After two days of relative failure, I was desperate for a pick me up. Something to justify what had so far just been a very expensive theme park trip. Since I’d been wanting to do a few of the Islands before I left, I decided to do Moreton Island with Sunrover Tours today, although I’d had some risky messages that suggested it might not be happening.
Thankfully, nothing came of it and today’s trip was going ahead. At 7am I was picked up outside Roma Street Transit Centre by a 4×4 and our guide Ward. He was a Nurse by day, and a part time guide by any day he wasn’t a Nurse. A very interesting guy, and eager to show us around Moreton. After a miscommunication pickup, we headed out of Brisbane and towards the ferry crossing. It took about an hour to get there, and eventually we were off.
The other’s on the trip consisted of a Korean couple, a German couple (whose English was impeccable), and 2 French girls who had met on their travels. Thankfully, our English (or other languages) were good enough that everyone could talk to each other.
I had my finger’s crossed that it would be an easy crossing as I really didn’t think I could take another rocky boat ride. Thankfully those prayer’s were answered – the ferry is large and the ocean is pretty quiet, so the trip was calm. I was even able to read and eat, and maintain a conversation with Ward without keeping my eyes on the horizon.
Moreton Island is a World Heritage Site, and has no paved roads. Everyone is reliant on a one way system of roads carved from soft sand. The sand was once mined on on the island, before it was abandoned and the area became ‘The Desert,’ a vast expanse of sand dunes surrounded by lush forest.
You rub one side of the wood board with wax for friction, raise up the front edge and kick yourself off a dune. It’s like sledding, only the snow is warm, gets everywhere and is slightly less comfortable to crash in! It’s an awful lot of fun, with the biggest issue being having to climb back up the hill in order to go again – which takes significantly longer than it does to get down.
As it happens, the most attempts I manage are 3 1/2 (run out of wax on the board mid way through my last run and sort of stop) before we see hoards of school children heading for the dune and decide to hit our next stop. This involves more rumbling and struggling through soft sand (this is why you do tours if you don’t have a four wheel drive car for Moreton!), we break out onto one of the longest and flattest beaches I’ve ever seen.
It goes on for miles, but there’s barely a flaw in the sand, we even manage to catch site of whales in the ocean as its flat enough to spot them. Cars are driving in both directions with space to spare, although we all have to look out for roads and signs, as they’re pretty tiny and very easy to miss.
The next stop is a different beach, home to the Champagne Pools – small pools of water with a natural breaker in the form of rocks, which create this incredible wave effect (the kind that if the rocks weren’t covered in rather painful surfaces and the force of the waves wasn’t what it was, would have me re-enacting that scene from The Little Mermaid). I strip to my swimsuit, followed by Ward and one of the French girls, and enjoy the (freezing but refreshing) water and wave cascades.
We were supposed to check out the Lighthouse after this, but Ward struggled to find it thanks to the bad signs and one way system, so after a few wrong turns it was given up as a lost cause and headed to our next stop, the Blue Lagoon.
This is a large freshwater lake, composed entirely of rainwater. It’s a very beautiful place to visit, although after the pools, we were a little chilly and decided to focus more on eating lunch that going for another swim. I love fresh water for swimming, but considering our next stop, figured I’d need my energy more.
We’d been on a set time limit for each area, as the ferry comes back at a certain time and the sand roads take a while to navigate. The last stop is on Bulwer Beach, right next to where the ferry arrives. Several ships have been wrecked not far off the shore in order to create an artificial breaker and reef – a perfect place to snorkel.The couples decided to stay on the beach, but the rest of us swam out to check out the fish. The current was unfortunately against us, and it took some time to actually get to the first wreck (I managed to surprise myself by actually being the first of the three girls to make it there), and then using the current to push us along the ships.
I’m more a diver than a snorkeler, but I can certainly see the appeal. The fish were pretty used to people, so they were swimming around completely oblivious to us. My biggest issue was not letting the current crash me into the other swimmers – think I hit them a couple of times – know they managed to hit me.
We eventually had to drag ourselves out of the water, as the ferry was due to arrive in the next half hour. While Ward returned the equipment, and I got changed in a nearby toilet while we played in the sand and waited for the ferry.
According to the grapevine, the ferry had run an additional trip, and would be coming back later than usual. This came as a surprise to everyone, especially as we’d heard the woman at the morning ferry warning us when our boat back would be. Everyone ended up snacking on the remains of lunch (cookies and apples), and squealing at adorable staffies (seriously, one was in the passenger seat of a truck and was being insanely cute), before the ferry finally arrived a good hour and a half later than expected – and leaving everyone wondering if this amount of cars would actually make it on. Was a little touch and go, but seemed to succeed.
It wasn’t quite the trip I wanted, but at least Moreton Island let me end my trip away on a high.