Thursday, 21 November 2013

Moreton Island fatbiking and fatpack - day 1

A mate (Wayne) and I planned a fatbiking trip to Moreton Island over Friday and Saturday, bikepack for the night...somewhere. Wayne had just picked up his new Moonlander and was keen for a trip, it was a fat virgin bikepacking trip for him.

Regular readers of this blog will recall the weeklong trip here, as well as day trips here with video.

We caught the Micat over, no issue fitting us on the barge, even with it at capacity with vehicles.

Was a bluebird day, the bay was a millpond.

It was officially 'Steve Irwin Day', I don't know if Wayne knew this, but he dressed the part. :)

Along the way north I paused a few times to check out the official campsites, with million dollar views west over the bay. I could never grow tired of that sparkling, emerald green ocean.

Apart from the odd vehicle, we had the beach to ourselves.

Heading north we kept passing a group of people we spoke to on the ferry. Wayne noted in their vehicle there were 5 blokes, a few cartons, but only 1 fishing rod. They had air conditioning, but I reckon we had the best view.

Our loose plan for today was to head north, then east, south, west, south again, and lastly east for about 10 metres. The only two reference points that mattered today were tide and sunset; as we meandered along the deserted west beach we both felt it - that melting away of everyday stresses - replaced by a relaxed and uncluttered state of mind. 

We stopped at Bulwer for a quick supply stop. Salt and vinegar chips for the sunset swim and entrĂ©e. The store is pretty well stocked and provides hot and cold meals - I've had the big brekky on previous trips and can vouch for the satiety afterwards.

We found a short segment of singletrack back to the beach, I spotted 2 Bush Stone Curlews parked up for the day, with one on the ground just out of frame. Traditional stories of the Curlew tell of them keeping bad spirits away, and bringing good luck and health.

 From here we rounded Comboyuro point and over Heath Island - which is an ever changing series of dunes and tidal/fresh water runoff lagoons, and past the towering Yellow Patch. I spotted many pairs of pied oyster catchers, sea eagles, terns and heard the trill call of whistling kites.

We made our way to North point, overlooking Honeymoon Bay. Time for a bit of smoko.

On bikepacking trips, food is fuel...but food for the mind, the body, or both? This was a laid back trip, so my food profile reflected this with time allocated to prepare, cook and enjoy... pfft yeah right. I'm a real Gordon Ramsay. So, I present couscous with noodle sachet and a piece of fruit cake. For the gear junkies - I'm using a Kovea Titanium stove and a 600mL Gram Counter ti pot set that allows the larger 230g gas canister, stove, cup and condiments baggy to nest neatly.

We watched the storms brewing over the mainland for a while - the cumulo-nimbus rising into giant anvils in the sky - we then headed along an inland track to the lighthouse. These tracks are a real mixture of textures - sometimes bottomless hot sand, sometimes bound together with woodchip, or firm due to sandstone base.

We headed up to the lighthouse, I portaged the bike up the stairs for this shot. I hope you appreciate it. A loaded Moonlander is not light...

 With the wind at our backs, it was a cruisy trip south to our next destination - Blue Lagoon.

A great location to refill the water bottles, a quick wash and just soak up the atmosphere. Blue Lagoon is a freshwater window lake - meaning the water table is exposed at land surface.The birdlife here is something to appreciate - with an abundance of fresh water, the plants are varied, providing for a broad ecosystem to flourish.

Middle Rd was our next obstacle - this road crosses the island in an east/west direction. Normally this is unrideable on the ascent, but the combination of recent rains and firm packed sand (the rangers regularly grade the trail to keep it trafficable for vehicles - this also aerates the sand, dries it out and removes organic matter that helps bind it together - and makes it a lot harder to ride on) made it fully rideable - first time ever for me as I've always had to walk the ascent.

The fast descent winds through cuttings of coloured sands and thickets of scented eucalypt - your senses are assaulted from many angles.

Back on the west coast, the extent of the storms on the mainland were revealed. We would be in for a good light show tonight.

We bivvied a few km south of Tangalooma at one of the bush camps. A quick rinse off in the water at sunset was a great time to reflect on the days' journey, and talk bloke stuff.

In the words of Bill Merchant 'never go to bed depleted'. Today wasn't a big day on the bike, but it was nice to have the time to create a wide range of food to enjoy - which you ordinarily don't have time for on ultra-rides. Dinner: bacon carbonara macaroni with lemongrass tuna; chicken noodle soup with with pre-made vegemite sandwich; salt and vinegar chips; muesli bar and fruitcake slab; and the pet monkey slipped in a Bounty bar for dessert - she says they're her favourite!

I had a bandicoot visit during dinner, and this big guy watched over my bike and gear as I slept.


  1. Hey Troy,

    I've been checking on your blog for some times now, fancying investing into a fat bike myself for Brisbane w/e out bike-packing excursion. Just wondering: any particular reason why you only used your Witjira in the snow? Are you sticking to the Moony because of the IGH you installed on it or are there other reasons that keeps you away from the otherwise much lighter bike?


    the G.entlemad ridah

    1. Hi G, good question. Yep, the Moonlander is my go-to sand bike, the drivetrain is being refined further for this purpose. The witjira is tailored more for the snow and local singletrack, with more expensive drivetrain components. Haha, lightweight and expedition fatbike are at two opposite ends of the spectrum. I'm glad you find the blog interesting, I'm hoping to illustrate the great places to take a fatbike to make it easier to justify the purchase. Come for a chat at the shop. Troy.