Australia is full of hidden gems but for my money probably the best kept secret of the lot is just one hour from Brisbane in Queensland. North Stradbroke island – affectionately known as ‘Straddie’.
Home to some of the worlds beach beaches and teaming with wildlife Straddie offers a laid back lifestyle reminiscent of the holidays we had when we were kids. With 3 townships it has all the necessary amenities including a police station and a hospital but with a population of only 2000 residents and over 270kms in size it is easy to find a private beach or a picnic spot and be the only people for miles.
Car ferry’s and Water Taxis leave from the Brisbane suburb of Cleveland regulary. Cleveland is about a 40 minute drive from either Brisbane’s CBD or the airport or you can catch a bus or train. Both car ferry companies have licensed cafes and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
You can also do the entire trip easily by public transport.
Catch the bus or train to Cleveland from anywhere in Brisbane – this can take up to an hour from Central station for the train but its a pleasant journey.
Once in Cleveland there is a free bus from the train station to the Ferry terminal and again another bus on the island that can take you over to Amity Point or Point Lookout. You can either be a walk on passenger on the car ferries or catch the ‘Flyer’ ( water taxi) which only takes about 25-30 minutes to get to the island.
Where to stay on North Stradbroke Island
Whilst the ferry’s pull into the town of Dunwich most people head straight to Point Lookout about 20kms on the north east side of the island. Point Lookout has amazing surf beaches that are also suitable for camping and 4WD enthusiasts as well as families. It is also home to one of Australia’s best pubs and in winter its a popular spot for whale watching.
There is also the quaint township of Amity which is on the calm bay side of the island and popular with fishermen and watersports enthusiasts. Its somewhat cheaper to stay in Amity than Point Lookout but it has few cafes or shops.
There is a house that we like to rent and its especially great for 2 families or a large group. Its great value for money and an easy walk to everything.
click here to see more or to book http://beachhouseonstraddie.com.au/
Otherwise we’ve also had some great stays at the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel ( the Pub) which has incredible views, decent meals and a famous outdoor pool table. Keep in mind this is the islands main drinking and wedding venue so if you are after a good nights sleep ask for a room far from the bar area.
to find out more and book a stay at the ‘Pub’ CLICK HERE
What to do on North Stradbroke Island
- The North Gorge/South Gorge walk. Start right across from the bakery ( its well signed) and follow the new boardwalk right around the Gorge. Breathtaking views in every direction and its likely you will see the resident dolphin pods surfing on the North side and Manta Rays on the south. There is also a very high probability that you will come across Kangaroos. They are non aggressive and often happily graze in front of the camera.
- Eat Gelato on the lawn. Every visitor to Straddie ends up at the famous Gelato shop at some point and the best spot to enjoy your purchase is across the road on the lawn. If its winter or spring you will be able to see Whales breaching as they pass by.
- Have a game of outdoor pool. For as long as people can remember and well before the Pub was renovated there has been a pool table outside under the trees that has seen many a game on a hot day. Stay for a meal and a few cold beers and perhaps you’ll meet a few of the local characters as well.
- Picnic at Brown Lake. Located just 3.5kms inland from Dunwich this peaceful spot with white sandy shores and good facilities is named due to the colour of the water stained by the Melaleuca trees. Brown Lake is of significant importance to the 3 aboriginal communities on the island and there is something very spiritual and magical about it.
- Surf, dive or snorkel. The local reefs are teeming with marine life and the surf breaks are some of the best in the country. You can simply paddle out to great breaks from the beache or there are organised tours to do day trips out to the reefs.
- Discover the wildlife. It is quite normal to see Kangaroos, Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Sea Eagles and Manta Rays on any given day. Its even quite common to see koalas crossing the road or perching in trees near roads and in people’s yards. On one trip a few years ago we saw all of these in one day trip as well as a Dugong in the bay on the way over.
- Bushwalking and cycling. There are many bush tracks and paths in the 3 townships and hundreds of kilometres of beach walks. Bikes can either be bought over on the ferry or hired on the island and , as such, it is a popular destination with cyclists of all abilities.
- Fishing,camping and 4WDing. Very popular with Brisbane locals as a fishing and camping destination. There are a number of beachfront camp sites offering both powered and non-powered sites as well as cabins. For more information CLICK HERE
- Go to the beach! There are two beaches patrolled by volunteer surf lifesavers. Cylinder is a great north facing beach that offers calmer conditions for families with children as well as a great surf break. Main Beach is also patrolled but is more exposed. Other beaches such as Deadmans, Frenchmans and Home Beach are great for beach combing and fossiking but always swim between the flags at patrolled beaches.
When to go to North Stradbroke Island
Straddie is fabulous all year round. Even in winter and on the stormiest days the natural beauty and splendour of the island is a wonder to behold. Winter is also whaling season and there are little or few tourists. December – February are the busiest months coinciding with Australian school holidays and Summer but even then, with its capped population and strict development laws Straddie is still a laid back and magical escape. Just dont tell anyone!