Saturday, February 21, 2009
Enjoyed a fun day trip to Moreton Island today. Moreton Island is the third-largest sand island in Australia, behind Fraser and Stradbroke islands. Yes, made entirely of sand with the exception of a small volcanic outcropping on the northern end of the island, which was the original landform. Over time, sand traveling down the coast got hung up on this outcrop, and eventually formed the island as it is now. It was a treat to see this environmental area that is now almost entirely preserved as a national park. It has huge stands of eucalyptus and casuarina trees and quite a bit if wildlife. We saw dolphins, turtles, manta rays, oystercatchers, terns, kites, cormorants, a sea eagle and I saw (from way up a cliff with my binoculars) a large grey shape underwater…hmmm…it never broke the surface but…luckily we didn’t go swimming in the ocean due to the riptides and frequency of sharks in the area. That was fine with me after my viewing!
The ferry ride over in the morning was great, made complete with excellent coffee, served in a ceramic mug, not a disposable cup! The ferry also brings over your vehicles, and our group was in a 14-seater 4-wheel drive monstrosity that did not get stuck once! This is a key point, because there are no sealed roads on the island, and once again…this is a SAND island! The roads were tricky at best, and I was glad I was not driving.
The first stop was for sand tobogganing! This was done on a piece of masonite about the size of a snowboard but wider, down a huge sand dune on your belly! The trick was to try not to scream as you picked up speed, because the sand would fly into your mouth! I was crunching sand for the rest of the morning. Next we cruised the beach, saw dolphins and beautiful shorebirds, and stopped at the lighthouse for a view check. That’s when I saw the large grey shape…
There is an amazing fresh water lagoon called Blue Lagoon, where we had a swim in the afternoon after lunch. Then back to the ferry for the ride home. It was a treat to see an untouched piece of landscape in this very developed region of Queensland. Reminded me of our own Channel Islands. They are how the California mainland must have been hundreds of years ago. It is important that they have preserved Moreton Island, because the other three sand islands in the area have all been developed or mined.