Right on Brisbane’s eastern doorstep, North Stradbroke Island (’Straddie’ to those familiar) is another 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 tourist and real-estate radar.
Travel to Straddie via the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland will take you approx. 50 minutes using the vehicle ferry. Cleveland is a half-hour drive from Brisbane International Airport and the centre of Brisbane, and an drive from the Gold Coast. The ferry ride across Moreton Bay is the first step that makes visiting Stradbroke Island such a great experience.
Stradbroke Island is 27,530 hectares, which makes 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. The beaches are accessible by four-wheel drive, bicycle or tramping, with a number of good camping sites located down Main Beach, and wonderful 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 buildings of the Gold Coast can be clearly visible, being a reminder of the stark contrast to the more relaxed lifestyle 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 in Dunwich where the water taxis and vehicular barges moor.
The waters of Moreton Bay ripple against the shores of the island’s western fishing towns. With a lack of agriculture and the filtering effects of the sand results in clean water that sea-life, and particularly Stradbroke Rock Oysters thrive upon.
North Stradbroke attracts 4WDers, fishers, surfers and beach-lovers to the expansive lengths of sandy coast and rugged granite headlands, and the Island also has a wide range of accommodation, restaurants, cafes and holiday infrastructure. With a diversity of experiences available and stunningly beautiful spots to discover, North Stradbroke is a great 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 a popular destination, only a 30km drive on a sealed road from Dunwich. The North Gorge Headland is 40m above sea level and recognised as a leading land-based whale-watch site throughout winter, 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 can often be spotted 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 great features on the island is being able to purchase fresh seafood available direct from local fishermen. Look for signs at Amity Point and Point Lookout which will direct you to their homes and the freshest, most delicious catch-of-the-day around. For those that would rather the work be done for them, Straddie’s restaurants and cafes all make use of this fabulous resource in their menus.
“The Point” offers several alfresco style cafes, a bakery, chemist, post office, newsagent, corner store and supermarket. The island also has a bus service linking all 3 towns to 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 drop in for a beer on your way back around -you may even bump into world ranked surfer and local Bede Durbidge! Straddie boasts what is perhaps the last truly old-school surf shop in the country, that focusses on selling surfing gear 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 various 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/