“Muuummmmmyyyyy, when do we get to feed the dolphins?” asked Lincoln. Again.
We were on our way to Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island, just off the coast of Brisbane. Moreton is the third largest sand island in the world, behind Stradbroke (now North and South Stradbroke Island since the island was split during a fierce storm) and the largest, Fraser Island. I’d been commissioned by Australia and New Zealand magazine in the UK to write an article about the activities available on Brisbane’s islands, and the resort kindly offered to host us as we tried out some of their fun family activities. The kids were just a little bit excited.
I love my job!
Arriving in torrential rain (it started to tip it down while we were on the catamaran making the 75-min crossing from Brisbane), we quickly attempted to dry off before jumping aboard a four-wheel-drive bus to go on a desert safari. As it was so wet, we weren’t able to do the sand tobogganing, unfortunately. Instead, the boys and I climbed the biggest sand dune I’d ever seen, then we ran down it at full pelt. Reuben did it with finesse, making it look super easy. I did it slowly and carefully (I’ve broken five bones since hitting my thirties and wasn’t about to add a sixth to the list!) Lincoln face-planted himself into the sand repeatedly. He didn’t seem to mind though and kept getting up to try (and fall) again.
The trip also took us to the beach to see the Tangalooma Wrecks – a line of 15 vessels that act as a man-made reef to form a break wall for small boats (and a fantastic snorkelling spot).
After an evening involving a take away pizza and a beach walk, we were all exhausted and ready to crash in our accommodation for the evening. It was well-equipped for families, with a kitchen area, fridge and microwave as well as two tvs and a dvd player (which came in useful when the kids needed some downtime). Having a separate bedroom was also a bonus – it’s always tricky when five of us have to cram into one bedroom together.
The next morning a huge buffet breakfast started us off, before we left Evangeline with a babysitter as she was too little for the morning’s activity. The boys, Matt and I headed off for a guided snorkel of the Wrecks. When we jumped into the water it was all a bit much for the boys (it was FREEZING and their first time in open water!), so they decided to get back on the boat with Daddy while I did the snorkel instead. When we were backpacking a few years ago (before having kids) we snorkelled every single day. This was the first time I’d been back in the water since then, and it felt incredible. I’m gutted to say my camera died on me just before we got into the water so I didn’t get any footage of the colourful marine life and the thriving coral, but it was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend.
I made my way from the dive shop to the whale watching boat just in time to join the afternoon cruise. I’d decided to go alone on this trip – Matt suffers terribly with seasickness and the last time we’d been whale watching, in French Polynesia, he’d been SO sick. It was a wise decision – the water was really choppy and I was pleased I didn’t have to a) worry about him and b) worry about small people getting thrown around the boat.
I have to admit, even though I’d been whale watching before, nothing prepared me for how amazing this trip was. There were SO MANY WHALES and they were right next to the boat. It was just the most incredible feeling watching them. They splashed about on the surface, waved their fins at us and then did huge tail flips before coming back and performing all over again. I was totally in awe and could have stayed there watching all day.
The evening was definitely the highlight of the weekend for all of us – we got to feed wild dolphins from the beach. The dolphins visit the beach each night and guests can line up to feed them in small groups. I went into the water with the boys and together we held out our fish. Our dolphin gently swam by us, taking each fish in turn and doing a little loop. Then Matt and Eva went into the water and gave the dolphin their fish. Eva was so excited that she threw her fish in the water before the dolphin even arrived.
I can’t get over the fact that my kids are getting to have experiences like this – I know it’s something they’ll remember for a long time to come and I was actually quite teary after the experience as it reinforced to me why we moved them across the world to Australia – exactly for moments like this.
After getting changed (you have to wade into the water in your clothes for the evening dolphin feeding), we decided to treat ourselves to dinner in the main restaurant – Fire and Stone. Eva fell asleep in Matt’s arms while we waited for our table so we laid her across some chairs to snooze, but as we were about to order dinner the boys pretty much fell asleep with their heads on the table. We switched our food order for a take away and carried them back to our room so they could go to bed, while we ate the delicious dinner with a bottle of wine in our room. There had been too much excitement to keep everyone awake beyond 7.30pm!
After a busy few days, we spent our last day at the beach. It was time to jump the waves, build dams and laze on the white sand. It was an idyllic family day in the sun – the perfect end to a perfect weekend.
If you like the sound of Moreton Island, you might also be interested in this article about Fraser Island.
Thanks so much to the PR team at Tangalooma for hosting us, and to all the staff that made our stay so special. We had such a great time – we’re already planning our next visit. I feel very lucky to know that we’re living this close to such an idyllic location.
If you missed my article in Australia and New Zealand magazine, you can read it here: Moreton Bay