By Poppy Solomon
Living right next to the Pacific Ocean has its benefits. As Sunshine Coast locals, we spend our weekends swimming and sunbathing at beaches, and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of our region.
But there’s so much more of the ocean to explore. Sunshine Coast residents have cruising at the top of their holiday bucket lists, but this isn’t cheap. Luckily, it’s easy to enjoy hidden gems of the Pacific Ocean right at your doorstep.
Mudjimba locals are blessed with easy access to Old Woman Island, an uninhabited rock sitting 1.2km from Mudjimba Beach. You can see the iconic island from many of our other beaches, or even the summit of Mount Coolum, but have you ever visited it?
For most people, reaching the island may seem impossible. Mudjimba Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) treasurer Narelle Robertson explains how to get to and make the most of Old Woman Island.
“It’s a really nice paddle,” she says. “Surfers will be out in the surf breaks, scuba divers will be underneath, as well as people on the island just walking around and having a look.”
The island can be accessed by anyone, but for those without much experience, it may be difficult. It’s a good idea to have a local show you around before attempting the trip alone.
“People go all the time, and definitely for leisure, but it depends on the conditions of the ocean,” Robertson says. “If it’s a really flat morning, you’ll find there will be a big group of people that will congregate and paddle over together.”
“There is what we call the ‘Keyhole’, where you can paddle right in, and depending on the waves, land quite safely on the island.”
Robertson says the island is owned by Council but left completely wild.
“It’s quite a big playground,” she says.
“There is an old house there; it’s just a shell now, but you can walk up and see the remnants.”
The island also plays a significant role in Mudjimba Beach’s surf. Breaking many incoming waves, it creates a safer environment for swimmers and protects the beach.
This makes the surf on the beach weaker, however most surfers head straight to Old Woman Island for its bigger waves. The island is surrounded by deep water, and because it is made of rock, fantastic surfing conditions can occur.
To reach Old Woman Island by kayak or surfboard, it’s easy to leave from the shore of Mudjimba Beach. However, if you’re travelling by boat, the best place to launch is Mooloolaba Marina.
Robertson says the island encompasses a great amount of sea life, and lures in a crowd of boats and fishers.
“On a good visibility day, there’s often scuba divers out there,” Robertson says.
If safety is your concern, the island is quite harmless and usually sees only minor first aid issues.
“The biggest issue for the surf club is that it’s all shells – there’s no sand over there,” Robertson says.
“People might go without shoes and cut their feet, or fall and cut their legs. So there’s a bit of first aid, but that’s all we see.”
So, grab your shoes and sunscreen. No matter how you choose to get there, Old Woman Island is here for you to explore.