Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tangalooma Time Warp, Moreton Island, Australia

SERIOUSLY, it has been more than 29 years since I have been to this, the third largest sand island in the world. Tangalooma Island resort is on Moreton Island, which was once a whaling station. Even though it is a short hour by boat from me, it has taken all this time to return there.

Why? I did not remember it being anything special and as I wasn't staying overnight, preferred to go the coastal resorts of the Sunshine or Gold coast beaches rather than a tired, sleepy resort ( needing refurbishment ) with little nightlife, offering expensive food and overpriced accommodation. Is this really what it was still like.?

Well, no.. this is not how it is 30 years down the time warp spectrum. Whilst the accomodation is still expensive, a day trip is not more than the cost of the ferry and your lunch.
To entice the tourist, there is a range of free activities to do during your time there. Swimming, fishing, archery, badminton, mini golf ( although the holes are hard to find amongst the grassy patches) and sand tobagganing, ( but bring your own piece of board! which is not noted on the information given out.

The big attraction for tourists is to feed a wild dolphin a fish in the shallow waters at dusk.

But also a range of other things to do ranging in price, according to the machinations of your wallet.

There is Quad bike tours, minimum age 6 years, but I would not be inclined to put a child younger than 12 on these unless they had experience.

Helicopter joy flights

Whale watching ( June to November)

Segway tours


Kayaks, Surf paddle, catamarans etc to hire

Marine Discovery tours

Snorkelling the wrecks.

Fish Feeding

We chose to participate in the Quad bike Tour and after a very cursory instruction briefing with emphasis on the workd brief, we set off. Running down the beach on a quad bike is loads of fun, but a bit of concentration is needed on the sand course up the back on the slopes behind the resort. At the end, one of the leaders takes you down the slope to the beach, in which you simply slid down holding on to the back brake. Bit scary, but fun for first timers. Some little kids were too scared to do this or control it properly so caution is advised with the younger visitors.

Kayaking is also available at the cost of $20 a hour. There is a double kayak or single options. The waters are fairly calm and you can paddle up to the wrecks at the northern end of Tangalooma for a different experience. Remember the sunscreen as the sun is vicious here!

Kookaburra feeding too! Free photograph opportunities!

Dolphin information sessions and the finale to the day the nighttime feeding of the Dolphins.

These are wild dolphins that come in to the shallow waters near the jetty at dusk and readily accept offers of fish from ones' hands. You can watch this from the jetty or participate ( You will get wet, perhaps up to your waist so come prepared) and it does not cost anything, except that the late ferry ride home is slightly more expensive than the afternoon departure.
This activity is very popular so be prepared to wait.

They are also wild dolphins so there is no guarantee that they will appear. You might have one dolphin, three or eight... all depends...

The attendants give you some basic information but the experience is very brief and you are NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH the dolphins! A preliminary wash in Milton solution is also mandatory to protect the dolphins from our nasty human viruses.

The last ferry departs immediately after the dolphin feeding, so the departure time is sometimes delayed due to the numbers of people wanting to feed. We wanted an extra 90 minutes so factor this into your connections back at Brisbane and at the disembarkation wharf, at Holt Street Pinkenba wharf, where there is no public transport!! Taxis only!

Summing up:

The Good: Free activities, crystal clear aqua waters, beautiful beaches and multitude of free activities. Quad bike tours.. extreme enthusiasts would find it a bit tame, nervous nellies would find it extreme, but most find it a lot of fun!

The Bad: Pricey accomodation and food. Lack of choice for dinner options. Dolphin feeding is a special experience but lasts only seconds and the patience a must as you wait in line.

The Ugly: Protracted departure of the nighttime ferry.

We will return but when, well I don't think I have to wait another 30 years, but due to costs involved with the ferry, it will be something we must ponder about and limit it to special visits rather than weekly events!

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