When we moved to Southeast Queensland three years ago, we decided that we should really make the most of our time here and see as much of Queensland as possible. Well, so far that hasn’t quite worked out, including exploring the five islands close to us: North & South Stradbroke Island, Moreton Island, Bribie Island and Fraser Island.
Whilst Fraser Island is finally planned for Christmas this year, we managed to visit Bribie Island a couple of weekends ago at long last. You really don’t need much time for Bribie so it’s perfect for a quick beach weekend getaway.
Bribie Island National Park is so close from the Sunshine Coast, only about an hour’s drive south, that we really had no excuse for taking three years to get there. And unlike the other islands along the coast here, you don’t even need to get on a ferry, just take the bridge across Pumicestone Passage and you’re there.
Exploring Bribie is all about 4WD beach driving. It still boggles my mind that this can be done so easily in Queensland. All you need is a vehicle access permit, obviously a high-clearance 4WD car, and ideally some experience driving in soft sand.
There are a few areas on Bribie where you can camp; we booked a site in the Ocean Beach camping area, hoping that this would mean few mosquitoes (how wrong we were…).
To get to the Ocean Beach camping area, it’s a couple or so kms from the national park entrance and then some 20 kms along the beach. Unlike driving on Teewah Beach in Great Sandy National Park, the beach on Bribie has very soft sand, and there’s a bit of traffic to manage, which is not surprising given how popular Bribie Island is for day trips and weekend camping.
On our first day, the driving was pretty smooth and only a little bit squishy. The next day, with us having done a loop around the island in the early afternoon and coming back onto the beach a little too late in the day and high tide rolling in full-steam, the driving was bumpy and much less pleasant. I think I hit my head at least twice so let’s just say that I was very glad when we finally arrived back at our campsite.
Whilst there isn’t all that much to do on Bribie, one thing that is a bit unusual about this holiday island are the few historical remnants of a time gone by. During the height of World War II, Fort Bribie was built at the northern end of the island within less than a year. Weathered gun emplacements and ruins of searchlight buildings along Ocean Beach are all that’s now left of this World War II defense outpost.
Most structures are fenced off as they’ve become very unstable due to shifting sand but you can still wander around and incredulously imagine how much people must have feared a Japanese or German invasion to build a fort here in 1941.
The Northern Searchlight also marks the end of the beach vehicle access. From there you can walk to the northern tip of Bribie but not drive.
After we had a look at sinking Fort Bribie, we took the inland Northern Access Track just to see where it was going, and came back to our campsite via the by then bumpy beach “road”. It wasn’t the most exciting drive we’ve ever done…
We pulled into the Poverty Creek campground for a quick picnic lunch. Whilst the campground area is pretty open and doesn’t afford much privacy, there seemed to be far fewer mozzies around!
Other than that, we spent our three days there relaxing, reading (yay!), eating, and madly flapping our arms around to shoo away the gazillion mozzies that descended on us at every opportunity.
Whilst Ocean Beach on Bribie Island didn’t wow me, it’s a nice long stretch of soft white sandy beach, typical of Southeast Queensland. With blue sky, it almost looked picturesque, especially looking towards the northern, curvy end and Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.
The WWII structures add some interesting historical feature but overall, Bribie hasn’t got a lot to offer – which might just be the right kind of place for a lazy weekend away!
Despite our expectations and what we had read elsewhere, the Ocean Beach campground did not give us mozzie-free (or at least ‘limited mozzie exposure’) camping so that was a bit of a pain. That said, the insect onslaught may not be as ferocious during winter as it was in late November. If we ever did return, it would probably be in winter, though more likely, we’d just head back north to lonely Burrum Coast.
For more information about camping at Bribie, check out Queensland National Park Bribie Island.