What do you do when camping on the surf side of Moreton Island, well into ‘Happy Hour’, when a text from the weather bureau announces a tsunami warning? This was our challenge, on a recent travel adventure.
Five 4WD’s were useless with the tide lapping the edges of the dunes, the campsite backed onto non-drivable terrain and not one camper, of 30 or so, would have passed a breathalyser.
Solution? More beer.
Moreton Island, despite being in the firing line of particularly bad weather, is one of Brisbane’s almost-secret playgrounds. While most domestic and international tourists flock to the Whitsundays to enjoy pristine water, or Fraser Island for fresh water lakes and beach camping, Moreton Island’s main claim to fame is Tangalooma Resort.
With dolphin feeding in the afternoon and a bar smack bang on the beach, the resort makes the most of its ‘paradise on earth’ location, but a true Moreton Island experience is best discovered with a 4WD and plenty of supplies to keep you going.
Inland travel brings lush green forest, giant sand dunes and fresh water lakes like Blue Lagoon. The west coast offers calm, turquoise water, snorkelling at The Wrecks and endless stretches of fine, white sand.
Hidden among the reeds just up from the beach at Yellow Patch, you may even stumble on a small, clear blue fresh water swimming hole – describing the exact location might see me excluded from further trips – but finding such spots for yourself is half the fun.
Back on the east coast, however, where secluded campsites sit among the dunes away from tourists – or anything other than Beach Curlews and surf – we were pelted by south easterly winds while unsuccessfully hiding from random showers under a giant tarp – for most of the trip.
The final night heralded the arrival of the tsunami warning and, at midnight, the camp was alive with inebriated revellers throwing tents on the roofs of 4WD’s and re-pitching them at the top of a hill.
Bleary eyed the next morning, coffees in hand and the mouth-watering smell of scrambled eggs and bacon mixing with the salt air, we stared at the pounding surf – mercifully tsunami free.
The calm water of the mid-west coast welcomed us as we awaited the ferry home, like emerging into a whole new world only 20 minutes drive from our wind-battered site.
Moreton Island, with its many faces, is an adventure worth the ride.