Nissan Australia

Moreton Island  2003

Moreton Island Australia Day Long Weekend 24-27 January 2003

Moreton Island has become our annual retreat for the Australia Day long weekend, this being our third year. We were lucky enough to have extended our visit this year by arriving on Friday morning and returning home on Tuesday. We live only 30 minutes away from Scarborough so we made our own arrangements with the 'Combie Trader'. Unfortunately, when we booked in December there were no spaces left on the barge to return home on the Monday!

We arrived at the Combo Yuro camping grounds at 10:20am and after chatting to Eric Rusis and Geoff Loy we proceeded to set up camp. This year we chose to spread out a bit and set up our huge tarp (thankyou to all for helping) for relief from the hot weather so after a bent pole or 2 we were finally settled. After realising we had set the tarp up in the 'communal' area, it was soon decided that everyone would use our 'pergola' for their entertainment area. Shortly after, the majority of the group arrived from their beach landing at Tangalooma and proceeded to set up their camps. We had a relaxing afternoon around the campsite and settled into a very early happy hour at around half past. Four more vehicles arrived at camp later in the evening to complete our group of 18 for the weekend. We were advised that the activities planned for Saturday were to begin at 8.30am so we retired early with the kids.

On Saturday morning we left camp at the designated time and headed to the 'Little Desert' for the 2003 Mitsubishi Club Sand boarding championships. The weather was perfect this year, which made the walk with kids, cameras and boards a little easier. I opted to act as spectator and watched in amusement as big kids and small enjoyed the adrenalin rush of zooming down the dunes and inhaling sand. Dana and Ryan were brave enough to climb onto their Daddy's back and have a ride down the smaller slope, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Amidst all the fun, the competitive streak was lost and we do not recall anyone being honoured with the title of 'Sand boarder of the year'.

Upon heading back to the parking area, Dana was invited by a younger man (almost 3 years old) to join him for a drive in Matt Thatcher's truck (or was there mention of parking). Dana accepted however her father was seen to have been following very closely. Our next destination was Honeymoon Bay via Middle Track, which we were warned the sand was softer than normal and fairly hard going. This proved to be no problems to our convoy however and we snaked our way across the heart of the Island. We stayed at Honeymoon Bay for an hour, which gave us time to have some lunch and enjoy a swim and a chat with other members of the Club.

It was then on to the Lighthouse where the Mitsubishi Club once again invaded the car park. The views on this walk were spectacular and some of us were lucky enough to see huge turtles in the water below. Soon after, we left the Lighthouse and headed back to camp, arriving at around 2pm. Happy hour was had at 5.30pm with all manner of food being served and fine wines and ales being consumed. The Australia Day communal dinner was at 7.30pm under our 'pergola' however we mistimed our dinner and ate early.

After dinner we played 'Fact or Crap', with Graham Thatcher as our compare and Ann Keane as his lovely assistant. We broke up into 4 groups and tested our 'buzzers' before commencing the game. The basic rules of the game (although they did seem to change as the night wore on) were that you were asked a 'yes/no' question and the first in with their buzzer answered with 'fact' or 'crap'. The eventual winners were Bruce and Denise Schmidt's team and we all received fantastic gifts courtesy from an anonymous sponsor! A few of us continued talking 'fact' (or was it 'crap') until midnight before staggering back to our tents.

Arose Sunday morning for a 9am start with the ladies at the wheel as it was decided the night before that the ladies would be driving this morning. I lasted about 15 minutes before handing the honours back to David although the other ladies behind the wheel did very well. I blame my lack of concentration on the lack of sleep from the night before!

We drove along Middle Track toward the South end of the Island, passing the WWII gun emplacement site on the way. We stopped for a snack, swim and a chat before continuing on our way. It was decided that we bypass Kooringal this year for our obligatory ice cream stop due to the 'wonderful hospitality' of the shop owner last year (not!).

With the large Sandhill's as our next destination, we stopped briefly for fresh oysters and to wait for a bogged Combie to free itself. It was here that we met up with Dan Thatcher and the rest of his group. A few braved the dunes whilst others stretched their legs and wandered along the beach chasing the soldier crabs. David wished he had opted for the latter option as he came away with a face full of sand!

Heading North again, we came across the Combie (stuck again) on the south entrance to the Tangalooma bypass track. We were able to go around however our convoy was split in half when a couple of vehicles got stuck in the very soft sand. It was hard going and a few vehicles (ours included) were indicating hot engines and transmissions and we had to stop periodically to avoid damage.

We arrived at the Tangalooma wrecks and enjoyed a swim and a chance for the vehicles to cool down. On our way back to camp we saw two groups of dolphins swimming close to the shore. A couple of dolphins were swimming right next to a group of people. It was a great thrill for the kids to see them so close.

Arriving back at camp at 3pm we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon before preparing for happy hour at 5.30pm. We made our Camp Oven Cob Loaf and Kim treated us all to some good 'Aussie Bush Piss' (Eric's words - not mine) or Sangria. After chatting under the 'pergola' for some time everyone retreated for dinner. We retired soon after dinner, although I think some revellers partied on for their third night!

We arose to another perfect morning on Monday and whilst everyone was packing up, we left camp alone at 8.30am for the Blue Lagoon. (Remember, we were the unfortunate ones who couldn't leave until Tuesday!) This track was very hard going and would have been a long, slow trek for the convoy. We enjoyed a long swim and the kids had fun playing in the sand and water for a couple of hours before we headed back to camp. Dana and Ryan were asleep so we stayed at camp and had lunch and a rest (it's tiring doing absolutely nothing all weekend) before going to the Wrecks to farewell everyone.

At the wrecks, the soft sand meant that a few vehicles had trouble getting on the barge and needed a push but eventually the Moreton Venturer was on its way. We enjoyed another refreshing swim and watched sadly as everyone departed. We left the wrecks soon after and headed back to camp, stopping at Bulwar for ice creams and a cask of goon.

We would like to thank Graham 'Toiger' Thatcher and 'Auntie' Ann Keane for once again leading a fantastic weekend of leisure to Moreton Island. We would also like to thank all those who came for their company and contribution towards a memorable time. We look forward to seeing you all again on the Moreton Island trip in 2004.