Moreton Island: an island getaway on Brisbane’s doorstep

At Moreton Island, you can escape the hustle and bustle of your busy life and relax. You will be surrounded by tropical island palm trees, picturesque white sand, stunning ecosystems and a diverse range of flora and fauna.

National Park and Marine Park

Moreton Island is a 37km long sand island located 40 kilometres – or a 75-minute boat ride – off the coast of Brisbane. Moreton Island along with North Stradbroke Island and South Stradbroke Island, make up the broader region called Moreton Bay. The island itself is both a national park and recreation area. However, as soon as you reach the water, it becomes the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Declared a Marine Park in 1993, it holds natural, cultural, recreational and economic importance to Queensland.

The majority of the island was declared National Park as the government wanted to “protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations” and “exclude exploitation” of this beautiful island. These classifications allow this island to be enjoyed by you today and the future generations to come.

The surrounding environment

The island is filled with complex and fragile ecology which is home to a variety of fauna and flora. One ecosystem you should check out is the Blue Lagoon. This is a freshwater lake which is fed by the local freshwater streams, rivers and underground water table. This place is an amazing swimming hole and an excellent place for some bird watching. Amazingly over 180 species of birds have been recorded on the island including numerous protected migratory birds and birds of prey.

Other animals that live in and around Moreton Island are reptiles like the blue tongue lizard, terrestrial mammals such as the brushtail possums and amphibians like the vulnerable wallum froglet. Another tourism attraction that is worth checking out is Mount Tempest. Standing at 285 meters tall, it is thought to be the highest stabilised sand dune in the world. If you love to hike there is a challenging walk to the top which offers spectacular views.

Culture and history

The Quandamooka People were the Indigenous people of the broader Moreton Bay Region which include the Ngugi People (Moreton Island) and the Gorenpul and Nunukal clans (North Stradbroke Island). The Ngugi People, called Moreton Island Mulgumpin, meaning place of sandhills. Studies of the land show that these traditional owners called Mulgumpin home for over 2000 years and lead a marine- based lifestyle. The Ngugi Peoples have a strong connection to the land and the sea with some animals strongly linked with native tradition and customs.

Some of the amazing larger marine animals you will still find just off the coast including whales (during winter and spring), dolphins and dugongs. If you’re keen to get up close and personal with some of these guys make sure you book the whale watching cruise and/or dolphin feeding offered by Tangalooma Island Resort.

As European settlement came, Mulgumpin became the main passage to Brisbane with convicts building Queensland’s first lighthouse in 1857. The lighthouse still stands today and is another popular tourist spot and popular site to view the whale migration. Around 100 years after the lighthouse was built, the island became home to Queensland’s only whaling station as well as sand mining exploration. The whaling station operated from 1952 to 1962 and the remains are now part of the Tangalooma Island Resort facilities. Tangalooma Island Resort has a presentation you can join which teaches you about the history of the island and information about the old whaling station.

Sand mining ended in 1992 and the land was turned into a national park. In 2019 the Federal Court recognised native title rights for Mulgumpin which means the Quandamooka Peoples can conduct traditional ceremonies and maintain their culturally significant sites. 

If you’re keen to visit and stay at Moreton Island, check out the sustainable Tangalooma Island Resort or various campgrounds around the island. Either way, Mulgumpin or Moreton Island is the perfect destination for a sustainable getaway. With its protected status you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes and native animals, knowing they will be guarded for generations to come.



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