Moreton Island & Glow-worm Caves
In my last blog I talked about a rather strange discovery on my way in my campervan towards Brisbane. I directed myself towards Kilcoy and soon found myself in a quirky town home to the Aussie bigfoot also known as a Yowie! After unfortunately witnessing no bigfoot I continued on my journey towards Brisbane. My friend Taleen was arriving from California and we were going to spend the next couple weeks adventuring together.
Taleen and I met back in Shanghai during my first visit some years earlier after she walked up to me filming the bund hoping I would speak English. It turned out she was staying in the same hostel as me and we spent the evening chatting on the roof top bar. She was ready for another holiday from work and Australia was on her list. It just so happened she knew someone there! Landing in Brisbane she looked as shocked as I was to experience the heat as she walked outside. By then I laughed feeling more adapted with my dark tan and newly equipped in flip flops and shorts over the jeans and trainers I arrive in.
Over the couple weeks Taleen visited Australia we visited many places making a road trip in my campervan from Brisbane to Sydney but rather than writing about all the experiences and considering how far I am with my blog I will just mention a few of them! Starting in Brisbane we headed straight for Moreton island. I had already visited the island a month before and wanted to show someone round what ended up being my favourite spot during my time in Oz. Leaving the campervan behind we took a ferry across to the island watching dolphins off in the distance as we went. No signs of wales yet tho!
I must of looked ridiculous with all my bags, carrying a big backpack, a tent and all my diving gear. My fins, mask, wetsuit and everything else was draped across my shoulder dropping onto the floor constantly. Once we arrived the ferry landed in shallow waters and with a big thud the door was dropped onto the beach. Cars and people left but bearing in mind this was Aussie winter time there was only a few. All of them were headed to a resort at the other end of the island, driving along the beaches in their 4x4s.
Not really my style hotels I'll stick with the beach. A 5 minute walk from the boat was a beachside campsite behind some scrubs and bushes so we set up camp there. We had brought food to last a few days and what we thought was plenty of water. After setting up camp and tucking the food away in order to avoid the various creatures on the island we sat on the beach wondering what to do first. From the beach you can look out to the ocean beyond. 13 full size ships are submerged in the shallow waters teeming with corals and fish.
Grabbing the snorkelling gear and watching carefully for currents we paddled out to the furthest ship to our left. It's quite hard work to get out there but once you reach it there is an underwater world to explore with as much variety as I had experienced on the coral reef! It felt surreal ducking and diving through shipwrecks following large shoals of fish and witnessing turtles gliding through or gasping for breath! I have been to Moreton island a few times since and my new addiction was to get up at 5am just as the sun rose and head out to snorkel while no one was awake. All of the life was undisturbed and I had many moments alone out there I can never forget. It would be just me and the turtles.
We experienced loads of things while out on Moreton island, we snorkelled a lot, kayaked through the wrecks in glass bottom kayaks, trekked along the beach before running out of water with Taleen fainting and ate food while watching the sun set over the ocean. At night the stars would burn more brightly than you could ever experience on the mainland and one night sleeping on a blanket on the beach a huge 6-7 foot snakes slithered passed us as if it was all completely normal. We quickly remembered that Australia can be a dangerous place if you're not careful!
After our trip to Moreton island we headed to the glass house mountains driving through the stunning scenery of jagged peaks against blue sky. It would later be a place I was inspired to return to and climb some of the mountains. Here we came across a fascinating place by pure chance much in the way I love to adventure! Without planning or expectations you can be free to discover things without time pressure. Driving along a mountain road we stumbled across a winery and with it glow worm caves.
Now as glow worm caves go they are very rare and over the years with the amount of people visiting them there has been a rapid decline in numbers. Killed through human traffic, whether that be noise, breath or other causes. In hopes of increasing their numbers once again some places like the one we were visiting are man made caves where they can control the conditions. Allowing people to see the wonder of glow worms without harming them in the wilds. We came into the first room of the artificial cave which was extremely dark. The red lights were very dim to allow us to adjust to the darkness we would be going into.
We watched a video before going in talking about the glow worms and although my heart ached a little at feeling touristy I got over that and rather enjoyed learning about them. The colony they have here has grown in size every year and with time they can take large groups and reintroduce them into the wild. As a group the door in front of us was opened into a pitch black chamber with an immense blue glow emanating from the walls. The glow worms were glowing in a way I could never have imagined. It was like witnessing the night sky from another planet. The blue glow had a feel of fantasy surrounding it.
In fact the night sky feeling is exactly the idea! Insects inside a cave look for lights to guide them out into the open air. With glow worms mimicking the night sky insects fly towards the starts only to be trapped and eaten. We soon learned that some parts of the cave were still pitch black due to being the area of the cave that had been fed most recently. We chatted lots about glow worms and witnessing the glow was something that will always stay with me.
Leaving the glow worm cave we chatted to a guy with a huge net by a lake hoping to catch the glow worm's dinner before getting back on the road. Next on our list was Australia zoo a strange shrine in homage to Steve Irwin but nonetheless full of some wonderful animals. All in need of care or being rescued. Zoos are something we find ourselves at a moral crossroads with but here seemed to have the right philosophy.
We experienced place after place on this trip really packing some good stuff in! I was in Australia for a whole year but it was a whistle-stop tour for Taleen. We continued down the coast to Sydney, did a lot of drinking and she took the flight back home. Just before leaving we visited another hugely eye opening place for me. At the nautical museum in Sydney we went to two exhibitions. Once on James Cameron and one on Bligh. Two massive figures I knew little about. The James Cameron exhibit was fascinating with displays on his dive trips around the world including the discovery and exploration of the Titanic before making his movie about it.
There was props from the movie along with video from the real ship as inspiration for the film. I also learned of his other adventures including being the second person ever to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench solo in a vessel of his own design. Fun fact for you! As a child James made a makeshift submarine and sent his hamster down to the bottom of the ocean. Which luckily survived.
Finally the Bligh exhibition. Sydney was voting whether he was a villain of a hero and here I was learning about this feat of sailing and navigation for the first time. It went on to inspire me greatly through challenges of my own, reading many history books on the mutiny on the Bounty and watching Ant Middleton recreate the journey in the TV show mutiny. As fascinating as it all was it was time for me to head onto the next part of my journey but more on that next time...
In my next blog I will talk about my time doing farm work in Australia! It was 2 months in the end and have lots of stories to share. As always there isn't time for all of them put I'll see what I can cram in!