Indulge in the majesty of Mother Nature
Unspoilt coastline overlooks the kind of turquoise blue that instantly invites serenity on Moreton Island, a still relatively relaxed national park paradise just a hop, skip and ferry from Brisbane.
From families to backpackers, there’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy on this island escape. By day there’s a plethora of activities to indulge in. The adventurous traveller will enjoy four wheel driving on nature’s highway, climbing sandstone formations at Cape Cliff, kayaking, snorkelling, hiking (Mt Tempest is the highest point on the island where verdant views await) and tobogganing down sand dunes.
Those looking for a little restoration will enjoy observing the rich variety of wildlife (birds, dolphins, whales, turtles and more), relaxing at Honeymoon Bay, soaking in the natural Champagne Pools, taking a refreshing dip in the Blue Lagoon and soaking up spectacular views (including some serious sunsets). The most visited attraction on the island is the Tangalooma Wrecks – the rusting bones of old ship hulls that take you back in time, delighting your inner explorer. By night, the sky inspires with a majestic starscape that leaves you feeling a little smaller, in the best possible way.
Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world, so there’s no shortage of space to pitch your tent on the beach, and camping will only set you back around $6 per person per night.
There’ll be plenty of time to kick back when you arrive, but be sure to plan ahead for the very best experience.
Before you leave:
-Plan your ferry trip on the MiCat from the Port of Brisbane (the trip is around 90 minutes)
-Book your campsite and organise a camping permit via the Queensland National Parks A camping tag with your booking number needs to be displayed at your campsite at all times.
-A 4WD is essential for travelling around the island. If you don’t have one, you can hire one from Brisbane, or there’s a licensed Transfer Service on the island.
Where to camp on Moreton Island
With a little pre-planning, you can easily settle into the perfect campsite to suit your needs. Before you decide, consider the following:
-First-time island campers will be most comfortable at Ben-Ewa.
-The western side of the island is best for camping with kids for the calm waters (campgrounds are The Wrecks, Ben-Ewa and Comboyuro Point).
-The south-west side provides tranquillity, but is more challenging to access.
-You can choose from dedicated campgrounds with all the necessary facilities, and more rustic, beach camping options (beach campers need to bring their own essentials including drinking water, rubbish bags etc.).
-Most campgrounds allow fires in existing sites, but you’ll need to bring your own firewood.
-There are five beach camping zones on the island (outlined below) – you cannot camp on beaches outside these zones.
-Long weekends and school holidays are popular. If you’re looking for some serenity during these times opt for beach camping over campground.
-Bring your own drinking water or plan to treat it if your campground has water available.
-Mobile phone coverage is pretty poor everywhere you go, but there are some campgrounds with wi-fi access.
-Seasonal closures mean that not all camp spaces will be available year round.
-It’s recommended that long-term campers staying in beach/bush sites bring a portable toilet.
The National Park Campgrounds with facilities
THE WRECKS CAMPGROUND
Set next to a sheltered bay and surrounded by native trees and shrubs, The Wrecks is a walk-in camping area (vehicles can park on the beach nearby) with 21 sites available. It’s near the main barge point so is suitable for those without vehicles, and it’s not accessible for campers or trailers. Facilities include water, hybrid toilets, cold showers, rubbish bins and a wi-fi hotspot. Nearby attractions include the hike up Mt Tempest, checking out The Wrecks and snorkelling.
A favourite with families and school groups, Ben-Ewa offers sheltered bay waters next to shady, protected sites. Located just north of The Wrecks on the western beach side of the island, the 12 camping plots are suitable for caravans and camper trailers, and facilities include water, toilets, cold showers and a wi-fi hotspot. Campers can swim in the sheltered Moreton Bay waters, or enjoy a spot of fishing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding.
COMBOYURO POINT CAMPGROUND
Within walking distance of the Bulwer township on the west coast, Comboyuro is also close to 4WD tracks that lead to some of the island’s main attractions. The 49 camping plots of various sizes offer plenty of shade and calm waters for the whole family to enjoy, and the sunsets across the bay are majestic. You can park your car (also suitable for campervans) right next to your plot, and facilities include water, septic toilets, rubbish bins and cold showers.
NORTH POINT CAMPGROUND
North Point offers a large grassy area close to the beach and is within walking distance to Honeymoon Bay and the Champagne Pools. There are 21 sites available (many shaded, and four suitable for camper trailers) and it’s a perfect place to take the kids as the nearby swimming water is shallow and calm (plus there’s a little less sand on site to take over your tent). Facilities include water, hybrid toilets, cold showers and pedestrian access to the surf beach, and there are no open fires permitted (another possible appeal for parents).
BLUE LAGOON CAMPGROUND
On the eastern side of the island between Middle Road and Cape Moreton, this beautiful beach-style campground offers easy access to an ocean surf beach and is a walk away from the Blue Lagoon and some lovely walking trails. There’s parking available next to the campsite and while trailers and caravans are permitted, they aren’t recommended due to the soft sand and narrow road. There are 25 sites with access to water, septic toilets and cold showers.
The Beach/bush camping zones with no facilities
All beach/bush campgrounds are facility-free, so you’ll need to come prepared with all the necessities (including a portable toilet for longer stays). Fires are permitted in existing sites, and generator use is allowed between 8am and 7pm. You can really choose your own adventure – with spaces varying in size and seclusion, and many sites offering beautiful views and shade. Perfect for campers who are up for a slightly more rugged adventure.
NORTH-WEST CAMPING ZONE
This camping zone offers 76 beach campsites between Ben-Ewa and Comboyuro campgrounds, all with access to calm bay waters and some just a walk away from the Bulwer township.
NORTH-EAST CAMPING ZONE
Eighty-nine sites are dotted from Middle Road to Spitfire Creek on the Eastern beach, with many boasting views to the exposed surf beaches. Keep in mind the narrow, soft-sanded Middle Road if bringing a trailer.
SOUTH-WEST CAMPING ZONE
This zone covers all western beach campsites and offers 24 (mostly tent) spaces by calm bay waters that can be reached by 4WD, foot, or by boat or kayak. Some sites you can park next to, but others are impacted by the tides (with some spaces only accessible during low-tide).
SOUTH-EAST CAMPING ZONE
With 35 sites available, this zone offers exposed surf beaches between Middle Road to Rous Battery. You’ll need to be mindful here of access via Middle Road if towing a trailer, and high tide times where the beach is obstructed.
YELLOW PATCH CAMPSITES
Yellow Patch covers campsites between North Point and Heath Island, and offers 14 sites with access to surf beaches that are less exposed than the others. North Point campground is just a short drive away, so campers can take advantage of the facilities there.
Words by Jessica Humphries for Australian Traveller.