Moreton Island. Brisbane.
Brisbane is Australia's 3rd largest city and Queensland state capital, with the largest population. 1.8 million people live in the Brisbane agglomeration.
When we arrived it was already dark. But I fell in love with the city the moment I left the train station. I was surprised to see the old and historical buildings mixed in with high-rise modern buildings. It was unusual and marvelous at the same time.
We used couchsurfing and stayed with Alan. We felt a connection right when we met him. Such a positive and fun guy.
His apartment was really close to the city center in a region called Fortitude Valley.
In the next day we had arranged some adventures. We decided to go to the Moreton Island (close to Brisbane) and do three things - sandboarding, kayaking, and snorkeling.
The bus picked us up at the Brisbane Transit Center. Alan was very kind and drove us there, although it was very early. The bus arrived at 7:00 and so we started our adventures.
It took a 75-minute ferry ride from Brisbane to get to the island. The ferry cost ~ 50 AUD both ways. It is the third largest sand island in the world. Together with Fraser Island, Moreton Island forms the largest sand structure in the world. My biggest surprise was when the ferry stopped just at the regular sand beach with no port or platform.
The second thing (or I should say the first thing that I actually noticed) is shipwrecks. Even bigger was my surprise when I learned that they were placed there on purpose as a breakwater. Several shipwrecks provide a safe snorkeling spot. And that's what we were here for.
First thing on our list was sandboarding. A normal size four-wheel bus picked us up and drive more inland. Big was our surprise when we saw the "roads" - sand paths. A lot of off-road cars where stuck before us. As the road was only one way, our bus driver went to help them get out. When the road was finally cleared and all the cars put in the woods to wait for some more help, we finally moved.
When we reached The Desert the views were stunning. Right in the middle of the green jungle, there was a sand field with high dune.
Interesting that it is also a very geomagnetic field. A lot of lightning strokes hits right here and forms a little dark sand color bits that actually is melted sand stuck together. Some places the sandy ground is even rock hard.
So the guide gave us some "fancy" plank-boards and we were ready to slide.
As the guide warned us about people losing phones here constantly, we didn't make any pictures while sand-boarding. But I can say - it was scary at first, but as long as you keep your elbows and feet up it is fine. The hardest part is to climb back to the huge dune. There was no wind so it was really hot there. You really feel like in a desert. Most of the people in our group, me included, did that only 3 times.
After that, we drove all the way back to the beach. Big was my surprise to see other tour guides waiting with a set table with our lunch - sandwiches, and drinks. We had food and water in our bags, but apparently, everything was well organized.
Next thing was kayaking with see through kayaks, so we could see the fish under the water. It took us some time to figure out how to synchronize the paddling. We really enjoyed the shipwrecks and finally could see them up close.
The last activity was snorkeling. I was so happy to keep it for last because not only it was winter so the water was a bit cold, but also it was the scariest for me.
I didn't have any experience with snorkeling before and I don't even like to dive or be under water. The only two reasons why I wanted to do this was - for new experience and to see the fish and corals.
Even with instructions, I felt really vulnerable and disoriented under the water. It wasn't crazy deep, but I still decided to wear a safety vest (also I didn't need to think about swimming because I was floating anyway. Ha ha!).
Although I couldn't stay underwater for more than a couple of seconds (because breathing only through mouth seemed very unnatural to me and I felt panicked), I still manage to see the nice corals and loads of fish. Thank God, no sharks!
This experience was really out of my comfort zone, but so worth it!
Overall I loved the whole experience and it was my best-spent money ever (~110 AUD not including the ferry)!
The bus took us home and we felt that every cell in our bodies was tired and our spirits filled with joy. What an amazing day!