You're viewing: Living on the SMBI – A Beginners Guide

So, you’ve moved to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands… First of all, welcome!

Living on the islands is fantastic, but there are a few things that are done differently here. In this article, we aim to help ‘newcomers’ to better understand those differences and make the transition to island life that little bit easier.

If you haven’t already, check out The Bay Islands page as well as the island specific pages: Russell, Macleay, Lamb, Karragarra.

Ferries & Barges

Since 2013 our passenger ferries are part of the TransLink network. This means that you can use a ‘Go Card’ to pay for travel between the islands and the mainland. You can travel between the islands for free. You only need to pay for travel if you are heading to/from the mainland.

There are many ferry services throughout the day, and they travel in 2 directions. We know that trying to settle in to a new home can be hard enough, without having to stress about timetables etc. For this reason, we created the Bay Islands Guide app for Android and iPhone.

Our vehicle barges are operated by Stradbroke Ferries, and you can book your trips online via their website.

Vehicle Registration

So, now that you’re on the islands, you will want to be able to get around. The process of registering an ‘island car’ can seem a little daunting, but it’s really not that complicated. We even have a page dedicated to walking you through the process, as well as all the forms you will need. Island Registration made easy.

Mobile Phone Reception

As 12th June 2020, both Russell and Macleay Islands have 2 mobile phone towers each.

Russell Island

  • Optus Tower (located at 23 Moreton Outlook, Russell Island) is an Optus owned facility, and supports only Optus mobile phone services.
  • Telstra Tower (located at 63 High Street, Russell Island) is a Telstra owned facility, but also supports Optus and Vodafone mobile phone services.

Macleay Island

Optus Monopole (located at 31 Wandoo Avenue, Macleay Island) is an Optus owned facility, but also supports Vodafone mobile phone services.
Telstra Tower (located at 6 Pelican Street, Macleay Island) is a Telstra owned facility and supports only Telstra mobile phone services.

Supermarkets and Grocery Stores

The islands have a decent selection of places to get your groceries. All of them can be found in our Business Directory, but we will list some here for your convenience.

Russell Island has the largest supermarket across the islands, in the form of a Supa IGA. It is only a short walk from the Russell Island jetty, so is somewhat accessible to all islanders.

Macleay Island has both a SPAR supermarket and a 5-star convenience store.

Other options

As well as the supermarkets, there is My Health Aisle on Russell Island and Macleay Island.

Lamb Island has the  Lamb Island Convenience Store located near the jetty, which carries most essential items.

Karragarra Island currently has no shops, however, it is a free ferry ride to the others islands.

Mail and Package Delivery

For the most part, regular mail and most packages are handled by Australia Post, just as they are on the mainland. However, where some newcomers come unstuck, is when some parcels are marked as “DELIVERED” even though they have not actually been delivered to you.

This happens when certain mainland courier services are used and they do not service the islands themselves. This also happens generally for large items (fridges, freezers, furniture, TVs etc).

The reason this happens is, the mainland courier companies hand those items over to a company called Bay Islands Transport. The package is marked as “DELIVERED” as far as the courier company is concerned and it’s left up to Bay Islands Transport to do the ‘last mile’ delivery service. This generally happens within 1-2 days. So if you get a parcel marked as “DELIVERED” but you don’t have it, don’t stress, give Bay Islands Transport a call and see if it is there.



… be continued.