My husband loves to go camping. Since we moved here, he has also discovered the joys of 4×4’ing. Weekend before last we went off to do both, no holds barred, with a trip to Moreton Island.
We joined the 50-odd other 4-wheel-drive vehicles queued up for the ferry in the Port of Brisbane early on Saturday morning and hoped we would outrun the heavy rain clouds overhead. It was not to be. As we approached our destination about an hour later Moreton Island virtually disappeared in the haze of cloud and rain. Undeterred, we let some air out of the tyres and when the ramp was lowered onto the beach our Pajero took to the sand with gusto.
A few hundred metres up the beach we turned at a wooden signpost that read “Middle Road”. This track led up and over to the other side of the island through a forest that glowed with a daylight distorted through the tangle of branches overhead. I fully expected to see fairies peeping out from beneath the ferns. By the time the sandy track spat us out onto the Eastern beach there was not another vehicle in sight. We followed a trail of coconuts Northwards up the beach, avoiding the soft white sand above the high water mark that tugged at the vehicle, trying to bog it down. The Husband’s face bore a huge grin as he extolled the virtues of his Big Man Car. Men and their toys, eh..?
Our camp site had been chosen for us by friends who had arrived the day before. The rain held off just long enough for us to put up our tent and then the deluge began in earnest. Over the course of the day we managed to get the rest of our stuff unpacked during intermittent light-drippy spells. Inflating the mattress was a challenge of some significance as we discovered the fittings on our battery-operated pump did not fit the valve. Fortunately The Husband was in caveman / inventor mode and a Plan was made. Yes, it probably would have been quicker to blow the thing up with lung power but it might just have killed us – you never know.
In the late afternoon the skies cleared and we drove to the nearby Blue Lagoon – not the one from the movie, as far as I know! This tranquil freshwater lake is a freak of nature; though you can hear the surf crashing on the beach nearby, the water is crystal clear and almost sweet. It is the sort of place you go to when your soul needs to heal. (It is also not as private as it appears to be, as some discovered the following evening when we arrived for a swim only to find a couple having a romantic moment in the water, his swimming trunks bobbing happily along near the shoreline.)
Blue skies greeted us the following morning and we went adventuring. The vehicles clambered up to the Cape Moreton Lighthouse from where we could see turtles just beneath the surface in the turquoise sea far below. From there we trekked to Yellow Patch – a beach near a big yellow sand dune – for a dip in a tidal pool to cool off.
With the sun blazing, temperatures soared. It felt like a good time to find ice cream so we trundled along more beach, gravel and dirt tracks to the settlement of Bulwer. To call it a town would be severe overstatement. There, the rain caught us again in all its tropical glory and we splooshed our way back across the island to our camp site. When the sun reappeared we draped our sodden towels and clothes over the car to dry and took turns napping in the hammock (best invention ever!)
That night we cooked a stew under an umbrella and shooed away a wild pig while huddled under the bits of awning that were still dry. The next morning the “scattered showers” turned into an incessant downpour.
The Husband and I sat inside our tent, mostly dry, and contemplated the day while watching the raindrops form pretty patterns on the roof. When it became clear that it was not going to let up we had no choice but to break camp despite the weather. We had a ferry to catch.
There comes a point when you cannot get any wetter. We passed that point long before the first tent peg had even been pulled. The best we could do was sweep most of the mud off things before we wedged them into the car. I had had the foresight to bring a light waterproof jacket with me but even that was soaked through by the time we were done. It was probably around then that I decided I may not like camping as much as I once did. Perhaps a villa at Tangalooma Resort, near the dolphins, next time.
Still, the drive back across the island was great fun. Navigating through a big mud puddle in the middle of a forest is an incredibly whoop-inducing experience… provided, of course, you’re in a dry, comfortable, air-conditioned, well-suspensioned vehicle.
Honestly, once you reach a certain age those little creature comforts make all the difference.
PS… lots more photos on Flickr…