There aren’t many no-go areas within the range of our boat-hires, but Kakadu Beach is most definitely one of them. Kakadu Beach is a roosting area for local and migratory wading-birds and is recognized as of national and international importance.
It is an artificially created roost, made in 2002 – and is an already well and truly established stopover for waders on their annual holiday from exotic places like Mongolia and Siberia. The birds like to leave their wintry homes after they have finished breeding and fly south for warmth and a good feed (much like Victorians do in the Australian winter!). Kakadu Beach is busiest during early spring and in late summer when up to 15,000 migratory birds are visiting, although, any time of year, you will still see a variety of local waders and seabirds.
The beach was developed as an alternative to one on Dux Creek (now Pacific Harbour canal), which was lost in the development of the housing estate. This is a great example of how developers could work together with conservationist groups (in this case – the Queensland Wader Study Group) to protect areas of vital importance to the survival of so much of our wildlife.
The Kakadu Beach roost is situated immediately north of the entrance into Pacific Harbour and is 200 m long, with fencing and planted mangroves at either end. A long lagoon behind the roost site helps to buffer the birds from disturbance. Hides are positioned at either end of the site. Actually, because the roost has been constructed of sand and is regularly groomed, to maintain its intended sandy character, it is a very attractive little stretch of beach. A small and quite insignificant sign in the water indicates that this is a no-access area but perhaps it needs to be much larger, as it is easily overlooked.
The birds which come to the Pumicestone Passage for their winter break, share their time between Kakadu Beach, Buckley’s Hole and Toorbul. Kakadu Beach’s special claim to fame is that it sits well above all of the high tides in the Passage. So, when Toorbul is flooded out by the summer-time high tides, the waders all flock to Kakadu Beach. This is great, because most of the day-time tides over the summer, when our avian visitors are here, are over the 2m mark, which means there are plenty of opportunities for bird-watching, from boat or from the bird-hides.
Kakadu Beach is a wonderful asset to Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage. It deserves protection and we should all be grateful that we have such important migratory roosts in our own neighbourhood. Just remember – Stay off the beach!
The Bribie Island Boat Charters map of the Pumicestone Passage, showing the Kakadu Beach no-anchor zone.
A booking deposit of $50 is usually required to confirm a hire. This deposit comes off the cost of hire on the day and is fully refundable in the event of bad weather. The deposit is most commonly paid with a card over the phone, although some people prefer to come and pay in person.
A security bond is required on the day of hire. Usually the security bond is $50 cash or a set of car keys. It is always a good idea to leave the keys as a bond, because we can keep them safe and dry in the office, so you know you can still drive yourself home at the end of the day!
No licence is needed for any of our boats except SNAPPER, our 60hp fishing boat.
All of our boats have shade covers but it is a good idea to bring (and to use!) sunscreen because the reflection off the water can burn you, even when you are under the shade.
We have very good BBQs on board our boats but sometimes the weather gets the better of us – if it is a little windy it is sometimes a good idea to bring some alfoil along. Putting some alfoil over the food as it is cooking on the BBQ helps hold in the heat and cooks your lunch (or brekky) much more quickly!
Sometimes it’s wise to have a plan B ready – it may not be too windy to go out on your boat but, if the wind is up a little, it just might be easier to bring sandwiches or other ready-to-eat food as well as (or instead of) the BBQ meat.
Alcohol is allowed on board our boats but always remember that the same laws apply on the water as on the road – the driver must be under 0.05.
If you are coming up from Brisbane, remember to allow plenty of travel time to get here before your hire. Sometimes the traffic is heavy on the northward run. It’s always better to arrive early rather than late – you could always have a cuppa or ice-cream at the marina while you wait.
What do you need to bring? –
Fishing gear (we have gear, if you need some)
Bring along whatever you’d need for a BBQ in the park, but don’t worry, if you forget anything, we’ll probably be able to help you out.
Swimming gear, sand toys (ask for our boarding ladder if you intend to swim) and whatever else you need for a great day out on the water!
Did you know?
The remnants of fish traps that were used by the local Aboriginal people can still be found at Toorbul Point. Not far from the large midden complex at Sandstone Point, you can see a continuous wall made of local rock which enclosed an area approximately 70m by 35m.
Studies by the University of Queensland found first-hand evidence of its use by Aboriginal people, as recently as the 1930s.
This part of the coast supported relatively high population densities of Aboriginal people up to the time of European settlement. As part of traditional life, there were occasional gatherings of large numbers of people around the Toorbul Point area and, in particular, at the huge midden complex at Sandstone Point. This site is the largest excavated shell midden in south-east Queensland, and has given great insight into past Aboriginal life. The Toorbul Point bora ground is also just 5km inland from the fish trap and other bora rings have been recorded on Bribie Island itself. People gathered in this area to visit relatives or hold ceremonies and made camp at Sandstone Point or on the banks of Ningi Creek.
Some of the group would travel to the Toorbul Point fish traps when they needed supplies of fish. They would spend a short time there, creating dinnertime camps, and then return to the main camp to share the fish they had trapped.
A local person provided first hand evidence to Queensland University about how Aborigines of the area used the Toorbul Point fish trap. He wrote:
For about ten years from the mid 1930s, Roland Birt was oysterman at Toorbul Point , a very big man who answered to the nick name of “clinker”; he and his brother, of similar size, were at one time stokers on the Koopa. Clinker’s wife (Ann) was an aboriginal from Moreton Island; she often referred to the area between Bulwer and Comboyuro (on Moreton Island) as “Gumpun”, we assumed this to be home ground.
Until recently the whole of Toorbul Point was owned by the Clark family, and extensive oyster leases were worked off the foreshore, where there was also a large native fish trap which the late Mr Colin Clark saw to it that this was well looked after and maintained. He also adopted the same attitude towards the bora rings complex on Toorbul in the bush about half way in from Cook’s Point.
Ann Birt was small, very active, born probably about 1880, quiet, almost retiring. During the Mullet and Tailor seasons, if a shoal was close in, Mrs Birt would row out, trailing a bunch of Bribie pine, torulosa she-oak and vanilla lily, this she maintained was necessary to attract the porpoises (dolphins), very doubtful, but occasionally they would follow the dinghy and frighten a portion of the shoal in to the trap . This exercise had to be performed on a falling tide; when it fully receded there would still be a couple of feet in the trap , with the top of the rock enclosure just awash, The fish were then easily caught with either scoop or cast nets.
The natives purpose of siting this trap in an oyster area was obviously to hold up bream & flathead between tides, both feed on young culture; with a seasonal school or two of mullet & tailor – with porpoise assistance – as a bonus.
Clinker Birt died of cancer in the late 1940s, and Mrs Birt lived at Kennigo St in the (Fortitude)Valley until her death a few years later .
“Old Salt” 26.5.1985
We often find our boaties have forgotten to bring “this or that”, when they turn up for their boat-hire. Never mind; Brendon and Robyn can usually find something to help them out. I thought I’d write up a list of the most commonly needed things:
Bits and pieces that can usually be borrowed from Bribie Island Boat Charters, when you hire a boat:
Hand-lines, basic tackle kit, landing net, bait board
Fish pliers, knives, hook removers, scalers, burley bucket
Crab-pot hooks, bait bags, floats
Boarding ladder, swim toys, sand toys, beach cricket set, water pistols
Bird books and fish charts
Rain-pants, jackets, wet-weather phone covers
Balloons, party streamers
Pretty much anything you’ve forgotten to bring and really need.
Things that you can hire:
Fishing rods: $5 each/day
Fish-finders: $10 each/day
Things you can buy:
Bait – good quality, frozen.
Ice – cheap, 5kg bags
Fishing tackle – a big range that covers all of your needs
Sunscreen, insect repellent (including fish-attracting insect-repellent!)
Thongs, hats, sunglasses and great wet-weather jackets at a very cheap price!
Gifts- come in and look at our range of books, mugs, stubby-holders, etc
As the waters of Pumicestone Passage warm up towards summer, there’ll be opportunities for fishing estuary cod and mangrove jacks, as well as some good flathead, in the creeks and around the mangroves and oyster leases. Ningi Creek is the first creek on the left (mainland) side as you travel north from Spinnaker Sound Marina. As you explore the mouth of this creek on a low tide you will soon realise why locals love this area so much, but be careful not to get stuck on any of the sandbanks! The entrance is marked by a yellow cross beacon 2km north of Spinnaker Sound Marina – you’ll find it on the Bribie Island Boat Charters’ chart. The mouth of Ningi Creek is a popular area for flathead, and also sand crabs through the summer months (any month that has an “r” in it, is the usual saying). Along the oyster leases in that area is also good for bream but be careful not to interfere with or damage the working oyster leases. The summer whiting also spend the warmer months in the Passage and up the creeks.
The deep water in the middle of the Passage between the mouth of Ningi Creek and the bridge holds lots of grassy sweetlip and Moses perch over the summer. The tidal run through there is strong, especially during December-early January, so you might have to fish on the drift. If you want to anchor, try to choose a period of time over the change of tide.
Just north-west of Pacific Harbour is the Avon Wreck, which is most visible on the lower part of the tides before it becomes submerged. It is home to some decent whiting and bream. Shag Island lies behind the wreck looking northward and the relatively deep water channel between them is known to hold good fish, although it can leave you in shallow water with no obvious exit if you don’t watch the tide.
Heading another 2km north of the Pacific Harbour entrance, on the Bribie side of the Pumicestone Passsage is White Patch. White Patch is nicely protected from northerlies and northeast/easterlies. Anchoring in towards Wright’s Creek will also offer shelter from the regular south-easterlies, but coming home to Spinnaker Sound Marina might be a little bumpy! This spot holds juvenile snapper, bream, flathead, occasional trevally and mulloway and sand crabs. The northern end of the White Patch gutter narrows and drops out quickly, so be careful of the tide, but there are good catches possible from this area.
The Pumicestone Passage’s mudflats and protected wetlands also support many species of wading birds. During summer, huge numbers of migratory birds use Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage as their nesting-place; others use the area as a resting-place on their migratory path. Be aware of the no-go zone known as Kakadu bird-roost, on the north side of Pacific Harbour and marked on the Bribie Island Boat Charters’ chart – we all need to help protect these birds after their long-haul flights from Siberia and other northern climes.
Any time, any tide, any season, there is something to find out in the Pumicestone Passage. The diversity of its fish species, as well as the dolphins, dugongs and turtles, birdlife and natural beauty make a day out in the Passage a very special experience.
The Pumicestone Passage is a long channel that runs between Bribie Island and the mainland. The winding and shallow waterways offer excellent fishing for flathead, bream, snapper, tusk-fish, flounder, mackerel and whiting, to name a few. It is fairly shallow, with sand and mud floor and a few structures favoured by fish. There are some patches of coffee rock, some mud-flats and as well as jetties, oyster banks and what’s left of the Avon wreck.
Pumicestone Passage has good protection from all but south-easterly winds. The south-easterlies can also be avoided by going into one of the creeks. To successfully fish the Passage, you need to know how to make the strong tidal currents work in your favour. Eddies on the edges of banks and ripples where a strong current changes depth are always worth investigating. You might also see fish jumping or splashing when no birds are around. The message is to keep a sharp lookout at all times (you might even get a bonus sighting of one of the resident dolphins, dugongs or sea turtles!)
Mulloway can be caught around the Bribie Island bridge, and grassy sweetlip in the deeper sections near the bridge. The bridge is a hot spot, although it is very hard to fish on a full flowing tide. Fish closer to the island or mainland when the tide is running fast and move into the middle of the bridge as it slows, adjusting the weight as needed. The pylons are covered in oysters, so be careful with your casts and use strong leader. Always be aware of the underwater cables that cross the Passage a little north and south of the bridge. They are signposted and also marked on the Bribie Island Boat Charters’ chart – avoid anchoring there or you will catch your anchor on the cable.
Fish are often attracted to the tidal eddies that form behind and in front of the bridge pylons and navigation markers, because they attract bait and offer shelter from the currents. Position the boat up current within a few metres of the structure, then drop lures from the rod to the bottom and wind them back to the surface or use weighted bait in short lobs.
Watching for birds is a great way to find schools of larger fish, like tailor, feeding on baitfish. Look for flocks of terns hovering over the water and frequently looking down or diving into the water. The birds are feeding on the baitfish, which have been forced to the surface, usually by tailor. You can often see the flash of tailor feeding under the surface.
Like most fishing spots, the Passage certainly has times of the year that fish better than others for different species. During the winter months the Passage harbours bream and winter whiting around the estuaries and shallows, tailor and some good snapper. Mangrove jack are also found in the creeks off the main passage. You will pick up a few flounder in the cooler months of the year as well, which should not be ignored, as they are an excellent eating fish.
The real snapper season in the Passage is from June to October. A lot of mainly undersize snapper live in the Passage all year round but in winter the bigger snapper move in and can make life much more interesting. One of the most popular snapper spots is just outside the Pacific Harbour canals, which sits on the Bribie side of the Passage, 4km north of Spinnaker Sound Marina. Situated at the mouth of Pacific Harbour is the famous area called The Ripples. Early in the morning, especially over the top of the tide, it is common to see locals anchor up around the Ripples. It is very easy to find when the tide is moving as the water takes on a rough surface appearance – look for the area of “corrugated” water, hence its name. It is here that snapper congregate over winter. Throwing a lure or bait in where you see them chasing baitfish up to the surface often results in a good hook-up.
Early spring sees good numbers of big flathead arrive to take up residence in the shallow sand flats. Look for the usual haunts of weed beds over sandy bottoms dropping into deeper moving water. Targeting whiting with worms or yabbies on the drift along the sand banks can yield a nice pile of these smaller fish. The Sylvan banks, on the Bribie side of the Passage just north of the bridge, are popular for whiting as well as flathead. With both of these species, it is a good idea to check the Bribie Island Boat Charters’ fish i.d. chart, because there are commonly two species of whiting and three of flathead in the Passage and they have different legal size limits. Drifting yabbies across the banks and gutters during the second half of the rising tide will often give you a few flathead and the odd bream.
Next month we’ll have a look at more fishing opportunities as the weather warms up.
Bongaree was an Aboriginal man from the Guringai tribe of the Broken Bay region of New South Wales, born around 1765. He acted as a guide, interpreter and good friend to Matthew Flinders, who spoke of Bongaree as having a “good disposition and manly conduct”. Their first voyage together, in the “Norfolk” in 1799, to chart the coast north from Sydney, was described in our last blog.
On their return to Sydney, Bongaree assisted Lieutenant Grant in exploring the Hunter River. In 1802 he again sailed with Captain Flinders in the famous circumnavigation of Australia, the first of his race to sail the entire coast of his ancestral land. His primary responsibility to the exploratory voyages was in making contact with other tribes, perceiving their intentions and gaining permission for his British friends to make landings. It was, at times, a hazardous job; Bongaree often had to strip naked and go unarmed, in order to reassure the local Aborigines of his peaceful intentions.
Bongaree was a remarkable man of his times; well respected by Aborigines, Whites and authorities. 173 cm tall, with a happy disposition, Captain Philip King wrote of Bongaree that he had “a sharp, intelligent and unassuming disposition”. Both Flinders and King commended his even temper and brave conduct..
King was impressed by Bongaree’s fishing ability, his bushcraft and skill in dealing with people and was grateful when the Aborigine again proffered his services in 1817, to help further investigate the coast north of Sydney through to north-western Australia.
After three more trips, with Captain King in the “Mermaid” and accompanying John Oxley’s ship the “Lady Nelson”, Bongaree retired from the sea in 1821, to take charge of a settlement of Aboriginal farmers at George’s Head, which Governor Macquarie had set up in 1815. Macquarie also bestowed Bongaree with a brass plate inscribed ‘Bungaree: Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe’. The agricultural venture failed, after which Governor Brisbane gave them a fishing boat and net, partly as reward to Bongaree for saving the life of a runaway convict.
Bongaree usually wore uniforms and a cocked hat, given to him by the various governors, as well as the sword presented to him by Governor Brisbane. Bongaree’s typical attire consisted of “a gold laced blue coat, with many epaulets, buttoned up close, to avoid the necessity of a shirt or waistcoat, and wearing a large varnished cocked hat, but neither shoes nor stockings”. He enjoyed copying the walk and mannerisms of governors and other important men and played to the local Sydney crowd, with his fine-tuned imitations and cheeky humour. He spoke English well. Although he had no tribal authority, his adaptation to the life of the settlement, talent for entertaining and high standing with officials established him as a leader among the Sydney Aborigines.
Bongaree was invited to spend his final years at Garden Island Naval Base and was paid a full man’s ration until his death in November, 1830. He was buried at Rose Bay.
Bongaree had several wives, some of whom had very unusual names. Cora Gooseberry was his principal wife and is the namesake of one of our 8-person BBQ Boats. Other 8-person BBQ Boats in our fleet which are also named after the wives of Bongaree are “Broomstick” and “Askabout”. The fourth 8-person BBQ Boat is named “Norfolk”, after the little vessel that took Bongaree on some of his first maritime adventures!
People often ask how our BBQ Boats were named –
We have 6 BBQ pontoon Boats and all of them have been named in honour of the story of the early European exploration of Moreton Bay, during which many of the natural features of the Pumicestone Passage were given their modern-day names.
Our 12-person BBQ Boats were named after the explorers, Flinders and Bongaree. Captain Matthew Flinders sailed from Sydney in the “Norfolk” in 1799. He was accompanied by Bongaree, an Aboriginal man from the Broken Bay region of New South Wales. Bongaree acted as guide, interpreter and good friend to Flinders. Coming through Moreton Bay, which Flinders described as “shallow, of little consequence but with very pretty islands”, the Norfolk drew up towards Bribie Island.
It anchored off shore from what is now Red Beach and a party, including Flinders and Bongaree, rowed into “Pumicestone Creek”. There the crew met members of the Joondabarrie tribe. Bongaree generally dressed in the cocked hat and full dress coat of naval uniform, but for this meeting he went naked, in order to reassure the local people. He stood alone on the beach and exchanged a “yarn belt” for a head-piece made of kangaroo hair. There was some misunderstanding between Flinders and a Joondabarrie man, so this first contact ended in hostility, causing Captain Flinders to name the sand spit “Point Skirmish”. (There is some contention to the exact location, and the western side of the southern tip of Bribie is now given this name)
Subsequently, a friendly relationship was established. The crew of the Norfolk camped at White Patch where they held an introduction ceremony and sing-along with the Joondabarrie people. The two groups taught each other new skills- the Joondabarrie were fine net-makers and fishermen, but had never made a woomera.
On their return to Sydney, Bongaree assisted Lieutenant Grant in exploring the Hunter River. In 1802 he sailed again with Captain Flinders in the famous circumnavigation of Australia, aboard the “Investigator”.
On a return trip to England, Flinders and Bongaree sailed as passengers on the sloop, “Porpoise”, taking the charts of Australia’s coastline to present to the King. The Porpoise ran aground on an island in the Great Barrier Reef, with more than eighty passengers. Flinders rigged a sail on a small boat and sailed back to Sydney for assistance. Bongaree stayed with the remaining party and was responsible for helping to feed them until the rescue vessels arrived.
After this, Flinders continued on his homeward voyage, aboard the “Cumberland“. This was the first vessel ever built in Australia but it wasn’t designed for long ocean voyages. The Cumberland was forced to stop for repairs at Mauritius, where Flinders was captured by the French (Britain was at war with France at the time). He was held prisoner on the island for 6½ years.
On his release, Flinders returned to England a very ill man and so remained there with his wife, writing “Voyage to Terra-Australis”, based on his charts, letters and papers. He lived on half-pay and died at the early age of 40 years.
The contribution of Flinders, with his friend Bongaree, to charting and understanding this new land, now known as Australia, was not recognised for a number of years. Flinders’ voyages were scientifically significant for the botanical and zoological studies undertaken, for his innovative work on navigational and cartographical problems as well as for his meticulous and detailed surveys of the entire coast of Australia.
North of the bridge, Pumicestone Passage extends about 30 kilometres to Caloundra. This magical place is a must for visitors to Bribie Island. Whether beside it or on it, you cannot fail to be impressed by the views the Passage affords. You can take a motor-boat up the channel, sail, kayak, or go on a cruise – all opportunities to take pleasure in one of the most picturesque bodies of water in Queensland. Fishing is great fun in the Passage and the variety is huge – flathead in the creeks, whiting on the sandbars, snapper under the bridge. Some say that keeping the fish ruins a good day’s fishing!
Being on the water gives you the best chance of spotting dolphins and sea-turtles. Both bottle-nose and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are common in Pumicestone Passage, often seen in groups, sometimes schooling fish together for a feast.
The green turtle is the one most often seen in the waters around Bribie Island.
If you spot a green turtle once, you may have to wait a while
to see it again – they usually surface every ten to thirty
minutes, but can stay under water for hours at a time!
The elusive dugong is listed as vulnerable to extinction, but there is a reasonably stable resident population in Moreton Bay Marine Park. The dugong is not everyone’s idea of beautiful, but sailors-of-old saw them as visions of mermaids. It is paler grey than a dolphin and has no dorsal fin; its upper lip is swollen and trunk-like (in fact its closest land cousin is the elephant!). This placid mammal feeds on the sea-grass beds of Pumicestone Passage. Sea-grass is precious to the dugong – so take care to avoid damaging it. More often than not, you first catch sight of a dugong out of the corner of your eye, and it is gone before you realise what you have just seen. Be patient; wait and look towards where he is heading – if you are lucky, a second sighting is your reward!
Banksia Beach and White Patch are great swimming spots; pull up in your boat and the kids can chase the soldier crabs along the sand. Further north are camp-sites along the shore; some, such as Mission Point, can only be reached by boat, but are worth the effort. Whether for a day or for a camping-trip, journeying up the Pumicestone Passage will become a lasting memory.
The distinctive Glasshouse Mountains in the distance provide a perfect backdrop to sunset, bringing to a close yet another wonderful day on the waters of Bribie Island.
From the beautiful ocean-side beach of Woorim, around the tip of Red Beach and north through the Pumicestone Passage, Bribie Island is all about water. This charming sand island is surrounded by the Moreton Bay Marine Park, home to some of the most fascinating sea animals in the world. Bribie Island also hosts plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation – in, on or near the water.
Woorim has the closest surf beach north of Brisbane and is patrolled by lifesavers in the summer months. Obtaining a permit allows four-wheel drive travel several kilometres north from Woorim along the sand, which stretches up to the tip of Bribie Island, overlooking Caloundra. Along the way, check out the gun-emplacement bunkers that operated as Brisbane’s defence against invasion in WW2.
Simply lounging on the ocean beach affords views of Moreton Island and the sand blows of Tangalooma. Not many minutes will go by before you see a container ship navigating the shipping channel that runs the length of the island and into the Port of Brisbane through Moreton Bay. Perhaps a pleasure boat will cruise past on its way to watch the humpback whales during their migration from the Antarctic summer feeding grounds to breed in the sheltered waters of the Barrier Reef. Closer in, you may be lucky enough to spot dolphins frolicking beyond the surf.
South of the surf club, the beach curves around Skirmish Point. Some say it was here that Matthew Flinders and his friend Bongaree first met Bribie’s Aboriginal people, but it is more rightly held to be the point where Flinders’ vessel, the “Norfolk”, anchored. From there the crew took a row-boat around Red Beach and into the Pumicestone Passage where an interesting visit took place on the shore where the village of Bongaree now sits. (Reading “Bribie the Legend”, by Warwick Outram, would make great holiday reading!)
Red Beach is at times bustling with activity, especially during the mullet season. At the right time of tide and day, in the right weather and with luck on their side, local commercial fishermen look from the beach for the dark shadow of a school of mullet . Boats drag haul-nets from the shore around the school to bring in the fish, which are sold as seafood and as bait for fishing and in crab-pots. The roe, or egg mass, of mullet is also a valuable export.
Buckley’s Hole Environmental Park is an artificial freshwater lake near South Point, which can be reached via the beach or along a track from the Boulevard. A quiet wait in the bird hide will usually be rewarded by sighting of local and visiting shorebirds- spoonbills and kites, honeyeaters and moorhens. Over 190 species of birds enjoy the sanctuary of Buckley’s Hole. (Getting hold of “Birds of the Pumicestone Passage and Environs”, by Beverly Durrant and Ian MacCrae will help you to identify and appreciate the wealth of bird-life you can see at Bribie Island)
Every trip to Bribie Island is blessed by the pelicans that grace our waters. Who doesn’t love to count them, sitting high on the lamp-posts, as we cross the bridge? The pelican’s clumsy gait and comical bill streamline into beauty when in flight. Pelicans breed inland and only venture to the coast when almost fully grown.
In Part 2 we will enjoy the delights of the Pumicestone Passage, north of the Bridge.