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moreton island

Out with the old

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Out with the old

I guess this post begins a couple of weeks back on Moreton Island, where we are presented with a sign from the tyre gods.

Sue has the rotten luck to be driving, and we turn off the beach onto one of the few inland tracks... all sand with the occasional rock and tree root here up north.

The going is slow, the track winding with plenty of sand at times. After seeing no-one for 24hrs, we are suddenly side stepping 6-vehicles in quick succession from the opposite direction.

To top off the difficulties, there's a hissing sound from outside on the rear driver's side - a flat tyre - and we are powering up a sandy incline.

Pulling over as best we can, the track's a little wider here, and a slash in the tyre side wall. We unbolt the Hi-Lift jack for its second outing. The sand is deepest just here, so it's a bit tricky, and it's nice that several passing trucks offer assistance... always a comforting thought when in the middle of 'nowhere'.

So, it seems after our 2nd flat, 50,000 kms and a fair bit of 4WD wear and tear, it's time to update our tyres while on the road. Mmmm... stuff can be tricky when travelling.

So we go with 4-brand new, the existing spares to be discarded and replaced with the 2-best of those currently on the truck... all ordered online while here in Bundaberg, with the balancing, fitting and alignment sorted for up ahead, at Toyota in Gladstone

Thank goodness for the travel gods in this case... and the internet.

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Postcard from Moreton Island - beaches and birdsong

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Postcard from Moreton Island - beaches and birdsong

From the Moreton Bay ferry, there's a one-way track east across the island, daunting sand hills at times... then narrow and winding, powder-soft, bumpy or deeply rutted. How one bloke tows a trailer is a mystery, and it's a welcome thought that we'll meet nothing from the opposite direction on this leg. 

On our first day an old timer warns that some get bored out here. "There are no possums mate, no kangaroos or koalas either. Never have been." He tells us tales of "blackfellas befriending local dolphins" to help with the herding of fish, and living mostly off seafood. "And there are middens in track cuttings mate, that go back thousands of years."

On the east coast our truck nestles among ocean coastal dunes with sublime sunsets on a lagoon of a lake just a short walk inland - our camp with the constant roar of surf and the calls of birds that flit and roost in rolling surrounds of casuarina and  banksia bush.

Our daily ritual starts with sunrise, a swim in the lake, the fresh water chilly, the air balmy but still. Next is breakfast: Innisfail red papaya, muscatels, banana and pot-set yogurt, the smell and taste of fresh-brewed coffee - hot and black - the last of a treasured gift from Costa Rica.

Down by the surf the waves pound even louder. A pair of Brahminy Kites are white and russet red, flight feathers extended like fingers. They drop and soar on unseen thermals, and a stiff Pacific breeze laden with the smell of salt - where a single morning walk can last forever on a beach of a highway that's mostly empty, awash, shiny and flat under a morning sun.

From the beach we gaze south to the profile of Mt Tempest - the tallest vegetated sand dune in the southern hemisphere.... then for the length of the coast until shrouded in sea mist, the weekend abode of long rods and wishfull ocean fisherfolk. Another sandy track leads across the bottom of the island back to the west coast and the sheltered waters of Moreton Bay, with Shark Point home to dugongs and giant turtles.

We turn north to where a distant lighthouse sits afloat a faded promontory in early morning light - an Antipodean dreaming... or maybe-memories of a Mediaeval Mont Saint Michel.

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Another island home

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Another island home

The island is an odd shape - wide at the northern end, thinning down south - but at about 35km long it's the 3rd biggest sand island in the world. We've been lucky to have previously spent time on Fraser Island - the 1st largest - but are always on the lookout for something different.

The first we heard of Moreton  Island was some weeks back in NSW, where we were approached by the owners of a camper trailer close by - John and Karen. They asked about our go-anywhere truck.

John is a butcher by trade. They've left their "now older kids at home to fend for themselves" and look for work here and there. Karen smiled. "Yeah, the money comes in handy, but life's not all about the money, is it?". There was butchering work to be had, and even an offer to manage a hotel for a couple of weeks... but I digress.

John had the words 'Moreton Island - escape the fake' emblazoned across the chest of his black tee shirt. "It's like Fraser," he said, "but quieter."

So here we are, after waking at 3:45am to catch the only ferry with any space - the 5am from Brisbane.

On the ferry we lower our front tyre pressures to 15psi, the back to 20... gulp hot coffee upstairs and ponder the thought of our first 'serious' sand driving since Namibia over 2yrs ago.

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