The famous Tangalooma Wrecks on Moreton Island is one of the most underrated spots in South East Queensland. The anchorage harbour was created by sinking several ships by the Queensland government between 1963 and 1984. It has now been turned into an artificial reef that is abundant with sea life.

A Tourism Success Story

Tangalooma was the site for the largest land-based whaling operation in the Southern Hemisphere. This was also one of Australia’s most brutal and bloody whaling operations, killing over 6250 humpback whales in the span of only 10 years.

Luckily, only 10 years after the construction and commencement of the Tangalooma whaling operations, humpback whales were placed on the protected species list. It is estimated that in 1965, there were only 500 individuals remaining, from the estimated 15 000 in the original population.. Many of the sunken ships that make up the Tangalooma Wrecks are coincidentally old whaling vessels.

Due to solid government intervention, the Humpback populations have recovered and are thriving. There are estimated to be over 35 000 whales that now make the yearly migration up the East and West coast of Australia. Interestingly it is estimated that $32 million was earned each year from whaling operations, while whale watching is now a $70 million industry across Australia.

Getting to Tangalooma Wrecks

Many people that visit Queensland seem to disregard Moreton Island as a destination. Perhaps this is due to the relative remoteness in comparison to other island hotspots like Fraser Island. Getting there however is relatively easy by taking a ferry from the Brisbane River. If you have a larger group and a QLD boat licence, you could also rent a boat and reach Moreton Island yourself. 

If you’re looking for something easier and more inclusive, I couldn’t recommend this epic wreck snorkelling, kayaking and sand-dune tour enough. It encompasses everything adventure and lets you experience the very best of Moreton Island and the famous Tangalooma shipwrecks.

Book Now: Moreton Island Shipwreck, Sand Dune & Kayak 1-Day Adventure

Whilst Moreton Island is fairly protected, weather can definitely change for the worse quite quickly. If you’re not experienced on the water, I’d recommend just getting the ferry. 

I had spent 10 years of my childhood helping out on our family project, Malaika, a 15m steel Motorsailor. She was built from scratch by my dad in our backyard. This meant that was fortunate enough to be able to reach Tangalooma by means of sail.  This freedom allows us to explore more isolated coastal pockets of Moreton Island, as well as lay anchor and stay the night for free. If you have access to a boat, I’d definitely recommend it.

Tangalooma Wrecks Snorkellng

If you’re visiting Tangalooma, snorkeling is a must!

The 15 sunken ships are one of my favourite snorkelling spots. At high tide, the deepest point of the wrecks is roughly 8 M. It is therefore quite easily accessed by freediving alone. If you’re experienced, you can swim through the many port-holes and explore the large cavities of the sunken ships.

Tangalooma Wrecks drone photo Moreton Island low light

Marine Life

Moreton Island is a protected area for dugongs. If you look hard enough, there’s a good chance that you’ll spot one. We also saw several pods of dolphins, wobbegongs and leopard sharks just by snorkeling around the wrecks. I was definitely surprised by just how much marine life there was. 

If you stay the night on a boat or camping somewhere on Moreton Island, try to get out on the water early. We kayaked around the bay for sunrise and saw several sharks and dugongs swimming in the crystal clear water.

Flying a Drone at Tangalooma

Tangalooma Wrecks are one of my favourite spots to see from the sky. You can capture some pretty incredible shots of the wrecks neatly lined up in the turquoise waters. A little tip is to try to shoot when the sun is bright and high to get the best clarity and light in the water. 

Also, there are helicopters that frequently do fly-by’s of the wrecks. Keep your ear out for any that might be flying past. 

Tangalooma Wrecks drone photo Moreton Island

Where to Stay the Night 

It takes quite some time to get to Tangalooma from the mainland. This means that staying at least one night is a must to soak it in. If you’re coming by car ferry, I’d definitely recommend finding a campsite or taking a gamble with freedom camping somewhere nearby. Just remember to clean up and take your trash with you.

If you’ve come without a vehicle, it’s also possible to hang a hammock camp under the stars on the beach. Make sure to bring some kind of insect repellent as the sand flies can get pretty brutal in summer.

Another option is to stay the nearby Tangalooma Beach Resort. The resort owns the beach and is a destination popular for many weddings and celebrations.

Tangalooma Wrecks drone photo Moreton Island low light
Tangalooma Wrecks drone photo Moreton Island low light


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