Australia, Beach & Coastal Walking, Hiking
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Moreton down the Middle

I was miserable and mixed-up over a woman. She had a boyfriend, a fact she would introduce into proceedings with what seemed like cruel and self-serving arbitrariness. At last she got on a plane and went back to him; I stocked up on chocolate, cheese and whisky, loaded  my homemade pack, got on a ferry and cruised across Moreton Bay to the island of the same name, third-biggest sand island in the world, for my third prolonged excursion there.

The first time I’d circumambulated it, clockwise, the second in the other direction. Both had been great adventures (though the first was something of a Death March). This time I thought I’d explore the middle of this minimally tracked, 37km-long wedge of sand and sand-loving forest dotted with a few lakes, a handful of beach-shack settlements, and several crumbling World War Two defences.

I needed to clear my head and burn off all that lingering confusion and hurt. I needed to do something useful…

SEPTEMBER, 2009

Day 1

The ferry pulled in near The Wrecks; I let the convoy of 4-wheel drivers, boozers and occasional fishermen ooze onto the sand, and started down the inner side, past the former whaling station of Tangalooma, and into the bush towards The Desert. Across the Bay you could see the mainland and the volcanic spires of the Glasshouse Mountains, north of Brisbane:

The Desert. It was still morning and you could have fried an egg on the sand in there (fortunately I’d brought a stove):

The marvel of video and some low-tech camera wizardry. A few years ago, a South American tourist was lost around here. He was found alive but understandably dehydrated 10 days later:

Amazing how anything grows, let alone thrives here, but of course the whole island is sand like this:

I crossed the sand and started down the 10km Rous Battery Track, built in the early 1940s by the Civil Construction Corps. Apparently seldom used nowadays, the path was overgrown and required frequent clambering over deadfall. The bush hummed with bird and insect noise, and spring flowers tumbled over the verges:

I came across a discarded jacket that merited closer inspection…

..but apparently it had already been claimed:

I was relieved when the track widened, the vegetation opened up…

..and the blue Pacific glistened through a gap:

At Rous Battery, I lay back in front of a WWII pillbox while the billy boiled, soaking in the sunshine and the hiss and crackle of the breakers. According to Take a Walk, the battery originally consisted of two 155mm gun emplacements, magazines, an underground plotting room, a battery observation post and two 150mm searchlight emplacements.

The fear of Japanese attack was well founded. In 1943, the Centaur, a hospital ship, was sunk by a Japanese submarine not far north, killing 268 people.

You can see some pictures of the remaining structures from my previous visit here.

Down on the sand, a very pleasant journey up the ocean side…

..past some rock art…

..and into the casuarinas for a stealth-camp under my handmade Ray Jardine tarp and quilt, which I was trying out before the Pacific Crest Trail the following year:

Day 2

Moreton sunrises are always special. After this one, and a cup of tea, I continued north up the beach…

..which was gloriously free, so far, of vehicular traffic…

..though this Brahminy Kite was wary even of pedestrians:

Near Eager’s Creek, I headed inland on the 4-wheel drive track, passed a group of Koreans heading back to their tour Toyota, and climbed through banksia forest and grass trees to the top of Mt Tempest, apparently the world’s highest vegetated coastal sand dune…

..with views of an approaching ferry…

..Cape Moreton, where I was headed, the only real rock on the island…

..and the Glasshouses, at maximum magnification:

It was very hot, and I could feel a morbid gloom settling. A good drink and some chocolate and my energy seeped back; I needed to move. I descended and headed north along the Telegraph Track, where remnants of WWII communications remain:

..and when I reached the end of the track…

..I returned to a favourite lakeside stealth-spot for my night’s camp, some whisky, a big pot of hiker mush, and some distracting ultra-violence:

Just another day in paradise, really:

Day 3

Dawn glowed like breath-blown embers across the lake…

..as I broke camp and traversed a plain spiked with bee-laden grass-tree spires:

..with Cape Moreton, and its lighthouse, just visible in the distance across Honeyeater Lake:

A few hours of beach walking brought me there…

..and I crossed the northern shoulder of the island to the bay side…

..and commenced the return leg of my highly erratic quasi-loop, past Yellowpatch…

..and into a grove of casuarinas for a break from the relentless sun, the murderous glare ricocheting off all that gleaming sand:

A nice cup of tea, and my spirits were somewhat restored. A couple of shots of whisky and I was borderline ebullient. I hit the “road” again, feeling that all was well — an illusion, I knew, but a useful one at times like this, and great for chewing up the miles.

My final camp was splendid, not far from the morning ferry stop, and as the sun sank across the Bay, beyond the far-off Brisbane sprawl, a visitor dropped by, heralding its visit with the joyous kookaburra cacophony that is one of the true pleasures of the Australian bush:

Then it was dark. I sat on the sand, and a sweet, empty ease moved through me as the glow melted in the west…

..and I knew there’d always be places like this to run to. At least there was that.

Departure

My friend was back in the morning, and he/she’d brought company — and music:

We chatted as I packed up my gear…

..and luxuriated with my book, and housekeeping, till the last-minute 5km leg to the boat, and the journey across the Bay:

~ And that’s all the Goat Wrote

2 Comments

    • Cheers, OGMWIG! That is indeed a splendid shot of His Iggyness. I think it might be from the infamous peanut butter incident gig…

      Looking forward to having a look at your blog on my return!

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