Last Day in Australia – Amazing Moreton Island
Today we have had a chance to visit Moreton Island which is located just off the coast of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. The island is popular for it’s wrecks (Tangalooma Wrecks) which can be found at swimming distance off the coast. This was a real treat for us because we both love snorkelling!
How to get there?
Firstly it was interesting to find out that the island can not be simply reached by a ferry (unlike islands in Thailand for example where many tourist agencies and boat companies operate to serve any particular island). Access into the island is essentially controlled by Tangalooma Resort. Moreton Island, 98% of which has been designated as a national park, can be reached via several travel package options (tours). These are available to be purchased online (starting from A$89 and A$129 for the most basic one day packages). Overnight stay is of course possible at the Tangalooma Resort but it is a bit pricey. Considering it is almost a monopoly it does not really surprise me. There is an alternative though which is to stay in the national park campsite, but I believe confirmation of booking needs to be produced to be able to buy tickets with return date different to the departure date.
Moreton Island itself is made entirely out of sand (it is the third largest sand island in the world, Fraser island just a couple of hours drive North is the largest one) which is the reason why access accross the island is very limited for cars. All routes are sand tracks so 4x4s were the only type of cars we have seen. For us bringing our car was unnecessary as the snorkelling spot was only a short walk away from the hotel, restaurants ($20 voucher is provided as part of the ticket price which can be used for buying lunch) and the pier where our boat arrived.
Moreton Island – Snorkellers’ Paradise
The first impression when we arrived was actually very, very good. For most touristy destinations, promotional material always paints the nicest picture possible and so sometimes these destinations turn out to be a bit underwhelming in reality. I am glad to say this was definitely not the case with Tangalooma wrecks. The sunken ships (there is about 15 of them!) lay right in front of the beach and look absolutely amazing surrounded by bright green and blue waters creating a great living space for the marine life including fish, turtles and even rays. Over the years corals have grown on these ships too so to me personally swimming around felt like visiting a super-interactive museum of marine life and naval history combined into one site.
The site itself though is not for the weak swimmers. The depth around wrecks varies between 2m to 12m and during our visit there was a bit of current (N to S, which turned around in the afternoon when the tide started going lower). Finally, the visibility in the water was not particularly great which made swimming even more challenging. We did not have fins which is why I’d say exploring this site on our own was physically demanding. With fins it would have been easier, but I’d say even with fins you still need to be a good swimmer to enjoy it and feel comfortable. We are good swimmers and it took us 10-15min only to swim to the wrecks. I have to admit swimming the small 50m-100m distance looked easier on the shore than it was when I got into the water. There was also an option to go for a boat snorkelling tour too but to us A$59 per person for a 100m boat ride seemed excessive to justify the price.
In terms of the marine life, dolphins and turtles are regularly seen around (several thousand turtles live around moreton) and in winter time you can observe humpback whales migrating to warm waters of Queensland. Back in 1950s and 1960s a lot of whales were hunted out but their population has increased since. There is obviously loads of fish as well varying in size which is what interested us most!
The day went really quickly and we enjoyed our time here. We wish we could have had more time to snorkel and get involved in other activities offered by the resort. You can go on helicopter tours, feed dolphins, go quad biking, kayaking and more..! I would say this was a perfect day to finish our Australian Road trip (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4).
PS. Our next stop is New Zealand so next time I post we will be in Kiwi land – we can’t wait to see what it has to offer!