Discover an island paradise of the coast of Brisbane on North Stradbroke Island.
WORDS Katie Skinner
When you mention island holidays the usual picture-perfect destinations come to mind – Maui, Hayman, Bora Bora, Santorini and Capri to name a few. Not many think of North Stradbroke Island, situated only 15 kilometres off the Brisbane coastline with it’s stunning coast and incredible array of sea life, flora and fauna.
The last time I visited North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) was over 15 years ago. My best friend and I took our kids over for a long weekend and I remember a magical mini break filled with swimming, fresh prawns and fishing. We even had the experience of a dugong coming out of Moreton Bay and flopping down next to us as we fished, watching us lazily before heading off.
Those kids are now adults and I haven’t been back to North Stradbroke since so I was looking forward to seeing if the second largest sand island in the world still held the same magic for me.
How to Get There
Getting there is pretty simple, a 45-minute trip where you can take your own transport by car ferry, or catch a water taxi or the flyer if you plan to leave the car behind. They all depart from Toondah Harbour in the Brisbane coastal suburb of Cleveland and disembark on the island at the small town of Dunwich.
The island covers over 275 square kilometres so taking your own car is handy for getting around or consider hiring a 4WD and taking in some of the amazing beach drives and off-road tracks.
What to Do
North Stradbroke has one of the best vantage points in Queensland for onshore whale watching. We pulled up at Frenchmans Lookout and before we could even get out of the car we had spotted migrating humpback whales frolicking off shore. As we sat and ate our picnic, we were treated to spectacular whale watching viewing of mothers and their calves.
You can witness some of the most incredible coastal scenery, particularly on the North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout. Kangaroos graze alongside the walking path, while the views hold countless photo opportunities with whales and dolphins surfing the waves alongside surfers who come to use the closest surf beach to Brisbane.
Visit the quaint village of Amity, which is located 16km from Point Lookout. The calm water of the Amity swimming enclosure is the ideal location for a dip or try a spot of fishing off the Amity jetty. As we strolled along the Amity jetty, a dolphin decided to put on a show, following us up and down as we walked the length of the platform.
What to Eat
Another experience that should not be missed is trying the local Dialba oysters. Between the months of September and February, you can purchase the creamy and plump Diabla oysters directly from oyster farmers, Greg and Ingrid Nankervis’ home in Amity. These oysters are grown in the pristine, clear water of Moreton Bay and are a foodie’s favourite.
The brown lake is an easy drive from Dunwich and worth a visit to see the tea tree stained water. The day we visit it was lovely and quiet and as it is a little off the main tourist track, it’s a lovely, serene spot for a refreshing swim on a hot day.
One of our favourite ways to end our day was to watch the sun go down at Cylinder Beach while eating a prawn and chorizo pizza from Straddie Wood Fired Pizza.
If a classic bistro meal is in order, then try the Manta Ray Bistro at Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel for great pub meals with expansive Coral Sea views to drink in while you eat. In need of a coffee fix? You can’t go past The Blue Room for a caffeine hit that rivals some of the best coffee houses in Brisbane.
There’s plenty more to do when visiting North Straddie such as 4WD adventures, swimming in the Blue Lake, surfing the sand dunes and scuba diving and snorkelling around Shag Rock and Flat Rock.
For accommodation you have your choice of camping grounds and caravan parks all the way through to luxury beach front apartments, glamping and plenty of AirBnB homes to choose from. Just make sure you book in enough time to take in all this incredibly beautiful and magical island has to offer.