moreton bay pine

Moreton Bay

Moreton Bay is a large bay on the eastern coast of Australia 19 km from Brisbane, Queensland. The waters of Moreton Bay are a popular destination for recreational anglers and are used by commercial operators who provide seafood to market.

The Port of Brisbane coordinates large traffic along the shipping channel which crosses the northern section of the bay. The bay serves as a safe approach to the airport and reduces noise pollution over the city to the west of the runway. A number of barge, ferry and water-taxi services also travel over the bay.

Moreton Bay has been the site of conflict between Indigenous Australians and early European settlers. It contains environmentally significant habitats and large areas of sandbanks. Many parts of the mainland foreshore and southern islands are settled.


Moreton Bay was formed roughly 6000 years ago as the sea level rose and inundated what was then the floodplains of the Brisbane River.

Moreton Bay (Aboriginal name - Quandamooka) and its islands were inhabited by Aboriginal tribes. The name Morton's Bay was given by Captain Cook when he passed the area on 15 May 1770, honouring Lord Morton, president of the Royal Society. The spelling Moreton was an error in the first published account of Cook's voyage (Hawkesworth's Voyages). Cook gave the name only to the bight formed by the northern end of North Stradbroke Island and the eastern side of Moreton Island. He may have been unaware of the South Passage (as it's now called) between the two islands, and in any case didn't sail into what is the present Moreton Bay.

Matthew Flinders was the first recorded European to enter the Bay in 1799 touching down at the Pumicestone Passage, Redcliffe and Coochiemudlo Island. He was followed by John Oxley who explored the Brisbane River in 1823. On a subsequent visit in the following year, Oxley established the first European settlement in the Bay at the present site of Redcliffe.

After Oxley in 1823, came convicts and soldiers. As the South Passage between Moreton and Stradbroke Islands was the shortest shipping route, a depot and pilot station were established at Amity Point in 1825.

White settlement began in earnest. After the abandonment of the Redcliffe settlement, work began on the new convict settlement several miles up the Brisbane River in 1825. Within a couple years this new settlement was growing rapidly and the number of ships entering the bay was increasing. As a result, the facilities required to service the pilot station at Amity grew, and in 1827 convicts were sent to the island to build a new causeway at Dunwich, remnants of which can still be found on the same site. Within a year the first permanent white settlement at Dunwich had been built.

By the 1850s the regions earliest industry was utilising the bay for the transport of timber. After felling the logs were dragged or rolled into flooded streams from where they were washed downstream to tidal reaches and bound together into rafts. After the floods had ceased and tides returned to normal, the currents of the bay and someties boats were used to direct the timber north to the Brisbane River or to Dunwich for shipment to Sydney.

The bay was home to the Lightship Rose which provided a permanent navigation aid to passing ships at the mouth of the Brisbane River. The John Oxley was another notable boat which temporarily acted as a pilot ship.

European contact with Aborigines

At first the Quandamooka tribes had a choice of avoiding contact or engaging with the Europeans at the various small government institutions that were established on the mainland and on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). Aboriginal labour and resources were however, voluntarily supplied to assist these newcomers, for example, at the pilot station. Problems came about when the newcomers displayed a lack of respect for Aboriginal marriage rules, stole bones and other artefacts and desicrated sites important to the Aboriginals. This produced a period of conflict through the 1830s, sometimes followed up by reprisals with guns, during which a number of Aboriginal people were massacred.

Like the mainland tribes, the Nooghie, Noonuccal and Goenpul people struggled when Moreton Bay was opened up to free settlers. The mainland Aboriginal people in particular were progressively deprived of the traditional hunting grounds and food. When they turned to killing domestic stock in order to survive, they were rounded up and shot. As their tribal groups and way of life disintegrated, many drifted towards towns and cities. Because of their isolation, the people of the islands however, managed to keep a lot of their traditional ways alive.

In 1843, Catholic Missionaries chose Dunwich as the site for the first Catholic Mission to Australian Aborigines. The sand islands of Quandamooka did not support pasturage suitable for sheep and cattle, and thus there did not occur conversion of large tracts of land into farms and pastoral properties and the subsequent widespread annihilation and displacement of Aboriginal people. The very existence of the quarantine station on Stradbroke Island from 1850 to the 1870s led to the official discouragement of pastoralism or wider settlement for fear of spreading disease. Another reason for discouraging settlement was to reduce the likelihood of incoming vessels to the bay evading customs duty.

Thus the European usage and occupation of Quandamooka in the 19th century was largely restricted to government institutions on small portions on the islands, and with free enterprise business men like the Campbell brothers who ran a saltworks and sugar plantations on Russell and Macleay islands, and the early fishing and oystering businesses in the bay who employed the Aboriginal people of Quandamooka.

Aboriginal peoples were a source of labour for various institutions and enterprises from the time of the first pilot station. Conflict with Europeans intensified during the middle part of the 19th century, leading to significant numbers of Aboriginal people being killed (including at the hands of the native police). Despite these conflicts other Aboriginal people were able to evade intense contact due to the lack of European activity on the bay islands. From the 1830s to 1865 there remained virtual exclusive Aboriginal possession of most of Quandamooka. However trade and social interaction with the mainland groups gradually diminished due to the outward march of pastoral settlement on the mainland. This resulted in unrepairable damage to indigenous social networks and patterns of group intermarriage, as well as joint ceremonial activities.


On 1 September 2007 four people were killed in a boat accident on the bay, two kilometres from the Pinkenba boat ramp. Ten others were injured.

The bay's marine park zoning plan is being renewed in 2008. Despite angst from both commercial and recreational fishers, draft Queensland Government plans indicate further fishing restrictions aiming to protect more than 15 % of important marine and coastal environments. Artificial reefs could be placed in Moreton Bay to ease the concerns of fishermen who fear they are being forced out. The State Government will spend $1 million on research, planning and construction of a new concrete reef in the bay.


The bay extends some 160 km from Caloundra in the north almost to Surfers Paradise in the south. The bay's southern navigation entrance is the Gold Coast Seaway.

It is separated from the Pacific Ocean by a chain of three sand islands - Moreton Island in the north, North Stradbroke Island, and South Stradbroke Island in the south. Tipplers Passage is the main channel on the western coast of South Stradbroke Island. The Gold Coast Seaway is at the southern extent of Moreton Bay, before the Gold Coast Broadwater.

The bay itself contains around 360 islands in total. This includes the populated Russell, Macleay, Lamb and Karragarra Islands collectively known as the Southern Moreton Bay Islands (Queensland),(SMBI in Redland Shire Council planning documents)or the RKLM,. Residential development has also occurred on Coochiemudlo Island and Bribie Island.

Moreton Bay is generally shallow and sandy, though a substantive channel is maintained to allow access to the Port of Brisbane at Fisherman Islands at the mouth of the Brisbane River, for international shipping. As well as the Brisbane River, the Nerang River, Pimpama River, Logan River, Pine River and the Schulz Canal all empty into Moreton Bay. Within Moreton Bay are the smaller bays of Waterloo Bay, Redland Bay, Raby Bay, Deception Bay and Bramble Bay.

The bay contains a number of island villages such as the settlement on the bayside of Moreton Island, Tangalooma and on North Stradbroke, Dunwich and Amity Point. Prominent coastal communities and mainland suburbs situated on the bay include Deception Bay, Scarborough, Redcliffe, Margate, Woody Point, Brighton, Sandgate, Cleveland, Raby Bay and Victoria Point and Redland Bay. Other attractions in the bay include Pumicestone Passage and numerous boat ramps, marinas and jetties, including the Shorncliffe pier.

Protected areas

Moreton Island is protected as Moreton Island National Park. The bay itself contains St Helena Island National Park and the Moreton Bay Marine Park with areas designated under the Marine Park Zoning Plan. The Marine Park was declared in 1993 and covers 3400 square kilometres. Parts of the bay are also protected under the Southern Moreton Bay Islands National Park. According to the Ramsar Wetland Convention 1971, parts of Moreton Bay are listed as a wetland of international importance.


Moreton Bay is filled with sandbanks. Between Tangalooma and Skirmish Point on Bribie Island are the Middle Banks, Central Banks and Western Banks. From north of Moreton Island towards Caloundra are the Yulle Road, Spitfire Bank, and the Salamander Bank, amongst others.

Amity Banks are found just west of Amity Point, while the Moreton Banks lie to the west of the southern tip of Moreton Island. These banks can be hazard for marine navigation because they are constantly changing due to tidal currents.

The Middle Banks area close to Moreton Island has been used in the past as a source of sand for large projects such as the nearby Brisbane Airport and port facilities. Past dredging has removed 18 Mn3 and the removal of another 40 Mn3 is planned. Future sand extraction is expected to aid a major shipping channel straightening project.

To ensure the shipping channel remains open, several areas of the bay have been allocated for dredged material dumping sites. These sites have been selected to provide beach nourishment, aiding the natural long shore transport of sand along ocean beaches.

Flora and fauna

The bay's heritage protected wetlands, mudflats, and waterways are some of the healthiest in the region, supporting seasonally up to 25 % of Australia's bird species.

The bay is home to other abundant wildlife, including whales, dolphins, dugong, sharks and turtles. Dugongs and turtles are threatened due to being prone to boat strike impacts. The bay is extremely popular with recreational anglers.

The Moreton Bay bug (Thenus orientalis) is a species of slipper lobster found throughout the waters of Australia's north coast. The Bug is a relatively expensive delicacy served in many restaurants in Queensland.

The Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) is endemic to the east coast of Australia within a range centred on Moreton Bay.

See also


External links

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