ANY camping trip I've under taken could qualify for a National Lampoons sequel.
But no matter what Mother Nature threw at us, Moreton Island stood up to its reputation as one of Brisbane's best-kept secrets.
Moreton, 40km off the coast of Brisbane, is the third- largest sand island in the world, following Fraser and nearby North Stradbroke.
We boarded the afternoon MICAT ferry from the Port of Brisbane for the 75-minute journey. Our Isuzu D-Max was only 14 days off the showroom floor and we were keen to test its power in the beach terrain.
Halfway to the island, a gorgeous blue September sky was blackened almost instantly by an ominous storm cloud. Had we made the right decision to escape for two nights' camping?
The boyfriend let down the tyre pressure, afraid of being the one who got bogged in the sand the moment they drove off the ferry, holding up the mass exodus of four-wheel-drives eager to hit the beach. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
Once we arrived at Tangalooma, not only was his blood pressure rising but so was the tide. The only route to our campsite at the very northern tip of Moreton Island was along the beach, before we could cut in along the Middle Rd. We found ourselves sandwiched between the sand embankment and the ocean, which was ready to swallow the brand spankin' new D-Max.
With only a car's width between land and water, we followed an old Toyota utility skilfully driven by a local who knew what he was doing. A few painstaking creek run-offs later and close brushes with the deep, we made it to Comboyuro Point.
We kicked the soccer ball along the secluded beach, with not a person in sight, as the sun set over the ocean - absolute bliss!
Then Mother Nature struck again - 95kmh winds tore through the campground with more rain on its way. There was no way I was prepared to relive our overnight camping trip in Byron Bay a few weeks earlier, when our cheap and nasty dome tent turned into a teepee and we awoke on Noah's Ark floating on an air mattress above two inches of water. No! So up went the tarp.
Surprisingly I managed to get some sleep, until I was awoken by the boyfriend yelling "are you all right?" I sat up frantically to the sound of a monster directly outside our tent. It was a wild boar rummaging through our esky.
The Bulwer locals warn campers of feral pigs and advise of keeping food items inside your tent or vehicle. After a bit of a tussle we were sound asleep. Surely it couldn't get any worse.
It didn't. The next day we experienced everything Moreton Island is renowned for - the Champagne Pools, kilometres of pristine beach, exhilarating four-wheel-drive tracks, sand tobogganing, the Blue Lagoon and, of course, the wildlife.
We spent most of the day exploring the western side of the island by four-wheel-drive. We stopped at the Cape Moreton lighthouse, one of the oldest operating lighthouses in Australia, and watched as a pod of dolphins played in the ocean below.
It didn't take long for us to learn how crucial the tides were, unlike an unfortunate duo who hired a boat, anchored it, only to come back later to find the tide had gone down and he was left stranded on the beach. Oops!
On return to the campsite, we found a small green sea turtle washed up on the sand on its back, exhausted. We helped him back into the water and, on the second go, we watched as he gave us a wave and paddled into the sunset. It was certainly the highlight of our trip.
At Comboyuro Point campsite there are no showers or toilets. The MacGyver in my chef boyfriend filled an old 20-litre oil tin with water and placed it on the coals to warm before filtering through our outdoor shower, which did the trick.
On day three we threw a line in the ocean, catching only a toadfish. But when you're relaxed and blessed with glorious weather, it didn't worry us.
We scuba dived around the shipwrecks and enjoyed lunch at Tangalooma Resor t, before it was time to board the ferry back home. As Clark Griswold says, "half the fun is getting there". Right?
A word of advice
Bring your food, first aid and necessities as there is only one general store on the island.
Campers can't use the facilities offered by Tangalooma Resort unless you're a guest.
Camping permits are essential and must be booked before travel at www.moretonislandadventures.com.au or www.nprsr.qld .gov.au