Tag Archives: moreton bay

Paddling Moreton Bay

I love to paddle

I love to paddle

Today was the final day of our Easter long weekend so my parents, best friend and I borrowed some kayaks and hit the water. Despite living so close to the bay, we’ve only explored it by kayak a few times by paddling around Coochiemudlo Island. So it was a real treat to get out today with my parents’ friends’ kayaks for a full day of exploration.

Getting ready to set off

Getting ready to set off

We set off from the Cabbage Tree Point boat ramp in the mid-morning. Like most of the coastline around Brisbane, the beach at Cabbage Tree Point is muddy and shallow. My parents loaded their cargo into the hull of their kayak while I strapped ours into dry bags in the back of the deck. It’s cooling down and the skies were overcast so I packed a waterproof jacket and pants, lightweight fleece jumper and windproof vest. Fortunately, I didn’t need them. I also packed food, billy and hiking gas stove. The extra water bottle in the photo was water so that I could boil Dad a cup of coffee (just instant) while out because I knew he’d like that.

Our route

Our route – Blue = before morning tea. Black = before lunch. Red = final leg

We didn’t have a set route in mind when we set off. We just decided to aim across the main channel and duck into the shallow water between the islands to see where we ended up. As it turned out, we spent most of our day in no more than 2 foot of water exploring waterways inaccessible by conventional boats.

My parents paddling

My parents paddling

For the first leg of our route we paddled across the main channel from Cabbage Tree Point. The water was relatively calm so the paddling was easy on brown mud-coloured water with the mountains on Stradbroke Island visible in the distance.

Kayaks on unnamed island

Kayaks on unnamed island

The tiny patch of sand on the unnamed island

The tiny patch of sand on the unnamed island

Our first stop was a tiny unnamed island where we stopped for morning tea. The island was all mangroves and mud except for a tiny 4m x 2m (12′ x 6′) patch of sand just large enough for us to squat on. The water surrounding the island was relatively deep so, after the people in front got out, Mum and my friend (who were in the front of each boat) had to drag the boats onto the mangroves for Dad and I (who were in the back of each boat) to get out.

On Short Island

On Short Island

Cooking up lunch on Short Island

Cooking up lunch on Short Island

After enjoying a break at the unnamed island we paddled around Tabby Tabby Island and over to Short Island. We stayed close to the islands to protect ourselves from the breeze. I love the feeling of being on the water. There’s something relaxing about the way the water slaps gently against the boat and the gentle rocking of the boat as it bobs across the small waves.

We pulled the boats up onto Short Island for lunch. Like the other islands in the area, Short Island is largely comprised on mangroves growing in the muddy ground. The area we pulled up onto was covered in tufty grass. While it looks idealistic and soft, the ground between the tufts is actually muddy and damp. Fortunately, the mud is well-packed so it wasn’t squishy. Despite the mud, it actually made a lovely spot to stop. The water here is clearer than that around the inner islands because the channel is wide and feeds out to the main channel near Stradbroke Island and the Jumpinpin Bar. I heated up pre-cooked nasi goreng for lunch and then boiled water for my parents’ coffees. I was glad to find the stump on the island because it made cooking safe (otherwise I would have had to sit the stove in some mud away from the grass).

My best friend in the boat with me

My best friend in the boat with me

After lunch we turned west and paddled back to Cabbage Tree Point through a channel between Tabby Tabby and Eden Islands. The sun sparkled off the water, contrasting sharply with the dark grey clouds that had been building all day. At one point, we saw a kite rising out of a tree right next to the water, no more than 2m from our kayak.

I had a fantastic day out on the water. I’m doing it all again next weekend with my son because I have the loan of another kayak. I’m looking forward to exploring some more islands.

Total: 5 hours kayaking (including morning tea and lunch breaks)


Kayaking Coochie

Kayaking Coochie by Andrew Gills
Kayaking Coochie, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

A half metre swell, four children under eight, two kayaks and team Whoops Witch Way. It was a morning to be grateful for.

There’s a joy in the way children see the world. Mangrove trees poking their tops out of the water at high tide amazes them. The waves bring excitement. And a stop on the beach is a chance to frolic in the sea.

In a world that’s so serious and focused on results, the joy of taking children into the outdoors is such a reward.

Total: 2 hours kayaking

Beautifully barefoot on the waterfront

There’s a thin line of red light separating the clouds on the horizon from the blue grey sky above. Coochiemudlo Island is still a dark lump in the ocean but the dinghies and sailing boats moored in the bay are already clearly visible. The tide is high and the water’s surface is patterned by areas of flat calm between the ripples.

The grass beneath my bare feet is cold and damp. I look down and see that my toes have turned red as my body tries to pump blood to keep them warm. I’m not concerned. It’s still over 10’C and the worst of the winter cold should be behind us. I’m running well, averaging 5:13 minutes per kilometre. That’s a lot faster than my marathon and ultra marathon race pace but I’m only running 5km today. I feel strong.

As I pass the 2km mark the sun starts to break free of the clouds. The big ball of orange rises quickly into the sky. By the time I turn for home at the 2.5km mark the sun is a large bright red sphere filling the sky just north of Coochiemudlo Island. It’s red rays reflect off the water and I feel it’s warmth fill the air. For the first few minutes of my return leg I turn around to watch the sun’s ascent. Then, it’s filling the eastern sky. No longer do I run in the dawn but it is fully day.

Total: 5.01km @ 5:13 pace full barefoot. Average temperature: 11.5’C. Elevation gain: 15m.

A very slow run


I wasn’t feeling it today, but I still ran. Well, I ran and walked. Slowly.

It’s Monday morning so I think I have a combination of Mondayitis and fatigue from Saturday’s long run. I struggled to get out of bed, hitting snooze about five times. By the time I got up it was actually starting to get a bit light outside. I grabbed my running gear, threw on my motorbike jacket and rode down to Victoria Point to enjoy the sunrise over the water.

My legs felt tight as I ran so I tried to focus on my technique. Rather than letting myself stride out, I tried keeping my legs underneath my body and my steps gentle. Like my past two runs, I ran on a combination of deep soft damp grass and concrete footpath. I think this combination has added to my leg fatigue. Running on the grass is a bit like running in beach sand while the concrete paths have no give at all.

While I really wasn’t feeling it at all in my run, I worked on not letting my mind get to me. I think nerves about Sunday’s event are part of the reason my legs were tense today. So I spent time enjoying the scenery as I ran along the waterfront. And I have done the maths: I can definitely complete 50km in 8 hours because that’s only a pace of just over 6kph and I know from Saturday that I can cover 30km at a pace of just under 9kph. So that gives me plenty of breathing space (and time to enjoy the scenery and take a few photos).

Tomorrow morning I might just head out to the single track near home to give my legs a rest from the hard work. With my first 50km ‘race’ on Sunday, I am going to keep the mileage low this week. Tomorrow I might just do a 5-10km trot at about 7:00-7:30 pace. Then Wednesday to Sunday I am going on a 4-day hike with my parents. We’ll be covering 56km over the course of the four days but will be carrying all our camping gear and food. It should still be relaxing and good preparation for Sunday.

Total: 5.00km @ 7:14 pace. Elevation gain: 0m. Average temperature: 13.2’C.

A short run for the soul

Sun and stars over the water

There’s an isthmus that leads from Wellington Point to King Island. It’s a 1.75km long sandbar that is only uncovered at low tide. The word isthmus is cool. A low tide of just 0.4m occurred at 5:42am this morning.

I should have been doing my Tough Mudder training session this morning but those facts about the King Island isthmus caused me to go to Wellington Point with two running club mates instead. And what a fantastic decision it turned out to be. With just moon light and head torches for visibility, the three of us crossed the sandy isthmus to King Island.

Moon reflecting on the isthmus

At 0.4m, the tide was unusually low so we accidentally started out on the wrong approach and spent a short few hundred metres running through swampy mud before we corrected ourselves and found the hard dry sand bridge to the island. We ran right past tiny King Island and out to the northern-most dry point of the isthmus before the sand turned to mud flats. From here we could see the bright lights of Brisbane, what we believe to be the bright lights of Tangalooma Island glowing off to the east and the television towers on the top of Mt Cootha.

That’s King Island across the isthmus

The run was just lovely. I felt like I was on holidays. When the tides are favourable I’ll come back again to take some more photos, find the geocache hidden over on the island and maybe even run a few extra laps of the sand bridge.

Total: 3.25km run @ 6:19 min per km pace. Average temperature 12.4’C.

Pack hike through Cleveland


One of the many glimpses of Moreton Bay

Darkness envelops me as I turn off my motorbike and hoist my heavy pack onto my back. The 12.5kg water inside the pack is a dead weight against my back so I take a few moments to adjust my pack and stance. Above me the sky is still dark. The crescent moon tries to hide its silver light behind a cloud as stars twinkle in the clear sections of black velvet above me. Near silence greets my ears as the bay breeze blows cold against my ears and nose.


Boardwalk over coastal swamp

I walk along a pathway that I selected for the presence of geocaches. I enjoy the challenge of geocaching while out walking, especially when it’s too dark to see much beyond my head torch’s narrow beam of light. I find four of the six caches I search for, logging two disappointing did not finds along the way. The caches along the path are not particularly creative; they are just containers hidden at the bases of trees or under logs. But they still all count to my tally, which now sits at 190 caches.


Mother duck protecting her last remaining duckling

Kookaburras start laughing and I know that dawn is about to break. The wind dies down as the first tinges of red colour the eastern horizon. Within minutes the darkness lifts, first to grey then, only a few minutes later, to full glowing daylight. The kookaburras fall silent, content with having woken the world. As they do, my ears are filled with the sound of an orchestra of birdsong.

Wrens and finches sing crisp clear notes as mudlarks (pee-wees) make their distinctive suburban call across grassy lawns and parks. Lorikeets squawk in their aggressive shrill tones; a sound that is in stark contrast to their beautiful feathers. Magpies warble their joyous prayer of gratitude for the sun as the miner birds add their noisy cheeping to the mix. I’ve no need for an iPod as I enjoy the orchestra’s song to the dawn.

Total: 5.08km walk with backpack +12.5kg. Average temperature 17.3’C.

Oh wow! I just ran 30.66km!

Cleveland Point just before the dawn

It started with an off-the-cuff Facebook comment; late yesterday I expressed admiration that my running friends were doing a 3 hour 10 minute run this morning. This led to one of my friends telling me to join them. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to make the distance but was told just to try. So I did.

I was nervous as I mingled around outside the bakery waiting to head off. I haven’t run 30km in one hit before. Sure, I’ve done two half marathons and ran/walked a 45km ultra but that was totally different to running 30km straight on the road. It was dark and cool at 4:30am but I quickly warmed up as we ran. I had to stop to peel my jumper off after 15 minutes and was sweating soon after.

The first 25 minutes were tough. I struggled to find a rhythm because I was gripped by anxiety about the run ahead. My legs were tight, especially my right ITB. I thought about turning around but told myself to keep moving forward; I knew that I would eventually settle into a rhythm. So I kept going.

I dropped to the back of the group and focused on finding my own rhythm. The group was moving quite quickly but I knew that if I spent some time finding my own pace I would relax enough to catch up. It worked and by 35 minutes into the run I was feeling wonderful trundling along at a respectable pace. By the time I caught back up the group had also split as the three faster runners took off out the front, leaving five of us behind to run together at our slower pace.

We ran all the way from Victoria Point to Cleveland Point. If someone had told me 12 months ago that I’d be running this route I would have laughed in their face. But here I was, running comfortably chatting with my friends as we made our way through the darkness. By the time we reached Cleveland Point I felt like I could keep going all day long; particularly with the sun starting to rise out over the islands. I even stopped to take a photo.

The bakery: The best place for a post-run coffee

Unfortunately, one of our friends rolled her ankle on the way back to the bakery at Victoria Point. She had made it all the way to Cleveland in darkness only to step in a hole once the sun’s light was shining. Our friend tried to run but it was soon apparent that it was more sensible to call it a day so we phoned our other club mates who were finishing their 5km time trial down at Victoria Point to ask them to come collect our injured friend. She sent us on ahead so that we could complete our training.

Now that I had found my rhythm, I was running comfortably and enjoyed the run back to the bakery. It was fantastic. I talked with my friends, and kept my stride light and smooth. I am so glad that I was encouraged to come along this morning because the sense of achievement I now feel is priceless.

I now know that I can just keep going. I just have to believe in myself and have patience to get through the first few anxious kilometres. And, in time, that confidence will mean those first few kilometres will become easier too.

I can’t believe that I’ve only been training for just over 10 months and that I just ran a 30km training session. I felt strong during and after the run. Now I just need to make sure I eat well today to refuel before I head into the garden to nurture my vegetable patch.

Total: 30.66km @ 6:23 pace and average heart rate 150 bpm (81% max – though I am starting to believe that my max is actually higher than the mathematical max because I was able to talk comfortably the whole run). Average temperature 16.4’C.

A beautiful morning for a run

A beautiful run

I wake with the alarm and decide that this morning I will just get out of bed without hitting snooze. It’s only 4:30am but already the sun is shining and the birds are singing. It’s a great morning for a run.

I drive down to Point O’Halloran, just five or ten minutes from home, and park our car near the water. There are lots of people out walking, jogging and cycling this morning. I take one last swig of Staminade, grab my GPS and lock the car before heading off down along the water front.

The grass is soft beneath my feet as I start my run. At some point the council planted a few palm trees down at this end of the esplanade, giving the area a truly subtropical feel. Being a real man of the subtropics I like the mix of palm trees and native shrubs that dot the parklands along the water.

I set myself a good pace for the first kilometre or two; pushing myself just a little to see how I go. My legs and feet feel good. There are areas where the foreshore is narrow so I run on the concrete path, taking care to step lightly enough not to jar my body. The contrast from the grass is pleasant and I make good time.

Around the middle of my run I slow down a bit to take in the view of the boats anchored out on the water. The small bay between Point O’Halloran and Victoria Point is sheltered both by the nature of the bay and by Coochiemudlo Island sitting just off the coast. There are almost always lots of yachts anchored off the shore and dinghies washed up on the beach. There are always a few drowned dinghies too, something that always amuses me.

I cross the main road at the end of the running track and cross to the southern side of Victoria Point. There’s a small beach and the sand is soft because the tide is high. I enter the beach in the middle so run all the way to the western end, then to the eastern end before leaving the beach where I entered and heading back towards the car. The soft sand and cool water feels fabulous on my feet, though it also gives my muscles a really good workout. I run the 1.24km on the beach at 6:16 min/km.

Once I reach the esplanade again I run hard and fast all the way back to the car. I am determined to get a bit of burn happening, so I do. I run the final 2.74km at 4:45 min/km, which is quite alright for me in training. It feels really good to get up a bit of speed.

Total run: 6.64km @ 5:14 min/km. It felt really good and I got up a really good sweat.

Mountain to point ride

Cycling through Sheldon

I start my ride by heading east on Mount Cotton Road. I settle into a rhythm under the watchful eye of the mountain above me to the north. The sun is sitting just above the horizon, warming the air and creating a golden glow across the paddocks. I ride past Sirromet Winery where the wallabies steal leaves from the rows of grape vines threading their way along their support wires.

I love watching the seasons reflected in the vines. Just half a year ago the vines were bare but today they are full of life and covered in leaves. In winter the fog sits in the valley across the road from the vineyard but in summer the air is thick and dry. It’s a constant reminder of the uncontrollable and natural cycles of life.

I make the dangerous right turn into Woodlands Drive. The turn is dangerous because it sits in a gully with corners both ahead and behind me. Taking the turn safely I settle into a rhythm along Woodlands Drive. This road is quieter than Mount Cotton Road and takes me east towards the bay. I stop along the way to take a photo of a dam with cattle around it. This type of imagery is one half of what I love about living in the Redlands. I sing to the songs on my iPod as I scoot along the road.

I drop down out of the hills into Cleveland. A strong tailwind pushes me all the way out to Cleveland Point. The road out to the point is quiet today. There are usually packs of cyclists heading out along the point road but this morning there are just a smattering of individuals cycling alone like I am. Either I’m late or the local cycling and triathlon clubs are having a rest day today.

Out at the point I stop for a few moments to enjoy the view over Moreton Bay. The sky is hazy with humidity and I can’t even see the islands in the distance. But out on the horizon I spot a white fleck. It’s the sail of a yacht, just barely visible from shore. Having a focal point on the horizon gives me a different perspective on the whole view because it draws my attention to the exposed brown rocks extending into the water on the low tide.

The tailwind that pushed me out to the point is now a strong head wind. I push forward on my tri bars forcing myself to settle into a rhythm rather than race. I make good progress and am back on the main road heading home in no time. I ride the 20km home along familiar roads singing to my iPod. Today I particularly enjoy Rascal Flatts’ Unstoppable, which is all about digging deep and never giving in. It seems appropriate. Pity the other cyclist I caught up with who had to listen to me singing.

Distance cycled: 41.5km at 28.3kph. It’s not the fastest ride but I enjoyed it and that’s all that matters.

Flats and roller coasters (with a swim)

Cycling through Carbrook on Monday morning

The kookaburras are laughing as I swing my leg over the bike. I wonder whether they are laughing at me or at the people still sleeping in their beds. It’s Monday morning so I want to get out on the road before the traffic builds on busy Mt Cotton Road.

It rained heavily last night so the road is slippery and the air thick with humidity. I am glad that I’m in my base training phase so it will be okay if I ride relatively slowly through the soupy air. I ride out of our estate and onto the main road, lowering myself onto the drop bars as I navigate the many roundabouts.

I feel a sense of peace as I turn onto Mount Cotton Road. The Carbrook circuit I’m about to take is beautiful and is my home ground. I grew up cycling these roads as a teenager, spending many long lonely hours peddling through the fields long before cycling was a popular pastime. The verge is relatively wide here on Mt Cotton Road as I cruise along drinking in the smell of eucalyptus gums and the sight of flowering grevillias.

I turn off at the first flower farm, entering swampy bushland. The rain and light combine to accentuate the colours around me. The grass is so green it almost glows and the peeling bark of the Moreton Bay ash trees forms a heavy black and brown carpet under the bright white tree trunks.

Down at the Stern Road causeway I feel like I’m entering the Louisiana bayou made famous in so many country songs. Yellow-white paper bark tree trunks drop into murky black water surrounded by feathery-topped reeds that change from green to brown. I feel like I’m home, remembering all the horse-riding trips my sisters and I took through this very swamp land when we were teenagers.

I ride about 16km before I reach my swimming location. I am lucky to have access to a 25m lap pool on a private property surrounded by lush gardens and paddocks where wallabies nibble at the grass. I change from cycling clothes to my togs and jump into the warm water. I still feel sluggish so I push out 1km of freestyle, breast stroke, butterfly and kick board. It’s not a long swim but swimming is my strength so I don’t spend much time training in the pool – my bike and run need too much work.

After my swim I saddle back up and complete the “Carbrook Loop” back home. I follow Redland Bay Road east towards the “roller coasters”. The roller coasters are a series of rolling hills that run along the eastern end of Redland Bay Road from the Redland City Council limits through to the Redland Bay exit.

The road here is lined by commercial vegetable farms, nature reserve and hobby farms where they run cattle. Occasionally I catch glimpses of Moreton Bay and the islands over the top of hills. The scenery makes the humid ride pleasant.

When I return home my GPS tells me that I rode 35.74km at an average moving speed of 26.5kph. I’m quite happy with that effort.