is straight out from the Reserve at Fortitude Street then turning left, roughly north northwest, towards the Shorncliffe headland. If it's an hour or two before the low tide time, you'll cross ridged sand and wade through ankle deep puddles. Some walkers wear old shoes due to the rippled surface, but my preference is to go barefoot. After about a kilometre and a half (about twenty minutes), mangroves hide the Reserve, but the details of Shorncliffe are now clear. You'll see the square red and green triangular beacons of the Cabbage Tree Creek boat channel, the Sandgate pier and the triangular bumps of the Glasshouse Mountains on the horizon.
A pair of binoculars reveals the variety and number of birds out here – once an osprey swooped feet first into the waves and, thrillingly, took a fish only metres from me. Watching waders is like looking at silhouettes - look firstly at their size and colour, the length and shape of the bill and finally the length of their legs. There are plenty of bird guides available and links below to the BCC 'Shorebirds of Brisbane' and the Qld Wader Study Group websites. And if you're travelling with a dog, please note the leashed/off-leash areas.
When the sand starts to end, I turn to the southeast and follow the wave break for about two kilometres towards Kedron Brook. The sand ridges are now parallel to your path and the calm, trickling sound of small waves is punctuated, occasionally, by the barking of dogs and the chatter of people. Moreton Island is on your left and the cranes of the port are straight ahead. You can see the tops of ships crossing the bay and planes arriving and departing on the human flyways. You might see kite surfers zooming along beyond the wave break, or someone flying a kite or no one at all. Or maybe a kayaker or a horse rider.