A day trip from Brisbane to Coochiemudlo Island
It’s summer in Australia which means everyone is looking for a place to cool off. Although there are a number of places in Brisbane to have a dip, it’s not exactly known as a great swimming destination. That’s when we step in, having been living here for over a year now, we can explore locations tourists wouldn’t dream of. And you’ll be the first to know.
Such a place is Coochiemudlo Island or Coochie as locals lovingly call it. Situated in Moreton Bay, 35 km from the CBD and just a 10-minute ferry ride from Victoria Point, Coochie Coochie makes a perfect Brisbane beach. Because there are no crowds of tourists, famous attractions or a nightlife. Yet the island holds significant value in Australian history after July 1799 Captain Matthew Flinders docked his Norfolk ship here, his sixth island.
Flinders liked what he found and described the place as rich in large luxuriant trees with plenty of sand on both East and West sides. Fauna consisted of cockatoos and parakeets, he wrote in his memoirs. From the day of his landing Coochie celebrates Flinders day every July.
From 1895, after the island’s first white settlers Henry Wright and his son, Norman “Boxer” Wright set their campsite here permanently, the island’s life began and businesses flourished. Norman went on building a successful boat business in Bulimba. Later on, Doug Morton, another island’s pioneer, established a fruit and dairy farm bringing visitors to his venue for refreshments and tourism purposes.
You can circle the walking heritage track around the island to see all its historical sites. Begin at the jetty carpark and follow the arrows, it takes about 2 hours of leisure strolling.
What a marvelous opportunity for children to learn Australian history and have fun at the same time! We sure treated our visit as a part of homeschooling, actually, this’s the reason why we homeschool. So Nick can experience things firsthand and write a nice report about his findings.
Getting to Victoria Point Jetty
From the South-West Brisbane where we reside, it took all of 30 minutes to arrive at Victoria Point Jetty from where a ferry travels to and from. Although the jetty has a parking lot, it’s monitored heavily, besides, exposed to the sun all day. We actually pulled up in the park above the jetty and took the steps downstairs. So much easier, the park is spacious, provides a lot of shades with trees planted all around and no parking limit. I wouldn’t leave anything of value locked in the car, regardless, so we packed home keys etc with us.
Catching the ferry
The Coochie passenger ferry operates all year round, every day from 5 am till late night and departs every half hour.
Follow this link for schedule: Victoria Point Ferry
Costs: AU $10 return adult ticket and $5 return child ticket (5-14), under 5 is free.
You can pay for tickets on board with cash or card, so no need to pre-book or wait in line.
If you’re planning to bring your car, it’s essential to book a spot on a barge and a cost is a little higher than the passenger’s fee. Visit Amity Trader website for those options.
What to bring with you for a day
For your day trip to this beautiful Moreton Bay Island, I’d advise packing only essentials. Keep in mind you’ll be carrying the backpack because there are no lockers. Choose a waterproof backpack with plenty of outside and inside pockets.
- Sunscreen. The first thing should go into your backpack
- Camera or a phone. The island is gorgeous, I can guarantee it’ll be hard not to take photos – consider it a crime
- A little cash for refreshments or ice cream blocks
- Bathing suits
- Wet pouch or a bag to stash everything wet after
- Water bottles
- Tissues and antibacterial cream ( there’s no soap in toilets )
- Spare clothes to change
- Snacks/ barbecue/ picnic food
- Anything for swimming or playing: body boards, floaties, water balls, sand buckets
- Beach tent or umbrella ( not necessary, there are trees everywhere but helps if you have a number of people or kids with you )
Best time to visit
I’m an early morning person, to me earlier the better, get it over and done with a type of a girl. As you know, circumstances don’t always follow the suite, our departure delayed. That’s the best thing could’ve happened for the reason that the island was partly deserted but the water warmed up enough after a cool night.
Our 10 am arrival worked out well with the exploring part to start off and the swim to cool off. Around lunchtime, you’ll notice a lot more people arrive on the ferry, it’s picking up quick after that.
Exploring the island
Pay tribute to the historical Red Rock Cliffs
Kutchi Mudlo, meaning place of red rock, is one of several in the South Moreton Bay Islands that retained its original indigenous name. You see, aboriginal people didn’t permanently occupy the Coochiemudlo Island. Instead, they used it as a source of ochre to collect and apply in ceremonies around Moreton Bay. They also visited it for fishing and gathering food such as the bungwall fern that grew in the wetlands. Fascinating, isn’t it?
On arrival, we started walking to the West or left from the Jetty, along the Main beach. The temperature on the day was absolutely gorgeous, although started warming up a tad too fast so our flippers came off quickly and feet got immersed into the heavingly waters that provided both cooling and calming effect. I couldn’t believe there were hardly any people around, most importantly, they all seemed local. I think I looked a bit out of place clenching a camera in my hands pointing it in different directions like a child who’s never seen a beach before. We were passing children happily floating or chasing each other, grown-ups setting up their little boats to go fishing or sailing, the morning couldn’t seem to be any better. We were in paradise and the funny thing, it has been literally under our nose all this time.
After about 15 minute walk, the red rock cliffs came into the view and what a picture that was! The area is also known as a dog’s off leash, strangely, but no one seemed to mind. Happy friendly pooches swam, paddle-boated and played just as well as their owners.
Swim on Main, Norfolk or Morwong Beach
You didn’t know there could be 3 beached on 5 square kilometers island, did you? Well, after all, it’s a little island with a big personality! Your choice is to explore actively or do nothing at all, just laze around. But beware, once in the water, you won’t want to leave, it’s heaven on earth kind of swim. There are no waves apart from what little boaties make, not many fish either. After exploring the island, we were ready for a cool dip and decided to come back to the Main beach. Partly because it felt safer with other swimmers around but you can find a little private piece on the sand and have your own party. Surprisingly, there weren’t many folks at all, with the majority, again, seemed local.
The Norfolk beach had its name after Flinders’ ship Norfolk, this’s the part of Coochie where he first set his foot on.
Pop in for a light lunch or refreshment ( and ice-cream for kids, of course)
There are exactly two cafes on the island: The Red Rock Cafe and Coochiemudlo Island Kiosk
The service in both places was immaculate with a standard but pretty fulfilling menu. Some gluten-free options available but might have an additional cost attached to it. Example: GF bread instead of what is listed on the menu costs $1 extra at the Kiosk.
We don’t consume GF bread, so opted for veggies to go with our poached eggs which were perfectly done, by the way.
After the Kiosk, we popped in the Red Rock Cafe to find they make delicious fresh-squeezed juices and sell raw vegan desserts. And ice-cream, it’s everywhere.
Get your nostrils clean in Melaleuca Wetlands
Once you step off the ferry, your nose will guide you. The Wetlands are located on the Northeast side and can be reached from Norfolk beach.
Hire a kayak, paddle boat, a canoe or a barbecue boat
Being a recreational zone, the local hirers offer a great range of fun toys for your peruse. Fairly priced, half-hourly or per hour, they’ll certainly keep your visit interesting. The water is very calm which makes kayaking enjoyable and kids can safely go on their own.
The hire prices start from AU $15 for half hour ( as of Jan 2019)
The self-drive Barbecue boat can be booked online here.
The prices start at $200 for half a day. You can bring up to 12 people on the boat, it’s great to split the cost and cruise around the bay with a great company.
Light up a barbecue or lay out a picnic
Electric barbecues are an iconic sight of any good Australian park. Luckily, Coochie isn’t an exception. We’ve noticed the majority of people bring supplies with them, in fact, we were the only ones who didn’t. It’s a better choice for a day out in my opinion due to the lack of specific food options such as gluten-free (existent but limited) or food allergies, for example. Also, Australians take a lot of pride in their family and friends BBQs, therefore, having one on an island feels very special. Besides, food always tastes better cooked on the open-air, doesn’t it?
Practice your swing at Golf Club
Golf is a recreational game widely played in Australia. Anyone can enjoy learning or practicing to hit a ball you can’t even see in the grass. And what island doesn’t have at least one gold course?
Passionate and dedicated volunteers run The Isle of Coochie, a 9-hole golf course. You don’t have to be a professional to thoroughly appreciate good times with your family in such a charming setting.
The cost starts at AU $10 for a 9-hole game and can be arranged at the Island Kiosk.
In conclusion, I’ll admit how absolutely in love I’m with this place. Honestly, this’s one of the best unique places I’ve visited in Greater Brisbane to date. Although there are plenty more islands, bays, and beaches around Brisbane, some big some small, the majority of them are well known not only to locals but to visitors as well. That, in a lot of cases, puts me off because I find pleasure in discovering secluded underrated localities that quite often exceed expectations, not population. Let’s share the opinions right here. Drop a line in comments with your thoughts on the article or perhaps questions you might have.
Can you camp on the Coochie? No, camping or campfire isn’t allowed anywhere on the Island.
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