What do you do when camping in the remote wilderness 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.
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 or Fraser Island, 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. However, a true Moreton Island adventure is best traversed with a 4WD and plenty of supplies to keep you going.
Inland travel brings lush green forest, giant sand dunes and freshwater 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 swimming hole that’s a local secret and a natural wonder. Describing the exact location might see me excluded from further camping trips, so I won’t, however finding such spots for yourself is half the fun.
The Eastern Beach, or surf side is a remote wilderness of crashing waves, secluded campsites and zero facilities. Other than your fellow campers, you’re only ever in the company of beach curlews and kookaburras. As bad luck would have it, we’d set up camp here, only to be pelted by southeasterly winds and random showers for most of the trip.
Back to the Moreton Island adventure story…
There’s surprisingly good mobile coverage while you’re on a Moreton Island adventure, even at the most remote locations. We only realised this, when phones started to ping and ring like a crazy, electronic choir. Naturally, everyone at home had heard about the warning and were quick to tell us to get off the island.
In terms of escape, five 4WD’s were useless with the tide lapping the edges of the dunes and a campsite that backed onto non-drivable terrain. On top of that, we were celebrating a birthday and not one camper, of 30 or so, would have passed a breathalyser.
Solution? More beer.
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. A tsunami is by no means a laughing matter. However, the beer-induced schamozzle to get to higher ground was certainly preferable to waiting in fear for a very, very big wave to hit. So, we laughed, we drank and subsequently passed out to the roar of a circling storm.
Bleary-eyed the next morning, we emerged from our lopsided tents to blue, sunny skies. Coffees in hand, with the mouth-watering smell of scrambled eggs and bacon mixed with salt air, we stared at the pounding surf, mercifully resting where it should.
Later in the day, the mid-west coast welcomed us as we awaited the ferry home, with it’s calm, sheltered water and wonderful things after a week camping in the wilderness – like toilets and showers.
Tsunami warnings notwithstanding, a Moreton Island adventure, with its many faces, is always one worth the ride.