North Stradbroke Island

The magnificent North Stradbroke Island is a mere 90 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Brisbane – but it feels like another world.

So, if you’ve been in Queensland’s capital city visiting friends or relatives, or are just ready for a break from the traffic on the Pacific or Bruce Highways, then a few days or more on the largest of Moreton Bay’s many islands could be just what the doctor ordered. Covering 27,530 hectares, the island offers spectacular views, great wildlife spotting opportunities, a relaxed atmosphere … and facilities to suit every budget.

While the miles of white sandy beaches and pristine wilderness – including world heritage fresh water lakes and wetlands – are still intact, you can now also find a range of resorts, private beach houses and a swag of restaurants and cafes. You won’t, however, find traffic lights or high-rises upsetting the island’s laid-back pace of life or its natural beauty.

For that reason, Straddie, as the locals call it, has long been a favourite with grey nomads who can board Sea Stradbroke’s fast car and passenger ferry at Cleveland, a mere 45 minutes east of Brisbane. The luxurious catamaran ferry, which takes 62 cars (including trailers and caravans) and 350 passengers, operates every day from Cleveland’s Toondah Harbour and offers passengers floor to ceiling views of Moreton Bay – and its 350 or so islands. The ferry from the mainland connects to the old township of Dunwich on the island’s west coast, which offers a rich indigenous and pioneer history.

While most of the southern part of the island remains accessible by 4WD only, the three main townships of Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout on the island’s north offer good safe access by sealed roads. Depending on the direction you take, a 20-minute drive from Dunwich will lead you to either Amity Point or Point Lookout, both of which offer beachfront campsites. Amity Point, a quiet fishing village flanked by the calm waters of Moreton Bay, is a popular feeding spot for dolphins, while Point Lookout – the resort hub of Straddie – is Australia’s eastern most point and offers excellent land-based whale-watching from May to November.

Throughout the island you will find fantastic unspoilt beaches, great fishing, sensational views and the opportunity to do as much or as little as you like.

Although no camping is allowed at the island’s Blue Lake National Park, it is certainly well worth an extended visit. It contains the strikingly beautiful Blue Lake and was once considered the site for the capital of Queensland. It was also home to Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), an Aboriginal activist and one of Australia’s best known poets. As well as the lake itself, there are many fine walks in the park and Neembeeba Lookout with its magnificent view over the southern part of North Stradbroke Island, the Pacific Ocean and the Gold Coast is also well worth a look.

As previously mentioned, Australia’s second largest sand island is well suited to exploration by 4WD and you may wish to drop the van off and take to the tracks, or perhaps take advantage of one of the privately-run 4WD tours available. However you choose to spend your time on the island, it’s most certainly a place you’ll wish to come back to once your ‘Big Lap’ has gone full circle.

Relax (this is what it’s all about), check out the magnificent Blue Lake; spend a day or two playing ‘spot the traffic light’; ‘engage 4WD’ and head south.

There are several parks or foreshore camping grounds to choose from. Including those at Adder Rock, Amity Point, Bradburys Beach, Cylinder Beach, Flinders Beach Foreshore, Main Beach Foreshore, Thankful Rest.


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