Perfect Secret Summer Island Escape
Let’s get it out there straight up…. you can drive your rig right onto this island. No gravel roads. No ferries. No extra cost.
It’s a beautiful sand-rimmed uncrowded island with a laid-back atmosphere, plenty of sunshine, pristine waters and two caravan parks.
Oh, you want to know its name and where it is? Bribie Island – less than an hour’s drive north of Brisbane on a marine sanctuary known as Pumicestone Passage.
We headed to Bribie (the locals drop the word “island”) from Coolum Beach, on the Sunshine Coast, and thanks to two nasty accidents on the Bruce Highway we found ourselves on a road-less-traveled weaving our way towards the bridge that accesses the island.
What was a misfortune for some turned out to be a fortuitous for us, as the fast-pace of a crowded A1 was replaced by a gentle road that rolled past picturesque pine forest (above). Less than 20 minutes later we were crossing the Passage, and it was then that we saw an aqua-painted mural monolith rising above the tree-line to our south. This water tower is one of two on the island and both have been transformed thanks to magnificent murals that cover the entire structures.
The one that we saw while still on the bridge is at Bongaree, a quiet town that has maintained all the charm of yesteryear yet still embraced all that is good about life in the 21st century. In fact, that statement holds true for the whole island.
A feature of Bongaree is the wide grassed park that runs the length of the esplanade, and it is here that you will find the Bongaree Caravan Park – straight across the road from the beach! Operated by Moreton Bay Regional Council, it is superbly located for grey nomad travelers with a bowls club adjacent, a short flat walk to shops and Australia Post, a library only 200 metres away and numerous mouth-watering seafood takeaways from which to choose.
However, we found the most attractive (and surprising) feature of this caravan park tucked away in its back corner, for it is here that we discovered the mammoth Bongaree water tower operated by Unity Water that I mentioned earlier.
Only finished in June 2018, the mural is titled “Another World’s Paradise” and the plaque states the design “aims to bring awareness to the region’s delicate ecosystem and the important balance of people living in harmony with nature”. It shows the migration of sea turtles that return seasonally to feed on the plentiful sea grass.
After some fresh prawns on equally fresh bread, we headed a 10-minute drive across the island to Woorim, the small seaside hamlet that sits in the shadow of the second water tower. Simply titled “Woorim Beach”, this painting captures the eye quickly due to the splashes of vibrancy found in the composition – a surf life saver (below) stands on Woorim Beach providing a safe haven while children play, a honeyeater on a grevillea, and a sea eagle soaring high on the western tower flank.
One of the really nice aspects of these towers is that the designs are community-driven – with Unity Water holding a public voted on designs that were professionally crafted from themes that the community liked. “Woorim Beach” won and “Another World’s Paradise” came in second.
Both stunning tower murals were designed and painted by artists Scott Nagy and Mike Shankster in collaboration with the Bribie community. The Woorim one is nestled beside the small shopping precinct across from the beach, and while it is not inside a caravan park, there is one only a 300 metre walk away.
After a very pleasant walk along the beach with Digital Hound (the dog), we headed to White Patch based on a recommendation. There we found a beautiful bush-shaded path (below) that runs between the beach and the quiet street that leads to the national park. The majority of Bribie is national park, adding to its magic.
Unfortunately, we could not stay – there is nowhere that caters to road travelers with a pet. Neither caravan park accepts dogs and there are no free camp or community camp sites for caravans or motorhomes. In fact, the closest place to camp with a dog is Lakeview Camp, a 20-minute drive off the island that takes fully self-contained vehicles only.
Having said, if you’re looking for somewhere to stay that continues to glow from old world charm, is relatively quiet and un-rushed despite its proximity to Brisbane, and you don’t have a dog, then this might just be a grey nomad Heaven.