Have you been to Straddie yet? It’s the question anyone from around the bayside here on the Redlands Coast will ask anyone they meet who happen to be visiting this part of South East Queensland for the first time. If they don’t, there’s something wrong with them 🙂 And really, anyone who does visit this part of the great South East Queensland definitely should try to make some time to visit this underrated, laidback, naturally wonderful part of the world for so many, many reasons.
North Stradbroke Island ( Minjerribah is the Island’s traditional owner’s name, being the Quandamooka people) is the second largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island being the largest and then Moreton Island coming in third. Queensland has the four largest sand Islands in the world, how lucky are we!
Now I am not going to tell you exactly what you should be doing with your day or two on the island as I think you need to just come over and explore at your own pace and leisure and do things that make YOU happy. There are also several blog posts already posted on various websites on what you can do in a forty eight hour window if you really want to, but you know what? You don’t have to do it all or see it all just in one day or even two. The island is not that sort of blow in, blow out, loud kind of place. It’s the sort of island that encourages you, gently whispers and persuades you to peel back the layers slowly and in your own time to discover it’s uniqueness, history, beauty spots, people, culture, wildlife and hospitality.
A couple of days on Straddie is something I highly recommend to anyone and everyone who will listen, visitors and locals alike when you need some downtime, a breather, break, a getaway. It’s something we like to do every couple of months if we can, when we need a quick, local battery recharge to just take in some saltwater, sand and island life. An idyllic island mini break that has you feeling like you have spent a much longer time away than you actually have, simply because of just how beautiful the island is and yet, how familiar and laid back and unpretentious it all is. We never really make plans for our stays ( apart from booking in accommodation and maybe dinner if we think the weekend is going to be busy over there), and I am happy to say that on this occasion, the old saying about those who fail to plan, plan to fail just simply doesn’t ring true generally*:)
Why do I love Straddie so much? Well, you see, I have been coming over here regularly for my whole life, it feels like a second home to me. When I was a little girl, my father used to joke that we were going on our usual overseas holiday due to having to catch the barge over the bay to get there 🙂 Cheeky thing he is! When I was in my teens (I even think we were still in high school actually), a couple of my girlfriends and I would come over as foot passengers on the barge on a Friday afternoon, someone would always collect us from the barge( until we were old enough to drive ourselves over) and drop us off to camp at Cylinder Beach always with our parent’s approval because of how safe it was and I really do think it still is to this day. A couple of cans of baked beans, a can opener and $5 in our pockets for a hamburger or two, some chips and a can of Coke or chocolate milk at the Straddie Roadhouse, we were never hungry 🙂 I loved those times…Then once I married, I was able to introduce Straddie to my husband and he fell under her spell as well. So, we now have spent many holidays here, firstly as just us two and then bringing our daughter over regularly from when she was just a little baby a few months old and also sharing her magic with friends and family who visit.
For us now, where we live, it is actually faster to jump on a ferry in Cleveland and catch the bus to Point Lookout or Cylinder Beach and have a beautiful swim there (and a long leisurely lunch as well) plus not to mention an amazing beach day, rather than sit in the traffic to and from the Gold or Sunshine Coasts.. Why wouldn’t you?
For longer visits, we find catching the 5pm Barge over on a Friday night, taking the 4WD over, and then booking the 5pm barge home from Dunwich on Sunday arvo gives you two nice full days to explore, relax, swim, eat, sleep, poke around the shops and generally forget life on the mainland for forty eight hours. And there is nothing quite like cruising back to the mainland while the sun is setting in front of you.. depending on what time of the year you go of course.
We have decided though, that later this year we will be going back to a little spot we found for at least seven nights to get that true relaxed, blissed out state that only a longer beach holiday can give you where you wind down into the ebb and flow of holiday time in much the same way as the tides…
So first off, how do you get to Straddie? So many ways…You can either take your car or 4WD over on the barge, however you don’t need a 4WD as all the main roads around the island are sealed and in good condition. This is about a 45 minute boat trip from Cleveland and is extremely enjoyable in it’s own right. There is something magical about jumping on that barge and just anticipating the delights of island life that await you. 4WDs are great if you love beach driving and like to get up the beach for a fish or a little solitude. You will need a Beach Driving Permit if you want to do this. They cost around $48 for a yearly pass and can be purchased on the the Island depending on what time you arrive there or online prior to arriving: https://www.minjerribahcamping.com.au/plan-your-stay/4wding/4wd-access
You can go over as a foot passenger on the Stradbroke Flyer or the Water taxi service which all depart from Cleveland. There is a local Bus service that meets these services which offers a daily travel pass for about $10 so you can see plenty of the island in a day. There are several other options for exploring this beautiful island and my suggestion is to have a look at the Stradbroke Island website for further information to plan what works best for you.
There are so many places to stay on the Island, you will definitely find something to suit your budget and your requirements. There are inexpensive camping on the beach options ( You will need a permit from Minjerribah Camping to do this) or in several well appointed camping grounds with spots for tents, caravans, Glamping tents and family sized self contained cabins. There are cute and iconic beach shacks, BnBs and luxurious holiday homes with views you will never want to leave. There are several Motel and apartment style options as well and you can even hire a camper trailer over there to take up the beach or in one of the camping grounds. I guess what you need to look at for your own needs, is obviously budget, length of stay ( some places have a minimum of three night stays to seven night stays), how much you want to do when you get over there and whether you have access to a vehicle. Is it important to go to sleep to the sounds of waves crashing, waking up to see the sea out in front of you? Or are you happy to throw a line in and catch your dinner in a more calm water environment? There are definitely plenty of options. The Stradbroke Island website and Minjerribah Camping website have very detailed information about the accommodation and a wealth of information in general about the island.
For us, usually if we are going over for a couple of days, we will book into either a self contained apartment or a Motel style room somewhere around Point Lookout because we love the surf beach and going for a drive up the beach when we go over . This generally means you can then park the car and walk to most places if you want to grab a bite to eat or have a look around the shops or go for a swim at one of the life guard Patrolled beaches in the rest of your time. I am not much of a beach camper in the middle of Summer these days, I like aircon and a shower and clean sheets that aren’t full of sand so this option suits us. There are plenty of great places to enjoy a hearty and healthy breakfast, fast and fresh or long and lazy lunches and sunset drinks and dinner while checking out the views, so we never worry about packing heaps of food to take over. After all, this is supposed to be a mini break where even the cook gets some down time I figure.. Also, did I mention the best Gelati ever at Point Lookout which I rush back and throw in the freezer at our accommodation so I have a late night snack on the balcony watching the waves roll in the moonlight? You can always walk it off tomorrow with a walk around the Gorge.. Dunwich and Amity Point also have a number of delicious options including Bistro meals, fresh baked Pizza, bakery items, and an abundant Asian food menu at the RSL at Dunwich.
So my tips for you if you have never been before and want to get maximum enjoyment out of your time there without being told (mostly) where to go or what to do would be as follows:
Pack a small esky if possible ( you can buy ice on the island) because if you love seafood, you will be hardpressed to find fresher than from the suppliers on the island. We love Rufus King Seafoods at Amity Point but there are also several other seafood suppliers at Point Lookout who offer amazing fresh local seafood. You will find them, trust me on that one. The esky comes in handy for keeping any snacks (aka wine and cheese) cool as well while you are travelling and a quick lunch up the beach for us would usually be half a kilo of Straddie prawns, fresh bread, real butter and pepper and not much else.. That esky comes in handy 🙂
Try to support and enjoy the local food places over there. Straddie relies heavily on tourism to support the people who are lucky enough to call the island home. Maybe pack some snacks and of course, if you have special dietary requirements, taking your food is a given, but in general there are several excellent places to eat. I hope I have whet your appetite in my little paragraph above about the offerings. All budgets and tastes are pretty much catered for somewhere. We do love the Straddie Beach Hotel for either dinner or a casual lunch( I am not being paid to support them) .. just wait til you see the view if you go there and you will understand why. Great steaks, seafood specials and an extensive menu with something to please everyone. The burgers are always very popular for lunch I have noticed!
I was recently told that the Whales Way Restaurant is doing amazingly good food as well and if you were looking for that somewhere a little different for a special occasion, this restaurant looks beautiful.
Be mindful that earlier in the week, say Monday and Tuesday, a lot of places close as this is their weekend I suppose, and they need to shop ( on the mainland for a lot of their supplies) and prepare for the coming week, so your choices may be a little limited, but definitely not extinct.
While you are supporting the local food shops, have a look around the local shops in general. You will be surprised just what you can find on Straddie. There are makers, artists and shops selling gorgeous clothes, bed linens, hand printed and designed cushions, jewellery, Indigenous art, gifts, trinkets, swimwear, local honey and local surfboards by Bob Mintee .. You will find most of them in and around Point Lookout but also Dunwich and Amity Point have some great little finds as well. Everyone on the island is really friendly, so just ask any of the locals to point you in the right direction if you want to find something, but generally you won’t have too much trouble locating these little gems. Have fun exploring, you never know what you will find.
If the beach is just too busy/hot/wild/windy for a swim, there are other options to cool off. Think the Brown Lake or Eastern side of the Island at Amity Point where there are shady trees to relax under and enjoy a cooling dip at the same time. Plenty of dolphins inhabit the waters around here so don’t be surprised if you see them swimming close by.
Be respectful of the Island and it’s cultures and rules. No dogs are allowed in the National Parks, but there are lots of places you can take your dog including some of the camping areas. Only drive on designated 4WD tracks and adhere to the rules on Beach driving with the tides ( which will be explained to you when you purchase your Permit) . Swim only between the flags at the Patrolled beaches ( Point Lookout and Cylinder). Straddie can have very wild and unpredictable seas and this is a no brainer that you keep yourself and your family members safe in and around the water.
Take some insect repellent, sunscreen and water ( it can get very hot on the beach and you can become dehydrated quite quickly).
You don’t need to dress up on the island at all if you don’t want to. The dress code for most places is pretty casual, but no barefeet are allowed in most of the licensed places for the obvious reasons and any time is a good time to go. Pack light and enjoy the freedom I say.
So there you have it. I hope you have enjoyed my little epic novel about Straddie and I hope I have inspired you to take a trip for yourself if you haven’t yet been. I am sure you will have a memorable experience whatever you do over there. If you have any questions, let me know and I will do my best to answer them for you or let me know if you do get over there and what you thought of it… Or maybe you love Straddie too and I have missed something, if so, please feel free to let me know.
*Public Holidays, School Holidays and Weekends can be busy on Straddie. Day trips will generally be OK, but if you want to stay over, best to book.
I acknowledge the traditional custodians on the lands and seas where I visit. I pay my respects to elders, past, present and future.