Just forty five minutes from Brisbane and a million miles from anywhere.
We are truly blessed living in Australia. A safe and prosperous country with friendly people, a wonderful climate and beautiful places to visit. Living in South East Queensland and specifically on the Sunshine Coast, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to great locations for a holiday or a short get-away. To the east, the Pacific Ocean and the best beaches in the world. To the west, the Sunshine Coast hinterland, magnificent with its majestic mountains and undulating sub-tropical landscape. To the south, Moreton Bay and its islands and Brisbane, the fastest growing capital city in Australia.
Dinah and I traditionally celebrate Christmas with our family. This year Christmas was in Brisbane where two of our sons, James and George and their wives Shelby and Sara and grandson Jules live. After Christmas, time to escape the city for a holiday in our caravan. This year we chose to spend a week on Bribie Island to celebrate New Year, with James and Shelby joining us on the island in their caravan. Our oldest son Chris, wife Nikki and our grandsons Finlay and Felix along with George, Sara and youngest grandson Jules drove up from Brisbane for a day trip.
Bribie Island is ideally located half-way between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, so a short 45 minute drive. Located just off the SE Queensland coast, Bribie is the smallest of three main islands in Moreton Bay, the other two being Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island. Bribie Island is 34 kilometres long and 8 kilometres wide with a permanent population of around 16,000 and is connected to the mainland by bridge, so access is easy and convenient, making the island an extremely popular place to visit and holiday.
There are two sides to every story
And this story is no exception. The two sides I refer to are in fact the two populated sides of the island, the ‘bridge side’ with the still water of the Pumicestone Passage, and the ‘surf side’ with its seemingly endless surf beaches. Most of the island is uninhabited national park and forestry plantations which hug the white sandy beach that runs the length of the island as far north as Caloundra at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast. The still water on the bridge-side suburb of Bongaree is great for fishing and families. Here you’ll find clean beaches and the clear waters of the passage where swimming and fishing off the beach or in a boat is at its best. There are numerous shops, eateries, hotels and clubs including the Bribie Island Bowls Club and the Bribie Island RSL Club. For caravaners, there is the Bongaree Caravan Park.
In the surf-side suburb of Woorim, the main attraction is the patrolled surf beach. Here also, you’ll find shops, cafes and eateries, the Blue Pacific Hotel and the Bribie Island Surf Club. Both the hotel and surf club are great watering holes on a hot summer’s day, as well as offering excellent value-for-money meals. Personally, I think that the Surf Club at sunset is hard to beat after a torrid day lazing on the beach or by the van. In terms of accommodation, you have a choice of beach resorts including On The Beach Resort and the Bribie Island Caravan Park.
Bribie Island is a recreation paradise. Pumicestone Passage is actually a marine park, great for swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking, kitesurfing or simply watching the magic of the sunset. While we have stayed on the bridge side of Bribie in the past, this time we opted to stay at the Bribie Island Caravan Park on the surf side. This is a great caravan park, with excellent facilities, particularly for families and children. There’s a swimming pool, games room, adventure playground, an indoor bowling alley, even putt-putt mini-golf. Plenty to keep the kids occupied. The caravan sites are a good size and there’s plenty of large shady trees.
Accommodation also includes a number of family-sized cabins. And the best thing? The caravan park is just a few minutes’ walk to the beach. Being New Year, the park was full so plenty of activity. You definitely need to book well in advance to get a site at this time of year, but always better to check ahead for availabilities before you arrive. Contact Bribie Island Caravan Park out at: www.bribieislandcaravanpark.com.au Telephone 07 3408 1134 / 1800 649 831.
The call of the beach
There’s nothing like a beach to bring families together. So it was for the McCulloch clan. This year it was great to have the whole family together, our whole extended family on the beach for New Year. Chris, Nikki, Finlay and Felix along with George, Sara and Jules joined Dinah and I, James and Shelby. Also joining us was Nikki’s Mum and Dad, Alan and Heather and Shelby’s Mum, Margie who incidentally, took this spectacular photograph of Bribie Island Pier at sunset. It was great fun to be all together as a family to welcome in the new decade.
Much of Bribie Island is a National Park, including the Bribie Island Recreation Area which provides access to the beach and excellent beach four wheel driving, fishing and camping experiences. The Ocean Beach camping area located 16 kilometres north of Woorim is a designated beach camping site with basic facilities and is a great place to get back to nature and experience the simple pleasures of camping behind the dunes and throwing a line in straight in front of your tent. These facilities are only accessible by 4WD or boat and you will need a permit to take your vehicle on the beach and a permit to camp on the beach. You can purchase permits at various locations on the island, including the caravan parks, or you can obtain a permit online at: www.parks.des.qld.gov.au
Both James and I have 4WDs and we could hear the beach calling. We decided to take James’ Navara for a run up the beach to the northern end of the island. Having obtained a permit, we entered the beach just north of Woorim. Picking the right time to travel in terms of the tides is critical. Getting bogged in the soft sand and then inundated by saltwater is the greatest fear of any 4WDriver. Ensuring that your tyre pressures are right is also important for driving on the soft sand. Generally around 18psi. And don’t forget to reinflate them once you leave the beach. Driving on the beach is a fun experience, but it does require skill and attention to the traffic. The same rules apply on the beach as they do on the road, with the added responsibility of constantly being on the look-out for people, particularly children dashing across the beach.
Towards the far end of the beach are two WW2 gun emplacements, built to protect against the treat of invasion of the Queensland coast. Whilst now largely in ruins, they remain a stark reminder of past conflicts.
Our stay on Bribie Island this time was just five days and the weather was perfect. The ideal location for a short break and to welcome in the new year with our family. What a great way to start a whole new decade!
Main picture: Bribie Island Pier at sunset. Photograph courtesy of Margie Clee
- Welcome to the Bribe Island Caravan Park
- A tale of two vans
- On the surf beach at Woorim
- Childs play and a fast-approaching king tide
- Heather, Nikki, Scarlet and Felix
- George, Sara and Jules
- Chris and the boys at sunset
- Does it get any better than a picnic on the beach?
- Dinner at the Bribie Life Savers Club – Shelby, James, Dinah and me
- Heading up the beach
- Lots of traffic
- Getting bogged is not a good idea with an incoming tide
- WW2 gun emplacements