Paradise on city's doorstep
I MET a man in Brisbane recently who had lived there for decades but never been inside the Roma St Parkland.
The beautiful gardens near the main train station are a focal point for city festivals.
That a life-long resident had bypassed them completely stunned me.
But it did make me rethink what I'd missed out on after three years in Brisbane.
Hence packing the family up and heading to Tangalooma, the resort township on Moreton Island that is not even 40 minutes via ferry from the mouth of the Brisbane River.
On a cloudless day, the white sands and sparkling blue water make you feel like you've arrived at a Fijian island, less than an hour from the city.
The beach is a beauty, ideal for toddlers. The fact it is a couple of dozen metres from the bar, the barbecues and live music make it a compelling package.
Thumbs down though to the punters who leave their pint glasses in the sand.
Tangalooma is most famous for its dolphin experience, where visitors get to hand-feed the pod of mammals that visit every night.
It's clearly a highlight judging by the queue-jumping and rudeness shown by one or two of the foreign tourists.
What makes Tangalooma a great place to visit for a day or three, though, is the range of resort activities.
A few hundred metres up the beach, five old shipwrecks lie just offshore and, whether you walk there or go on one of the resort's boats, it's magic.
Snorkelling gives those in the water a colourful first-hand fishy view, and for the littlies the glass bottom boat is a lot of fun, especially during fish-feeding time.
Bait fish were so desperate for the goodies that some jumped straight into the boat.
The day we were there, a virtual armada of private pleasure boats was moored. It's an amazing sight as divers, kayakers and snorkellers vie for space. Even making the short jaunt to the wrecks in the water provides great views - dolphin pods and a turtle ambled by.
For the more adventurous, there is quad bike riding if you like it sticky, along a sandy track.
It was a relief that the clown who drove into a fence barely 10 metres from the start was taken off for private lessons.
It's also an idea to get a sense of the vastness of Moreton, the third biggest sand island in the world.
Taking a four-hour tour in one of the all-wheel drive buses makes you understand this place is not just for the well-heeled. Virtually no roads, amazing beaches everywhere and, for the adventurous who bring their own vehicles out from Redcliffe, it must be a camping paradise. The tenters are dotted around in splendid isolation.
A look at the historic Cape Moreton lighthouse, the first built in Queensland in 1857, is well worthwhile. There's a cruisy climb to fantastic views, followed by an exhilarating run home to beat the incoming tide.
After all that sun and sand, it's a relief to be back home inside an hour from departure.
Fiji on our doorstep? Absolutely.
Bryce Johns travelled to Moreton Island courtesy of Tangalooma Island Resort.
GETTING THERE A day trip costs $89 an adult, $49 a child or $235 for a family of four. The price includes the return ferry cruise, full use of resort facilities including swimming pools, restaurants and bar, 1xtea, coffee, or soft drink per guest on the launch; an island lunch voucher ($20 per adult, $15 per child); access to the Eco Ranger Show (pelican feeding, Discover the World of Dolphins presentation).
STAYING THERE Accommodation options include hotel rooms, apartments and beachfront villas that sleep eight.