Our top things to do on Bribie Island & where to do them. Find a deserted beach, walking tracks, 4-wheel drive adventures, wildlife, surfing and much more.
Bribie Island is the most northern of the three major sand islands that provide shelter to Morton Bay. Not only is it a gorgeous and unique island escape but it’s an island you can access by road, it’s joined to the mainland by a bridge. So if you want to make a beeline for the beach we highly recommend checking it out.
While we love the diversity of beaches there is a whole host of things to do on Bribie Island that don’t stop at sunbathing and swimming. In this post we’ll share some of the top things to do and where are the best places to go to do them. If you haven’t already visited Bribie Island or had the chance to fully explore it we strongly suggest you make your way there and take a look.
Bribie Island is only an hours drive from Brisbane so it’s not difficult to pack up a picnic and head out in time to grab one of the prime spots in the sand with a convenient shady tree. What’s better than a day on an island that you can drive to, there’s no need to wait for a ferry or even pay a toll. With its location between the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, it’s a great addition to an Australian east coast road trip.
Table of Contents
Top things to do on Bribie Island
1. Find a secluded stretch of sand
This gorgeous spot is on the southwest of Bribie Island meaning it has a sheltered inland facing the beach. This is such a beautiful spot and really has it all. There’s a short walk to a bird hide, a gorgeous lagoon that’s a fabulous spot for waders and then a track down past the lagoon to a sandy beach that goes for miles and is my favourite spot for swimming.
The beach backs onto the 88-hectare conservation park so you have that gorgeous green backdrop to gaze at while you float around in the sea.
2. Kakadu bird hide & Banksia Beach
The Kakadu bird hide is best during the early spring and late summer when 10,000 – 15,000 migratory birds are passing through although outside of those times you will still see a variety of waders and seabirds.
There’s a clean modern bird hide at each end that gives great visibility of the birds on the lagoon and beach. Access to the far hide is via a path at the back of the lagoon and shelter trees have been planted to minimise any disturbance to the birds. The beach in front is closed to the public for the same reason.
Just north of the bird hide is Banksia Beach which is a fairly quiet spot. It isn’t bad for swimming but is better at high tide as there are rock shelves loosely covered by sand which I tend to stub my toe on because I’m a little clumsy like that.
The beach and park here are lovely and are a good place to have a picnic. I usually save my swim for the beach at Buckleys Hole. Swimming does sound a lot more like exercise than what I actually do which is probably more accurately described as relaxing and floating in the water, very little energy is actually expended when I ‘swim’.
3. Take a nature walk
The Bicentennial Bushwalks are a great option if you want to take a walk in the usual coastal bushland. If you head north from the bridge up Sullivan Road you’ll come across the Bribie Arts Centre on your right. The ladies in here are super friendly if you want to stop in for a look around or to use the facilities.
Alternatively, make use of the beautiful gardens and shady tables for your picnic or morning cuppa. This is the starting point for the Bicentennial walks but you can add a few less common birds to your list from the picnic area itself. The area was overrun with white-cheeked honey-eaters and several wattle-birds while we drank our coffee.
Beyond the garden you will come to the waterhole where we startled a Brahminy Kite who’d stopped down for a drink, this is the start of the walkways which are really just one linked walk but the sections are named for the type of dominant vegetation, it’s about 3.8km for the full circuit around. You start on the Banksia Trail (700 m each way) and at the far end this leads onto the Palm Grove Circuit (600 m one way) and Melaleuca Circuit (1km one way), you return to the art centre via the Banksia Trail. These walks pass through eucalypt forest, paperbark wetlands and wallum heathland. [View track map]
The white sandy soil reflects a lot of heat and light back up at you and the trees are quite low growing so they don’t offer a lot of shade in the heat of the day. This is possibly a better spot for when the temperature is under 30 degrees or at least make sure you have your sun hat and a water bottle.
4. Head out for a spot of surfing
The surf beach goes the entire length of the island but Woorim is the most busy as it’s close to the residential area and is the furthest north you can get on this coast with a normal vehicle, to go further you need a 4 wheel drive, a permit and you’ll want to be comfortable driving on soft sand.
For some reason, I prefer to swim in still water rather than surf which would seem to make me unusual in Australia but I’d like to come back and walk this beach in the slightly cooler season. It does have beautiful soft sand and is historically interesting for the ruins of Fort Bribie along the beachfront and just behind the dunes. Bribie was strategically important for National Defense during World War 2 when Australia came under foreign attack and the remains of many buildings and batteries can be found along the shore.
5. Get a bit of sand in the 4-wheel drive
Let a bit of air out of the tires and hit the sandy beach trails on the eastern side of Bribie Island. Don’t forget to bring your own shade, food and water to make a day of it, the beauty of this gorgeous National Park area is that that it is somewhere you can get ‘away from it all’ but be conveniently so close to the city.
You can camp out here too if you have the gear but always check the National Park website for periodic park closures as the nature of the sand island means that on really high tides the campsite area can be inundated and there will be a planned closure around those dates.
You’ll need a permit for 4-wheel driving and camping which you can book online from Queensland National Parks.
6. Watch out for the wildlife
Bribie Island is a favourite spot of bird watchers with some top spots around the lagoon at Buckley’s hole, much of the bush area behind the foreshore and the Kakadu beach bird hide. You can also see Kangaroos, wallabies and even dingo if you head up the eastern side of the island to the more secluded areas by 4-wheel drive. Dolphins can be spotted from the shore as can whales during their annual winter migration. There is even a couple of emu that has been spotted on the island, something you really don’t see anywhere else on this part of the coast.
7. Go camping
If camping in the National Park isn’t your thing, or you don’t have access to a 4-wheel drive to get up the beach there are other options for family camping. Take your pick from the Bribie Island Caravan Park on the eastern (surf) side of the island or the Bongaree Caravan Park on the safe swimming inland beachside.
Getting there, fees and facilities
Bribie Island is a favourite beach day trip from Brisbane, it’s so easy to get to and it has something to offer everyone, beach walks, bush walks, birding, surf and swimming. It’s got a lot busier in recent years as more residential housing has gone up on the island but it’s still a great place to escape to.
It’s a 60-minute drive from Brisbane and roads on the island are well-formed and sealed. If you want to go off-road you will need to buy a permit for driving on the beaches and tracks. Permits can be purchased for single days, week-long or the full year.
On the island are a variety of shops, bakeries, cafes and restaurants. There are public changing rooms and toilet facilities at many of the beaches around the island but from Buckleys Hole you will need to walk or drive north to Bongaree.
We hope you get the chance to enjoy some of our favourite spots on Bribie Island when you’re in the area. It’s such as lovely place to visit in all seasons. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below if you know of any other walkways in the area that you can recommend for birding that don’t require 4 wheel drive access.