Moreton Island National Park

It's a place that conjures images of an exotic location that is normally only accessible to most through the pages of a glossy travel brochure.


But to South-east Queenslanders it's only 40 kilometres offshore from Brisbane, a two hour barge trip away. Queensland National Parks and Wildlife service says around 150 000 visit the island each year.


The permanent residents and conservationists have concerns that the increasing number of visitors are causing damage to the fragile ecology. Access around the island is by four-wheel drive vehicle only and camping is only allowed at authorized sites.


The island ecology is recognised as fragile. From September to April migratory wader birds from as far away as Siberia and Alaska look at the island as a place of rest during the long journey home. The wooded island habitat supports small mammals such as possums and some reptiles.


Between August and November whales make their passage north past the island and are often seen from the beaches. Wild dolphins are regularly seen with some curious enough to come close to shore. The western side of the island is a beach combers delight with starfish glistening on the waters edge beckoning closer inspection.


Permanent residents are concerned about erosion which many believe is a man made problem. Some residents claim artifical reefs and dredging of the shipping channel are interrupting the natural sand movement of the island and depriving the beaches of the natural tidal sand replenishment.


At certain times of the year the calm waters of the western side send to shore what look like tennis balls wrapped in seaweed but they're actually the home of long dead sea urchins.


Moreton Island is criss crossed with swamps and fresh water creeks with many of those leading down to the ocean. An expanse of sand dunes in the islands interior known as The Desert is a popular attraction with visitors.


Moreton Island may only be two hours away from the two million people of Brisbane city but once there it seems to be two million kilometres from anywhere.



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