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When we visited Australia in March of 2019, one of the things that were recommended to us was a visit to Moreton Island. The sand island itself is 58 km off of the coast of Brisbane and is only accessible by ferry. You can choose to take your own vehicle and do your own thing, but make sure you have 4×4 as the roads are made of sand! We chose to book a tour through Australian Sunset Safaris and had an absolute blast of a day! Here is a rough itinerary for the day.
As of February 2021, there are two pick-up points in Brisbane and one in Surfer’s Paradise that will take you to the ferry port. We chose to be picked up at the Brisbane coach terminal and caught the bus by 8 am. The bus terminal can be a little tricky to find if it is somewhere you have never been before. You basically have to go inside the building, up to the second floor, around the corner, and head outside. It looked like we were going the wrong way, and the signage is poor, but do not be afraid to ask for help! They recommend you being there about 15 minutes early, as the ferry runs on a tight schedule. We almost missed the ferry as a group because the bus was late picking us up. Thankfully, they waited for us to get on board, but we had to do the walk of shame in the cabin as the last tour group to get settled in.
The ferry ride only lasted about an hour, and thankfully we had smooth waters as Steven is afraid of open water. Once you dock, you head straight off the boat and are only a short walk to the large Sunset Safari’s 4×4 diesel truck. This will be the main vantage point for your group. They will give you some safety talks and a little history about the island before splitting you into two groups. One group will start with snorkeling the Tangalooma Wrecks, and the other group will be kayaking in a transparent kayak. Wet suits are provided to help protect against jellyfish stings but make sure to bring your bathing suit, a towel, sunscreen, and extra water.
We started our day with kayaking and then moved to snorkeling; all equipment is provided. The Tangalooma Wrecks is a series of 15 vessels that were purposefully shipwrecked to help create a break wall. In turn, this has created a little reef for thousands of colorful tropical fish and other marine life. The waters are crystal blue, so you will not have any trouble seeing the ocean below and the wrecks themselves.
After finishing both activities, they serve you a light lunch with sandwiches and refreshments. If you are worried about needing extra snacks, make sure to bring some along just in case. After lunch, everyone is ushered into the large 4×4 bus that will take you inland. The drive is bumpy and can get a little crazy at some points. Remember when I mentioned that all the roads are sand? After a short drive, you find yourself inland at The Desert. A vast sand dune area on the center-west of the island. Never been sandboarding? All equipment provided. What is the equipment, you might ask? A piece of plywood with some wax.
Parking is thankfully at the top of the dune, but there is a bit of a walk to get where they take you. Somehow I was at the beginning of the line and got chosen to go down first. So down I go onto my board with my stomach on the board headfirst. The guide is nice enough to ask you if you want to go down slow or fast. I chose slow, but I think he sent me down fast. You can catch speeds of up to 60 kms/h on this little piece of plywood. Be fully prepared to be finding sand on every square inch of your body. You will also eat it, especially if you scream all the way down the hill (like me). I also laugh at anyone who thinks that climbing your way back up a sand dune is going to be easy. Especially when the hot Australian sun reflects off the sand. Your feet are constantly shifting in the sand, making it impossible to get back up. Many people were using their board as a walking stick. Be prepared for some hard work!
Many people quit after the first round, but Steven and I decided to go again. The guide told us that the record times for going down the hill were held by an Italian who went eight times. I only made it down three times, but Steven made it down four. By then, rain clouds were coming in, so we had to pack it up and head back to the beach. Once we got back, we had a little bit of time to kill before the ferry took off, so we decided to get back into the water and then headed back to the ferry. Once you get back to the port, the bus that picked you up will take you back to the three pick-up destinations they had. In all, they tell you that you could be gone from 11-14 hours.
Overall, it was a great day, and we had a tonne of fun. I highly suggest taking the day tour with Australian Sunset Safaris. They had a great set of guides, and you got to experience the best of the island. Never in my life would I have thought I would go sandboarding!
If you want to book the same trip we did, I have attached the link here to take you right to the Tripadvisor site!