Bribie Island, in the northern part of Moreton Bay, is separated from the mainland by the Pumicestone Passage, named by Leuit. James Cook in 1770, who noted small floating pieces of pumice. Examples of pumice from ancient volcanic cones on the mainland north of the island are still frequently washed up on beaches in the passage. Bribie Island offers beautiful coastal scenery, low-key bush camping spots, popular boating and fishing areas in Pumicestone Passage, excellent birdwatching opportunities and spring wildflowers.
Where is it?: The northern tip of the island is close to Caloundra while the southern end is in the proximity of Deception Bay. Bribie Island Coaches operates a bus service around the Island as well as a route which runs to Caboolture and Morayfield via Ningi and Pebble Beach. The service to Caboolture is timed to connect with trains to and from Brisbane.
Bribie Island is 34 km long and just up to 8km is wide, it has a population of around 15,000 and much of the island is national park, so it offers non-polluted, unspoiled forests and white beaches. Centuries old natural bush, which is growing at the water’s edge, is home for more than 350 species of birds. The waters provide protection to dugongs, turtles and dolphins as well. Cruises are operated along the passage by tourism operators to allow visitors to have a look at this wonderful scenery.
Bribie Island is one of only two islands connected to the Queensland mainland by a bridge (the other being Boyne Island near Gladstone). The bridge, over Pumicestone Passage, was completed in 1963. Bribie has a ‘calm side’ or ‘passage side’ with safe family beaches and calm water. The ‘surf side’ of the island is about 5 km away and boasts long sandy beaches and dunes, with a small surf. Most of the island is uninhabited, consisting of National Park and forestry plantations, but the southern end of the island has been intensively urbanised as part of the Moreton Bay Region.
Crossing to southern part of the island from the mainland via the bridge, the first suburb to be encountered is Bellara. The other four suburbs in the southern half of the island are Woorim (about 5 kilometres) away on the island’s ‘surf side’), Bongaree at the southern end of the island, on the ‘calm side’ or ‘passage side’ and Banksia Beach and White Patch at the northern end of the populated area, also on the ‘passage side’. Two other localities, Welsby and Bribie Island North, make up the undeveloped northern part of the island.
Unlike other islands at Moreton Bay, Bribie Island has a rich history in social and military. The island was used by army and navy authorities during the World War 2 to protect the entrance to Brisbane and this led to the establishment of Fort Bribie. For those interested in history, original World War II bunkers and gun emplacements positioned along the ocean beachfront to defend the entrance to Brisbane can still be viewed.
Bribie Island Seaside Museum
Learn about Bribie Island’s rich military history during the Second World War at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum at Bongaree, overlooking Pumicestone Passage. This contemporary museum explores the unique history of the region through a program of temporary exhibitions and semi-permanent displays. Become acquainted with Matthew Flinders and Bongaree and their encounter at Skirmish Point. Reflect on the brilliant reclusive artist Ian Fairweather. Get up close to the local bounty of the sea and examine the incredible preserved fish collection of the Amateur Fishing Association of Queensland. Discover the birth place of modern seaside tourism. Location: Melsa Park, South Esplanade, Bongaree, Bribie Island. Open Tuesday to Friday: 10.00am – 4.00pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10.00am – 3.00pm. Free admission. Ph: (07) 3408 0007.
Pumicestone Passage, located between the island and the mainland, is a protected marine park that provides habitat for dugongs, turtles and dolphins. There are also extensive mangrove forests in this area. Eucalypt forests, banksias and heathlands are the predominant vegetation elsewhere. Pumicestone Passage Marine Park extends from the southern entrance to the Caloundra bar and is just over 35 kilometres long via the channels. The marine park has 24 islands and is bounded by 240 kilometres of shoreline.
Eighty percent of the Passage is under two metres deep and dugongs frequent its waters seasonally to feed on the seagrass on the bottom of the channels in the passage. Dolphins and turtles also make the Passage home as do over 350 species of birds. Habitats within and adjoining the passage include mangroves and saltmarshes, sand flats and mud flats, coastal dunes and seagrass meadows. The northern extent of the passage is at Caloundra, while at the south is Deception Bay.
Bribie Island National Park
Bribie Island National Park covers 55.8 km2 of the island. There is a common misconception that the National Park covers most of the non-inhabited area, but in fact most of the centre of the island consists of conifer plantations closed to public access. Formerly leased to CSR Timber, the Queensland Government is currently re-planting around 25 km2 of this area through its DPI Forestry arm. Much of the rest has been developed for housing. Buckley’s Hole, at the southern tip of the island, was declared an Environmental Park in 1992. More than 250 species of birds live in or visit the area.
Some areas within the national park and recreation area are accessible only by boat and others only by four-wheel-drive. Wherever you go on the island away from town areas, you need to carry drinking water and be self-sufficient. Sealed roads provide access to the Bicentennial bushwalks that begin near the Community Arts Centre on Sunderland Drive. A vehicle access permit is not required for areas accessible by sealed road.