Located on Brisbane’s eastern doorstep, North Stradbroke Island (“Straddie” to the familiar) is one of Australia’s natrual treasures and a perfect escape destination. Somehow, the secret has been well kept and it is only in recent years that Straddie has begun to show up on the tourism and real-estate radar.
Travel to Straddie through the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland takes approx. fifty minutes on the vehicle ferry. Cleveland is only a half-hour drive from Brisbane International Airport and Brisbane central, and one hour’s drive from the Gold Coast. The boat ride across Moreton Bay is the first step that makes visiting Stradbroke Island such a fabulous destination.
Stradbroke Island covers 27,530 hectares, and therefore is 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 on foot, with a number of popular camp sites located all the way down Main Beach, and beautiful views appear visible from almost everywhere on Straddie.
Thirty-five kilometres of white sandy beaches fringe the island’s eastern side, from Point Lookout at the north to Jumpin Pin in the south. From the Point lookout headland, the buildings of the Gold Coast is often clearly visible, and is a reminder of the stark contrast to the slower pace of Straddie.
North Stradbroke (or Minjerriba to the indigenous Noonuccal people) was the home of celebrated Aboriginal poet Kath Walker, or Oodgeroo Noonuccal. There is a large amount of Aboriginal and European history in the area of Dunwich where water taxis and barges moor.
The calm waters of Moreton Bay swish 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 sea-life, and particularly Stradbroke Rock Oysters thrive in.
North Stradbroke attracts 4WDers, fishermen, surfies and beach-lovers to the free lengths of beach and rugged granite headlands, and the Island offers a good range of accommodation, restaurants, cafes and holiday infrastructure. With a wonderful diversity of attractions to offer and stunningly beautiful places to explore, North Stradbroke is a fantastic holiday location 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 thirty kilometre 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 unspoilt beaches and headlands are perfect 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 tip of the island. The island has been 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 guided tour with one of Straddie’s friendly tour operators.
One of the great features on the island is being able to purchase fresh seafood directly from local fishermen. Just look for signs at Amity Point and Point Lookout which direct you to their homes and the freshest 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 delicious island 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 its own bus service which links the 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 drop in for a quick 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 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 different 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/