We’re just back from three days of majestic adventure on the crystal clear waters of Moreton Bay…yes you heard me right, Moreton Bay.
It’s hard to imagine such clear conditions when you’re only 25kms from the infamous Brisbane River (aka the Chocolate Snake) as it winds its way through the CBD with about as much beauty as two-week-old roadkill.
We were rewarded by spectacular sunrise and sunsets from Moreton’s Big Sand Hill and escorted by turtles, dolphins, and even a dugong, as we paddled a total of 50kms around some of the world’s largest sand islands.
3 days, 13 very happy paddlers, and one hell of a good time. If you’re keen to join us when we do it all again in 2023 get in quick, places are limited – book here.
Here are just some of the photos and memories from the Moreton Bay Wilderness expedition as told by one of the Best Life Adventure’s team members, Courtney Adamson.
DAY 1 – Cleveland to North Stradbroke Island via Peel Island
On day one, with the clouds swirling, light rain falling and 20-knot northerly winds forecast, an anxious crew gathered at Cleveland to begin a 3-day voyage to two of the largest sand islands in the world.
Our first challenge of the day before we hit the water, was to pack everything into dry bags and then into the nooks and crannies of the kayaks – making sure to leave room for some beverages of course.
After a briefing on what to do if we capsized, how to steer using the rudders, and paddle most efficiently in a double sea kayak, we made our way past the old Cleveland lighthouse and headed into the mist towards Peel Island.
After munching down a lunch of wraps and muffins on a sheltered beach on the sheltered side of Peel Island, a pod of playful dolphins appeared and escorted our departure headed towards the old oyster farms in the distance (lucky the squeals from me didn’t scare them away…I get VERY excited around marine life).
Thankfully, as the day unfolded conditions improved and the following tide swept us to North Stradbroke in super-quick time.
During the final push into Amity Point, I could feel some pain in my shoulder and forearm. I had to remind myself that the technique for paddling a kayak is very different from what I am used to on my stand-up paddle board at home.
“Relax your fingers.. twist from the core…and breathe.” I replayed in my mind what our guide Craig had said earlier that morning.
I was thankful for the banter and conversations about Wim Hof, agriculture, and other random topics with my paddle mate, Bernie, which distracted me from my discomfort as we made the final push to Amity Point.
Woohoo, we made it!
After parking our kayaks up on the beach above the high tide mark and we got settled into cabins close by.
Our crew of salty sea dogs were treated to hot showers and then a few cold beverages from the local Straddie Brewing co at the local sports club, while kangaroos nibbled on the oval below us – talk about quintessentially Australian. The balcony was a top spot to admire the incredible sunset, with bright orange clouds and an eerie mist rising off the gum trees behind the oval.
We feasted on burgers and arancini balls at a local restaurant (quite luxurious for a kayaking expedition). After our bellies were about to burst we wandered back under the almost full moon past the jetty, which was buzzing with locals who were fishing.
We were all in bed early to recharge for Day 2 – the island crossing from Stradbroke to Moreton.
Paddled 21 kms in total
Slept in cabins at Amity Point
DAY 2 – North Stradbroke Island to Moreton Island via Crab island.
The next day a perfect sunrise lit our passage to Moreton Island as we packed up and refueled ourselves for the crossing.
I wasn’t the only one with some stiff and sore muscles, so I offered to lead our crew of venturers through some yoga-style stretches before disembarking.
The weather was in our favour, with minimal wind or swell to put us at risk of breaking waves or capsizing on our way across the notorious South passage. We had a relatively smooth paddle north and quickly arrived at the Gutter Bar on Moreton Island’s southwestern side excited to have a ‘real’ coffee.
Only to find that they had run out of beans. And they were not expecting any to arrive until mid-week – that’s life on an island, hey?!
Thankfully, packets of tim tams were available for purchase and were a consolation for no decent coffee being available. We dived in and relished dipping them into our instant coffees and teas feeling grateful for a safe journey across the South Passage.
Back in our kayaks, we paddled north meandering through the mangroves of Crab Island, with turtles, shovelnose rays, and stingrays punctuating our path.
We cruised past Big Sand Hill on the western side of the island just before arriving at our base for the night, South West Wilderness Campsite.
We devoured our well-earned lunch of wraps and muffins looking over the aqua clear waters, towards the Australian mainland and soaked up the sun.
An afternoon siesta was had by some paddlers, while others stalked soldier crabs on the sand bars at low tide. After camp was set up it was time to explore this giant sand island.
That evening we climbed Big Sandhill to watch the sun set into the waters of the bay, before feasting on a scrumptious 2-course dinner from Strive Foods (pretty gourmet for camping in the wilderness) and a night under canvas with a tapestry of stars (and a couple of curlews) for company.
Slept in a tent on Moreton Island.
DAY 3 – South Western Moreton Island to Brisbane via Tangalooma
On our final day, the wind died and glass-out conditions delivered the perfect closing scene for our ocean paddling adventure.
Half of our crew of venturers rose in the moonlight and climbed the Big Sandhill (again) to sit in stillness and witness the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.
Aaahhhhh, the peace and serenity…I felt a sense of expansiveness sitting there and was recharged for our final day exploring the magnificent wilderness that is Moreton Bay. It felt surreal seeing the Brisbane CBD only 40-something kms in the distance – so close, yet so far away from this giant sand island surrounded by aqua waters teeming with marine life.
We packed up camp, refueled our bellies, and not long after we were back on the water we saw white-bellied sea- eagles, more rays, another dolphin (Yay!), and then wait for it… a very friendly DUGONG escorted us into the waters off Tangalooma in time for our farewell lunch (much more squealing from me, as I have NEVER seen a dugong so close before). Sadly the dugong moved too quickly for us to get any good photos as evidence. Its tail did really look like a mermaid’s tale, in my humble opinion.
After a swim and hot showers to wash the salt off, we feasted on an elaborate lunch at Tangalooma and chatted about expeditions on our bucket lists (Baffin Island and Herd Island came up…watch this space).
The last couple of hours saw us lazing in the sun while waiting for the transfer back to Brisbane (and reality, yuck!).
Slept in my own cozy bed feeling recharged and grateful.
Thank you Moreton Bay for the winter sunshine, gentle winds, and wildlife encounters.
Join us for the Moreton Bay Wilderness expedition in June 2023 – lock in your place here.