Meg Forbes is a mum, freelance writer, and photographer living in the Redlands, South of Brisbane.
Published May 20th 2020
Pristine snorkeling right off the beach at Moreton Island
Moreton Island is one of the sand islands that protect Moreton Bay to the east of Brisbane in Australia, and is easily accessible for day trips or overnight stays through Micat (foot passengers and vehicle barge) and through Tangalooma Resort's ferries (day visitors and resort guests).
Tangalooma shipwrecks off the beach on the western shore off Moreton Island
The closest shipwrecks for snorkelling from both of these ferry services are the famous Tangalooma Wrecks. These wrecks are within walking distance of the Tangalooma Resort, and directly in front of the Queensland National Park beach campsite at Tangalooma. The resort offers free day passes to day visitors and campers, meaning that resort guests and other visitors to the island can all hire kayaks at the resort and paddle out to the shipwrecks. However, many people choose to simply swim out directly from the beach. As this beach isn't patrolled and the changing tides can produce fairly strong currents, we have always done this with our kids with life jackets on. Pool noodles are another popular floatation device for many snorkelers who feel comfortable swimming around these wrecks but want to relax as they do it.
Kayaking and snorkeling in the clear waters around Tangalooma Wrecks
Snorkelling these wrecks is a major attraction for domestic and international travellers to the Brisbane region, and with good reason. Originally placed here purposefully following a successful lobby for safer anchorage around Tangalooma in 1963, the wrecks are now home to numerous species of coral, fish, marine turtles, and other marine wildlife.
Coral growing on one of the Tangalooma shipwrecks at Moreton Island
Bulwer Wrecks, 11.5km up the sandy beach coast on the Western shore of Moreton Island had a similar but earlier start to their existence here. These boats were scuttled here in the 1930s to create a safer anchorage for the unloading of a 12-metre boat at the time.
Bulwer wrecks at high tide
Now, however, they create an ideal snorkelling area for families in particular. At low tide, the wrecks are now mostly above the waterline, but at high tide, they team with fish in a semi-enclosure that is ideal for children under supervision. Tangalooma Resort offers tours and 4x4 hire to Bulwer for visitors who don't bring their own vehicle over on the barge with them.
Bulwer Wrecks offer sheltered snorkeling that is fantastic for families at high tide
Snorkelling at both Tangalooma and Bulwer Wrecks provides opportunities for visitors to see the large starfish that are often present along this coastline, as well as wobbegong sharks. Although wobbegongs are a type of shark, they like to lie on the sandy seafloor around the wrecks and will only react if provoked by snorkelers or swimmers.
Starfish on one of the Bulwer Wrecks
Like at the Tangalooma Wrecks, Bulwer wrecks have a campsite positioned behind them, although here the sites are behind the dunes. At present camping will be permitted in Queensland from 12 June 2020 under the easing of Covid19 restrictions. Both locations are ideal for families to enjoy sunsets across Moreton Bay together, or to watch dolphins swimming by throughout the day.
Comboyuro National Park campground near Bulwer Wrecks
With Moreton Island falling within 250km of much of South East Queensland, these stunning snorkelling destinations are ideal for local visitors to enjoy with reduced numbers of tourists from further afield while supporting local tourism operators and enjoying local opportunities to engage with our stunning landscape and wildlife.
Rescuing starfish on the beach at Bulwer at sunset
While Bulwer does have a small shop and cafe, Castaways just a short walk from the shipwrecks and the campsite, they don't have some of the other equipment that Tangalooma Resort has available for hire to visitors such as snorkelling sets and kayaks.