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Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area

© MJL Photography

Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area

Experience spectacular beaches, secluded camp sites and picnic areas, great boating, fishing and birdwatching opportunities, close to Brisbane.

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Stop for a picnic at Fort Bribie day-use area.
Stop for a picnic at Fort Bribie day-use area. © Queensland Government
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Park Bribie
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Simply pack the 4WD, drive out of the city and over the bridge to an island of adventure. At Bribie Island you will find your perfect camp site surrounded by wind-swept dunes or favourite picnic spot with an amazing scenic backdrop. Visit for a day, weekend or longer stay and make the most of your island adventure.

Explore the island on foot or by 4WD. Discover wallum heathlands, paperbark wetlands and seasonal wildflowers on the Bicentennial bushwalks. Cruise in your 4WD along vast stretches of coastline and explore the scenic landscapes on the island's inland tracks.

Set up a picnic at one of several day-use areas that offer backdrops of stunning coastal views, dugong and turtles feeding just offshore, or nearby World War II heritage sites. Explore the sheltered waters and tidal wetlands of Pumicestone Passage, part of Moreton Bay Marine Park, by boat, canoe or kayak. If fishing is your passion, cast in a line and try your luck.

Feast your eyes on spectacular displays of native wildflowers in the heaths during spring. Bring your binoculars in summer when up to 15,000 migratory shorebirds arrive on the island. After all that fun, fall asleep in your tent to the gentle murmur of the ocean in one of the island's camping areas.

Keep discovering

Top things to see and do

The camping area is large and grassy, with plenty of shade.

Bribie's camping areas

See Bribie's camping areas.

Explore sandy beaches, white dunes, cool creeks and serene lagoons.

Bribie's journeys

See Bribie's walks and drives.

Enjoy a picnic and barbecue beside Pumicestone Passage with views of the Glass House Mountains.

Bribie's attractions

See Bribie's day-use areas.

Getting there and getting around

Getting there

Bribie Island is just offshore from the Sunshine Coast, 65km north of Brisbane and 70km south of Caloundra. You can get to the island via a road bridge from the Caboolture turn-off on the Bruce Highway, or by boat from the nearby mainland.

Getting around

Some areas within the park are accessible only by boat and others only by high-clearance 4WD. There is limited access for conventional vehicles.

4WD access

  • You need a high-clearance 4WD with low range capability for driving through the Bribie Island Recreation Area, including driving on Ocean Beach. There are some sections of deep soft sand on the beaches and tracks.
  • You can enter the recreation area from the northern end of White Patch Esplanade or from the Eighth Avenue car park off North Street, Woorim.
  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.
  • A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.
  • If you book online or over the phone, collect your vehicle access permit from the information shelters at the entrances to the park.

Speed limits

Conventional vehicle access

  • Sealed roads suitable for conventional vehicles provide access to the Bicentennial bushwalks that begin near the Community Arts Centre on Sunderland Drive.
  • You don't need a vehicle access permit for areas accessible by sealed road.

Boat access

  • Boats can be launched on Bribie Island at Bongaree and Bellara, and on the mainland at Sandstone Point, Toorbul, Donnybrook, Coochin Creek, Bells Creek and Golden Beach boat ramps.
  • When boating over seagrass beds in Pumicestone Passage, do your best to minimise impacts on dugongs. Take it easy and observe the go slow areas (PDF, 788.9KB) .
  • Mission Point, Lime Pocket and Lion's Park are accessible only by boat.
  • Mission Point camping area and Lime Pocket camping area have relatively protected boat anchorages.
  • Read boat and fish with care for tips on boating and fishing safety and caring for parks.

Road conditions

  • Driving on the island involves driving on the beach and on sand tracks.
  • Beach conditions are unpredictable and change daily.
  • Areas near the lagoons can be particularly hazardous in summer. During heavy periods of rain, the lagoons overflow and create creeks across the beach. The drop-off into these creeks can be deep.
  • The 4WD tracks may be closed during severe weather, planned burns, logging operations and wildfires.
  • Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Fuel and supplies

You can get fuel and supplies at several locations on Bribie Island.

  • For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Camping

Choose from a variety of coastal camping experiences. Some are accessible by high-clearance 4WD and others by boat. Facilities vary and can include toilets, portable toilet waste facilities, showers, fire rings, picnic tables and taps.

See camping areas

Other accommodation

Walking

A variety of walking options explore Bribie Island's natural diversity and heritage. Enjoy easy strolls with great opportunities for birdwatching and photography or take longer walks along scenic beaches.

Map of walking tracks

Picnicking

Relax with a picnic on a secluded section of beach or enjoy the facilities at picnic areas on the sheltered western side of the island.

Viewing wildlife

Bribie Island offers excellent opportunities to see wildlife.

  • Along the Bicentennial bushwalks, you pass through a variety of plant communities and can birdwatch and take photographs along the way.
  • Watch shorebirds on the extensive tidal flats near Mission Point day-use area and Poverty Creek day-use area.
  • Birdwatchers will enjoy the bird hide at the nearby Buckleys Hole Conservation Park where over 190 different bird species have been recorded. Access is via the stairs at the end of The Boulevard in Bongaree.
  • Read more about the wildlife in this park.

Cultural and historic sites

Bribie Island's interesting cultural heritage includes significant Aboriginal cultural sites and remnants from WWII.

  • Shell middens and other evidence of Aboriginal people's traditional use of the area can be seen across the island.
  • See the remnants of a World War II coastal defence system near Fort Bribie day-use area.
  • These sites are easily damaged and are irreplaceable. Look at them, enjoy them, but please do not touch or damage them.

  • Read more about the park's cultural history.

Four-wheel driving and scenic driving

Scenic four-wheel driving and driving

Several 4WD tracks provide access to camping and day-use areas as well as points of interest on the island.

Map of four-wheel drives

Canoeing and kayaking

The sheltered western side of the island, in Pumicestone Passage, is popular with kayakers and canoers.

Swimming

We don't recommend swimming outside of unpatrolled beaches at Bribie Island as there may be dangerous rips in the area. If you choose to swim or snorkel at an unpatrolled beach, you need to take great care—you are entering the water at your own risk.

  • The beach at the township of Woorim is patrolled. Check local signs for patrol times and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Avoid swimming (and avoid contact with debris on the beach) during algal blooms, which occur usually from late spring to mid-autumn. A bloom of the naturally-occurring toxic blue-green algae, Lyngbya, results in large floating mats of algae and an accumulation of toxic material on beaches. Contact with Lyngbya can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation.
  • Read more about swimming with care in this park.

Fishing

Pumicestone Passage's extensive tidal wetlands are essential breeding areas for many fish, crabs and prawns. During winter the passage between Bells Creek and Caloundra Bar is one of South East Queensland's principal spawning areas for yellowfin bream. Flathead, bream, whiting, tailor and mangrove jack are often caught around Bribie Island. Many people catch sand and mud crabs during the summer months.

Boating

Pumicestone Passage is a very popular place for boating and other water-based activities.

When to visit

Opening hours

Bribie Island National Park and Recreation Area is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Climate and weather

Bribie Island has a mild, subtropical climate. The average daily temperature range is 22–30°C in summer and 12–22°C in winter.

Permits and fees

Vehicle permits

You don't need a vehicle access permit for driving on the island's sealed roads but if you're travelling through the recreation area and on the beaches you do need a permit.

  • A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.
  • If you can’t book online, book over the counter or at a self-service kiosk.

  • If you book online or over the phone, collect your vehicle access permit and camping permit from the information shelters at the entrances to the park.

Camping permits

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding, fun run or adventure training, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

Unreliable. Check with your service provider for more information.

Tourism information

Brochure

Download this brochure and take it with you:

  • Bribie Island Discovery Guide

Information provided in this guide is correct at the time of printing. Check park alerts for the latest details.

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.
  • Read stay safe and visit with care for important general information about safety, caring for parks and essentials to bring when you visit Queensland’s national parks.

Camping

  • Bring extra tarpaulins to protect tents and vehicles from flying-fox droppings—you may share the island with foraging flying-foxes at certain times of the year.
  • Use designated camp sites only, keeping your tent well clear of vegetation. Don't set up camp on the beach foredunes, northern spit or on nearby islands within the marine park.
  • Remember the insect repellent to avoid mosquito and sandfly bites.
  • Read camp with care for tips on camping safely and camping softly.

Drinking water

  • There is no drinking water provided throughout the park.
  • There are taps at all of the camping areas supplying water suitable for cleaning, except Gallagher Point and Lime Pocket. There are also taps at Lighthouse Reach and Fort Bribie day-use areas. Treat all water before use.

  • Treat all water before use.
  • We recommend you bring enough water with you for the duration of your visit.

Open fires

Rubbish

  • There are no bins. Take your rubbish with you when you leave.

Dump point

Walking

Driving

  • A 4WD or 6WD vehicle is required to traverse the recreation area.
  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • Stay on tracks and off the dunes. Foredunes are important habitat for wildlife.
  • On Ocean Beach, travel as close to low tide as possible as this is when driving conditions are the safest. The best time to travel is 2hrs either side of low tide.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.
  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Boating and fishing

  • The waters surrounding the island, including Pumicestone Passage, are part of the Moreton Bay Marine Park.
  • If you're heading out on the water make sure you know your zones so you can follow the rules.
  • When boating, observe the go slow areas over seagrass beds—dugongs feed here.
  • Fisheries regulations apply. You can obtain information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures from Fisheries Queensland.
  • Read boat and fish with care for tips on boating and fishing safety and caring for parks.

Around water

  • We don't recommend swimming outside of unpatrolled beaches at Bribie Island as there may be dangerous rips and currents in the area. If you choose to swim or snorkel at an unpatrolled beach, you need to take great care—you are entering the water at your own risk.
  • When on the beach keep watch for 4WD vehicles—often the sound of the surf makes it difficult to hear approaching vehicles.
  • Avoid swimming (and avoid contact with debris on the beach) during algal blooms, which occur usually from late spring to mid-autumn. A bloom of the naturally-occurring toxic blue-green algae, Lyngbya, results in large floating mats of algae and an accumulation of toxic material on beaches. Contact with Lyngbya can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Natural environment

On the foredunes you'll find communities of coastal sheoaks Casuarina equisetifolia var. incana, acacias, banksias Banksia integrifolia and beach spinifex Spinifex sericeus. These communities stabilise the dune system by trapping sand and reducing erosion.

Picturesque lagoons just behind the ocean beach provide an ideal setting to relax in a coastal environment. With summer rainfall, the lagoons can break out onto the beach and into the ocean.

Extensive tidal wetlands and waters around Bribie Island are protected as part of Moreton Bay Marine Park. Fish, crabs and prawns breed in Pumicestone Passage and dugong feed on its seagrass communities.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 migratory shorebirds visit this area in the summer months. Bribie Island's wetland resources are essential for their survival. The birds rest and refuel, feeding on yabbies, worms, pipis and other small animals. Around April they leave again, flying thousands of kilometres to breeding areas in Alaska, China and Siberia. In addition, the Caloundra Sandbanks area, just to the north, hosts up to 40,000 terns during their northern migration in autumn.

Birds of prey are often seen along the coastline and include sea eagles, brahminy kites and whistling kites. The 'flap-flap-flap-glide' motion is typical of the osprey as it soars effortlessly in the sky.

  • Request a species list to see what plants and animals have been recorded here.

Culture and history

Aboriginal culture

Culturally significant sites, including large shell middens, demonstrate continual use of this coastal area over thousands of years.

Living a traditional lifestyle, families journeyed throughout the land, staying for varying periods of time on the northern sections of the island and on what is now the western coastline. They favoured the northern areas close to the river with access to a wide diversity of resources—marine, estuarine, wetland and freshwater. Cypress pine forests growing there provided good protection.

As the seasons changed, family groups moved to where resources were available. When cyclones occurred, people moved away from the coast along the rivers and streams. Families took different routes along the way to gather materials for their lifestyle.

Each person had their own distinctive call by which they were recognised. People called to one another through the bush. Carved message sticks carried by a messenger and smoke signals were used to send messages to distant families.

A meeting place

Pumicestone Passage's rich seafood resources were shared with other groups of people as they travelled to attend the Bonyee Bunya festival in the mountain ranges. Gubbi Gubbi people and neighbouring Wakka Wakka people hosted the festival every three years when the bunya nut crop peaked.

Visiting groups camped along the old coastal dunes from Sandstone Point south to Caboolture River. Extensive shell middens from these camps were collected and processed for use as brick mortar in Brisbane's early buildings. A rich archaeological record of stone tools from distant regions has been found in the middens.

On the menu

As with high quality restaurants today, the menu of the day consisted of foods that were seasonally available. From extensive intertidal mudflats, people harvested oysters, cockles, mudwhelks, ribbed ceriths, hairy mussels and eugaries (pipis). On the water, fish, turtles and dugong were caught using nets and spears.

Women frequently prepared string for weaving fishing nets. Men prepared spears and boomerangs from various types of hard timbers, then 'fired' them to harden them. Canoes were made for water travel from stringybark, tallowwood and other tree bark. The bark was slowly prised from the tree when the sap was running to avoid cracking and splitting from lack of moisture. It was then smoked and treated, the sides were curled up and the ends sealed with clay to make it watertight. Vines were used to strengthen the canoe and cross pieces inserted to prevent shrinkage. Melaleuca saplings and vines were used to make rafts for travelling short distances.

Various birds and their eggs were eaten. Small groups worked together to flush quail into the open where they knocked them down with small waddies (clubs). They hunted brush turkeys and raided their nests for eggs. Small hawk-like boomerangs were thrown to frighten ducks into nets placed across lagoons. A similar method was used to capture parrots and cockatoos.

Kangaroos, wallabies and other small marsupials were skillfully hunted into mesh nets, which were about 1.2m high with 50–60 mm mesh.

Controlled fire was a tool used to maintain open spaces with grass regrowth, to attract marsupials for easier capture. Flying-foxes were knocked down while roosting during the day. Snakes and goannas were eaten and goanna fat was saved for skin decoration.

Bungwall fern Blechnum indicum from melaleuca wetlands was the staple plant food. Women and children dug up large quantities of fern rhizomes (roots) and prepared them by lightly roasting and pounding. Roasted fern was eaten with meat or fish or on its own, somewhat like bread. Many other plants were eaten, including roots from freshwater bulrush Typha spp., which were chewed raw until only the fibre remained. Yams Dioscoria transversa were dug from up to one metre underground and roasted. The hearts of cabbage palms were eaten raw. Honey was collected from the native beehives.

When traditional Gubbi Gubbi people hunted here just over 200 years ago, the winter runs of sea mullet and bream were thick enough to colour the water. The catch was so plentiful that excess fish were preserved for future eating. People wrapped the fish in plant twine to keep the flies off and hung them in dilly bags in the trees. Gubbi Gubbi people knew about the importance of ecological sustainability and had laws prohibiting the taking of undersized fish or animals that were breeding, rearing young or carrying eggs. They hope people will continue this practice by following laws designed to protect natural resources today.

Help ensure that this popular fishing place is available for many generations to come. Catch only what you need and return undersize or breeding animals to the water.

History

Europeans arrive

In the early 1860s the traditional Indigenous Australian way of life changed forever with the arrival of pastoralists and timber-getters.

Queensland's first Aboriginal Reserve was located on Bribie Island, near White Patch in 1877. Elderly people and those who did some work were given sugar and one pint (about 2 cups) of flour each day. When fish were in short supply they were given more flour.

Later, many people were moved from their traditional land to reserves including Durundur, Monkey Bong Creek and Barambah (Cherbourg). Some stayed on Bribie Island, found occasional work and adapted to a new lifestyle.

Today, many Indigenous Australian people maintain strong spiritual and cultural links with their traditional land. They work together with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to share their knowledge and culture to help protect this region.

Before the war

Long before guns guarded the coast from ships, a lighthouse guided ships along the coast. Just 50m from where you are standing, beyond the sand hill, it beamed its warning for 56 years until 1952 when the light was removed. A second lighthouse was located 750m to the west near Lighthouse Reach—its concrete base remains.

Remnants of World War II

As war clouds gathered in 1940, Australia came under threat from Japanese invasion from the sea. Large ships heading for the Port of Brisbane have to travel through the north-west shipping channel that runs very close to Bribie Island, because Moreton Bay's shallow waters are scattered with small islands, banks and sandbars. Behind the foredunes on Bribie Island's east coast was an excellent site to hide the big six inch guns of the Heavy Coastal Artillery Battery. Here they were ready and within range to fire on any enemy ship in the channel. Weathered gun emplacements, mine control huts, and searchlight buildings that are characteristic of the six inch gun batteries used to defend Queensland's coastline and Brisbane can be found along Ocean Beach. They are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and managed to conserve this cultural heritage.

During World War II, Fort Bribie was strategically located near Bribie Island's northern tip to secure the passage south. Moreton Bay's shallow waters are scattered with small islands, banks and sandbars, so large ships are limited to the main north-west shipping channel that runs close to shore near Bribie Island. To further increase defence capabilities, the Skirmish six inch battery was established near Woorim in 1942.

Shifting sand has left the northern searchlight and other structures exposed on the beach. Harsh weathering conditions have reduced the stability of these structures. When visiting these sites, obey signs and view the structures from a distance. Do not climb over structures, as they may collapse.

Last updated: 03 October 2018
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