Right on Brisbane’s eastern doorstep, North Stradbroke Island (“Straddie” to the familiar) is one of Australia’s east coast natural treasures and a perfect escape destination. Somehow, the secret has been well kept and it is only in recent years that Stradbroke Island has begun to shine on the tourism and property radar.
Travel to Straddie via the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland will take approximately 50 minutes on the vehicle ferry. Cleveland is only a half-hour drive from Brisbane International Airport and Brisbane central, and an drive from the Gold Coast. The ferry ride across Moreton Bay is the first of a series of experiences that make visiting Stradbroke Island such a fantastic trip.
Stradbroke Island is 27,530 hectares, making it the world’s second largest sand island. The elongated sand island shields much of the southern part of Moreton Bay and the smaller islands from the ocean swells. It’s beaches are accessible by four-wheel drive, bicycle or on foot, with numerous good camping sites situated all the way down Main Beach, and beautiful views appear visible from almost everywhere on the island.
The 35 kilometres of white sandy beaches fringing the island’s eastern side runs from Point Lookout at the north to Jumpin Pin in the south. From the Point lookout headland, the concrete jungle of the Gold Coast can be clearly visible, and is a reminder of the contrast to the slower pace of Straddie.
North Stradbroke (Minjerriba to the indigenous Noonuccal tribe) was home to celebrated Aboriginal poet Kath Walker, or Oodgeroo Noonuccal. There is much Aboriginal and European history surrounding Dunwich where water taxis and barges moor.
The calm waters of Moreton Bay ripple against the shores of the island’s western fishing towns. The lack of agriculture and the filtering effects of the sand produces clean water which fish, and particularly Stradbroke Rock Oysters thrive in.
North Stradbroke attracts 4WDers, fishermen, surfers and beach-lovers to the expansive lengths of beach and rugged granite headlands, and the Island offers a wide range of accommodation, restaurants, cafes and holiday infrastructure. With a diversity of attractions on offer and spectacular areas to explore, North Stradbroke is a popular holiday place for families, couples and adventure-seekers alike. The ideal way to see the Island is by Four Wheel Drive, but there are many stunning coastal walks and a mountain bike and whale watching map are an easier and more environmentally sound alternative.
Point Lookout is the main tourist hub, and only a thirty kilometre drive on a sealed road from Dunwich. The North Gorge Headland is 40 metres above sea level and recognised as a leading land-based whale-watch area in between May and November, and world-class surfing and fishing throughout the year.
Point Lookout’s beautiful beaches and headlands are safe for swimming, surfing and fishing year round. Whales, dolphins, turtles and manta rays are regularly viewed from the spectacular North Gorge at the northern part of the island. The island is listed as one of the world’s most ecologically important wetlands and has several freshwater lakes, waterways and lagoons that are accessible by 4WD or on a tour with one of Straddie’s friendly tour operators.
One of the best experiences of the island is the fresh seafood directly from local fishermen. Look for the signs at Amity Point and Point Lookout to direct you to their homes and the freshest, most delicious catch-of-the-day around. For those that prefer the work be done for them, Straddie’s restaurants and cafes all make use of this wonderful island resource on the menus.
“The Point” offers several alfresco style cafes, a bakery, chemist, post office, newsagent, corner store and supermarket. The island also has its own bus service which links all three towns to the ferries and water taxis.
North Stradbroke Island is the ultimate paradise for the many enthusiasts who visit each year. On a good day it’s possible to surf right past the pub, along the evocatively named Cylinders Beach, on waves that peel dreamily for hundreds of metres. Stick ten bucks in the back pocket of your boardies and you can drop in for a quick beer on your way back around -you may even bump into world ranked surfer and local Bede Durbidge! Stradbroke boasts what is perhaps the last truly old-school surf shop in the country, that makes it’s business selling surf equipment rather than fashion.
The jewels in the Straddie’s crown is Point Lookout and the natural wonder of the North Gorge Walk, along with the surf, the choice of beaches, all sheltered in differing winds, the whale watching, and the spectacular coastal walk around the gorges. If you are looking for Stradbroke Island Accommodation, make sure you visit: http://www.discoverstradbroke.com.au/