Four-wheel driving and fishing go together like fish and chips.
That’s why most four-wheel drivers will bite at the chance to attend the annual Moreton Island Fishing Classic competition. It’s the perfect excuse to explore the island’s many tracks and, of course, to throw in a line or two.
Situated 40km east of the Port of Brisbane, the island is about 38km from north to south, is eight kilometres across at its widest and, most importantly, has about 420km of tracks, all of which you need a 4x4 to drive (there are no sealed roads on the island). But that doesn’t mean the island is difficult to drive.
In fact, it’s perfect for the novice four-wheel driver, with plenty of single-direction tracks and sand driving that’s challenging enough to be fun. The fishing is all right, too.
Getting to Moreton Island takes more than an hour on a ferry. This should give you plenty of time to grab a coffee and drop your tyre pressure before you drive down the ferry ramp on to the sand of one of the island’s most picturesque spots, the famous Tangalooma Wrecks.
From there you can head north along the beach and take in the sites of the calm and clear waters of the island’s west, or you can cut across the island using Middle Road – which starts near the Tangalooma Wrecks and was originally built to carry supplies across the island during WWII.
Middle Road can also take you to the dunes where you can go sandboarding. If you don’t get bogged, you can follow the road all the way across and it will take you the island’s eastern side, facing the Pacific Ocean. This side of the island has several camping grounds, strong surf and plenty of gutters to chase fish. So it’s worth a look.
From there you can head north if you’re keen to take on some of the deeper water crossings up towards North Point. You’ll need to check the depth before crossing them during high tide, though, as some creeks, such as Dog Creek, can be especially dangerous at high tide. Attention should be paid to tide times around the crossings, which are usually well signed.
If you want some company, Moreton Island Adventures, located at the north-west side of the island, provides guided 4WD tours. They also offer activities including sandboarding, snorkelling and night kayaking.
The annual Moreton Classic fishing competition, run by the mob at Moreton Island Adventures, runs over five days in mid-August each year and attracts more than 200 competitors.
With some 4WD industry heavy-hitters on board as sponsors this year, the Classic had more than $29,000 worth of prizes and money up for grabs. Entrant registrations ran on the Thursday with the competition open at midnight that same night. Needless to say, there were a few mad-keen fishermen out that same night chasing the fish and the prizes.
The competition rules are simple: there is a weigh-in each day from 12pm to 1pm at Moreton Island Adventures’ headquarters. Your fish must be one of the six fish listed by organisers and the heaviest of each category wins a prize that day. Kids also have their own category.
At the weigh-ins, it is always apparent that there are a tonne of regulars who attend this event each year.
Sponsors and media are not allowed to compete in the competition, but that doesn’t stop them throwing in a line for fun. The guys from EFS Suspension were especially keen, and spent the first day mapping out some gutters to chase Tailor. They then explored the island for the rest of the trip.
Being the third largest sand island in the world, it has a lot to offer 4WD enthusiasts and fishermen alike.
Next year’s event is tentatively set to run from August 25-31.
Fishing Classic 2015 winners
If you head north along the east coast of the island you will find a 1.5km walking trail up to the Cape Moreton Lighthouse; a picturesque spot with beautiful views of the area. From up there, you can see all sorts of marine life, from whales and turtles to dolphins and sharks.
Built in 1857, Cape Moreton Lighthouse is known as Queensland’s oldest lighthouse, while at the north-eastern tip of the island is a band of volcanic rock and sandstone that forms a break wall from the surf. Water cascades over the rocks to form a natural spa named the Champagne Pools.
One kilometre south-east of the Tangalooma Wrecks is the Moreton Island Desert. Here, bare sand dunes with patches of minerals are surrounded by thick vegetation. The steep slopes are regularly used for sandboarding.
There are also two sand hills situated right across the southern tip of the island, from east to west, named the Big and Little Sandhills. A hike up these dunes will provide you with amazing views across Moreton Bay and back to Brisbane. The Little Sandhill is easily accessible from the eastern beach and the Big Sandhill is more accessible from the western beach.
The island is more than 95 per cent national park, so you will need a camping and vehicle access permit to hit the beach and camping spots. There are five basic campsites on the island, and you need to get in quick around Christmas and Easter times.
Other accommodation options include fully contained units, houses, and the Tangalooma Island Resort. Moreton Island Adventures also offers some great ‘glamping’ tents and self-contained units, with an array of amenities and huge barbecue areas. The glamping tents are a great option and are well and truly watertight.
Next year’s Fishing Classic is expected to run from August 25-26. For more information on the Classic and camping contact Moreton Island Adventures.
Phone: (07) 3909 3333.
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