Sunday, June 21, 2015

Return to Moreton Island

Two years ago we did a 1 day/1 night trip to Moreton Island, the third largest sand island in the world, which I of course blogged about back then.  We went back again over the Queen's birthday long weekend, but this time we camped, an idea I scoffed at doing the first time I went.

My how times have changed!

In order to maximize our time on the island we decided to take the earliest possible ferry to get there, which departed at 5:30 a.m.  Do you know what time you have to wake up to make a 5:30 a.m. ferry?  2:45 a.m.  I can honestly say this is the earliest I've ever woken up before (though it's worth noting that I have still been up from the night before at 2:45 a.m. plenty of times).

We were treated to a fine sunrise on the ferry ride over; our reward for getting up well before the ass crack of dawn:

We set up camp (featuring a fully functioning kitchen without running water), drank coffee with Bailey's in it (hey, it's vacation!) and had a nice, long nap - all before 9 a.m.

Once we recovered from our obscenely early wake up time we headed out in our big honkin' Nissan Patrol to explore the island.  

Note fishing rack filled with fishing rods on our car. How local are we?!
Where we came across some TOTALLY awesome stuff, such as:

A nifty whale skull

We had seen on the news (by that I mean Instagram) the week before that a whale skull had washed up, but we weren't expecting to see it.  But we did!  And it was awesome!  And really heavy! 

All 7 of us together couldn't budge this thing, it was so incredibly heavy.  It was about as long as I am tall, and it stank.  Which is weird because there was no flesh or non-bone material that we could see, but it still smelled nasty.  We figure it was the top half of the whale's skull, because you could see the eye sockets, and it was upside down.

I was super de duper excited about this find...until something even better came along!

A real, live shark!!!

A little ways off shore we saw tons of birds dive bombing the ocean, in a literal feeding frenzy.  We stopped to gawk because why not?  We had nearly 4 whole days on the island and were in no rush to be anywhere, so a feeding frenzy is definitely worth stopping for.

And then this dude showed up!  It was probably 6 feet long, and we have zero idea what kind of shark it was.  We suspect there was more than 1 shark in the frenzy, one smaller than the other, but we only ever saw 1 at a time so that's unconfirmed.  It was so unbelievably cool!  I was jumping up and down screaming like a child and after our cage diving encounter with a Great White I realize that "seeing a live shark in the wild" is an entirely separate emotion for me, which I've only felt twice in my life.

Here are the other viable shark shots we got, which I feel the need to share with the world:

It's incredibly difficult to take pictures of moving wildlife in the ocean, and I thank Martin for doing that while I was busy squealing like a child.

After this point I knew the weekend couldn't get any better.  Hell, I could've packed up and went home right then and been perfectly happy.  And it had been less than an hour of exploration time on the island!

As we were gathering firewood we came across these gnarly grubs, that I am 100% sure Bear Grylls would eat if he found:

From up high at the lighthouse we saw a turtle from afar, like we did the first time we visited Moreton:

Word on the street is that whales have started to migrate north, but we didn't see any this trip.  They probably haven't gotten this far north yet, but very soon the east coat of Australia will become a humpback whale super highway - so cool!

We, or should I say our token Aussie friend Paddy, utilized the fishing poles strapped to our car to catch some fishes:

The fish are legal size, we checked!
Which he butchered for us all to enjoy:

Check out these hilariously awesome fishing pants Paddy owns (I don't even know what you'd call them):

The boots are attached to the pants
I didn't get any viable pictures, but we had 100% authentic American s'mores, courtesy of a recent parental visit from America.  S'mores are the best dessert ever and most Australians have never even heard of them!  I pity them.  But Australians have something that Americans don't:

Chocolate filled with Vegemite (and caramel)
Unlike most foreigners I love Vegemite, a dark brown "food paste" made from leftover brewers' yeast extract.  Most people who didn't grow up with it hate it.  Cadbury's has done a great job with this new product, even if it smells seriously rank, it tastes good.  I recommend!

On one of our daily outings the dudes took a dip in the "champagne pools", which around here is what they call the small pool of water that is protected from the ocean behind rocks.
Fun fact: Martin is swimming in his underwear here
Unfortunately there is no real champagne here; canned beer and boxed wine are the only camping-friendly alcohols, which we admirably consumed $275 worth of over our 4 days.

Sleep, eat, explore, drink.  That's what we did for 4 days, in that order.  It was glorious!  Every night we were in bed before 10 p.m.  Without electricity your body clock quickly adjusts to the cycle of the sun.

We didn't even make a stop at Tangalooma resort this trip because we were too busy roughing it to be bothered with such luxury.  I very stupidly didn't get a picture of our makeshift, homemade camping toilet, but believe me when I tell you it looked a lot like this picture I pulled off Google:

Our chair was made of wood, though
I'm not lying when I said we were roughing it!  We all used that toilet and damn it we liked it!  It's better than a hole in the ground...

This is our second to last camping trip with our BFFs Pia and Ryan, who are leaving Australia for home, back to the US of A.  Nearly every single one of the friends we've made over the last 3.5 years have left/are leaving Australia, which is exceedingly sad for us and our social life.  Such is life when making friends with expats, but that fact doesn't make it suck any less.

We've had such an incredible time with them exploring this little piece of Australia we call home, and I very seriously don't know what we'll do without them.  I am profoundly sad. :(

The Moreton Island crew
June 5 - 8, 2015
Yes I wrote that like an obituary...leave me and my broken heart to my dramatics!