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Island Hopping on Moreton Bay

Island Hopping on Moreton Bay

By Andrew Kancachian Interview with David Willmington

Travelling further beyond the popular Tipplers and Jumpinpin there are other destinations requiring a little knowhow. Like, Whalleys Gutter, and turn east into Tiger Mullet Channel to fish around Green Bank along the huts on Crusoe Island, or turn west and anchor along Kangaroo Island. These are both great all-weather deep anchorages.

For a less popular route, go west at the Brisbane turn and venture up to Calypso Bay and into Harrigan’s Pub for a meal, or just walk up to the shops at Jacobs Well, or into Horizon Shores for a cafe stop and supplies.

Using a chart, you can find Perry’s Hole, a great allweather fishing overnight spot or the eastern tip of Short Island (formerly Rat Island) where the north cardinal is, to catch a feed of tailor off the yellow buoy on the east tip off Crusoe island. If the breeze is up, you can spend the winter nights in Mosquito Creek, now called Cobby Passage, fishing and crabbing the rocks on the bends of Cobby Cobby Island. And more familiar is the Slipping Sands and the huts that used to be called the Stock Yards, which is another great anchorage close to the sand hills.

SOUTHERN MORETON BAY ISLANDS – If you’re heading north, go with the rising tide along Cobby Cobby Island as the channel shifts once you pass Koureyabba on North Stradbroke Island and Oak Island. There are some great anchorages along Russell Island up to Canaipa Passage, which is a favourite in summer as shade from the island hills gives you a sleep-in and you can go ashore at low tide, dig a fresh water pool in the streams coming out of the island and have lots of fun. For families, you can spend the night in Krummel Passage with a walk up high street for exercise. Karragarra Island has lots of all-weather anchorages with three islands to explore even to just get an ice cream and, while the ferries can get a bit annoying, they can be useful for visitors to join your trip.

PEEL ISLAND – Anchoring at Horseshoe Bay is always a favourite—but not in a southerly. It can be crowded on a weekend, but mid-week, you can take the dinghy over southwest rocks. There are corals, clear water, good fishing, and also along the spit from the old jetty out to the reef half way to Cleveland Point. If the breeze is from the west, fish from The Bluff to Douglas Light.

NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND – It’s interesting to go ashore at One Mile Beach in Dunwich and walk up through the cemetery. It is always moving and educational to see what our forefathers went through and a chance to remember them. Then you walk up to visit the bakery and take back some fresh supplies. You can also get a decent cup of coffee there and grab some of the local produce from the fruit shop. If you have time, catch the bus over to Point Lookout.

You’ll find good surf, glorious views, a great modern pub and lots of walking trails. In a southerly, go to Deanbilla Bay or Myora Reef where the water is clean and fishing the Rainbow Channel always gets results.

It’s advisable to only go north to Amity in winter to cross to Kooringal on Moreton Island because of the tide rip. In summer, a storm across the Pelican Banks and getting through the Rous Channel will give you grief, but it’s easier on a clear winter’s day.

RABY BAY – If the breeze is anything west, head over to Raby Bay public jetty near the train station. They have all the shops you need and lots of restaurants. If you’re staying west, anchor around Green Island, St Helena Island or Mud Island. You can even go into Manly for more shops and restaurants before heading west up the Brisbane River where there s much to see. Otherwise, head north from Peel Island, fish the Hope Banks or the Chain Banks and the Harry Atkinson artificial reef on your way to the sand hills.

MORETON ISLAND – If you are adventurous, you can take your yacht into the Blue Hole or take the dinghy through Frazer’s Gutter to Mays for a cold beer and oysters at Kooringal. If you still have time and no westerly due, spend a few days at the big Sand Hills or go north to Shark Spit. (Note: You can swim there, so don’t believe the name!) On to Lucinda Bay, south of Tangalooma roads, you do not get the wash from the ships that can roll into Tangalooma. Spending the night behind the popular wrecks is often crowded. But anywhere along Tangalooma Resort is great for a day stop. You should allow a minimum of 1-2 hours back across the Bay if the weather turns, depending on your boat and speed.

All these options are less than forty miles from the Gold Coast. You can go to any of these places in a runabout from the coast in a day trip. But most cruiser owners could spend a month getting north to the Bay. There are so many rivers and islands to explore. Take your time and try a new spot to test for yourself. Grab your chart out, work out which way the tide and wind will be heading, and find a new sunset to watch.

Use your boat for its purpose, to explore, and truly enjoy our own backyard – Moreton Bay Marine Park.

We love it!

Published in print April-June 2024