Moreton Island, one of the World’s largest sand islands

Moreton Island is sand island within Moreton Bay, in the south-east part of Queensland. 98% of the island’s landmass is the Moreton Island National Park, and the waters surrounded the island are part of a marine national park as well.

The island is very appealing to nature lovers, given the abundance of outdoor activities on the island.


Shell middens have been found on Moreton Island, pointing to Aboriginal populations on the island for 2000 years.

Europeans settled on the island in the mid-1800s, after a vessel was shipwrecked on the island.

Queensland’s oldest lighthouse sits atop Cape Moreton.

About 900 military troops were stationed on the island during World War II, protecting Brisbane. Defense installations were built, which had anti-aircraft weapons.

For a decade in the mid-1900s, Tangalooma was the site of a whaling industry which killed about 600 humpback whales per season during their annual migration.

Natural environment

The island totals 170 square kilometers. The island is mostly sand-based, except for the rocky outcrop on the north-eastern tip, called Cape Moreton.  The island has some of the world’s tallest sand dunes. Mt Tempest is the island’s peak, at 280 meters above sea level, and is considered to be the world’s highest coastal sandhill.  The island has freshwater lakes and streams

The island boasts more than 200 bird species, 500 plant species, coloured sands, dolphins and sea turtles, white sandy beaches and perfect turquoise waters.

Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)

The island is a popular tourist destination, and offers a plethora of activities for its visitors:

  • Bushwalking and bird watching: A popular activity on the island, with great hikes such as the walk at the freshwater Blue Lagoon
  • Marine Education and Conservation Center (TMECC): this facility used to be a whaling station, and is now a marine education and conservation center; the center employs full-time marine biologists to conduct educational programs, and offers wreck diving and dolphin feeding opportunities.
  • Dolphin feeding: At the Dolphin resort, guests have an opportunity to feed dolphins.  The resort is well known for the pod of up to nine bottlenose dolphins that swim up to the beach at sunset each night, during which time selected guests can feed the dolphins (supervised by marine biologists from the center).
  • Fishing: Fishing is a popular past-time, with opportunities to fish flathead, dart, bream, whiting, Jew, and tailor.  All types of fishing are available here – freshwater, rock, surf, reef, bay, deep-sea, and big game fishing.
  • Quad biking: The dolphin resort offers Australia’s largest quad bike fleet, as well as guided quad bike tours around the island.
  • Swimming and snorkeling: Swim in freshwater lakes or in the ocean; visit North Point’s “Champagne pools” – which is a sheltered ocean pool hollowed out amongs rocks.
  • Four-wheel driving: Drive down Surfside, a forty kilometer beach.
  • Sand-boarding: Sand-board down amazing sand dunes.
  • Walking: Ascend Mt Tempest, the world’s highest coastal sand dune.
  • Diving: visit the deliberately sunk Tangalooma and Bulwer wrecks, or dive the Flinders reef.
  • Wildlife viewing:  see dolphins, sea turtles, dugongs, manta rays, and plenty of other fish. Go humpback whale watching off Cape Moreton during the annual migration.


Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort is located on the western shore of the island, on Moreton Bay, and is surrounded by sand dunes. The resort comprises about 300 rooms, varying from standard rooms to self-catered apartments to villas.

The Moreton Island Eco Lodge is another popular accommodation type which comprises self-contained units that can sleep up to six people.

Other accommodation options exist on the island, such as small holiday homes and self-contained apartments.


Camping (along with four-wheel driving) is permitted on much of the island, once the appropriate permit has been purchased (in advance, on the mainland). Five established camp sites exist on the island – complete with toilets, showers, and freshwater.

Bring a fuel stove, because open fires are not permitted on some camping grounds (such as North Point). Bring firewood.

Getting There

Moreton Island is located 58km north-east of Brisbane.

By sea…

Tangalooma is the main place of entry to the island. Regular passenger and vehicle ferries and barges connect Moreton Island to the mainland, connecting to Lytton, which is near the Port of Brisbane.

Other ferry services run from Redcliffe (2 hours), Whyte Island (Brisbane River southside) and Pinkenba (Brisbane River northside).

A vehicle barge service also runs between Moreton and Amity Point on North Stradbroke Island (20-minute transfer).

Please note that only four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed on the island (and only with requisite permits), since the island has no paved roads. There is little petrol on the island.

Related posts:

  1. Fraser Island, Queensland, World’s Largest Sand Island
  2. Dolphin Feeding at Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort
  3. North Stradbroke Island, Moreton Bay
  4. Dunk Island, largest of the Family Islands
  5. Brisbane Whale Watching, Redcliffe on Moreton Bay

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