Not to be confused with King Island in Tasmania, King Island Brisbane offers a novel adventure just 45 minutes drive from the CBD. King Island is tiny, roughly one hectare in size, and it’s only accessible by foot during mid-to-low tide. At high tide this glorified sand bar – which the Quandamooka people named Yerra-bin – disconnects from the mainland at Wellington Point.
The novel part about King Island is walking there and back and timing your walk. I did this last week and as I was there just on low tide, there was ample room to move (as you can see in the pictures). I plan to go back this weekend during mid-tide, heading towards low, which I reckon won’t be a problem. I’ll report back here if it is.
What’s there to do on King Island Brisbane?
Walking there is a big part of it. It’s a bit of fun knowing you’re walking to an island whose pathway will disappear. It’s certainly not a hard walk either. Actually, I will say it’s downright easy, pretty much like walking up the road to the shops. It’s apparently a kilometre-long walk – but it felt shorter to me – and it’s flat sand the entire way.
Getting to the island is fun but I found the best part to be behind the island. Here there are scattered mangrove trees (which add a splash of atmosphere), water pools, rocks, mud flats and little islands of seagrass. It’s a great place to peer into the micro-universe of the seashore and marvel at the strange shapes, patterns and creatures.
I also enjoyed slushing through the water to the islands of seagrass – which dry out intermittently each day. From here I stared at Green Island in the distance and took in the vastness of the place in the opposite direction. Even though it’s small, King Island has pretty expansive sand and mud flats that stretch out behind the island, at least at low tide.
Behind King Island, light danced across the sea, boats sailed on the horizon and Manly shore looked foreign across the bay. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot to see on the island itself. Sparsely populated by grey mangrove trees, King Island proper contains a couple of short trails. It’s pretty much the size of an Aussie backyard.
Fishing and boating
It appears here’s a good spot to do both, if the urge takes you, just like I saw this father-son team doing. There were also a few people setting up chairs on the sandbank and enjoying this little transitory slice of Brisbane. Sunset and sunrise, I imagine, are particularly good times for this.
A little history of King Island Brisbane
From 1904 to 1906 a family of seven and their maid lived on King Island. They did so, as their daughter was suffering from polio and were told the seawater there would do her good. Apparently, the family resided in a main marque with a wooden floor, along with a bell tent. The family’s food was sourced from around the island and the dad travelled to work in Wellington Point each day in a dinghy.
After reading this, standing on the patch of scrub that is King Island, I found it hard to imagine a family of seven living out here for two years. I bet there would have been some nice times too, but as it’s a mangrove ecosystem, I would have thought mosquitos would be prolific here at times.
King Island is dog-friendly, although prior to coming, I couldn’t find any clear information on the Redland City Council website. A number of articles told me I couldn’t bring my dog on the island so I left him at home. I was pretty bummed to arrive and find that dogs are allowed on the island, particularly after seeing Cookie’s little face as I walked out the door. So if you’re reading this, dogs are allowed on King Island, at any time. They just must be kept on a lead.
I phoned Nicole from Redland City Council to clarify this information and she was most helpful in sending me this link, which shows where you can and can’t take your dog in the area.
If you’re a bird lover, then the Moreton Bay Marine Park surrounding King Island Brisbane offers ample opportunity. In the summer, bird numbers can swell to 50,000, with yahoo-sounding species such as the red-necked stint, bar-tailed godwit and the pied oystercatcher. Some of these birds migrate up to 25,000 km – from lands as distant as Siberia – to reach these shores every year.
A few fast facts
- King Island was a target for bombing practice by the American Navy in WWII.
- There’s no camping and no fires allowed on the island.
- You can’t currently collect shellfish in the area as their numbers are threatened.
- At high-tide, swamp oak and cotton trees trap the sand and provide shelter to the island’s birds.
- King Island was named by Surveyor Robert Dixon, who also named Wellington Point.
- King Island is protected as a regional park under the Nature Conservation Act.
- Oxley’s on the Bay restaurant lies just across the entrance to the King Island walk.
- Visit the island at low or mid-to-low tide to avoid mishaps. You can check the tide times here.