Ultimate Visitor Guide to Moreton Island – The East Side
Part 2 of our Ultimate FREE Guide to Moreton Island. If you’re ready to tackle the East Coast - get your vehicle ready, lower your tyre pressures and make sure you have all your recovery gear and fishing tackle.
The magnificent Moreton Island is one of our favourite spots to 4WD off the QLD coast.
Last week, we shared an article on exploring the West side of the Island and today, we’re headed East, where the surf and wind provide a little more energy to your adventure.
In part one, we covered vehicle preparation and the gear you might need for your trip – in case you missed it – you can catch up here.We explored the West Coast, from Kooringal down in the South through to Taylor Bight in the Northwest.
If you’re ready to tackle the East Coast - get your vehicle ready, lower your tyre pressures and make sure you have all your recovery gear and fishing tackle.
The East Coast is a stunning location and getting there and around in your own 4WD is an experience in itself. There are only a few linking tracks that get you across the island from where the MiCat vehicle ferry drops you but as you drive, you’ll find yourself getting increasingly excited as you move closer to your destination on the East.
Camping On The East Side
There are loads of great camping locations to choose from scattered all the way up the East Coast.
The calmer areas, protected from the wind, are around Yellow Patch in the North and in the designated Cape areas, although you still might experience the North easterly patterns. Here it’s usually a much easier camping experience with some locations having toilet facilities.
If you’re planning to camp somewhere along the coast between Cape Moreton in the North and Short Point in the South, it’s a good idea to bring extra tarps and sand pegs - as it really does blow. If you’re someone who likes to go with a plan - expect a lot of wind and take extra guy ropes and pegs to ensure you create a great experience at camp.
Having said that, if, like us, you enjoy the wind in your hair, you’ll like the cooling breeze as you chill out to the constant sound of waves crashing on the beach. Many people are drawn to this style of experience, making the most of every day, sitting around watching the beach, the waves and people in 4X4s passing by.
You do need to book a campsite through the National Parks which will provide you access to an area, but you can’t reserve a specific spot. Like the Westside, when you leave the ferry, you’ll head to the area you’ve booked and find a site that suits you. On each trip, we always like to look around the Island and figure out a spot for our next trip!
For the 4WDer
For the 4WDers, the Eastern beach offers a fun time during low tides and more of an adventure during the higher tides. Be aware though that at many times, the Eastern beaches are impassable when the seas are up and the tides are big.
We’ve stood on top of Cape Moreton waiting for the sunrise and watching the local fisherman heading North up the beach making attempts to run sections between the waves. They struggle as the breaking waves crash against their forward motion throwing water high in the air. These guys are braver than I am, that’s for sure. After big storms, you might also find your travel up and down the East Coast is affected as parts of the beach have been washed away.
This can also be the case in the areas on the North Coast between Taylor Bight and Yellow Patch, where after big Northeasterly seas and heavy rain, the coastal area will change daily, providing a little extra navigational entertainment, as an area you travelled one day, may be impassable the next.
The wetlands on the North Coast carry an abundance of bird life. These are usually mudflats with a little brackish water, but after heavy rain, they fill, creating a haven for small critters and attracting more bird life to the huge section of calm waters. The beachfront holding these waterways will break their banks, spilling into the sea and taking with it the food source that attracted the bird life. As the water runs into the ocean, it provides feed for the fish populations. At the same time, the beach you drove on yesterday is potentially no longer there, so you may need to wait until low tide, or find another access route.
To some people this might be frustrating, to us, it’s just part of the adventure of heading to Moreton, where no two days are the same.
For those who love the beach and want to swim in the ocean, there are numerous locations to choose from. Be aware that if you want to go for a dip in the surf, you’ll be swimming on a non-controlled beach.
As there are many rips along the coast, always keep your wits about you and watch the waters for some time before jumping in. These rips are extremely fast-moving and dangerous, so it’s always a good rule of thumb to treat the sea with respect and check before you jump in. The surf will also change with tides, with new rips developing during these changes. Whether you’re dipping your toe in the water or driving your 4WD down the beach, take the necessary care to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
If you’d prefer calmer, safer swimming, there’s plenty to choose from. Champagne Pools is one of our favourites, with waters from the surf washing over a section of rocks, creating a bubble of water that looks like champagne overflowing a glass.
With the right supervision, kids can play in these warmer waters chasing little fish or building sandcastles. Alongside, we’ve seen many adults floating with a cool drink and enormous, relaxed smiles. It’s a beautiful spot which I recommend as a must-see for everyone visiting Moreton.
The waters just to the West of Champagne Pools are also a calmer surf environment, with waves rolling in from around the Point. Unless there’s a big Northeasterly coming in, it’s usually a nice spot for the family to take a dip – possibly with some watercraft to enjoy the small rolling waves.
And don’t forget Honeymoon Bay - a fantastic destination for surfers - and a short walk from the beach parking at North Point to view the Bay and the small lighthouse known as the North Point Light.
I previously mentioned the inland waterways on the North Coast -they’re beautiful and make for great photos. They can also be a great spot to jump in and cool off, but be advised that some of these sections can become quicksand-like and a hazard to both vehicles and swimmers if you park or stand in the wrong section. Keep your wits about you when strolling into the soft sections of sand that develop between Taylor Bight and Yellow Patch.
For the fisherman, you’ll need a fair bit of tackle as the fishing is different all around the island (a great excuse to buy more fishing gear, right?). Up North, many people fish lite tackle for Whiting and chasing Flatheads in the shallows, but use bigger rigs to fish further off the beach. On the East Coast you’ll see fishermen looking into the waves to figure out the best gutters and most suitable environments.
Fishing is huge on Moreton and attracts keen anglers using all sorts of methods and gear to catch the fish of the day. Moreton also holds fishing competitions which area great boost for tourism in the area.
The East Coast of Moreton is a place for both the rookie fisherman and the experienced to share the beach and create some new stories.
Things To See & Do
A highlight on your visit to Moreton Island, whether you’re staying in accommodation or camping, should be a visit to Cape Moreton Lighthouse. It’s a stunner built from sandstone and sitting proudly on the highest grounds of the far Northeast.
My wife Gab loves to take an early adventure to Cape Moreton Lighthouse at least once during our trips. We get up before sunrise, drive to the carpark, walk the last section and sit together watching the sun climb out of the sea. Expert tip: A bowl of coco-pops goes great with a sunrise!
After the sun rises, you can look down to see turtles, dolphins, and manta rays. If you’re there during the right time of the year, you might even be lucky enough to see whales as they migrate up and down the coast.
While you’re at this amazing vantage point, take a little time to look South and enjoy those stunning views.
If you’re into history, there’s tonnes of evidence of the military presence from years ago. It’s worth doing a little research to find the better sites.
This might be a great place to start looking The Rous Track
The Blue Lagoon is another great place to visit for a dip in crystal-clear waters. It’s a short walk from the carpark or campground and on a clear day with little wind, it creates some amazing reflections.
The Blue Lagoon information here.
Down the Southern end of the Island, you can find Mirapool Lagoon. It’s a big drive from up North but makes for a great day out if that’s where you’re camped. Just like the West Coast, it’s extremely important to understand the tides, weather, and beach conditions before heading up and down the beachfront, as it can become impassable.
Mount Tempest is another great visit and including a fair hike, the views are stunning. This is thought to be the highest coastal sand dune in the world at approximately 285 metres above sea level. It’s worth the effort with sensational panoramic views.
You’ll need a bunch of days to really enjoy Moreton Island as it’s packed full of places to explore and things to do. If you want to simply chill out and unwind, you can do that here, but if you’re up for an adventure - you will not be disappointed! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this amazing location, Moreton Island… our favourite 4WD Island destination.
-Michael Ellem | Offroad Images
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