Moreton Island Map
There is a large sand island just off the coast of Queensland, only about 40km North East of Brisbane CBD that has fantastic scenery, excellent campsites with fires allowed (check seasonal restrictions of course), great fishing and challenging 4WDing.
Actually only 4WDs can come to this island. No it’s not Fraser or Stradbroke Island but in fact Moreton Island – accessible via the Micat Ferry which leaves right from the Port of Brisbane.
Many believe that Moreton Island is the best 4WD destination in Queensland and this is hard to argue – you certainly need to experience this place for yourself.
Moreton Island Glamping
The best way tackle Moreton Island is with a capable 4WD and Trayon Slide on Camper. With many of the tracks quite tight and sandy, towing a camper trailer can be difficult and stressful.
With a slide on like the Trayon Camper, you can go anywhere you wish and still have all the comforts of home to make the most of your time on this fabulous island, true Moreton Island “glamping” in your own home away from home, without being pegged to a sand dune (tent camping).
Before you go: Moreton Island Barge
To get to Moreton island you need to arrange transport across the bay via the Moreton Island vehicle barge and you also need a beach driving permit. This can be easily done via the Moreton Island Adventures website.
The website has plenty of information about Moreton Island here, and you can check availability of crossings as well as the dates/times of trips. If you would rather contact the Ferry Terminal and Office by phone, their number is (07) 3909 3333.
Camping permits also need to be organised and the campsites on Moreton are fantastic. There is a range of spots to suit all tastes; some with facilities including toilets and showers (cold) and some with absolutely nothing!
All sites require booking via the Queensland Government website, or you can call via the phone on 13 QGOV (13 74 68). The website also has information on Moreton Island and links for further details.
It can be tricky picking a campsite sight unseen! My recommendation would be Comboyuro Point or Ben-Ewa camping areas if looking for facilities, and if remote is more your scene then the camping behind the dunes along Eastern Beach would be my pick.
There are plenty more great campsites and you can book while on the island as there is Telstra mobile service in plenty of places.
As much of the access on Moreton Island is via the beach, knowledge of the tides is essential when planning your itinerary. The Moreton Island conditions report (available on the Queensland Parks website) has a tide chart, map, and up-to-date track conditions on all tracks.
At times you might have to wait for the tide to fall but don’t despair – just need to reset your clock to island time, chill out and enjoy.
Another great resource is the Visit Moreton Island website which has plenty of information and links to other websites.
The Micat Ferry departs from the port of Brisbane which is very easy to get to. Make sure to top up with fuel and supplies before boarding the ferry as there are limited supplies on the island.
The 90min ferry ride across Moreton Bay is relaxing and entertaining – keep an eye out for whales and dolphins within the bay. The café in the ferry serves great coffee and has a range of food on offer including tasty pies & pastries.
Make sure you drop your tyre pressures and have your vehicle in 4WD prior to arriving at Moreton Island as the ferry drops you right onto the beach – the sand is soft right from the start and will catch the unwary, there were several vehicles were stuck needing recovery when we came off the ferry.
The Micat ferry drops you off adjacent to the Tangalooma Wrecks and just north of the Tangalooma Resort – more about both these places later.
Moreton Island Details
Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world and is 40km across the bay from Brisbane. The Island consists entirely of sand, apart from a small area of sandstone and rhyolite at Cape Moreton. It is also home to the highest coastal sand dune in the world, Mount Tempest, which at 285 metres provides 360 degrees of breath-taking views.
The Aboriginal name for Moreton Island is Moorgumpin meaning ‘place of sandhills’. The Indigenous people of Moreton Island were the Ngugi who lived permanently on the Island for over 2000 years. Unfortunately all the Ngugi people were relocated to Stradbroke Island in 1850, where their descendants still live.
The bay and the island (Moreton) are actually miss-spelt – Captain James Cook named the bay in 1770 “Morton” after the Scottish Earl of Morton by Captain James Cook during his travels to this area.
In World War II the Island became a hive of activity with two large defence batteries built – one at Toompani (Rous Battery) and the other at Cowan Cowan. The remains of batteries and other historic ruins are present and worth checking out.
After WWII the island became a central place for the whaling industry, with the largest land based whaling station in the southern hemisphere built at Tangalooma. This whaling station operated for 10 years from 1950 to 1960, decimating the whale population in the area.
The whaling station was sold to a group of businessmen in 1963 who developed the Tangalooma Resort, with the Osborne family taking it over in 1980 and still in control of the resort.
Exploring the Island
Once over on the island there are plenty of options depending on your time and preferences. For this trip we’ll explore some of the Northern attractions before heading back to Tangalooma.
From the ferry drop-off point head north along the beach for about 1km to the middle road turn-off – turn right. Now Middle Road is split into two one-way sections so make sure you are on the right part and head east across the centre of the Island.
After 1km there is the Tangalooma Bypass track on the right which heads to Tangalooma Resort and southwards – stay on Middle Road and continue eastwards
Middle Road transverses through dense bushland with the road cut through some deep trenches that exposes colored sands. There are also some fabulous grass trees along this track. There are several sections with soft sand and deep ruts. Just before the road exits to Eastern beach there is a turn-off to the left to Mt Tempest – turn left and head 2km north to the carpark.
A 2.5km return walking track will take you to the top of Mount Tempest, the highest coastal sand dune in the world at 285m above sea level. On a clear day you can see the coastline from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane and then right through to the Gold Coast making it a magnificent reward for those who reach the top.
After an invigorating walk to Mt Tempest jump back into the 4WD and backtrack to Middle Road, turn left and head onto Eagers Beach (part of Eastern Beach of Moreton Island).
Moreton Island Eastern Beach (surfside) contains six almost continuous beaches that stretch for around 27kms in length. The wide generally firm beach is great for 4WDing but watch for washouts near creek exits and section of soft sand.
There are distance markers (yellow triangles) every 2km along the beach to help determine your location. There are numerous camping spots just behind the dunes many with shade but no facilities. Perfect for a secluded getaway or group camp, with fires also allowed.
From Eagers Beach you have a choice – south down past Rous Battery to the southern end of the island or north up to Blue Lagoon and Cape Moreton. We’ll head north this time up to the picturesque Blue Lagoon.
Blue Lagoon is a large freshwater lake surrounded by flowering heathland that covers around 42 hectares. It is an oasis perfect for a swim to cool off on a hot day or even a kayak if you are lucky enough to have one with you. Blue Lagoon is actually a brown colour thanks to the natural tea tree oils infused within the lake.
There is a camping ground near the lake (and close to the beach) with toilets, showers (cold), water and grassy sites.
From Blue Lagoon you can head back down onto eastern beach and head up to Cape Moreton, or continue inland along the Lagoon Road towards Bulwer which is our choice this trip.
Bulwer on Moreton Island is a small township with a number of buildings and the Castaways General store which has a range of supplies including milk, bread or even an icecream or coffee. Make sure you check the operating hours if you need anything – we got there after the 3.30pm closing so missed out on our icecream!
Just north of Bulwer is the Combuyuro Point campsite which is right on the shores of the sheltered western beach. This large camping area has shady sites and facilities such as toilets, showers (cold), water, rubbish bins and fires are allowed.
From Bulwer head north-east along the Bulwer-North Point Road. There are scenic views towards North Point and Cape Moreton. Drop onto the beach at Yellow Patch (good spot for fishing) and head up to North Point.
At North Point there is a small lighthouse with the Champagne Pools at its base. The pools get their name from the sparkling ‘champagne’ effect created as the ocean wave’s crash over the volcanic rock and sandstone break wall, with the pool at the base is a great place for a swim.
From the point you can also see Cape Moreton and the lighthouse, with the picturesque Honeymoon Bay in the foreground making this view quite spectacular.
The iconic red and white banded Cape Moreton Lighthouse is located on the Northern point of Moreton Island and was the first lighthouse to be built in Queensland. It was first lit in 1857, making it well over 150 years old. The lighthouse stands about 23m tall and is constructed of sandstone quarried on the island.
While at the lighthouse make sure you visit the free Moreton Island National Park Information Centre which is located near the lighthouse in one of the old keeper’s cottages. In here you can find out more information on the history of both Moreton Island and the Lighthouse.
There is a large camping area at Cape Moreton with grassy sites and facilities, but unfortunately no fires allowed.
From Cape Moreton you can head down the eastern beach or back along the Bulwer-North Point Road to Bulwer and western beach. We’ll head down to western side along the beach to Cowan Cowan, stopping to explore the old battery stations that are slowly being reclaimed by the sea.
Continuing southwards past the Ben-Ewa camping area (shady sites, toilets, water) to our next destination – the Tangalooma Wrecks.
The Tangalooma Wrecks is a cluster of ships scuttled by the Queensland Government between 1963 and 1984 to provide safe anchorage spot for recreational boat owners on the eastern side of Moreton Bay.
The wrecks are home to a variety of different reef fish, coral formations and marine life, and a snorkel amongst the wrecks is a must-do experience while on Moreton Island. With the Micat ferry departing right beside the wrecks, a few hours swimming and snorkeling here is a great way to finish a Moreton Island Adventure.
Just south of the wrecks is iconic Tangalooma Resort, which is one of the hot Morton island accomodation spots, with a dedicated pedestrian only ferry to take people direct from the port of Brisbane.
This is a great place to stay if you are looking for a bit of luxury, and the good news is that you can visit the resort and partake in its facilities as a day guest for a small fee.
Moreton Island promotes itself as a place to “escape the fake” and it really lives up to this slogan – the natural beauty of this place is amazing. The camping is fantastic, 4WDing incredible, and it is certainly a place of adventure.
Book your Moreton Island adventure as soon as you can and experience this place for yourself, it really is one of the premier 4WD and camping destinations in Australia.