Very few people who live outside Brisbane have ever heard of or seen the Tangalooma Wrecks. For many years it’s remained a relatively undiscovered hotspot, frequented only by local Brisbanites on weekends and school holidays. During my University years, my friends and I would haul our camping gear out to the island to celebrate Australia Day or the Easter Holiday break camping, sandboarding, fishing, and snorkeling around the Wrecks.
Since the popularity of drone photography and Instagram, the rest of the world has begun to take notice of this hidden Australian landmark, after seeing amazing birds-eye views of this spectacular formation of 15 shipwrecks on Instagram.
Having recently met some fellow Brisbane-based travel bloggers through Instagram – Jasmine and Bevan from The Travel Quandary, and Phoebe from Kaptain Kenny Travel – we all agreed that we needed to get together and start discovering our own backyard a little more.
After all, there are so many great places to take a day trip from Brisbane – such as Byron Bay, Noosa, Gold Coast, Scenic Rim, Stradbroke Island… the list goes on. But the first place on our list was a day trip to Tangalooma Wrecks on Moreton Island!
Here is everything you need to know before visiting the spectacular Tangalooma Wrecks!
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Tangalooma Wrecks History
In spite of what many people seem to think, it’s no coincidence that fifteen vessels happened to run-a-ground in the exact same spot. In fact, the old dredging ships were deliberately sunk off the coast of Moreton Island, near Brisbane, Australia in 1960s to create a break wall from small boats. It also managed to attract scores of reef fish and marine life, thereby creating a popular wreck dive and snorkel site. It’s also common to see reef sharks and, during the right time of year, migrating whales regularly cruise by. We were lucky enough to see two humpbacks there last year!
Where are the Tangalooma Wrecks Located?
The Tangalooma Wrecks are located on Moreton Island, which is one of the few islands near Brisbane city that is inhabited. Moreton Island is entirely sand with no sealed roads. While the island has many great attractions, such as the Big Sand Dunes and the Champagne Pools, the Tangalooma Shipwrecks are undoubtedly the star attraction.
It’s possible to visit the Tangalooma Wrecks in a day trip, however, staying overnight will allow you more time to experience other areas of the island.
How to Get to Tangalooma Wrecks
There are a few options to get to Tangalooma Wrecks, but in general, you will need to catch a boat from Brisbane to Moreton Island. There are two public ferries that run from Brisbane to Moreton Island on a daily basis during the high season. It is also possible to reach the Tangalooma Wrecks by private boat – if you are interested in hiring a boat and skipper for the day or know someone who has their own boat (even better).
The Micat Ferry is the Moreton Island vehicle ferry which also takes walk-on passengers. The Micat Ferry runs from Brisbane to Moreton Island leaving from the Port of Brisbane, arriving at the Moreton Island beach landing point, approximately 200 metres to the north of Tangalooma Wrecks site and campground. The journey takes approximately 90 minutes. Micat operates a demand-based timetable, up to 5 times per day during peak season. For Micat bookings and timetable information, visit the Micat website.
The Tangalooma Ferry is a passenger-only ferry (no vehicles) that runs from Brisbane to Moreton Island, departing from Holt Street Wharf in Pinkenba and arriving at the Tangalooma Jetty on Moreton Island. From here it is 15-20 minutes’ walk to Tangalooma Wrecks. The Brisbane to Tangalooma ferry ride takes approximately 75 minutes, with four services operating daily (each way).
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Tangalooma Wrecks?
Micat Ferry – $28.50 AUD one-way for walk-on passengers and approximately $100 AUD one-way for vehicles.
Tangalooma Ferry – $84.00 return per person. A cruise + activity package is also available which includes return ferry transfers, one activity of your choice, lunch and use of the resort facilities. A Tangalooma Day Cruise pass costs $129 AUD per adult.
Moreton Island Camping Permit – If you plan to camp on Moreton Island, a camping permit will cost around $7 AUD per person, per night. For more information on bookings and purchasing a camping permit, visit the Moreton Island National Park webpage.
Moreton Island Vehicle Permit – If you plan to take a vehicle, you will need to purchase a Moreton Island vehicle permit for around $52.00 AUD, which covers up to a month. Only 4WD vehicles are allowed on Moreton Island.
Note: the above prices are correct at the time of writing this article and may vary.
Where to Stay on Moreton Island
Tangalooma Island Resort – The main resort on Moreton Island offering a range of accommodation options ranging from budget rooms to deluxe beachfront villas.
Tangalooma Campgrounds – For those willing to brave the elements, a Moreton Island camping experience at The Wrecks camp area is one of the best accommodation options on the island. The Tangalooma Campgrounds (non-powered) are well set up with campfire pits, eco-toilets, shower facilities and wifi! You don’t need a vehicle to camp on Moreton Island as the Micat Ferry landing point is located approximately 200 metres from The Wrecks camping area, so it’s possible to walk to the campsite.
In My Opinion: Personally, I thought that Tangalooma Island Resort is looking a little tired and is in major need of a facelift. Camping at Tangalooma campgrounds is one of the best experiences as it allows you to have the Tangalooma wrecks and beach mostly to yourself in the morning before the tour groups begin to arrive around 9 or 10 am.
Other Things to Do on Moreton Island
If you do decide to stay overnight, there are several other fun things to do around Moreton Island. But if you have your own 4WD vehicle, or have hired one, it’s possible to drive around the island and experience these other fun activities:
There is a tall sand dune just a short walk north of the wrecks. There are even bigger sand dunes in the middle of the island, but you’ll need a vehicle to reach them.
Natural rock pools located on the north-east tip of the island. You’ll need a vehicle to reach the champagne pools.
Feed the Dolphins
Each evening at sunset, wild dolphins swim up to the jetty at Tangalooma Island Resort for a feed. The program follows strict guidelines to ensure the dolphins maintain their natural hunting instincts. The dolphin feeding area is within walking distance from the Tangalooma Wrecks.
Take a ride along the beach and over the sand dunes on an ATV quad bike adventure. Tours are run from Tangalooma Island Resort which is just a short walk from the wrecks.
For a unique experience try kayaking in see-through kayaks over the wrecks to see the ships and sea life below. Also available at night using bright LED lights.
Cape Moreton Lighthouse
The first lighthouse ever built in Queensland and a great place for spotting whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, manta rays and dugongs. Cape Moreton Lighthouse is located on the northern end of the island. You’ll need a vehicle to reach the lighthouse from the wrecks.
The Blue Lagoon
Take a dip on the tea-tree oil infused freshwater lake in the middle of the island. A short drive away from the Tangalooma Wrecks.
Additional Tips for Visiting Tangalooma Wrecks
Some Things to Be Aware Of
It’s very easy to swim out to the wrecks from the beach, however, sometimes the current between the beach and the wrecks can be very strong. Be sure not to swim against the current, swim towards the beach instead. You’re also not allowed to climb on the wrecks as the rusty surfaces may have sharp areas that can cause injury, not to mention, you’d be ruining the fishes home!
How Much Time to Allow
I have visited Moreton Island on a day trip and have also stayed overnight a few times. Both are great, however, obviously staying overnight and having access to a 4WD vehicle will allow you to see so much more that the island offers.
Getting Around Moreton Island
Moreton Island is entirely made of sand with no sealed roads. Only 4WD vehicles are permitted on Moreton Island. You can bring a 4WD from Brisbane to Moreton Island on the Micat Ferry. It’s also possible to hire a 4WD once you arrive on the island at Tangalooma Island Resort.
Tours on Moreton Island
For some of the best tours and things to do on Moreton Island, check out these recommended day tours:
- Moreton Island Dolphin and Snorkel Cruise
- Moreton Island Day Tour + Dolphin Feeding
- Moreton Island 2-Day Explorer Tour
Don’t Forget to Bring
For a day trip, don’t forget sunscreen, snorkeling gear, picnic rug, and sunshade. If you’re planning to camp, don’t forget to bring a tent, drinking water or water sterilisation tablets, rubbish bags, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
Can you recommend any other great tips for visiting Moreton Island and the Tangalooma Wrecks? Let our readers know about them in the comments below.
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Planning a trip soon? Here is a list of the websites and resources we use for booking everything from flights, to accommodation, tours, and more:
- Skyscanner for booking the best flight deals
- Booking.com | Agoda | Hotels.com for the best rates on hotels
- Airbnb | HomeAway to find the best apartment and home rentals
- Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals
- Luxury Escapes for luxury package holiday deals and tours
- Get Your Guide for a great range of day tours
- Tourradar | Intrepid for multi-day experiential and adventure tours
- Priority Pass for airport lounge access in hundreds of locations around the world
- Skyroam to stay connected to WiFi everywhere I go
- iVisa to apply for entry visas for most countries in the world
- World Nomads for the most comprehensive worldwide travel insurance
About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Fly Stay Luxe – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.