Great southern wonderland
Moreton Bay is a sublime, sheltered yachting playground in Brisbane’s backyard.
Long the aquatic haven of southern Queenslanders and the initiated, Moreton Bay is coming to the attention of visiting international superyachts.
In January, at the advice of the team at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, the owners of 74m Lurssen MY AURORA, discovered the delights of this sheltered paradise which abounds in marine life, deserted bays, pristine beaches and a myriad of family-friendly, quintessentially “Aussie” activities.
“The Rivergate team has an unrivalled local knowledge, which we are only too happy to share with visiting superyacht Captains and crews. Whether that’s for crew breaks during a period of refit or maintenance, or advice on itineraries in our region,” said Andrew Cannon, Rivergate General Manager.
A short 2 hour cruise from Brisbane and Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, Moreton Bay is a compelling cruising ground, close to every amenity, though very much a “hidden gem” in comparison to Sydney Harbour in the south or the Whitsundays to the north.
Covering more than 3,400km² (1313-square miles) of open and sheltered waterways, dotted with windswept islands, Moreton Bay was declared a Marine park in 1992 to protect ecologically significant habitats. It’s home to over one thousand species of fish, six of the world’s seven sea turtle species, three species of dolphin and the reclusive dugong (manatee), as well as various shark and ray species.
Awe-inspiring humpback whales travel 6,000km annually from their Antarctic feeding grounds along the eastern coastline of Australia to give birth in the tepid lagoons of the Great Barrier Reef in mid-June. After calving, from July, the humpbacks start their return south and many of them stopover in Moreton Bay where they can be seen frolicking with their calves until early November.
Other species known to visit Moreton Bay Marine Park include southern right whales and minke whales, along with large pods of coastal and oceanic dolphins all year round.
Despite its protected status, the region offers fantastic fishing in the sheltered waters of the Pumicestone Passage and Moreton Bay and the ocean beaches of Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.
The Bay’s waters are also plied by the commercial fishing fleet who provide a plethora of seafood, including the delectable Moreton Bay Bugs, to Australia’s fish markets and fine restaurants.
There are a phenomenal 360 islands in the bay, most deserted, several residential islands, among them Bribie Island, and others popular tourist hubs, such as North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island – the world’s third largest sand island.
Moreton Bay is protected from the Pacific Ocean by these three main islands and its warm, calm, shallow waters with an average depth of 6.8 metres, offer scuba divers and snorkelers great visibility, particularly around the submerged shipwrecks and reefs.
Considered “nature’s theme park”, Moreton Island offers protected anchorages and access to a diverse range of water and land activities: diving, snorkelling, bushwalking and quadbiking, which make it a magnet for tourists. It’s also one of the only places in the world where you can hand feed wild dolphins who visit the shores of Tangalooma Resort each day.
Onshore, wallabies and kangaroos are frequent visitors, while several intriguing historic sites, including military fortifications and quarantine station at Fort Lytton and St Helena Island’s prison, are an alluring reason to scale the sand dunes and explore on foot, or Segway – the choice is yours.
For charts and other information, visit Marine Safety Queensland’s (MSQ) Beacon to Beacon and the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing’s (NPSR) Moreton Bay Marine Park Zoning Map.