As I plan my Moreton Island microadventure, I find myself reflecting on my last visit to the island. It was the weekend after my 32nd birthday and I’d been back in my “get back to fitness” lifestyle for about three months. It was at my birthday dinner that I mentioned it would be pretty cool to go bushwalking for the weekend. I think it was my son who suggested Moreton Island because he’d seen photos of the clear blue water and it wasn’t long before he, my best friend and I had agreed on a plan. We would catch the ferry from Cleveland to Dunwich on Stradbroke Island, the bus from Dunwich to Amity Point and then catch the Amity Trader across to Reeder’s Point at the southern-most tip of Moreton Island. It’s a little-known and slow option for accessing Moreton Island. From Reeder’s Point we’d walk up the beach to Rous Battery, which promised old bomb shelters and water supplies, before returning to Reeder’s Point on the second day. My son had never done an overnight walk and I’d never walked overnight with either of them. The weather promised to be warm and dry so we’d travel light.
And that’s how we found ourselves on the south-eastern beach of Moreton Island in bare feet with day packs carrying drift wood for walking sticks playing football with a coconut. We contorted out bodies over and through the dead trees that littered the southern beach like a military defense perimeter. We drew pictures in the sand with our sticks and put seaweed over our heads, pretending we had long locks of hair. The wind rushed past our faces as blowing sand stung our legs and the sound of the ocean roared in our ears. It was also probably the turning point in my relationship with my son – that moment when we both came to recognise that the other was more than father or son. The moment when we recognised the man in each other.
We had little difficulty finding Rous Battery but were utterly exhausted by the time we did. It was about 15km and this was my son’s first ever overnight hike (actually, it was probably his first real bushwalk too). I also discovered that he’d been carrying about 1kg of frozen steak, 3kg of potatoes and an array of condiments in his pack all day. He’d insisted on organising dinner because I was organising everything else and he’d decided to ignore all my lightweight meal suggestions. The fact that Christine is a vegetarian just mean he got to eat twice as much steak. Though all poor Christine got was potatoes. Then it was off to bed. We had a tent fly that my son put up as a windbreak and we all just slept out under the stars (yes, we know it’s risky because snakes might like to crawl into our warm sleeping bags).
The next morning I was up early and enjoyed the sunrise from the beach before walking back up to camp to make breakfast and hang out enjoying the view.
After breakfast we climbed up the sand hills to the old WWII bunkers that are Rous Battery. Being boys, my son and I played with sticks in the bunkers while Christine enjoyed the views and laughed at us. It’s easy to see why this site was selected for the defensive battery – you can see a long way north and south up the beach and a long way out to sea.
On the walk back, we tried to find the Big and Little Sandhills but without a map or compass, it wasn’t as easy as you might think. It turns out that this photo was probably taken on the eastern side of the Little Sandhills.
By the time we returned to Mirapool Lagoon on the south-eastern end of the island, we were all sunburned on the backs of our legs (I forgot to pack the sun cream). But it was so good to chill out in the shade watching the birds catching fish in the lagoon. I boiled up the billy and made something for lunch. I can’t remember what it was but I’m sure it tasted good (not as good as the steak and potatoes though).
We made our way back through the dead trees to Reeder’s Point where my son again showed us his building prowess by erecting a shade shelter out of the tent fly, some driftwood and our day packs. We hung out under the shelter for about an hour before 4WDs started joining us to wait for the barge. A few hours later we were all back at our respective homes retelling the stories of our adventures to those we lived with.
Unfortunately, my son and I haven’t been able to go hiking together since (he’s had a couple more kids in the intervening years, making it difficult to get away) so I’m really hoping that I get that Monday in February off work so that we can head over to Moreton again for another adventure (a different one this time).