Beautiful Day – Moreton Island

Wednesday 8th January
My pickup for Moreton Island was one of my earliest yet. 06.10. I think I’d had a fairly good nights sleep and I’d been sensible so I didn’t really need to sort to much once I was awake. The mini bus arrived and I realised I was the only one with luggage as everyone else was just doing the day trip. It had sounded like a typical tour in the brochure but, and maybe it was because the other 4 travellers were two pairs I realised I’d be on my own for much of the time especially as I was the only one staying the night.

We arrived at the ferry and once we had boarded I tried to engage with one of the pairs who were part of a yacht team that had travelled across the World and as part of it had participated in the Sydney to Hobart race. I felt that I was intruding a bit and looking around for other potential solo travellers became aware most of the other passengers were families. I started to wonder just how much longer the school holidays would last; I am not optimistic that Noosa is going to be any less popular with families.

We arrived at Tangalooma resort on the Island and I lost where the other 4 had gone because I along with a few others (2 families) were met at the jetty and taken on a small tour of the resort. It probably took between 5 to 10 minutes to get from the jetty to the Tangalooma watersports tour company. Two times, including when I went to the accommodation reception I was told breakfast was included only then to be told i was on a different package and it wasn’t but this news didn’t really bother me either way.

I made my way to main tours desk as part of my dead meant I could do 3 options out of 9 available on both days. Essentially this meant finding 3 activities I didn’t mind missing however the main reason I’d come was to see the dolphins which come in to the jetty at dusk. If you had a particular package it was also possible to hand feed them but I believed mine was to view only. I was however keen to do the snorkeling around 15 wrecks of boats that were intentionally sunk to create a breakwater and which in the process has created a man made reef.

The guy at the counter spent a number of minutes looking at all the different times that the options were available and eventually came up with an itinerary for me. Day one would be as follows: jet ski at 10.30, snorkeling at 13.00 and Sedway at 15.00. Day two would start with a catamaran lesson at 10.00, followed by sailing if winds weren’t to high, kayaking at anytime for a maximum of 3 hours and finally a cruise at 2.45 to see the wrecks and feed the reef fish. The boat back was at 16.00 so as usual I was cramming it all in.

At 10.30 I headed down to the beach for the jet ski and it wasn’t long before we were going full speed through the harbour towards the wrecks. As we approached we had to slow down because there were a number of people kayaking and snorkeling in the vicinity. This however gave the guide a chance to spot a turtle which he pointed out to me however by the time we’d started going over for a closer look it had disappeared beneath the surface.

I had a couple of hours where nothing was booked in and saw it was possible to do a walk to an area called ‘the dessert’. It is unclear how this area formed but there is basically a small area where there is no vegetation, only sand. I had hoped to clearer map than the one I had but nothing else was available though apparently the track was obvious once you were on it. In total it was meant to take 2 hours and 30 minutes but I figured for no good reason I must add, that I could do it in under 2 hours.

Setting off along the beach i eventually found the steps leading up to the path and started walking through the bush. This is what I had envisaged Australia to be like. Me completely alone walking through the bush. It was quite liberating to be clear of the crowds though of course they were only only probably 20 minutes walk away from me at the other end of the beach. I heard the occasional unexpected rustling sound in the vegetation and assuming it to be a snake each time quickened my pace rather than checking to make sure.

My pace was pretty frantic as I knew I had to be back by 13.00 though by walking back along the other path I knew I’d at least end up at the correct end of the resort. Eventually I came to a sign at a crossroads saying the desserts were only 700m so I pushed on. When I came to the dessert it was quite a bit smaller than I anticipated and I could see the trees abd other vegetation growing around it. As I started down the sand dune I realised it was bigger than it looked and without any shade the heat was very strong. There was no real reason for me to go down except to say I had so I headed back up the sand dune and started the walk back.

It wasn’t long before I got to the crossroads but this time took the ‘bush path’ back to the resort. I don’t know how this bit of bush was any different to the section to the beach as I still heard rustling though I did have to overcome a few fallen trees that blocked the path. A family came towards me and we exchanged pleasantries, I encouraged them on as they looked a bit concerned and then they told me the child had asthma. I don’t really know what cures that but I asked if they needed my big bottle of water to refill supplies but they said they were ok so I headed on. They didn’t need it but I’d stupidly left my own phones in my locker so I knew if anything had happened to me I wouldn’t have been able to contact anyone for assistance which wasn’t the most sensible planning.

I arrived back in the resort an hour and 30 minutes after I set out, so even had time to get a much needed bite to eat before my snorkeling. It was around this time I decided I liked Moreton Island a lot. Maybe my attitude had changed by the time i got back but the staff also appeared to be becoming more friendly towards me especially once I had told them that I was effectively backpacking around a huge country alone having started more than 2 months ago in Russia.

Our guide around the wrecks was clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about marine life and as the age group was quite mixed with a number of young children participating she had to keep it interesting for them as well. We saw a number of fish and even a cormarant diving under the water to try and grab some fish as well as swimming in between and over the wrecks. We didn’t see any rays or turtles but it was still a great way to spend an hour and I was glad I’d got the underwater camera.

Next I headed to have a go on the sedway. This felt very weird to control but i soon felt I had got used to it as I’d stopped making it flip forwards and backwards. I was doing quite well at following the guides tracks which made it easier as the sand was already flat and it allowed me to keep up with the pace.  However the person directly in front kept just going in a straight line and whilst going in the direction of the guide was not following the route. I kept trying to overtake subtly but the sand was a bit too deep to negotiate.

One girl fell off twice including when we were meant to be stationary but the guide missed it and congratulated us on not falling off. I then became a bit to confident on the return journey. I’m not quite sure what happened, I was going along fine when all of a sudden I must have lost my balance and flipping me backwards and forwards I somehow went over the top to luckily to one side. The machine did an emergency stop so there was no pretending it didn’t happen as the guide had to restart it. It had certainly been exciting and a few minutes later it happened to another guy who agreed it was the most exciting part of the activity.

I returned back to reception as I’d received a message saying my room was ready. Now bearing in mind I thought at worst I was camping and at best I was going to be in a dorm what I saw when I opened the room nearly made me faint. After more than 2 months of slumming it I had my own room and not only that I had en-suit. i even had electric sockets that were all mine and was safe in the knowledge I wouldn’t wake up in the night to find my mobile unplugged as happened in one place.

I showered and flopped on the bed before heading back out with the intention of filling the next couple of hours before going to the jetty for the dolphin feeding. I’d noticed there was a opportunity to see kookaburras being fed and I assumed this would also be a chance to see them in a natural setting. Unfortunately the ranger said that most were nesting and there weren’t any around so instead we were only able to view a nest. Instead I decided to walk along the beach the opposite way I had earlier in the day when I went to the dessert. This direction took me to the wrecks and as I was now out of the resort and had the area to myself I started thinking how cool it would be to be ship wrecked and to be washed up on my own island. I then made my way back to the jetty and took a seat.

The area was already filling up and one family had laid out all their bags to save spaces along the front row overlooking the deepest part of the water (nearer the sea end). I took the next seat where their space seemed to end as I figured it would be better than sitting in one of the higher rows and there was still water in front of me. The waiting began. The dolphin feeding began at 19.15 and it was still only about 18.30. It was however dry and not cold so it wasn’t to bad. Besides I was excited. Surely now I’d finally get to see one properly and not just a distant fin.

The first splash happened a lot sooner than I expected and it wasn’t long before some of the other dolphins came in to the shore. Whilst they were wild they were clearly used to entertaining and were very playful diving out of the water and poking their heads above the water. The guide then said those feeding the dolphins and going back on the ferry could feed them first before saying those who were staying and on a feeding package could go.

I wasn’t sure what package I was on but thought I’d wonder down just in case. when I gave my name and it was ticked off I nearly, in fact I probably did yelp with excitement. I kept imagining that just it would get to my turn the dolphins would decide they were full and swim away and it didn’t help that children were crying and saying similar thoughts. Still as I edged closer down the beach the realisation of what I was about to do sunk in.

I picked up my fish and waded in to the water. The ranger that fed the kookaburra recognised me and started telling me about the dolphin I was about to feed. whilst in recent years my multi tasking ability has increased and I can perform basic tasks and listen there was a dolphin less than 2 feet away. Most probably less than even a foot away. I couldn’t concentrate on what she said, but I knew it was one of the babies just seeing one in the wild was a dream I’d been trying to fulfill for 10 years and there I was about to feed it. I put my hand under the water and it came over and took it out, tickling my hand in the process. I tried to take a picture with my other hand having lined it up before putting my hand under the water but this was one memory I didn’t just want to witness down the lens. The ranger actually let me have a second go as I was on my own and that time I did try to get a picture but it came out dark. Still they’d taken an official photo and I’d already decided I’d get that.

I was nearly jumping with joy when I head back to the beach. I was clearly smiling because a number of the guides stopped me and asked how it was, at which point I told them the tales of my failed sightings over the past 10 years. It was all to much excitement and although it was only 21.30 when I got back to my room I crashed out shortly after (having removed the smell of fish from my hand first).

Thursday 9th January
I wasn’t in a great hurry to wake up the following morning as check out wasn’t until 10.00 and as had been pointed out to me (twice) breakfast wasn’t included. I re-packed my bag to ensure everything for the next couple of days was at the top, made sure everything was fully charged and most importantly that my bag was labeled in order for it to be collected from outside my room for the departure.

After checking out I went to the Tangalooma Water Sports to confirm my activities. I was told the wind was still to high to go out to sea on a catamaran but that the introduction session on the beach was still going ahead. I was surprised to learn the only person that wanted to have an introduction to sailing and I felt even if I couldn’t do the activity that day at least I’d have some background knowledge if I did in the future.

Another guy did join us but the teacher seemed a bit fed up at the low numbers attending his session and possibly because whilst there was no noticeable wind on the beach, the wind out to sea had prevented the catamarans going out for the past week as it was above the permitted speed.

Since being in New Zealand I had wanted to have a go at kayaking, it looked like a decent activity, not overlay strenuous if the waves weren’t to big and a good way to cover a greater distance than it would (probably) be possible to swim. I had planned to do an hour just to see how it was and to get some practice should I ever get the chance to do it again. With the cancellation of the catamaran I decided to hire the equipment early and to spend more time rowing around.

I started off just seeing what the current was like as i didn’t want to row for 1 hour 30 in one direction and then realise it was going to take double that to get back. I rowed up and down the area close to the beach then became more adventures slowly heading towards the wrecks. I kept expecting to see a turtle right next to be but didn’t and after about 45 minutes i have to admit I was feeling a bit bored. I was going with the wind but without a sail I don’t think it really helped. The wrecks still seemed at least 10 minutes away and I wasn’t even sure what I’d do when I got there. I therefore decided to start heading back.

The journey back was tougher because I was sailing in to the waves but I put in more effort and it took me much less time. I started to continue over to the jetty but as with the wrecks wasn’t really sure why. It kind of felt like I was rowing for the sake of rowing rather than to see something new and inspiring. It felt like it was a good workout, especially due to the sun and I actually felt I was quite good at it so I would consider doing it again if it meant I saw something not accessible by foot.

I had a quivk swim in the sea and then decided to read my book in rge sun to dry off. This was how I’d imagined my Christmas Day was going to be. Unfortunately there was no where to have a shower so I had to go on the cruise feeling a bit salty.

The cruise ended up being a perfect way to say goodbye to the island. It was a bit overcast and the sea wasn’t that clear so we couldn’t see the rays or turtles beneath the surface. We did however see a splash not to far from the boat and it wasn’t long before the dolphins that were in the area started to come over. Our guide said it was the closest she’d ever seen them from the boat but the main purpose of the trip was to see the wrecks and there was probably a license involved with dolphin watching that meant we had to move on. At the wrecks the fish swam near the surface, especially once we started to throw the fish food in to the sea so we could make out the different colourful types.

2 cormorants were also in the area and kept ducking and diving trying to grab one of the fish. It wasn’t long before one succeeded. We saw it grab the fish, shake it a bit then gobble it down whole. Nature can be brutal. We headed back, running slightly late but there wasn’t anything that caught our eye. I collected my return ticket and boarded the ferry back to Brisbane.

Arriving back at Brisbane I got chatting to the guide that picked us up and learnt that he also ran weekend trips to Noosa. As that was my next stop he gave me some tips of the walks to various lookouts that were accessible from the town and suggested the a walk I could do around the national park.

Having checked in to the hostel i asked where was cheap and good for food and the girl on the desk helpfully suggested an Indian takeaway so that’s where I went. It wasn’t bad, but in my opinion not as good as those in London though it did probably only cost the equivalent of £5. Having eaten I wasn’t ready to go home so I walked in to the local cinema just to see what was on. The Railway Man with Colin Firth was about to start, the blurb appealed and when they said I could get a YHA discount I was sold. The movie itself was very thought provoking and a very interesting subject matter being about the effects the second world war had on a prisoner of war and the guard. I was certainly ready for bed when I got back. It had been a busy 2 days.


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