Once Visited, Never Forgotten

11 January 2011

Bribie Island is a golden gem set in azure seas

For those wanting to visit an island without the added expense of ferry travel, I may just have the place for you.


Situated an hour’s drive north of Brisbane is Bribie Island, the fifth-largest sand island in the world, and all it takes to reach it is a minute on a bridge crossing the Pumicestone Passage, which divides the island from the mainland.


Bribie Island has been a holiday destination for many years. Initially visited mainly by Brisbane locals looking for a day out or a weekend away, it was accessible by a boat trip from the Redcliffe region. Then in 1963, a bridge was built spanning almost a kilometre and Bribie became linked to the mainland.


Since then, the popularity of the island has grown and the southern tip has gradually been developed for coastal living, while much of the rest of the island is national park. If you want to explore some of the national park areas of Bribie, they can be accessed by 4WD through sand bush tracks and along some stretches of the beach. If you plan to drive in the national park, you are required to apply for a vehicle access permit from Queensland’s Environmental Protection Agency or a permit-issuing agent on the island.


The strip of water between Bribie Island and the mainland is known as Pumicestone Passage. It was gazetted as a marine park in 1986 and has the oldest registered fish habitat in Queensland.


Pumicestone Passage is home to dolphins, turtles and one of the largest groups of dugongs living close to a coastal town in Australia. The Passage side of the island is known for its quiet waters for swimming, sightings of dolphins and great fishing spots.


Bribie Island offers many options for those wanting to visit for a few days or longer and some of the most popular spots to stay are the holiday parks.


One of Bribie’s favourites is Bongaree Caravan Park, only a kilometre from the bridge and overlooking the Pumicestone Passage. The park offers tent and caravan sites along with holiday villas and cottages and is located close to a variety of shops, restaurants and the island’s library.


Across the road is Bribie’s jetty, a boat ramp offering access to the Passage waters and a pathway that meanders along the seafront for several kilometres. Recently 16 historical plaques were placed on low plinths along the walkway giving snippets of Bribie’s past with information on WWII sites, fishing stories and other interesting local facts. The plaques were installed as part of Queensland’s 150th anniversary as an independent state.


Looking across the water back to the mainland, the Glasshouse Mountains can be seen looming above the landscape. As they are west of the island, the sun setting behind them in the early evening offers those with a photographic urge great opportunities to take home a captured memory.


Bribie Island is also home to over 300 species of birdlife including pelicans, emus, brolgas, rainbow lorikeets and the magnificent sea eagle. Many of these birds are seen simply by walking along the foreshore, but if you take to the water by boat, you are likely to see even more.


If you plan to go boating, get a map of the local waterways to help you avoid running aground, as there are sandbanks and many tiny islands in the Pumicestone Passage. If you don’t have your own boat, you can hire a small boat locally or you might choose to take a cruise on the flat-bottomed ferry, known as the Ferryman, which runs trips along the Passage. Both options are located just north of the bridge.


A few minutes drive from Bongaree will see you cross the island to Woorim on the east side. Bribie Island Caravan Park at Woorim has villas and cabins alongside sites for caravans and tents. The caravan park is one block back from the ocean and a minute’s walk from shops, cafes and the surf club, a favourite place to eat for locals and visitors.


Woorim Beach is the most popular on Bribie for swimmers and board users, and is the only lifesaver-patrolled beach on the island. Visitor access to the beach has recently been upgraded and overlooking the seashore is a small park with barbeques, picnic tables and a play area, toilets and showers.


The eastern side of Bribie Island has more than 30km of white sandy beach and looks across Moreton Bay to Moreton Island in the east. To the north, the tip of the island is across the water from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, which is visible from Woorim on a clear day.


Bribie is a place to unwind and step away from the bustle of everyday life. As you drive over the bridge and cross the Pumicestone Passage, you feel like you’ve left your cares behind. With a wealth of beaches to walk and views to contemplate, chances are that when it comes time to leave, you’ll already be planning when you can return.




Bribie Island is about 70km from Brisbane. Head north on the Bruce Highway and take the Caboolture/Bribie Island turnoff. Drive east on Bribie Island Rd, over Bribie Bridge and on to the island.




Welsby Parade, Bongaree
(07) 3408 1054
Vehicle access permits to the national park can be obtained here.


Jacana Ave, Woorim
1800 649 831/(07) 3408 1134


Phone: 1300 130 372




Situated near the Bongaree Jetty, Scoopy’s Ice-Creamery and Sidewalk Café has a range of ice-cream flavours to suit every taste.


The Ferryman cruises the Pumicestone Passage between the mainland and Bribie Island offering a range of trips from morning teas to sunsets. www.ferryman.com.au


On the third Sunday of each month, members of Bribie’s Model Engineers and Live Steamers Association (MELSA) give rides on their miniature steam trains for just a couple of dollars. MELSA are based at Toorbul St, Bongaree, south of the jetty.


Located on Goodwin Drive, Bongaree, Bribie’s Aqua Centre is open seven days a week and has a 25m lap-pool, a heated indoor hydrotherapy pool, an adventure swim area, playground and barbeque area.


Fish and chips taste their best when enjoyed sitting on the sand and eaten straight from the paper they’re wrapped in. Fish ’n’ chip takeaways can be found on both sides of the island.




Fishing is enjoyed from Bribie’s beaches, and on the water in boats, with the jetty at Bongaree a favourite spot for locals and visitors.


Bribie has a thriving art and craft community, and many of their wares can be viewed and purchased at the island’s Community Arts Centre, Sunderland Drive, Banksia Beach.


Watch the sunrise over Moreton Island from the eastern beach at Woorim and see the sunset over the Glasshouse Mountains from the western-facing beach at Bongaree.


Bribie is a refuge for wildlife as much of the island is national park and surrounding waters are cared for by QLD’s Marine Parks. Migratory seabirds, sea eagles, pelicans, dolphins, turtles and dugongs are frequently seen along the island’s shores.


Bribie Island is flat, making it ideal for cycling. Cycle paths run along some of the seafront on the Passage side of the island, and in five short kilometres you can cycle from one side of the island to the other.

By Alison J Beaty