4WD Destinations


Self-Drive Recreational 4WD Hire | Off-Road 4x4 Rental | Bush Camper Hire Moreton Island, Beach Camping, Fishing, Wildlife, Dugongs, Dolphins, Helicopter Rides, Shipwrecks and snorkeling

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The world’s third largest sand island, after Fraser and North Stradbroke islands, also in Queensland, Moreton Island is an unspoiled gem, boasting pristine beaches and abundant wildlife.

Known by some as a “mini Fraser Island” for its paradise-like natural beauty and plethora of things to do despite its compact size, perhaps the most surprising thing about Moreton Island is that it’s less than two hours from cosmopolitan Brisbane and the Gold Coast, making it the ideal city getaway.

There’s evidence that the Ngugi people hunted the waters around Moreton Island at least 2,000 years ago, and the island is still home to more than 300 Aboriginal cultural sites. Captain James Cook first sailed the area in 1770, naming the bay where Moreton Island is located after James Douglas, the Earl of Morton. A clerical error added an extra “e” and the bay and the island are now forever known as “Moreton”.

Since then, the island has been home to a pilot station, whaling station and major wartime coastal defence bases, none currently in use.

Still relatively untouched, Moreton Island’s 192,600 hectares is up to 98% National Park, providing a true refuge for the island’s distinctive flora and fauna, both on land, sea, and air, as well as the diverse terrains on the island, including freshwater lakes, coastal sand dunes (some of the steepest in the world), and wetlands.

More importantly for 4WD enthusiasts, Moreton Island is all sand driving, with no sealed roads to speak of. Instead, off-roading is found along the beaches and a few rugged sand tracks across the island’s interior and around the island’s four small townships. Put your Moreton Island 4WD Hire through its paces along the island’s coastal perimeter, with rocks, shifting sands, washouts and fallen trees adding to the challenge. While technically there is an unposted 60kph speed limit (slower around campgrounds and popular attractions), most recommend only going 30kph as tracks are only one-vehicle wide. It’s also good sand driving practice to travel at low tide when the sand is the hardest, and bring along a shovel, tow rope, and other traction aids in case you get bogged. You’ll also want to fully fuel up your Moreton Island 4WD Hire Vehicle before arriving as other than the 20 L drums available at the Bulwer General Store, there’s no fuel station on the island.

At Moreton Island 4WD Hire, we suggest these 4WD and Bush Camper configurations and categories:

  • Small 4WD Jeep – best suited option for soft travel for a couple without camping gear
  • Bush Camper Medium RTT 4WD – best suited option for a couple with camping gear
  • Bush Camper Large GT 4WD – best suited option for a family with camping gear
  • Bush Camper Large RTT 4WD – best suited option for a family with camping gear

Moreton Island can be accessed via three ferries. The Amity Trader plies the route between Stradbroke Island and the southern fishing village of Kooringal while the MICAT Ferry operates between the Port of Brisbane and the Tangalooma Wrecks on the island’s west coast. Those who have booked a day-cruise option at the Tangalooma Resort or who are staying overnight at the resort can take the pedestrian-only resort ferry leaving from the Holt Street Wharf in Pinkenba (Brisbane River Northsides).

Built on the site of Queensland’s only whaling station between 1952-1962 and harvesting up to 600 migrating humpback whales per season, the Tangalooma Island Resort is now known for its animal conservation efforts. Best known among these is the popular wild dolphin feeding programme.

Every sunset, visitors can watch from the jetty or wade into the water and hand-feed up to a dozen wild bottle-nose dolphins who come to the shallows in a ritual that started more than three decades ago. A Dolphin Care Team monitors the process, ensuring that the dolphins are only fed a maximum of 20% of their daily food requirement so that they remain wild and independent. Being in the water with these friendly, inquisitive mammals is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is sure to delight young and old.

The resort’s Eco Center also organizes feedings for kookaburras and pelicans as well as guided bush walks and educational talks about the old whaling station and local marine life.

Beyond the Tangalooma Island Resort, Moreton Island is a nature enthusiast’s dream. Birdwatchers can look forward to spotting more than 180 bird species, including migrating wading birds as well as seabirds, forest birds and birds of prey.

On land, more than 40 reptile species call Moreton Island home, including bearded dragons and blue-tongued lizards, while the surrounding sea sees sharks, Green and Loggerhead turtles (which come ashore to nest between November and February), more than 1,000 dugongs, and dolphins. Even more spectacular is the Humpback Whale migration from June to November when upwards of 15,000 whales make their way past Moreton Island.

Even if not staying at the Tangalooma Island Resort, the township itself is worth a visit. Climb up the dunes for sweeping views over the 8km-long Tangalooma Beach, home to the famed Tangalooma Wrecks, 15 vessels deliberately sunk in the 1960’s to form a man-made breakwall. The neat line of rusted brown hulls of old dredges and barges (with the tops cut off for safer swimming) rising from crystal-clear blue waters is certainly a striking sight. Bring your own snorkeling gear and swim out to enjoy the corals and tropical marine life around the wrecks or rent a transparent kayak (lit up at night) and glide over the water.

For a much drier adventure, point your Moreton Island 4WD Hire Bush Camper southeast and head just a single kilometer to the Moreton Island Desert. Home to massive wind-swept sand dunes, sit or lay down on a piece of waxed Masonite and hang on for dear life as you “sand toboggan” down the steep dunes at speeds of up to 60 kph!

For something equally blood-pumping but a good deal slower, a hike up the sand dunes may be in order. Allot an hour and a half for the 4km-long desert circuit which takes you along the beach and up to the sand boarding hill with opportunities to spot desert wildlife.

If you didn’t get your fill of sand tobogganing in the desert, the Big and Little Sand Hills further south provide another thrilling opportunity. Just before hitting Kooringal township at the very southern tip of the island, the sand dunes boast superb vantage points across Moreton Bay as well as a nice, shady picnic spot at the base of the Big Sand Hills.

To visit the sleepy fishing town of Kooringal, head another 10km south past a section of mangroves to the tip of the island for a relaxing, secluded beach day. While fresh water fishing in the island’s lakes and streams is prohibited, the ocean waters off Kooringal are an angler’s paradise year-round, teeming with snapper, tailor, tuna, bream and mackerel. If you’d rather leave the fishing to someone else but still enjoy the bounty of the sea, navigate your Moreton Island 4WD Hire Vehicle around the village sand tracks to the town’s general store, the laid-back Gutter Bar, for ice-cold ginger beers and plates of fresh seafood, including locally-farmed oysters and trawler-caught fish.

To see the majority of the island’s highlights, you’ll need to hug the coast north from Tangalooma. A 25-minute drive will take you to the village of Cowan, once home to a pilot station and military camps. Nowadays, it’s best known for the Curtin Artificial Reef comprised of 32 ships and other man-made structures sunk here since the late 1960’s. This submerged marine playground is popular among divers for both the wrecks and the plentiful ocean life including turtles, sharks, stingrays and giant grouper at depths from 12 to 28 meters.

Next up the western coastline, you’ll hit the charming fishing village of Bulwer, with its 8km-long beach boasting calm, clear seas and great sunset views over Moreton Bay. Bulwer is also ideal for swimming and snorkeling, thanks to the Bulwer Wrecks (three ships scuttled in the 1930s in shallow 1-2m-deep water) and the Car Bodies (a sunken old bus and VW Beetle) at the south end of town.

Continue north and you’ll pass the dynamic beaches of Heath Island and Yellow Patch. There’s even surfing to be had at North Point and Boulders Beach.

At the northern tip of Moreton Island, you’ll also find the Champagne Pools, created as waves roll over a natural break wall of volcanic rock and sandstone. Wade into the sandy pools and allow the frothy water to pour over you like a glass of bubbly, making for great photos!

Just around the corner, you’ll find a series of four small beaches created by a ridge of bedrock. Make your way through the rocks to the best known and most accessible, Honeymoon Bay, dramatically backed by rocky cliffs. While beautiful to look at, look out for rips and big waves. This part of the island is also known for superb diving around the only true coral reef, Flinders Reef, a gorgeous collection of hard and soft coral along with teeming marine life including turtles, rays, and wobbegong sharks. Divers may also be lucky enough to hear a hauntingly beautiful whale song or two during migration season.

Another must-see attraction around Cape Moreton is the historic 23m-high lighthouse, Queensland’s very first. Built in 1857 by tradesmen and convicts to guide ships navigating the treacherous entrance to Moreton Bay on their way to Brisbane, the fully-functioning, fully-automatic red-striped lighthouse now provides a superb vantage point from which to spot dolphins, whales, sharks, and dugongs. Don’t miss the excellent museum inside the old caretaker’s cottage for insight into the history of the lighthouse and Moreton Island.

Rounding the cape and coming back down on the island’s eastern coast, you’ll hit a pair of freshwater lakes, both excellent for a refreshing swim. The tea tree oil-infused Blue Lagoon is the larger and more popular of the two with its surrounding wild flowers and birdwatching opportunities, whereas Honeyeater Lake is home to a large variety of birds (including the lake’s namesake honeyeater which comes to feast on the flower spikes and fruiting cones of the banksia flower).

At this point, fitness enthusiasts might want to leave your Moreton Island 4WD Hire Bush Camper behind and undertake the 6-hour, 16km-long return hike along the old Telegraph Road track that leads from the Bulwer – Blue Lagoon Road on down to Mount Tempest. Add in another 2 hours to make the difficult hike up what is quite possibly the world’s highest coastal sand dune and be rewarded with uninterrupted views in every direction from 285 meters above sea level, sweeping across the Sunshine Coast on down to Brisbane and the Gold Coast on a clear day.

With so much to do and see on Moreton Island, why not take advantage of the many campgrounds and camping zones and extend your stay on this tropical paradise? Your Moreton Island 4WD Bush Camper will be right at home at the five National Park campgrounds along with the many beach and bush campsites scattered about, including at the Tangalooma Wrecks just near the main ferry landing point, the Ben-ewa Campground protected from the winds by its valley location, and the North Point Campground with Honeymoon Bay and the Champagne Pools just a short stroll away.

To see even more, hop on a vehicular ferry and discover the other islands of Moreton Bay. Enjoy bushwalking and the comforts of Russell Island, the largest of the four, or head over to Tiny Lamb and Karragarra Islands with their sandy beaches and family-friendly swimming enclosures.

Just 40km from the center of Brisbane, Moreton Island offers an idyllic tropical getaway catering to all ages and tastes.

Families with small children will want to check out the Tangalooma Island Resort for a comfortable outing including a wide range of tours and wildlife encounters. The beaches at Cowan and Bulwer are also family-friendly, as there’s no through traffic allowed in these villages while shallow waters with sunken wrecks can be enjoyed by swimmers and snorkelers alike. Families with smaller children can also undertake some easy walks ranging from 5-20 minutes near the Blue Lagoon and Honey-eater lakes, rewarded with nice viewing platforms and the opportunity for a cool dip!

Between active adventures like sand tobogganing, hiking and water sports, animal encounters with wild dolphins and spotting whales, dugongs, and birds, or just simply spending long, leisurely days lounging on unspoiled beaches looking out over crystalline blue waters, there’s no shortage of things to do on beautiful Moreton Island. So fire up your Moreton Island 4WD Hire Bush Camper and let the adventure begin!

Moreton Island 4WD Hire is part of Australian 4WD Hire, a nationwide network of premium rental agencies strategically positioned in close proximity to all famous 4WD destinations and hotspots as well as major regional and capital cities throughout Australia, ensuring you’re never far from a pick-up point.

Australian 4WD Hire is renowned for our meticulously maintained vehicles and top-tier customer service. Our fleet is constantly being updated to ensure you enjoy your self-drive adventure in comfort and safety. 4WD Tourism is one of the best ways to see the broad range of amazing sights Australia has to offer, with the flexibility and freedom to discover the outdoors at your own pace. For your Moreton Island 4WD Hire adventure, please contact us at 1 300 360 339 or +61 7 5527 6191. Or email us at sales@australian4wdhire.com.au or visit us at www.australian4wdhire.com.au

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