Right on Brisbane’s eastern coast, North Stradbroke Island (“Straddie” to the initiated) is one of Australia’s natrual treasures -a perfect escape destination. Something of a secret, it is only recently that Straddie has started to sparkle on the tourism and real-estate radar.
Travel to Straddie via the township of Cleveland will take you approximately fifty minutes on the vehicle ferry. Cleveland is only a 30 minute drive from Brisbane International Airport or the centre of Brisbane, and one hour’s 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 fabulous destination.
Stradbroke Island covers 27,530 hectares, which means it 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 many popular camp sites situated down Main Beach, and views are visible from almost everywhere on Straddie.
Thirty-five kilometres of white sandy beaches fringe the island’s eastern side, from Point Lookout in the north to Jumpin Pin in the south. From the Point lookout headland, the buildings of the Gold Coast is often clearly visible, being a reminder of the stark contrast to the slower pace of Straddie.
North Stradbroke (or Minjerriba to the indigenous Noonuccal tribe) was home to renowned Aboriginal poet Kath Walker, or Oodgeroo Noonuccal. There is a large amount of Aboriginal and European history surrounding Dunwich where water taxis and vehicular barges moor.
The calm waters of Moreton Bay lap against the shores of the island’s western fishing towns. With a lack of agriculture and the filtering effects of the sand results in pure water which fish, and particularly Stradbroke Rock Oysters thrive upon.
North Stradbroke attracts four-wheel drivers, fishermen, surfers and beach-lovers to the free stretches of accessible coast and rugged granite headlands, and the Island also has a range of accommodation, restaurants, cafes and holiday infrastructure. With an incredible diversity of attractions to offer and stunningly beautiful places to explore, North Stradbroke is a fantastic 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 destination, and 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 area during from May-November, and world-class surfing and fishing throughout the year.
Point Lookout’s beautiful beaches and headlands are perfect for swimming, surfing and fishing year round. Whales, dolphins, turtles and manta rays are regularly viewed 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 with several freshwater lakes, waterways and lagoons that are accessible by four-wheel drive or on a guided tour with one of Straddie’s tour operators.
One of the best features of the island is being able to purchase 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 delicious resource on the menus.
“The Point” offers a number of alfresco style cafes, a bakery, chemist, post office, newsagent, corner store and supermarket. The island also has a bus service linking all three 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 you can drop in for a beer on your way back around -you may even bump into world ranked surfer and local Bede Durbidge! Stradbroke also boasts what is perhaps the last truly old-school surf shop in the country, that makes it’s business 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 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/