Moreton Island National Park

Rent an SUV and set up camp on a near-deserted beach, walk coastal tracks to spot large marine creatures and explore World War II and Aboriginal relics.

Stunning Moreton Island National Park is a 75-minute ferry ride away from Brisbane. Join a guided tour or bring an SUV to explore the sandy island’s natural wonders, colonial and war-time remnants and ancient Aboriginal relics. Snorkel, dive, hike, fish or camp to fully enjoy this subtropical paradise.

Moreton Island is covered by dunes, heath and forest and is surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. Some 2,000 years ago, the Ngugi people lived on this sandy island, which they called Moorgumpin. Their shell middens, mounds made from oysters, whelks, periwinkles and cockles, are scattered around the island. Find a fine sample at Spitfire Creek.

Climb the trail to the Mount Tempest lookout for spectacular views. This is the world’s highest coastal sand dune, reaching 918 feet (280 meters) high. Walk the Desert Track and watch for crabs and birds, or head inland to the freshwater Blue Lagoon full of fish and frogs.

Follow the Cape Moreton Circuit to Queensland’s oldest lighthouse, built by convicts in 1857. Visit its small visitor center to learn about the local wildlife. Outside, look down from the cliff to spot the dolphins, turtles, dugongs (sea cows) and sharks you have been reading about. Between June and November you may even see migrating humpback whales frolicking in the bay.

Bring snorkel or dive gear and jump in to explore the Bulwer or Tangalooma wrecks close to shore. If you’d rather stay dry, pack lunch and water and set out along the 6-mile (9.8-kilometer) Rous Battery Track to see a World War II fort.

Set up a tent on one of the basic camp sites overlooking the beach and cast a line to catch your own dinner of bream, whiting or flathead. Be sure to check the local fishing guidelines first, as some sections are a protected marine reserve.

Moreton Island National Park is about a 25-mile (40-kilometer) ferry ride from the Port of Brisbane. Drive to the ferry terminal in Lytton and park there for a fee or, if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, take it over to the island. To drive and camp on the island, purchase permits from the Queensland Department of National Parks online. Air pumps are available on the barge to inflate your tires again during the return journey.

There are no public boat ramps on the island, but you can anchor near the Tangalooma wrecks. Those without an SUV or boat can book a day trip from Brisbane to explore the island with a guide. There are few cafés and shops on the island, so bring your own supplies.