Saturday 3rd November - set up camp and a walk around Honeyeater Lake and Blue Lagoon - 5kms
Chris, Robert and Nick were up early and Robert enjoyed breakfast while Chris and Nick had coffee. Sue drove us to the truck stop where we met Jason and John, squeezed all our gear into the Prado and trailer, and grabbed a breakfast (Robert’s second). The cash kitty took its first hit. The ferry was busy and doing a good trade in coffee and sausage rolls for about a million scouts, who were traveling to the island for the week-end. The trip across was uneventful, although the views of the wharf area were of some interest. A small pod of dolphins accompanied the ferry for a short while. The only problem was that Robert discovered he had left his watch at Nick’s house. Sue recovered and minded it for him. The release of vehicles from the ferry was arbitrary and despite being on early we were nearly the last off. Just getting off the ferry demonstrated how tricky it is driving on sand. John got us to camp without incident although the bouncing around was disconcerting. Sand Driving is regarded as possibly the toughest 4wd driving test. Opening by Chris Webb. The Walkers John B (me) Nick Brooking Jee Sik Foo Chris Webb Robert Webb
Setting up camp was done without fuss. I had all the gear, the tools to deploy it and the stuff to store it in. I even had our own dunny out back of the camp. The crew thought that the dunny seemed a bit exposed, but the washing on the clothes line provided an element of screening. .After we had set up the camp, we walked up the Bulwer track and then the track to Honeyeater Lake and then on to Blue Lagoon. We stopped at a lookout over Honeyeater Lagoon. One point of interest was the different types of trees and greenery. There were different types of Banksia inland to those around the coastal camp.. At Blue Lagoon, we had to wade back through waist deep water and suspicious water lilies that were a perfect camouflage for snakes, due to the amount of water around. I was the first to reach dry land, followed by Nick with Chris, Robert and Jason trailing behind. They got the feeling that I had done this before. A group of youngsters (teenagers/early twenties – even Robert looked old) were lazing on the sandy shore as we got out of the water. I did not mention to the group that I have sighted plenty of snakes in Blue Lagoon in previous trips. But all was good and it was pleasing to see the water levels so high (waste deep) around the edge by the lillies.
Back at camp, we all enjoyed a red wine, and it was apparent that Chris and Nick were trying to drink all the red in one go, although I seemed to enjoy it as well. Dinner was sausages, mash potato and canned vegies.
Sunday 4th November - Across the small sandhills and around the bottom of the island - 25kms
I drove down past the start of the Rous Battery and then we walked across the Small Sandhills (I thought Chris had got lost, but he was only investigating alternative descents). It is very apparent also that if you should wish to walk across the island, then it is best from East to West as the dunes slope gently away from the prevailing sea breeze. They then drop sharply on the lee side. After we had walked across the island through the Small Sandhills we then walked down the coast past the oyster farms, to Kooringal.
Lunch was enjoyed at the Gutter Bar (oysters caught locally on the oyster beds and a couple of seafood baskets, a few beers, and a rum or two). After lunch we headed down to the bottom of the island. Saw an old wreck or two - one had an interesting sticker still on the back windscreen.
The Gutter Bar - a little gem
After lunch we headed further south to the bottom of the island. Down here, the trees litter the beach and walking is your only option until you get right around to the eastern shore and about 200m up the beach. Then you can drive in and go overland to Kooringal. But along this southern beach stretch was the Mirapool. One of the great migratory birds sanctuary. And across the bar/channel lies the northern shore of North Stradbroke. As we walked up the beach the flocks of birds kept moving ahead of us as small groups gather the nerve and flew back behind us . Eventually they all did this and we headed on with a almost deserted beach ahead of us and a few kilometers to go back the car.
In total we walked 25km in all. On the way we got news via email of the new baby Wearing and the very happy parents. A very nice occasion.
On the way back to the camp, we stopped and investigated the start of the Ross Battery track.
Chris was responsible for this nights dinner, but received the help of Jason and Nick and even Robert. The recipe was a chili con-carne, involving mince, beans, chili, more chili, rice and red wine. Still waiting for the full moon to come up. But we had missed that by 1 hour. A pleasant red wine or two accompanied this.
Monday 5th November - Tempest, Telegraph Track and Bulwer Road - 25kms
I got up at 4:45 for a comfort stop and to go down to the beach. However, Jason was already boiling the jug, thinking it was past 6. But we stayed up and had an early breakfast of bacon and eggs. Then we set off to walk down the beach to Middle Road. A few cars were bogged on the turn off from the beach. We watched the excitement for a while. From there we walked to the start of the track to Mount tempest.
Just 2kms return, said the sign, but it seemed a lot more than that. It was a hot sunny day, no respite at the top of Mt. Tempest and little on the track. At the top of Mt Tempest, it was possible to see a lot of the damage that the fires had done earlier in the year, and everyone enjoyed the panoramic views from the lookout at the top. Nick boiled the Billy, and we all partook of a hot drink, and some slices which had been provided by Chris’s stepdaughter (Tammy).
It was then off on the telegraph track- 8.5kms off grass trees, fire ravaged Sand hills, soft sand, 35 old telegraph poles reminding us of times gone by of the arrangements put in place for an impending WW2 attacks.
We finally got onto the Bulwer road to get back to the beach. Everyone was exhausted at this stage and most were out of water. some 5 or so kms later we hit the surf beach and glad to see the end of the walk. Points of interest 1. We knew there were 35 poles left, as Robert had counted them. 2. the walk was quite long around 25kms in all. but it was the soft sand, the hot day that proved to be the main worry. That and the fact there was no water on the track so you dod need to carry at least 4 litres each. I had 3 and ran out at the end of the track. 3. What a lot of people don’t know is that in the war time this track was also a train line coming all the way from Rous Battery.
But that was not the end of the day. Off for a swim after drinking 2 cans of coke. Then the drive up to the showers, but no, what about a quick drive to Spitfire creek where I promptly bogged the car up to its belly. Initial attempts to free the car included everyone pushing, wood and other items dug in under the wheels, digging under the vehicle, damming up the water and trying to reduce the volume around the car, all to no avail. Good thing Nick was able to run back and get some help from the only 2 campers (it seemed) on the whole island or at least north of middle road. Firstly a helpful fellow in a Landrover tried to snatch me out. After no luck he then had to go back and get a German couple who had a Landcruiser with a winch. After still failing to snatch the vehicle out, it was another bitter blow when the winch failed to work. At this stage I was extremely worried, and seriously concerned for the vehicle. But with an amazing bit of jury rigging of the winch by Felix, it was a Hail Mary, and, much to my surprise (and everyone elses), the protesting Prado gradually released itself from the shifting sand (aka quick). The very relieved driver was a bit shaken, plenty stirred but very grateful to the good people who did not only go out of their way, but were also very resourceful in solving the dilemma. By this stage, I had developed a gigantic blood blister on my little toe. Jason had a few hot spots on his feet and Robert was a bit/lot sunburnt. You had the feeling that Chris was also in a bad way but he did not let on. (Chris had a couple of black toenails, which he later lost). Nick was just getting a bit tired after his Olympian run to get help..... Next day we settled on a suitable gift (2 bottles of red wine - good thing that Chris suggested over supplying) for our new German friends, Felix and Nadine. Dinner was a very late chicken mornay. There was a noticeable silence at the dinner table and an air of relief that the worst of the day was over. We had dodged a bullet and every one knew it.
Tuesday 6th November - Yellow Patch to Bulwer - 10kms
We delivered the 2 bottles of red and returned their shackle (still on the tow point of the Prado, and that was that. They may visit tonight. Cereal breakfast and a bit of a time out. Around 10 we headed off to Bulwer. Once again, I reminded the group that my job was to drive, their role was to bring the garbage. But we raise it until it was too late. I simply mentioned to the other slackers that it was not my job to think of everything. They after all, were adults. So someone will be carrying the garbage on their lap. We had decided that I would take the group to yellow patch and drop them off to walk back around Tailer Bite to Bulwer. At the 5 hills lookout, we met up with 3 German back packers (one was named Felix) who were having a rest at the base and had not even gone up to the lookout.
We volunteered a few cold drinks and also said that once I dropped off the group at Yellow Patch, I would be driving back to Bulwer. If they indicated, with an agreed signal, I would be happy to pick them up and drive them the rest of the way back to Bulwer. It turned out that they were indeed happy for a ride. I found out that they were all studying medicine and this was a mid course break. I took them to the shop and had lunch with them. The shop was having a Melbourne cup function and had big TVs. Felix had this enormous burger. I had a toasted sandwich. After lunch and a few rums it was time for the race.
Meanwhile, the intrepid explorers walked off west from where they had been dropped at Yellow Patch, towards Heath Island along the beach with a lagoon to our south.
The walk to Bulwyer from Yellow Patch
There was a large flock of wading birds that kept being startled by us and then flew ahead, only to be startled 5 minutes later. Eventually, 50 at a time, they flew behind us a regrouped. The map indicated there would be a channel to cross, and we were prepared to retrace our steps. Fortunately it was only 10m across and 1m deep. Fortunately it was a hot day and the promise of food and drink at the shop spurned them on.
Back at the shop, the big race was 2 minutes away. Unfortunately at this point they arrived and also the food was closed. It was a real shame that the walkers missed lunch (which I kept reminding them about). Nevertheless we were happy to pick up some drinks from the café’s food shop. Going back we remembered to take a mileage from where the end of the telegraph track met the Bulwer Road..
Then the real fun started, we went fishing. It was a real eye opener. Unlike other places where you get value for money, we only had one sandworm between us. Robert tangled a reel that was not possible to tangle, not once but, twice. I caught a nice whiting, Chris ended up fishing with a bit of sausage. The sea had too much algae interference to keep fishing. Lamb shanks for dinner – it was great, oh and a few red wines.
Wednesday the 7th November - Blue Lagoon to the Cape and back - 23kms
The day when the lotto people were looking for a Queenslander who was out of range..... Moreton?? – I could not get a signal to save my life, but kept very hopeful that we would all have a very rich retirement. Breakfast was bacon, eggs and baked beans. Off we set to walk to the Cape.
The Cape Lighthouse
As we walked towards the cape, we passed the Spitfire waterhole which had given us so much trouble on Monday evening. The evidence of the car’s dilemma was still evident.
ris thought that was all we were doing, but we had a real “treat” for him, walking across the old sand dunes under the Cape and then doubling back to the beach and up and over the road to the lighthouse. This is a special area to Aboriginal people.We sat under trees on crumbly sandstone, not far from the beach. It had the feel of meeting place. As we trekked into the dunes we encountered strange rock formations like sandstone eggshells full of soft windblown sand. If you poked the shell the sand flowed out.
When we got to the limit of the dunes it again became clear that going off-track on Moreton was not an easy option. The pattern was the same. The dune descended and the scrub started. It was virtually impenetrable and steep. At the base of the dune the scrub was even thicker and could be boggy.
On the way out Robert found a sun faded car license plate with the number ‘666 DAG’. This was taken as a souvenir and a clean-up activity, and was presented to Nick on the Sunday. We had a drink stop under a tree. Robert took a photo of John and Chris sitting together with both displaying the ‘bunny ears’ sign despite Robert’s vigorous protestation. It was a lot easier to walk up the hill as new rubber mats had been laid to help the 4WDs and erosion.
At the top of the hill, there were some excellent photo opportunities, but the museum was not open. It was being refurbished, and would reopen in a couple of weeks. There was a ranger up there doing some work, and he was happy to down his tools for a short while for a chat. The ranger said that the cost of the new rubber squares chained together was $200,000 nearly their entire capital budget. Over the hill and up to the lighthouse, where the toilets and museum were being painted but there were no whales to see. Had a chat to the ranger a about a whole raft of husbandry issues. The ranger disputed our suggested length for the Telegraph track walk, indicating it was probably somewhat longer – Chris’s feet had agreed with him.
After a while, it was off to the north shore and lunch (turkey sandwiches, apples and apricots) at Honeymoon Bay. Very nice.
Soon it was time to head back and it was a hard slog to go back over the mountain (soft sand roads) and then over the top and on to the beach. Then the 8kms back to the camp.
During this stage, Chris pointed out to me that I was about to tread on a black snake. After we all caught our breath, we bravely went closer to have a good look at it. However, the snake was busy escaping all of us.
When we got to the “Blue Lagoon Camping site” there was a toilet break, and a short rest in the shade of a tree. The extra water was appreciated, drink bottles were refilled, and a splash across the face was very welcome.
It was now 3pm. A quick walk down the beach and we were back home by 5pm. I made everyone take a swim and wash off with a bucket of cold water.
After a few beers and a couple of bottles of wine (damn that Jason can drink), I cooked up tuna, pasta and mornay- quite nice followed by plum pudding.
Robert put Staminade in Chris's drink-bottle - not appreciated. This incident amused Robert frequently.
Some said it was another 23kms walk.
Towards the latter part of the evening, we had heard a disturbance in the bush behind the camp. While we had all moved and rushed up there to see what was happening, Robert was way ahead of the rest of us. He said he had seen a pig, and described it as black, and about three-quarters grown. After the excitement, we went back down to the camp, enjoyed a final drink, and discussed the event. We all retired to bed quite early.
Thursday the 8th November - Rest Day and an explore of Eagers Creek - 6kms
We woke up to a cold breakfast and I dropped the crew down to Eager's creek for an attempt to head up the creek to a large water deposit you could see from Mt Tempest. It was basically our rest day.
The explorers failed to get more than 20m in. This is not a benign environment. Going off track on Moreton is hard. The scrub is dense and the creeks very overgrown. Chris spotted this as prime snake country.
While they were away, I cleaned up the camp and dried out the stuff the was wet from the morning shower.
After a while, i jumped in the car to see if any one wanted a ride back from Eagers. Chris took me up on the offer.
For lunch we cooked up Hamburgers and then a quiet afternoon.
Later in the day, we met up with a group of older surfers who were helping a bogged vehicle. They asked whether we were the camp down the road and when I said yes, he said we were called the ‘senior scout pack’
Dinner was rump steak, potato, mixed veggies and onions. We have certainly eaten well. We all shared a bottle of port, but once again I recalled a time when I had gone to bed and woke to an empty port bottle. I felt that that I had not partaken, and that Nick and Chris had finished off a bottle of port after I had gone to bed. Now they are saying that alcohol affects the short-term memory, so next time we will need photographic evidence I actually partook.
Friday the 9th November - Rous Battery to Tangalooma and back - 24kms
Rouse Battery track to Tangalooma
Today was the Rous Battery track across the island to Tangalooma. The track was 10kms one way with a now familiar sand road track, soft and hot. What we later found was that the 10km and the track finished some 2 kms short of the resort. Once we got to the top of the frontal dunes and over the back we found WW2 bunkers in really good nick. You could walk down the steps into the underground rooms. It was in amazing condition being protected by the front dune (which has seen some gun turrets fall into the sand slip.)
The walk along Battery track was quite pleasant. The track was in good condition, and had been reasonably maintained. We stopped for our traditional morning snack, and had boiled eggs. Shade on the track was a bit of a premium, due to the fires.
The walk was a little misleading, as the Rous Battery track does not go all the way to Tangalooma, but rather joins the road about 2 kms away. This then means a 2 km trek on soft sand to reach the destination. This walk was easier going into Tangalooma, as it was generally downhill. Going back was going to be an effort.
The Tangalooma resort was a tourist mecca on the island, with a large number of activities (at a cost). Being on the inside of the island, it had very calm beaches, and distant views of Brisbane and the surrounding hills. Nick and I discussed which mountain was which. There were a large number of tourists there. We had lunch at the resort and made use of the tap there for a splash-down and to refill the water bottles. After an ice cream, we took off back to the car, 12 kilometers and uphill away.
The return trip with full bellies was an uphill slog, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the start of the Rous Battery track for our return. We had stopped for a snack on the way to Tangalooma, and had eaten hard-boiled eggs. By chance we stopped at the same place on the return journey, evident by a few tiny bits of egg shells.
The walk back was pretty uneventful - hot, windy and in parts soft hot sand. The fires had really done a good job and got quite close to the resort. It was a pretty long day and when we finally got back to the beach, it was around 5 pm.
Our friends up the next camp were playing golf and had set up a balloon course. They were pretty pissed.
Rogan Josh lamb tonight and red wine (Shame if you did not drink it).
Saturday the 10th November
Pack up and return to Brisbane day
It was a pretty quiet morning, to pack up the camp and head off to Middle road. We were all not looking forward to the journey out with a fully-laden vehicle and trailer. But we waited for the low tide and then had a good run up the beach to tackle that first section of soft sand. We made it with revs to spare but there was more to come. Several sections were very soft and you could feel the Prado working well within its capability. The trailer just bumped and slid behind us as we pushed on. Finally we got to the western beach and headed up to take the rubbish off the roof.
On the way past the point in front of the wrecks, a wedding was going on and it started to rain. We crawled past them watching kids and Mums everywhere. Then we nearly got bogged as we did a U-turn up the beach. It was touch and go. But with the rubbish off we drove back and parked the car to wait for the ferry. We had lunch with some left over food and by now the wedding reception had moved to the car deck of the ferry. Decidedly wet from the now constant rain but from appearance a real hoot. As it was going to be a few hours we decided to do one last walk up to Cowan. With the wind and rain on our backs, we were not looking forward to the return walk.
When we arrived back at the car we were half soaked. We changed into what we had that was dry. Nothing was clean any more.
Finally we drove onto the barge and took the trip home.
It was a great trip with plenty of fun and some serious walking (Over 110kms covered in the week in places where only a 4wd drive could go).
John: It took me a lazy three days to clean the gear and put it all away for the next trip. And I wondered if Chris got his watch back and if Robert really did see a pig at camp. My favorite walk was across the low sand hills, Kooringal, the bottom of the island and the Mirapool lagoon.
Nick: I have a better understanding of Moreton now I have traveled inland. This is a harsh place. The beach is deceptive. It’s not a big lazy resort. You should not come here without the right equipment. You should not venture off track. It can be hot and dry. I’ll return. My favorite walk was the southern end - the same as John. It has the edge because it was early in the week and the impact of the scenery was fresh, the dunes were fascinating, the Gutter Bar surprising and Mirapool other worldly.
Jason: First time I have done a walk over 7 consecutive days. Really surprised myself that I stood up quite well. The fatigue only hit me 24 hours after the trip ended. The burnt out trees on either side of the Rous Battery track was surreal; no one could have survived if a bush fire swept through while walking the track. Got a good appreciation of how tough real 4-wheel driving can be (John passed the test!). All in all a memorable trip! My favorite walk was the walk to lighthouse at the northern tip. It had different perspectives to it - a walk along the beach seeing different things being washed ashore, going across the sacred aboriginal site, up the hill tramping on those expensive anti-slip mats, seeing the lighthouse and the splendid views from the top and the picturesque surrounds of Honeymoon Bay.
Chris: It was a great trip, but it was a shame that there was not the time to do more of the tourist type activities. I would have liked to try catching the worms with the onion bag, and more fishing. Possibly some of the walks were a bit long, and the lack of a second car curtailed some of our options. I suggest that for the next great walk we might consider how we squeeze in the other activities. I recommend somewhere along the Murray or similar as the first preference, but an open to suggestions. While it was hard to choose, my favorite walk was the Tuesday, from Yellow Patch to Bulwer. It had the adventure of finding a way to cross the steam, and I felt it was a bit more varied. The drinks at the finish were also welcome.
Robert: It was fun going on the trip and the ferry to Moreton Island. I took some photos of Moreton Island, but they did not come out right. The walks were for a long ways. I enjoyed the meals with everyone. We had to have showers at the Blue Lagoon camp site. I liked going to see the lighthouse the most. I will see everyone next trip.