Where is it: Moreton Island
What’s it all about: Spend a day off the beaten track at one of Brisbane’s best kept secrets, Moreton Island (Mulgulpin). Snorkel the crystal-clear aqua water of the famous Moreton Island wrecks and experience pristine sandy beaches with an abundance of marine life. Dolphins, turtles, dugongs, and whales all call this paradise home!
Tell me more: Departing from Newport Marina (Redcliffe), just north of Brisbane, the short 50-minute cruise over to Moreton Island is just the start of your adventure on Dolphin Wild Cruises! If you’re lucky you will catch a glimpse of some dolphins or even majestic humpback whales during the wintertime as they migrate on the trip over. The cruise is on board a large, comfortable air-conditioned vessel with a fully licensed bar and staffed with experienced and friendly crew that will make you feel like family by the end of the day. They offer flexibility to do as much, or as little as you choose, making it a perfect day out for everyone of all ages! Activities include an optional Guided Snorkel and Fish-feeding tour of Tangalooma Wrecks with a marine biologist, beach time with the option to explore the island or simply soak up some rays relaxing, swimming, or just chilling out on board with a cold drink or two.
The Guided Snorkel Tour of the wrecks is simply wonderful, there is an amazing array of fish that call the wrecks home, and we were even lucky to share our snorkelling trip with a turtle! However, if you’re not too keen on this you can relax onboard the vessel, soaking up the sunshine until the snorkellers are back on board. After a yummy, fresh lunch, the boat then repositions to a perfect spot for some beach time on the third largest sand island in the world. If you feel like a dip, you can have a short swim across to the beach, otherwise the crew will be more than happy to ferry you across in their tender.
After a refreshing spread of fresh fruits for an afternoon snack, you will then spend the final leg of your trip cruising the shallow waters for the Eco Marine Safari, keeping an eye out for dolphins, dugongs, turtles, rays, and birds. In winter, you might even catch the migration of the majestic humpback whales. While we didn’t get to spot a whale, we were very fortunate to have been able to spot a dugong who didn’t seem at all bothered by its audience, plenty of turtles and a very brief glimpse of some dolphins! All accompanied by interesting and informative commentary from your friendly crew.
It was a lovely day out with Dolphin Wild Cruises and although it was a big day, it was totally relaxing and heaps of fun! The staff were very friendly and made everyone feel comfortable from the moment they checked in. The vessel itself was very well maintained and comfortable and had plenty of space to move about. They operate all year round (weather dependant) and now also offer twilight cruises of the Redcliffe area, taking in the sun setting behind. If you only have a day to spare, we couldn’t think of a better way to experience the magic of Moreton Island, the Tangalooma wrecks and the wildlife that call Moreton Bay home!
We don't know any kids who aren't intrigued by shipwrecks! Come to think of it, we don't think that there would be too many adults who wouldn't be interested in a shipwreck! Luckily for us, here in Brisbane, there is a really accessible shipwreck right on our doorstop - just north of Brisbane at Redcliffe! The HMQS/HMAS Gayundah was deliberately beached in the 1950s at Woody Point to act as a breakwater. I'm not sure if at that time the beaching of a vessel was viewed with the same intrigue as it is today, but regardless we thought that it would be worth the short drive north to check it out!
Wanting to know a little more about what we were visiting, we did a bit of a search and found out that the Gayundah (meaning lightning), was a gun-boat and originally operated by the Queensland Maritime Defence Force, which we found interesting in that Queensland had its own defence force! The boat had a sister ship called Paluma (meaning 'thunder') and was involved in a mutiny that took place on the Brisbane River! It was transferred to the Australian Navy after federation and was in service during World War One. After the war it was used commercially until the 50s, during which time it sank and was raised before being beached at Redcliffe. Phew! What a life!
Our visit to the Gayundah was not nearly as adventurous as the little vessel we were off to see, an easy half hour drive up the highway and across the impressive Ted Smout Memorial Bridge to get to Redcliffe peninsular can hardly be described as an adventure, however the kids do love the idea of driving across the sea! The wreck is situated at the southern end of the Gayundah Coastal Arboretum, a nice quiet park with some nice views across Moreton Bay and barbeque facilities. There are plenty of car-parking spaces reasonably close in the arboretum or some street parking on Gayundah Esplanade, so there is no problem with parking.
Depending on where you park, it should only be a short walk on concrete paths to reach the Gayundah, definitely pram friendly and if your only plans are to see the wreck , there should be little need for you to carry anything significant, although a hat is definitely recommended in summer! That said, if you have no other plans you might be wasting a great opportunity to stop off in the park for a relaxing picnic or barbeque! You should also note that there are no toilets in the park(?) but there are a number of other parks in the area (driving) so if you are faced with an toilet-emergency, you may have to be prepared to jump back into the car!
The wreck itself does not seem to have retained any of the boat's features that we had seen in historical photos. This certainly did not disappoint us or the kids, and it is still quite distinguishable as a boat, but the years have certainly taken their toll, so it may only be a matter of time before she disappears completely - but I'm sure it will still be around to bring the grandkids! The kids were suitably impressed, and I think the less of its story explained to the little ones the better - just to let their imaginations run wild with their own reasons as to why the shipwreck was here! I'm sure that in their minds they were picturing that it was a swashbuckling pirate battle or a huge storm beached the Gayundah!
There are signs that tell you, most probably for safety reasons, not to get down on the beach to explore the wreck. I'm sure that this will assist in the preservation of this area as well. You can get a really good view of the wreck from the viewing area, however you will need to check the tides before you visit - at higher tides the wreck is almost completely submerged! The wreck is certainly worth a visit - it is so easy to access and the story behind the HMAS Gayundah is quite intriguing. Hopefully you get the opportunity to see the wreck before it goes the way of the wreck of the Dicky at Sunshine Coast - which deteriorated so much it had to be removed!
Amenities: A nice park is adjacent but no toilets! 👍👍
Cost: Completely free but perhaps some travel costs for those not lucky enough to live in Redcliffe!👍👍👍👍
Parking: Plenty of parking around and you can visit whenever you like! 👍👍👍👍
Access: No access to the wreck itself but so easy to get to the viewing area - just remember to check the tide before you head off! 👍👍👍
Entertainment: It's all in the imagination! 👍👍
Best for: Everyone! With a special recommendation for photographers! 👍👍👍👍
Wildlife: Do crabs count? 👍
Summary: A really easy and relaxing way to spend a few hours! Check the tide times and plan your visit, it is such an easy way to get up close to a real shipwreck! 👍👍👍
Hints: Sunrise will give you some amazing photo opportunities!
Photos taken before bow colapse
Brisbane Family Explorers