When visiting the beautiful country of Australia, exploring some of its many islands is a must!
You have probably heard of some of the more popular ones, like Fraser Island and the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, or maybe Western Australia’s Rottnest Island, with its world-famous friendly quokkas. But I'm going to tell you about a lesser-known place that doesn't have the high price tags or hordes of crowds.
Moreton Island is just off the coast of Brisbane. I decided to book myself onto an overnight camping adventure tour to check it out. It was an earlier start than I expected, I had to head to the bus station at 7 AM! This is where I met up with my tour group, an eclectic mix of locals and foreign backpackers. We were introduced to our guide Dan, who was your stereotypical fun-loving surfer bloke, super friendly, and easy-going. I could already tell this was going to be a great adventure. After introductions, we hopped into the van, and we were driven to the ferry terminal to board the boat for the two-hour journey to Morton Island.
The ferry took no time at all, and before I knew it, I could see the island come into view. I was completely blown away by its stunning natural beauty. I could see the pristine beach, I swear I could hear them calling my name. The rainforest was a stunning background, which seemingly covered the whole island. The bright blue ocean wrapped around the island, they were so clear and blue that the ocean floor could be seen without any struggle. The whole scene became even more dreamy as we sailed past a line of shipwrecks on our way into port, this made the island feel even more untouched some how. They were dotted around the shore, just a short distance from land, which had my imagination running wild as I pictured pirates, trying to smuggle away all of their booty, only to run aground so close to land.
After departing the ferry, the first thing we did was go for a swim. It was extremely humid, and the temperature was touching 40 degrees, so it was a welcome relief! The coolness of the water was the perfect way to cool down while taking in your surroundings. While we were bobbing around in the sea, getting to know one another, there might have been an embarrassing moment when I glanced around and saw what I thought was a shark fin in the distance. I might; repeat, MIGHT have screamed in terror at the shark fin, which turned out to be a buoy (they show the tide indicators and depth of the water – I totally didn't Google that!) Anyway, everyone else just laughed, although it was probably out of pity!
After drying off, Dan took us on a tour of the island, showing us the beautiful lookout points and landscapes that the island had to offer. One of the highlights was driving to the north of the island, where we explored the Cape Morton Lighthouse. Painted in cute red and white stripes, it is one of the most Instagramable spots on the island and Queensland’s oldest lighthouse. The views were incredible. You could see the vast landscapes of the rainforest in the distance as well as the beaches beyond. It was truly breath-taking!
Driving back through the rainforest meant no more sealed roads. We were tossed around and jolted in every direction, like lettuce leaves in a salad! However, despite the lack of comfort, we passed by some fantastic scenery. Under the canopy of trees, we were also completely protected from the sun, which was a welcome relief from the heat. I am a little bit in love with rainforests. After all, being from the UK, we had nothing even remotely close to anything this exotic! At one point, I happened to glance to my left and see the biggest spider I'd ever seen in my life, webbed amongst the trees. It had red glowing eyes and sharp fangs, and I'm pretty sure it had a knife too, just to look extra threatening! Great. I won't be sleeping tonight!
We made our way over to our campsite for the evening, and all mucked in to cook dinner. We ate our meal around the campfire, cracked open a few drinks, and sat back in our camp chairs. Heaven! After our feed and several alcoholic drinks, Dan decided to bring out an Aussie icon – the didgeridoo! Some of us were actually pretty good, but the only sound I managed to make out of it was fart noises. After which, I couldn't perform anymore, due to laughing so much. Later that evening, most of the group had retired to their tents, but several members of our group and I were still up talking with Dan around the campfire. Suddenly, out of the blue, he asked us if we were up for a little adventure. Hell yes! He started leading us to the beach, promising that we were about to witness something amazing, but that we'd have to keep our phones and cameras switched off, as we couldn't have any light pollution.
It was pitch black as we walked through the rainforest, making us trip up on rocks and branches, but we eventually arrived at the beach. Surprisingly, the moonlight provided us with some light, and with our eyes now adjusting to the darkness, we made our way towards the ocean. We stopped where the waves were lapping onto the sand, and looked over at Dan. "Are you ready?" He asked. Puzzled, we all looked at one another, then Dan lifted up his leg and scrapped a line in the sand with his foot. Where he'd disturbed the sand appeared luminous plankton under his feet! My jaw hit the floor! What was I seeing? At first, I didn't quite believe my eyes, then I started drawing lines in the sand with my feet, and sure enough, the sand lit up for a few seconds, then magically faded away. It was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen! So, it's safe to assume that I was walking around like a big kid for the next few minutes, just drawing lines in the sand and marvelling at the glowing plankton. The glow occurs from a chemical reaction the plankton produce to disorient prey. However it happens, it's incredible to see, and something I’ll remember forever.
The next morning I was last to wake up, but that was fine because it meant breakfast was nearly ready. Dan asked me to quickly run down to the beach and grab the girls who'd gone down to see the wild dolphins! Whaaaattt??? Wild dolphins? I grabbed my camera and legged it to the beach. Sure enough, there they were, just metres from the shore. Several members of our group were stood knee-deep in the water just inches from them! Could this island get any more incredible? I completely forgot why I'd come down to the beach in the first place and waded in to get a bit closer. I was so happy right then. Then I heard Dan's voice behind me, telling us to hurry up as breakfast was ready. Whoops! I had one job that morning — one job.
For our first stop of the day, we headed to the sand dunes in the desert for some sandboarding. I was not convinced that sitting on a piece of plywood would work, but I was willing to give it a try. The only downside was having to climb the dunes first. It was another 40-degree day, and I am British after all. Dan advised that we should step into the person's footprints in front of us to make the climb easier, which really made me feel bad for the person at the very front. After falling down a few times, we all eventually made it up to the top! Next was the sandboard races back to the bottom, which was still fun despite all the sand flying into your face on the way back down. I glided on my flimsy bit of plywood at such breakneck speed it felt more like being on a roller coaster than a sand dune. I was having so much fun, as I laughed hysterically all the way down. When I got to the bottom, I was so pumped up with adrenalin that I decided to climb the dune again without a second thought!
To finish off our epic trip, we went snorkelling amongst the shipwrecks. The marine life around them was absolutely amazing! There were fish in every colour and size imaginable. We even saw a couple of small stingrays. Sadly I didn't see any more dolphins, but swimming amongst the wrecks was definitely still a major highlight for me. Once we dried off, we boarded the boat back to Brisbane. We stood starboard side as we drifted back to reality, watching as the shipwrecks, and our beautiful island paradise, both slowly disappeared over the horizon. It was an experience that was above all my expectations, and a time I will never forget.
Thank you so much for this amazing story Lindsay, I have never heard of Moreton Island before and now I am thinking how haven't I heard of this incredible island with everything to offer?
If you enjoyed reading about Lindsay's travels then go check out her blog, THE TRAVEL VINE. Lindsay is a Brit currently living in Australia and has been to over 100 towns and cities across 18 countries, clearly and in-depth traveller who likes to see every facet of a country. She found her love of travelling whilst backpacking across Australia when she was 24 and that love has only grown. Her bubbly writing style is something we really like to find in our writers and this continues over on her blog and if you are a fan of visuals go check out her Instagram, @thetravelvine.