Need a peaceful holiday to recharge your batteries but only have the time to travel in your backyard? Moreton Bay is on Brisbane's doorstep and has that holiday feeling on tap. From sailing a three-wheeled buggy to relaxing in a beautiful swimming hole, have a read of the top ten activities that will make you fall in love with Moreton Bay.
1. Sail a buggy
Padi Kotwall is a self-confessed windsurfing fanatic and he has coached national champions and instructors around the world in the sport. His passion for wind-powered water sports is contagious and his business, Surf Connect, based at Sandgate about 20km north of the city, is not only a hub for lessons in sailboarding, kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, sail and kite buggying but also a meetup point for like-minded thrill seekers with equipment available for hire. The most fun you can have at the beach without getting in the water is to sail a buggy on the open flat sands of Sandgate, about 20km north of Brisbane, where experienced 'sailors' can reach speeds of more than 100km/h in the three-wheel carts.
2. Eat Moreton Bay Bugs fresh from the trawler
Moreton Bay is the home of Moreton Bay bugs sold straight from the fishing trawlers at Sinbad Street, Shorncliffe, at Morgan's Seafood, Bird of Passage Parade, Scarborough and from Savige's Seafood (3/12 First Avenue, Bongaree) on Bribie Island. Or grab a takeaway from Morgan's and Savige's and eat overlooking the bay. Of course, the bay is famous for other seafood too, including prawns and oysters. A landmark oyster farm once occupied the prime waterfront site where the Sandstone Point Hotel now sits at the entrance to Pumicestone Passage and the original Oyster Shed is now restored as a fish and chippery and home to an annual oyster festival.
3. Dance down Bee Gees memory lane
Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb spent less than nine years in Redcliffe before returning to England and worldwide fame as the Bee Gees but they are the bayside suburb's most famous sons and Bee Gees Way has been created in their honour. Developed in consultation with Barry Gibb, the multimedia exhibition includes life-size statues, photographs, album covers, personal stories, interviews and home movie footage on a big screen. Nightly light shows set to music play every half hour between 7pm and 9:30pm on the pedestrian walkway between Redcliffe Parade and Sutton Street.
4. Step into Medieval history
The Abbey Museum, about 40 minutes north of Brisbane in Caboolture, houses Australia's largest collection of medieval artefacts and antiques showcasing more than 4000 objects on display. The history comes alive at special events including the annual Abbey Medieval Festival (July) and various activities including archaelogical digs, picnics, talks and trivia nights throughout the year.
5. Fly a kite
The Redcliffe Kite Fest takes off every August with a full program of activities and events but kites also fly high over the shores of Morteton Bay all year round as passionate kite flyers meet at Pelican Park on Hornibrook Esplanade, Clontarf, on the first and third Sunday of every month (12-4pm, weather permitting) and welcome like-minded souls and spectators.
6. View Gayundah wreck
The wreck of the HMQS Gayundah has been a familiar sight to walkers and cyclists from the foreshore at Woody Point for nearly 60 years and, more recently, has become an instagram-worthy centrepiece for stunning sunset and sunrise images. Once a naval gunboat, Gayundah (meaning 'lightning' in the local Aboriginal language) has served as a breakwater against erosion below the cliffs at Woody Point since 1958 but what remains is breaking up and soon may be lost to the ocean.
7. Drive into the hinterland
Take a hinterland drive from Brisbane to Samford Valley via Enoggera (about 35 minutes from the city) and browse arts and crafts, feast on local produce at the Flying Nun Café, take a heritage walk or cool off in the Cedar Creek rock pools. Continue north to Dayboro and learn the history of the area at Dayboro Cottage then take the Mount Mee Road to Ocean View Estates and settle in for some wine-tasting. Sat overnight in a cottage and continue on to Woodford, home of the iconic annual festival (27 December to 1 January) and discover the township of quirky shops, cafés, its heritage railway and the Windows of Woodford art panels on the water tower that inspired an art trail. Get the map from the Woodford Visitor Information Centre next door.
8. Dip in the natural swimming holes
Rocky hole is a natural swimming pool etched into the natural granite contours of Mount Mee and surrounded by open eucalypt forest, complete with its own mini waterfall. While it seems far from civilisation it's only 200 metres from the car park, easily accessed by a walking track and stairs to boulders that surround the main swimming hole. It's in the Mount Mee section of D'Aguilar National Park, about 90 minutes north of Brisbane, and is best accessed by 4WD vehicle beyond the Gantry day-use area.
Bunya Crossing Reserve Swimming Hole is large enough for swimmers, paddleboards and kayaks and there are some meandering walking trails from the riverbank. Access from Dugandan Road, Albany Creek, 25 minutes north west of Brisbane.
Stony Creek swimming hole is in the Bellthorpe Forest Reserve, near Woodford, about one hour from Brisbane.
9. Drive on the beach
One of the best beach drives close to Brisbane is along Woorim Beach on the eastern side of Bribie Island and intrepid adventurers will find camp sites just behind the dunes about 16km north of the beach access point at North Street, Woorim. It's not glamping, you need to take everything with you as only cold showers, fresh water and toilet facilities are provided. Permits are required.
10. Follow the trails
There are so many trails for walking, biking, horse riding and 4WD exploring in the Moreton Bay region you could go every weekend and never do the same trail twice. Start easy on the Bongaree Walkabout (takes about an hour) passing 16 landmarks on Bribie Island, and follow up with the 3.8km Bicentennial Bushwalk through the eucalypt forests, paperbark wetlands and wallum heathlands and keep eyes peeled and cameras ready to snap rainbow bee-eaters, red-backed wrens, eastern yellow robins and a host of other birds spied on the trail.
- Feature Image by: Surf Connect
- Originally published in: BNE Magazine