Peel Island

During the mid-19th century Peel Island was used as a quarantine station for the colony of Brisbane for incoming ships, a place for 'inebriates' and was later proclaimed a leper station in 1907. Sailing ships would anchor to the north of the Island, the passengers would disembark on Peel Island for a quarantine period before moving on to Dunwich on nearby North Stradbroke Island. Between 1907 to 1959 the island was a lazarat (leper colony). The heritage listed island "in shark infested waters" remains a place of historical and cultural significance. An interesting trivial point is that after the island was decommissioned as a leper colony it was discovered that the strain of leprosy was non-contagious. Though restricted access applies to much of the island and the disused buildings of the lazaret, the park is patrolled by wardens with camping allowed at Platypus and Horseshoe bays.

In 2007, the island was declared as Teerk Roo Ra National Park and Conservation Park. Dugongs, turtles, dolphins, jellyfish and sharks frequent the waters around the island. Horseshoe Bay, with its sandy beach, is popular with boating visitors. It is a popular overnight anchorage for sailors, considered by many to be the best shelter from northerly winds in Moreton Bay. Home to four species of mangrove, abundant marine life, about 74 bird species and both agile and swamp wallabies, the island is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities - kayak, camp, swim, snorkel, fish, walk and explore.

At low tide, you can explore the richly coloured red / ochre hues of weathered sandstone rock ledges that line the island between Horseshoe and Platypus bays. The rusted, partially submerged wreck of the Scottish built dredger Platypus lies just off the eastern point of the island, adjacent to the old stone causeway. Visibility is not always good, beware of tidal currents and sharp, rusty edges around the wreck.

Sea kayakers use the island for overnight stays. Kayakers launch from Victoria Point and approach via Coochiemudlo, or Raby Bay and Cleveland Point. Take care to avoid the rocks; in calm waters the crossing is easier but be aware that conditions can change quickly and suitable kayaking skills are required to cope in rough weather. You can spot turtles and dugongs, pass through seasonal, pulsating blooms of luminescent jelly fish on the move and be mindful of tidal flows which determine access into Horseshoe Bay.

Matthew Flinders is recorded as the first European to sight Peel in 1799. The island was named 'Peel' by colonists around 1824 after British 'statesman' Sir Robert Peel.

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About Moreton Bay

Moreton Bay, to the east of the city of Brisbane and its suburbs, is very much the city's playground, a wide expanse of relatively calm water dotted with many surprisingly unspoilt islands of different sizes and varying character. The bay extends some 160 km from Caloundra in the north almost to Surfers Paradise in the south.

The bay's southern navigation entrance is the Gold Coast Seaway. It is a haven for wildlife - spotting dolphins, whales, turtles and manta rays, and its vast array of birdlife is a popular pass time. The bay's heritage protected wetlands, mudflats, and waterways are some of the healthiest in the region, supporting seasonally up to 25 % of Australia's bird species. Moreton Bay is also a popular destination for recreational anglers and is used by commercial operators who provide seafood to market. A number of ferry and water-taxi services travel over the bay either to and from islands or on day and half-day sightseeing and fishing tours.

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