I'm a freelance writer living in Brisbane. I love bushwalking, kayaking, wildlife, history and travel.
Published October 16th 2017
Walk to an Island
When my friend Bea suggested we should go to King Island one day, I thought she meant King Island off the coast of Tasmania. I did go there once years ago when I lived in Tasmania. But Bea meant King Island off Wellington Point in Queensland. I'd never heard of it. She said we could walk across to the island at low tide which sounded very interesting.
A few weeks later after checking the tide, three of us drove down from Brisbane for the day. We met up with a good friend of Bea who lives down that way and had lunch with her at Café Arabica in Cleveland. I was fascinated by the cheeky blue-eyed honeyeaters that sat in trees beside the restaurant and swooped in to polish off any leftovers after diners left. I had seen these birds a lot in my local park, but they always took off and were very hard to photograph.
After lunch, we drove to Wellington Point and set out on our walk across the sandbar to the island. We saw soldier crabs going into their holes and seabirds on the walk. It was very relaxing walking along the beach and beside the mangroves.
There were informative signposts along the way describing the history of the island, and the plants and birds that live and visit there. Caspian terns, red-capped plovers, Australian pied oystercatchers, striated herons and mangrove gerygones are there all year round, and migratory birds visit in summer. These migratory birds include grey-tailed tattlers, whimbrels, ruddy turnstones, red-necked stints, bar-tailed godwits, terek sandpipers and eastern curlews.
It was only a short walk about 2 kilometres each way, but very relaxing. I'd never walked to an island before. People have been walking across to the island for over a hundred years to have picnics. I found a couple of photos in the State Library of Queensland showing some visitors to the island around 1890 – 1900.
Woman and children on King Island 1890-1900 State Library Qld
A family even lived on the island from December 1904 to April 1906. The Phillips family had seven children. One of their daughters, Josephine had polio and a doctor advised the family to bathe her in salt water every day. They moved to the island with a maid and lived in a large marquee with a wooden floor. The dining room and kitchen were under a large cotton tree. Some of the children slept in a tent. Mr Phillips rowed a dinghy across to the mainland every day to go to work.
King Island was named by surveyor Robert Dixon who also named Wellington Point. It was declared a Reserve in 1887. It is managed by a volunteer group and Redlands City Council and is protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. It is part of the Moreton Bay Marine Park. In World War 2, the Island was used as target practice.