Adventure and travel don’t always line up with your budget and time. But no matter where you live in the world, there’s likely an outdoor experience you can easily get to in your local area. And it’s probably fascinating! This week, Narelle Bouveng from @alittleatlarge tells us about a little Island her family goes to, not far from their home in Gold Coast Australia…
Holidaying in our own backyard is something we love to do here in Australia.Being far away from many other countries combined with the expense of travelling long haul as a family of 5 and balancing schedules that includes 2 full time working parents, a university student, one in final senior year and another just starting in prep (phew)… holidaying more regularly at home presents as a much more viable option.
One of our favourite places to go is just a short 75 minute ferry glide across the sparkling waters of Moreton Bay from our home state Queensland’s capital of Brisbane to Moreton Island and the resort style haven of Tangalooma – meaning “where the fishes meet” in our Aboriginal language and culture.
Moreton Island is 95% National Park. It offers a range of accommodation options from camping out under the stars on the beach or in the bush, glamping (luxe camping) and family style apartments that can easily fit 2 families in self–contained comfort right on the beach and close to all the amenities.
BYO here means everything – from your 4WD if you like a bit of beach bashing (there is a car barge that comes over everyday), to the supplies you would like to enjoy as there are BBQ facilities at the property or if you prefer to eat out, there are a couple of decent restaurants to choose from at the resort too.
We like catering for ourselves and getting out and exploring the island. Moreton Island happens to be the third largest sand island in the world. It is part of the sandy stretch that incorporates nearby Fraser Island in the north and South Stradbroke Island in the south which combined, forms the largest sand structure on the planet! So if you don’t like sand – this is probably not the island for you!
In saying this though, sand tobogganing is a favourite with my kids. It is gruelling to walk through the soft sand slopes to the top of the giant sand hills (such a great butt workout for mums), but so exhilarating coming down. As a family, we laughed ourselves silly at the crashes, stacks and one rather unfortunate face plant that “some” of us may have had! Tours can be arranged from the resort, or you can find your own dune anywhere, grab a piece of cardboard (flattened beer cartons work best) and slide til your heart is content.
Snorkelling is truly amazing here – thanks largely to 15 purpose-stationed shipwrecks that sit off the northwest corner of the island, put in place to form a break wall so that boats could moor safely, but now the home to myriad marine species of coral, fish and creatures. The water is incredibly clear, and snorkelling around the wrecks is amongst some of the best conditions in Queensland. So expect to see turtles, dugongs, colourful fish, sharks (not the scary big ones though), and our favourite – wild dolphins…
Wild Bottlenose Dolphins have been calling Tangalooma home since 1992, when two mother dolphins brought their calves in to the shallow waters on dusk that went on to inspire a dolphin education program now run by rangers in order to protect, but also to continue to learn about these incredibly intelligent creatures.
Each night, up to 13 dolphins (all related to the original 2 mama dolphins) may visit the feeding area, where they are given only 10% -20% of their daily food allowance so that they maintain their instincts, independence and ability to hunt for their own.
I brought my older kids here over 10 years ago and they participated in the junior dolphin rangers program. To this day they are conscious of what goes down our drains, picking up rubbish at the beach and not using plastic bags.
Plastic bags are the big danger as they can entangle our precious marine life, or worse, mimic a jelly-fish treat which when consumed by dolphins or turtles can lead to them not being able to naturally swim as they become buoyant and float. Humans (sadly) and specifically our trash, are the biggest threat to the future of these animals.
The northern end of the island is also well worth getting to for the incredibly beautiful champagne pools. A natural sea pool where the waves breaking over the eroded flat rocks creates a fizzing effect likened to champagne spilling. Needless to say, pack your champagne, as seeing it may inspire a tipple and there is no better place than the pool itself to enjoy a chilled glass on a hot day!
Moreton Island is an idyllic spot that can be enjoyed as Bear Grylls style “wild” or as I prefer, more sedately in comfortable accommodations with all the creature comforts of home. It is naturally diverse and spectacularly gifted in terms of pristine waters, ample marine life, long stretches of uninterrupted beaches and a laid back coastal vibe. All these reasons are why it is one of our favourites and such a treasure to have in our own Australian backyard. Add it to your list if you are Australia bound!