For those who love boating, fishing, bird watching, have a need to 'unwind' and a quiet place to stay on the water consider a trip to Macleay Island, one of the most beautiful Bay Islands, just 15 minutes by fast passenger ferry off Redland Bay, which is only 50 minutes drive from Brisbane.
Dolphins frolic in the water, dugongs are seen often and huge turtles are always spotted by canoe paddlers off-shore.
Macleay Island is accessed easily via the Bay Islands Transit - fast catamarans from Redland Bay, the ferry trip goes two ways. The 15 minute trip takes you to Karragarra Island with its calm water, white sand beach and then to Macleay Island. The longer (scenic) 35 minute trip goes past Russell Island, then Lamb Island and to Macleay. These services are integrated into the Brisbane Translink system and the public transport Go Cards discounts apply. You can also bring your vehicle over via the Stradbroke Ferries Vehicular Barges operating at least 6 times daily. This trip in the convenient comfort of your car takes around 45 minutes. Book online with them for the best prices. These barges also depart from Redland Bay. There is no island public transport. The only taxi service is expensive and times are limited.
There's so much to do even on a day trip, visit Dalpura Bay and beach, safe swimming for young families, fishing, kayaking and just sitting watching the boats go by. With views to Coochie Mudlo Island, the Port of Brisbane and the ferries going to and from Stradbroke Island. It has picnic facilities, boat ramp, toilets etc. Pat's Park at the northern most part of the island also has picnic facilities, toilets, bbq's, children’s play equipment, a safe netted swimming area, the best views over to North Stradbroke Island and up to Moreton Island. Fishing is good here too. Be aware of tide times for as in all of Moreton Bay tidal ebbs expose the mudflats for up to 50 metres of so. However, this provides opportunities for observing the waders and other sea birds to forage. There are no shops on this part of the island so take a picnic lunch or a cook a BBQ.
The birdlife is astounding and relatively unafraid - the islands boast over 300 different species! Bush Thick Knees, or, Curlews are everywhere. They are so friendly and inquisitive, a sight to be seen. Especially when they stand still just like statues. So funny.
If visitors want to buy a seafood lunch or dinner, try the seafood shop at Emerald Island shops in the centre of the island. Also there is a very nice alfresco Cafe with coffees and meals served up to 3.30pm most days.
There's good food at the Bistro restaurants of the Macleay Island Golf Club, or Club Macleay (formerly the Bowls Club) the latter being right on the water with the best views forever! These Bistros have really good food and drinks at reasonable prices. If you like golf or bowls, just enquire at the clubs. Rustic Pub Paradise (a misnomer) provides very good meals at very cheap prices too. All the Clubs have pokies and entertainment at night-time and free courtesy buses which pick up at the ferry terminal on the Island or visitor accommodation and will drop visitors back. However, be aware that these clubs all close their bistros on Sunday afternoon through to Tuesday night. This is when the Fish and Chip shop, Pizza Parlour deliveries and Spa supermarket takeaway Roast Dinners are a God-send.
At 6pm, first Fridays in the month, the islands Tingira Boat Club members throw open their doors to the public and serve excellent fish dinners for a ridiculous price - but be in quick! Every year they also host an Oysters and Jazz Festival and national Around the Island Canoe Race which often co-incides with other island Festival activities. (Fresh Moreton Bay Oysters are farmed on North Stradbroke Island across the water and several of the bay's fishermen also live on Macleay).
There is an excellent Art Gallery and Pottery complex next to the Boat Club, 2 supermarkets, Pub Paradise near the ferry terminal, Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacy, Vet, Video shop, Butcher, the best Pizza shop who even deliver, and various other speciality shops, markets, large community hall, library, hardware and landscaping, a childcare centre, skate park, boat repairs and boat hire, real estate agents, hairdressers, a police station and much more. Sometimes there are markets on the island or neighbouring islands. Travel on the frequent passenger ferries between all the islands is free.
An island welcome notice used to proudly proclaim "Turn back the clock 25 years"! Visitors comment on Macleay Island being like some of the Australian coastal communities were like then - quaint, uncrowded, tall trees and bush, so many birds, good fishing and crabbing, beautiful vistas, little traffic and so safe and peaceful! Even children can 'free-range' as in yesteryear. Macleay Island has a very close and real sense of community.
Visitors will love Macleay if they like quiet places and a natural Australian environment, but hate it if they yearn for a Gold Coast type of resort and shopping! They should not consider shopping on their Macleay itinerary... Gold Coasters come here to relax!
There's plenty of accommodation at reasonable prices e.g. houses on the beach, B&B's, but no camping yet, although special camping areas for canoeists are to be developed soon. Enquire at the Boathouse B&B, Yarrandabbi Dreaming B&B and holiday home, Curious Cottages and Sunset Waters for accommodation.
Enjoy your stay at this hidden gem. Please respect the environment and don't throw plastic bags, cigarette butts or other rubbish in the water, the dugongs and sea turtles think this is food, and eventually could kill precious marine life