White sandy beaches, lakes, wetlands and bushland as well as its slow pace, all only an hour and half from Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island feels like an oasis. Also known as Straddie or North Straddie, it’s Minjerribah to the Quandamooka people, situated within Moreton Bay off the Queensland coast, North Stradbroke Island is the world’s second largest sand island measuring 28 kilometres long and 11 kilometres wide.
How To Get There
Transport options to and from North Stradbroke Island are water taxi, passenger ferry or vehicle ferry. These travel between Cleveland 40 minutes south of Brisbane and Dunwich on Straddie regularly each day, taking 25 minutes by water taxi and 45 minutes by ferry. We travelled by vehicle ferry taking Walter our 4WD.
Where We Stayed
North Stradbroke Island has holiday units, motels, backpackers and campgrounds. Only two campgrounds allow dogs, both which can only be accessed by 4WD (requiring a 4WD permit) – Main Beach and Flinders Beach.
Flinders Beach between Amity Point and Point Lookout was our choice as we travel with our border collie Chika. We were able to get a site with some grass, well away from other people to set up our small tent which was nice. The only downer was the march flies, they were horrendous.
What We Did
Two nights and three days was all the time we had on North Stradbroke Island. We made the most of it by arriving at 9am on day one and departing at 5pm on day three. We were able to do and see a lot of what Straddie has to offer, but we were kept busy.
Dunwich (pronounced Dun-ich) is Straddie’s main village and even so we spent little time here:
The Dunwich foreshore has parks with picnic tables, amenities and areas to swim. There also some nearby. We ate lunch there on our second day while watching the ferries come and go.
Dunwich has one of Queensland’s oldest cemeteries dating back to 1847. The cemetery has a lot of history, however our purpose of visiting the cemetery was the possibility of seeing koalas. We did not see any here.
Point Lookout a headland with white sandy surf beaches, restaurants and cafes, speciality shops, surf club, holiday accommodation and more, it is the main tourist area on the island. Here we:
North Gorge Walk
A 1.5km boardwalk which winds around the gorge through bushland and provides panoramic views of the ocean. A fairly easy and thoroughly enjoyable walk and with dogs permitted on a lead, Chika enjoyed it too.
White sand, clear blue water and great natural beauty, North Stradbroke Island’s beaches are nothing less than stunning. Surf beaches, protected beaches with small waves and the calmer water of the bay, as well as dog friendly beaches, there is a beach to suit everyone. The beaches we visited were:
Frenchman’s Beach and Dunes Rocks
A non-swimming beach accessed by steep steps, we walked up to Dune Rocks, a rocky outcrop at the far end. This beach is best done at low tide and explored.
South Gorge Beach
A small beach surrounded by high rock walls on three sides and an open outlook to the sea, gave the feeling of being somewhere intimate and cosy. Loved this beach.
At low tide Cylinder Beach is wide expanse of white sand and has a channel of water protected by sand bars from the ocean’s waves. It is a stunningly beautiful beach. It is also patrolled.
Amity Point is a small fishing village. On the bay with calm waters, it is a great spot for kayaking, snorkelling and swimming. Be aware though, sharks frequent these waters so make your own decisions about getting in the water. Here we:
Amity Point Jetty
Popular for fishing, the jetty is also the main feature of the Amity Point foreshore.
Dolphins are regular visitors at the Amity Point coming most days around 5.30am and 5.30pm. Cost-free, in a beautiful location seeing the dolphins was a highlight of our trip.
Kayaking Wallum Creek We launched our kayak from the Amity Point boat ramp, paddled south following the shoreline until we found the entry to Wallum Creek among the mangroves. There we saw a kingfisher, enjoyed a swim, snorkelling and the serenity.
Amity Point has a significant erosion problem and to manage this rock walls have been built along the shoreline. These rock walls have become the home to marine life.
Rock Wall South of Jetty
Along the first rock wall south of the jetty we saw coral (some not a lot) and colourful reef fish. We also saw a sea turtle surface nearby but unfortunately due to poor visibility we couldn’t see it the water even with our snorkels.
Rock Wall North of Jetty
Along the rock walls north of the jetty, past the boat ramps there were larger examples of coral, more reef fish and a wobbegong shark. This was our pick of the places to snorkel in Amity Point.
A creek of seawater among the mangroves isn’t our usual choice of a snorkel spot but its good to do something different sometimes. Here we saw schools of silver fish and hermit crabs. Sea turtles and stingrays are often found in the creek but we didn’t see any.
Facing west, the sunsets at Amity Point are breathtaking. With plenty of picnic tables provided along the foreshore it was a wonderful place to eat a sunset picnic dinner before heading back to camp for the night.
North Stradbroke Island has a healthy number of koalas. Keen to see our first in the wild, outside of a zoo or animal park we kept a lookout everywhere we went. Then we saw one! An adorable koala high in a tree on the road into Amity, sitting doing not much other than shooing flies away.
Alfred Martin Way and Main Beach
Alfred Martin Way is the sealed road that runs from Dunwich across the middle of Straddie to Main Beach on the east coast. Along this road there are lakes to visit.
Lake Bummiera (Brown Lake)
Lake Bummiera is the traditional name of the lake. Also known as Brown Lake due to the colour of the water from tannins seeping from paperbark melaleucas into the lake’s water. Visiting the lake before 6am without another soul around, the peacefulness made it easy to see why it is significant to local Quandamooka people.
Karboora (Blue Lake)
Karboora is also culturally important to the Quandamooka people and is accessed via walking tracks. The blue clear fresh water of the lake was incredibly enticing so we swam, the water felt like silk on our skin.
Our advice is to do the longer tracks on the way to the lake and leave the shorter, easier middle track for your return to the carpark especially if the weather is hot. All total we walked a circuit of 7.8km to the lake and back to the carpark.
Main Beach runs the length of the east coast of North Stradbroke Island for 33 kilometres and for almost its entire length four-wheel-driving is permitted. We always love a beach drive, something about it feels free and invigorating but this particular beach drive was made more special by sea eagles flying majestically along the beach as we drove.
Unfortunately, though our exit from the beach across the white deep soft sand wasn’t so majestic. We got bogged, wheels buried up to the undercarriage. So down on our bellies we were with hands and shovel until we dug Walter our 4WD out, and on the second attempt at a higher speed he made it off the beach.
The springs are located along the East Coast Rd and were a freshwater source for the Aboriginal people who inhabited Straddie. Easy to access along a very short boardwalk it takes little effort to visit the springs, however we felt underwhelmed when we saw the springs.
$148 – vehicle Ferry (4WD and two passengers) $39 – Camping Fees $47 – 4WD permit $50 – Fuel (bought on the mainland) $65 – Food (purchased on and off the island) $35 – dome tent $19 – blow up mattress
$403 total ($134 per day)
In three days we fell in love with North Stradbroke Island and highly recommend everyone add it to there list of must visit places in Queensland. Just don’t all go at once because it was the feeling of being one of only a few people lucky enough to be there that gave it that extra special appeal.
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