Byline: Cristen Lynam
WE FELT as though our footprints were the first to leave their mark on the perfect white sand.
No one else was in sight as we splashed about in the shallows at Moreton Island's breathtaking North Point beach, with the kids' shrieks of sheer delight cutting across the waves.
This was just one of the highlights of our three-day trip to Moreton Island, and we still can't believe the July weather turned on its charm enough for us to enjoy a swim.
We had woken early to reach the Micat ferry terminal at the Port of Brisbane by 7.30am, which was quite a feat with our kids, aged 8 and 5, in tow.
But we knew it was going to be one of the better days as we looked across Moreton Bay with the water as smooth as glass.
As a family without a four-wheel drive, we had never considered the island as a holiday destination. But Moreton Island Adventures, which has been operating for about nine months, has changed all that for people like us.
Our capable off-road guide, Mac, was keen to share not only her red Jeep Wrangler with us, but also her extensive knowledge of the island.
The adventure began as we zoomed down the Micat ramp, straight on to the golden sands near The Wrecks on Moreton's western side. Cutting across the island, we headed to the pristine freshwater Blue Lagoon, which was too chilly for a complete dip but a great place for the kids to explore, ankle-deep.
We headed north to the historic Cape Moreton Lighthouse, where we spotted a few humpback whales cruising by, plus turtles and a couple of small sharks.
Built in 1857, the sandstone lighthouse was Queensland's first. The lighthouse keepers are long gone and the lighthouse operates automatically.
The next stop was North Point, where a swim proved impossible to resist.
We then explored the beautiful Honeymoon Bay, which tragically bore the brunt of the 2009 oil spill from container ship Pacific Adventurer. While the clean-up appears complete, a sign warning of possible dangers remains, as does a just-visible oil line high on the rocks.
We weren't dry for long when the nearby Champagne Rocks became the most amazing playground.
Waves crashed over a natural rock wall, creating huge bubble baths in the rock pools below. It was a delight to the senses and we frolicked there for quite some time.
On to Five Hills lookout, where a short walk up a sand path was rewarded with a spectacular view.
We headed back to the western side. Our acampa for the night was the eco village at Bulwer, which offers basic unit-style accommodation as an alternative to camping.
The eco village doesn't pretend to be fancy. …