Moreton Island National Park and Recreation Area Brisbane

Aerial view of the southern end of Moreton Island National Park. Photo credit: © Tourism and Events Queensland

Bookings and permits

From February 2020, permits to drive or camp in the Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) Recreation Area are booked and managed through Mulgumpin Camping.

Visiting Moreton Island safely

    Cape Moreton lighthouse. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Cape Moreton lighthouse. Photo: Queensland Government.

    Getting there and getting around

    Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) is 40km offshore from Brisbane. The island can be reached by ferry, barge or boat. Barges and ferries for vehicles and passengers run daily. Extra services operate in school holidays and on long weekends. Bookings are essential. See tourism information links for details.

    Private boat access

    Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) is in exposed waters. Large seas can be experienced between Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) and the mainland. Consider your experience and the suitability of your vessel, and take into account currents and predicted weather and sea conditions when planning your trip. No public moorings are available at Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). Weather forecasts are available from the Bureau of Meteorology.

    Vessels, anchors and ropes should not restrict the safe thoroughfare of four-wheel drives or pedestrians between the high and low water mark on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) beaches.

    Four-wheel-drive access

    Four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles are essential for driving on the island. Four-wheel-drive vehicles with high clearance and low range function are strongly recommended. All-wheel drive vehicles without true 4WD function and vehicles with low clearance will have difficulty along inland tracks and in soft sand, and are therefore not suitable on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). All vehicles should be equipped with essential recovery gear (tyre pressure gauge, shovel, snatch strap, towrope or traction pads). A private vehicle recovery service operates on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). See Tourism information links for details.

    All vehicles must be registered and have a valid Moreton Island Recreation Area vehicle access permit (VAP). Fees apply. Drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply.

    VAPs will not be issued for unregistered vehicles, or for registered vehicles (including conditionally registered) including but not limited to quads, trikes and trail bikes, except to island landholders and residents satisfying police permit and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) requirements.

    All vehicles are required to stay on designated roads, beaches and vehicle tracks, and must not be driven on or over vegetation including that of the foredunes. Obey all speed limits, signs and barriers.

    Please read driving on sand and driving safely before you drive on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). The driving safely section also lists driving times between major features on the island.

    Wheelchair accessibility

    There are no areas accessible by wheelchair in Moreton Island National Park or the Recreation Area.

    Staying safe

    Read all information

    Many safety and regulatory signs warn visitors of dangers, rules and regulations and ways to help conserve Mulgumpin's (Moreton Island's) special features. Walking track entrances, campgrounds and day-use areas have information and orientation signs including site-specific interpretive materials. For your safety, please read and heed signs.

    Walking safely

    • Always carry a map, first-aid kit, and sufficient food and water.
    • Stay with your children at all times.
    • Stay on formed walking tracks and do not shortcut.
    • Wear sturdy footwear, not thongs.
    • Walk in groups.
    • Avoid walking in the hottest part of the day.
    • Protect yourself from the sun.
    • Obey all danger and warning signs.
    • Do not climb on the shipwrecks at Tangalooma or Bulwer.
    • Keep clear of historic WWII relics at Rous Battery and Cowan Cowan.
    • Bring personal insect repellent to avoid mosquito and sand fly bites.

    Pig safety

    Feral pigs may carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. They may become aggressive if their young are threatened. Feral pigs digging for food damage natural ecosystems. Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) rangers are undertaking a feral animal management program on the island focussing on feral pigs.

    Please tell the rangers about any feral pigs you see around the island. In particular, note the location, time of day and number of pigs.

    Ensure your camp site is pig safe

    Pigs learn to scavenge for food. They easily find and scatter rubbish and eat anything including bread and biscuits. Do not encourage them into camp sites.

    Make sure you:

    • Never feed pigs or leave food lying around.
    • Keep food, bait and rubbish in strong lockable containers.
    • Bury fish offal below the high tide mark to a depth of 50 cm.
    • Pack away food after you've finished eating.
    • Keep your camp site tidy to make it boring and uninviting for pigs.

    Water safety

    People have suffered serious injuries in water-related accidents. There are no patrolled swimming areas on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). Avoid tragedy.

    • Always stay with children when near water.
    • Avoid swimming in the ocean. It is not patrolled and there may be rips and sharks.
    • Do not dive into water. Serious injuries have occurred.
    • Stay away from beach rocks. Surf and swell can wash you away.
    • Powerboats, personal motorised watercraft (e.g. jet skis) and vehicles are not permitted in lakes and streams.
    • Swimming is prohibited in Mirapool Lagoon.

    Driving safely

    Sand driving can be difficult and dangerous. Take care and remember ALL road rules apply. For essential safety tips please view:

    Obey all road rules

    • The same road rules apply on island tracks and beaches as the mainland.
    • All vehicles must be registered.
    • Wear seatbelts at all times.
    • Keep left of oncoming vehicles at all times.
    • Use indicators only when overtaking or turning.
    • All drivers or riders must hold the appropriate driver's licence.
    • Never sit outside the vehicle or tow people behind the vehicle—it is illegal and people have been seriously injured this way.

    Keep below the speed limit

    • Speed limits on beaches and inland tracks apply (see below).
    • Be aware of the speed limits at your location and obey all road signs.
    • People driving too fast for the unexpected are more likely to have accidents.
    Speed limits
    • A speed limit of 30 km/hr applies at all times in front of and between:
      • Ben-Ewa and The Wrecks campgrounds, and
      • barge landing areas at:
        • Reeders Point
        • The Wrecks
    • A speed limit of 20 km/hr applies at:
      • Bulwer barge landing area
      • North Point beach
      • The beach in front of Comboyuro Point campground
    • The speed limit on other areas of beach is 60 km/hr and as signed on other tracks.

    Depending on conditions, safe travelling speeds could be much lower.

    No vehicle access

    • To ensure pedestrian safety, vehicle access is prohibited on the beach at Tangalooma Resort and Cowan Cowan township. Use bypass roads where available.
    • To reduce the disturbance of migratory shorebirds, vehicle access along the beach at Mirapool is prohibited 3 hrs either side of high tide, and a speed limit of 30 km/hr applies at all other times. Please use the Mirapool bypass road.
    • Stay on formed tracks. It is illegal to drive off-track on dunes.

    Limited access

    • The western beach between Kooringal and Tangalooma is not always trafficable. Debris and shifting sand may make the beach impassable even at low tide.
    • Middle, North Point and Bulwer–Blue Lagoon roads are narrow and can become very rough in dry weather. For this reason caravans and camper trailers are not recommended on these roads.

    Hazard areas

    • Beaches have hazards including washouts and exposed rocks, particularly after heavy rain and rough seas.
    • Accidents have happened due to reckless driving or silly pranks. Passengers have suffered serious spinal injuries in vehicles travelling too fast for the road or beach conditions.
    • At times, creek crossings and exposed rocks make beaches impassable, especially after rough sea conditions.

    Before heading off

    • Ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound.
    • Carry essential spares, extra fuel, water, tyre gauge, tyre pressure, pump, snatch strap, tow rope and a first-aid kit.
    • Be familiar with your vehicle and correct driving techniques.
    • Reduced tyre pressure can aid in traction when conditions are soft, dry and boggy.
    • If you choose to lower your tyre pressure, make sure to reinflate tyres to manufacturer’s recommendations prior to driving on hard surfaces.

    Load your vehicle correctly

    • Do not overload your vehicle.
    • Load your vehicle evenly with heavy items stored low.
    • Vehicles with too much stored on roof racks can overturn or become stuck.
    • Remember the weight and balance of a 4WD is different to a normal car.

    Drive only when you are safe

    • Do not drive when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or medication.
    • You need to be constantly alert and familiar with sand driving techniques—4WDs handle differently in sand.
    • Police visit the island with speed detectors and breathalyser units.

    Give way to

    • Pedestrians—they often cannot hear approaching vehicles above the sound of surf or strong winds. Slow down near people on the beach, especially around children.
    • Seabirds and other wildlife—always go slow and go around flocks of birds.
    • Other vehicles—most tracks are narrow and carry two-way traffic. Frequent passing bays can be found along roads. Do not create your own by driving over vegetation.
    • Vehicles coming downhill, heavy vehicles and vehicles with trailers have right of way in any situation, as they are more difficult to handle.

    When sand driving

    • Engage locking hubs and 4WD on inland tracks and soft beach sand.
    • Check your tyre pressure gauge works. Reduced tyre pressure within manufacturer's specifications helps maintain traction on inland tracks and soft sand. If you choose to reduce your tyre pressure, re-inflate your tyres again to resume speed on harder sand or mainland driving.
    • Avoid sharp turns and sudden braking.
    • Select low gears for soft, dry sand.
    • If your vehicle bogs, reverse out and try to drive forward again.
    • Stay on formed tracks. It is illegal to drive off-track on dunes.
    • Be very careful when crossing creeks. Large volumes of water create steep creek banks.
    • Before crossing any creek, walk through it, if safe, to check the depth of water and softness of sand.
    • Never stop your vehicle midstream; your vehicle may sink or stall.

    Watch the tides!

    • The best time to travel is around low tide. Avoid driving two hours either side of high tide and often for longer, as some areas are more affected by tidal activity and onshore winds than others.
    • Beach travel is not always possible, even at low tide.
    • Be prepared for delays, as you may need to wait for suitable beach conditions.
    • Creeks flowing out onto beaches should be traversed with caution.
    • Do not stop your vehicle in any creek bed—use low speed and check depth and sand softness before crossing.
    • For safety, avoid travelling at night.
    Tide variations
    • Ocean beach is 1hr 30mins earlier than tide times at Brisbane Bar.
    • Day's Gutter is 45mins earlier than Brisbane Bar.
    • Tangalooma is up to 40mins earlier than Brisbane Bar.

    Tide times vary from year to year. Refer to the official tide times for Queesland for further information.

    Travelling times from Cape Moreton

    From Cape Moreton to:

    Time

    Bulwer via North Point

    35min

    Bulwer via Blue Lagoon Road

    55min

    Little Sandhills via ocean beach

    50min

    Tangalooma via Middle Road

    50min

    Travelling times from Tangalooma

    From Tangalooma to:

    Time

    Bulwer via Cowan Cowan

    35min

    Kooringal via Toulkerrie

    55min

    Times will vary depending upon beach and weather conditions and tide height at time of travel. Inland track conditions deteriorate as sand dries out. After rain, track conditions often improve. But when dry, expect a slow bumpy trip!

    In an emergency

    • Dial 000 for fire, medical and police emergency assistance.
    • If no mobile reception, try 112.
    • Dial 106 for a text-only emergency service, for speech or hearing impaired people.
    • If calling from the ocean beach, advise 000 operator of your closest distance marker. These are located on the ocean beach at two kilometre intervals north and south of Middle Road.
    • Carry a first-aid kit with you and know how to use it.

    Stay with the injured person—keep them calm and protect them from the elements.

    For further information please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

    Before you visit

    Essentials to bring

    First-aid kit and prescription medicines

    There is no pharmacy or resident doctor on the island. The Queensland Ambulance Service operates an office at Tangalooma Resort and has trained paramedics available. Bring adequate supplies of any prescription medication you need and a well-equipped first-aid kit. It's always wise to have at least one person with a current first-aid certificate in your group.

    Drinking water

    Bring your own water and containers. Water can be collected from the Big Sandhills on the western beach, the Rous Battery and Eagers Creek on the eastern beach, and also at all established campgrounds. Always treat water before drinking. Pack water treatment tablets or boil water for at least 10 minutes. Use water sparingly and consider other campers.

    Rubbish

    Bring your own garbage bags and sealable containers for rubbish including small containers for cigarette butts and bottle tops. Always extinguish cigarette butts. Don't discard the butts on the island, unless in a bin. 'Pack it in and pack it out'.

    Gas or fuel stoves

    Bring a gas or fuel stove and/or firewood. Open fires are not permitted at The Wrecks and North Point campgrounds. Test your stove before leaving on your trip. Never use them in confined spaces such as tents.

    Vehicle recovery equipment

    All vehicles must have rated shackles and the basic recovery equipment such as a tyre pressure gauge, shovel, towrope or traction pads. Recovery of bogged vehicles is the responsibility of the driver. A private vehicle recovery service operates on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). See Tourism information links for details.

    Extra hints

    • Sand pegs, tarpaulins, extra poles, ropes and torches come in handy.
    • Mosquitoes and sandflies may be present in large numbers, so bring insect repellent with you. Remember to wash any repellent off before swimming in creeks or lakes as it is highly toxic to our endangered native fish, even in low quantities.
    • Mobile phones may have limited range. Consult your service provider.
    • Bring sealable containers for rubbish.
    • Bring small sealable containers for cigarette butts. Always extinguish cigarette butts. Don't discard the butts on the island, unless in a bin.
    • Don't bring firearms or fireworks; they are not permitted in the national park or recreation area.
    • Don't bring chainsaws, they cannot be used.
    • Generators are not permitted to be used in developed campgrounds, however they can be used in the five camping zones (PDF, 160.2KB) across the island. Only low decibel (dB) generators with a maximum of 60dB can be used between the hours of 8.00am and 7.00pm.

    Opening hours

    The park is open 24 hours a day. The opening hours of the QPWS Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) office and Cape Moreton Information Centre are variable and dependent upon conditions in the park.

    Permits and fees

    Vehicle permits

    A vehicle access permit must be purchased and displayed on your vehicle windscreen before driving on the island. Fees apply.

    Monthly and yearly permits are available and must be attached to the left side of the vehicle's windscreen. If the vehicle does not have a windscreen the permit must be displayed in another prominent position.

    Camping permits

    All campgrounds and camping zones within the national park and recreation area require a camping permit, which must be obtained before you arrive on the island (there is no self-registration on site). Fees apply. A camping tag with your booking number must be displayed at your camp site.

    After purchasing your vehicle access permit and/or camping permit for Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), collect a permit tag from one of the following locations:

    • the information shelter at The Wrecks barge landing on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island)
    • any other Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service information shelter or amenity block on the island.

    Permit refunds

    For information on permit refunds please email enquiry@mulgumpincamping.net.au or phone (07) 3506 2371.

    Pets

    Domestic animals are not permitted in the national park or recreation area.

    Climate and weather

    Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) has a mild, subtropical climate. The average daily temperature range is 22–30°C in summer and 12–22°C in winter. For more information see the tourism information links.

    Fuel and supplies

    Castaways sells recovery equipment and unleaded fuel, available in 20 L drums only. Contact Castaways prior to commencing your trip to ensure supplies are available. Visitors will need to ensure they carry adequate supplies of fuel from Brisbane. Please note that vehicle access permits are issued with a condition that restricts the amount of fuel that may be kept within a developed camping area to 50 L.

    General supplies are available at a few locations on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island). Not all shops are open every day. Contact the individual store for opening times and days.

    Bulwer township

    • Castaways stocks basic groceries, ice, firewood, recovery equipment and gas bottle exchange (9kg only). Pre-ordering recommended for bread and newspapers. Unleaded fuel is available in 20L drums only. Contact the store prior to commencing your trip to ensure fuel supplies are available.
    • Bait and tackle store sells camping and fishing supplies.
    • Mi Café offers an assortment of drinks, cakes and hamburgers.
    • 4WD taxi and tour services are also available.

    Contact the individual store for opening times and days.

    • There are currently no park alerts for this park.