When I wrote this piece a few weeks ago, the weather was mild and Moreton Island was looking forward to a busy Christmas and New Year. Just after New Year’s Day, a devastating bushfire raged across much of Moreton. No lives were lost, all the homes were saved but large tracts of the bush was destroyed. The rains have now come and the first green shoots are already evident. I would urge you to still visit Moreton and support local business. There is still plenty of National Park left, the beaches are sandy, the water still crystal clear and Castaways is most definitely open.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit Moreton Island* for the day. It’s right on the doorstep of Brisbane, just over 1 hour away on the high speed Catamaran, the MiCat and yet, I had never been. The weather was unfortunately overcast but the passage was smooth as this part of Moreton Bay is protected by Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands. The boat lands right on the beach and as the 4WDs drove off for the week or month of camping, the foot passengers alighted and enjoyed the view of ‘the Wrecks’ with the blue sky peeking through here and there.
We were on Moreton to visit Castaways, the re-badged general store and accommodation at the north end of the island that has now added a restaurant to the mix. The island is 98% National Park with a permanent population of less than 100 people. Apart from Tangalooma Resort, the only other major ‘settlement’ is the township of Bulwer with around 20 holiday homes and the small Castaways complex. The general store is a hub of activity with campers constantly pulling up to re-supply with fuel, ice and water as well as enjoy an iceblock treat and check mobile messages as they download. There’s some accommodation available that relies on rain water tanks and solar power – it’s nothing fancy but is clean and simple, the perfect antidote to the hectic city life, just across the bay.
|A welcoming table|
It’s a casual pub style menu with steak, chicken, seafood, pasta and salads on offer – all well presented, of a good portion size and quite reasonably priced considering the costs involved in transporting freight from the mainland. The stand out menu item are the enormous oysters from the southern end of the island. I’m not an oyster lover but those around me couldn’t down those little beauties quick enough. They were given high praise and at around $17 for 1/2 dozen fresh, locally sourced oysters, that seemed like quite a bargain.
Our crumbed Camembert wedges were tasty but had been cooked on too high a heat so most of the cheese had escaped from the wedges, leaving crisp, airy triangles with no filling. The steaks were enjoyable although we weren’t asked how we would like them done – happily mine was medium. These are minor quibbles for a new restaurant and I’m sure by now, these wrinkles have been ironed out. A delicious home made white chocolate cheesecake and sticky date pudding rounded out our lazy lunch.
It’s a relaxed atmosphere (shoes optional) with simple food tasty food that’s sure to please those who may be castaway but are after a taste of civilisation. As you can imagine, opening any type of cafe or restaurant is a very popular idea with campers who are looking for a break from cooking and for locals to have a night out. Sunday breakfasts will no doubt also prove popular after a night on the beach around the bonfire and one too many Bundy rums. At present, you need a 4WD to get from the MiCat landing site to the restaurant but there are plans afoot to run a shuttle for day trippers during peak season.
|The ever popular Surf & Turf combo|
Castaways and MiCat are run by Moreton Island Adventures, a family business. After lunch, Ros spoke about her passion for the Island which she has been coming to since she was a girl and about wanting Castaways to become a focal point for the community and camping population.
It’s a great success story, providing a lifeline to the island via their freight services as well as ferrying passengers back and forth for the past 40 years. They are offering a family day on the beach for Australia Day, with discounted return fares and lifeguards on duty. The bay is crystal clear and protected so perhaps a day trip might be just the ticket. Take a look at their website for further info.
*TIFFIN attended Castaways as a media guest of Moreton Island Adventures.
Castaways Moreton Island
open 7 days in season – varying hours