Don’t be fooled: North Stradbroke Island may sit just 30 kilometres east of Brisbane’s Cleveland but it feels a world away.
Brisbane folks can easily access the island via ferry, water taxi or flyer. Of course, if you wanted the more money-friendly route, take the Stradbroke Ferry. Departing from Toondah Harbour in the town of Cleveland and docking at Dunwich, these trips take approximately 45 minutes each way. A return trip ticket costs only $16 per person (prices increase with a car), so we’d say that’s an affordable holiday.
The whole trip takes around two hours from Brisbane CBD, but once you plonk your bare feet onto the shore, it’ll be worth the journey.
What to Do
Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre offers scuba diving trips from Friday to Tuesday. With experienced guides and over 15 dive sites to visit, this is popular all year round. Dive down below and try to spot manta rays and leopard sharks in summer and grey nurse sharks and humpback whales in winter. If you haven’t been certified as an open water diver – no worries, you can sign up for the try scuba diving program.
Go for a dip in Brown Lake, the tea-stained water is due to the surrounding trees’ shadows. Sitting in Dunwich, you’ll notice how quiet and serene it is (not many tourists end up going). The best way to reach the lake is by car because the walk there is quite strenuous. The water, although brown, is quite cool and refreshing on a hot summer day.
Brighten up your day with a nice and early kayak tour. Setting off at 8:30, start the kayaking adventure to Peel Island. The whole tour takes four hours, and you’ve got to stop along the way to spot dugongs, turtles and dolphins playing in the bay. Near Peel Island is the Shipwreck of the Platypus which sank in 1930. From here, get your flippers and snorkels out to swim out to the wreckage.
Located right near Dunwich, sandboarding is a fun way to spend a day in Straddie. Kingfisher Tours provide the boards and the speed wax so all you have to remember is your sunscreen and camera. You won’t want to miss those epic stacks.
North Gorge Walk
Stride it out on the breathtaking North Gorge Walk. It loops its way across jutting twin headlands for 1.5 kilometres (around 45 minutes). Witness the migrating humpback whales, and giant sea turtles riding the waves below the boardwalk.
Explore Deadman’s Beach
In 1902 a ship sunk in the Coral Sea just off Point Lookout. 50 years later, a skeleton and boot were uncovered in a nearby beach, hence the name, Deadman’s Beach. Putting the horrible history behind, this beach is one of the prettiest spots in the whole of Straddie. If you sit on the top of the grassy hill you can easily spot the annual migration of humpback whales. On the other end of the beach lay rock pools and a massive sand dune.
Where to Eat
Start the day in Dunwich for orange almond cake and coffee from Island Fruit Barn. Then after some exploring in the area, you’ll start to get hungry for a lunch feast. Head to the quaint seafarers’ haunt The Little Ship Club for a classic serve of fish and chips and a cold beer, with views out across Moreton Bay.
And before you head for dinner, don’t forget to reward yourself for all that exploring with a creamy mango cone from Oceanic Gelati in Point Lookout. Then walk around 20 minutes up the road to The Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel for dinner. It’s unmissable for sundowners and a classic pub grub served with a generous helping of stunning sea views.
Where to Stay
Find your accommodation in the mixture of privately-owned beach shacks, self-contained apartments, resorts and camp spots perched on the road into Point Lookout – an ideal base for day trips and island adventures.
Camping (or glamping) is the best way to accurately see an area. North Stradbroke Island is home to tonnes of campsites, it just depends on which part of the island you want to sleep on.
On the east side of the island, you’ll hit Amity Point. Offering glamping, camping and cabins. They’ve got all the facilities available, including free Wi-Fi, for those who can’t unplug for a weekend.
Right up the top in Point Lookout sits Cylinder Beach. This location is more centred towards the hub of town. It’s extremely close to the shops and eateries, plus art galleries and markets. Set up the tent on the unpowered site and run to catch a wave in the surf.
If its beach camping you’re interested in, Main Beach, located in Dunwich, is your ticket to roughing it. With 4WD access only and a dog-friendly campground, you’ll be guaranteed to make lifetime memories. So far the cheapest site, at under $20 per person, you’re only steps away from the water. Hot tip – don’t forget to bring your own toilet.
The hotels and resorts on the island are scattered along the coastal regions. They offer beachfront views with excellent service and almost always provide parking areas for guests. You won’t find any 5-star private villas out here and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Each accommodation brings a high level of comfort to the rooms and it will truly feel like home.
The Allure Resort Stradbroke Island, Pandanus Palms Resort and Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel are all huddled around the same area. Each of these locations offers rooms with full kitchens, therefore giving you the self-contained options.