Experience the Best of the Summer at North Stradbroke Island

Summer is in full swing. The heat is up and people are preparing for their vacation getaways. In Brisbane, you don’t have to look far to find an exciting place to spend a warm summer day away from hectic city life, but still close enough to home. North Stradbroke Island is the perfect destination for a great day trip with picturesque views and plenty of fun activities for the whole family.

stradbroke3The island is reached through a ferry at Toondah Harbour at Cleveland, in East Brisbane. Getting to Cleveland is a 40-minute drive from the CBD, also accessible via a one-hour train ride–a 6 Zone journey. You can find train prices here.http://translink.com.au/tickets-and-fares/fares-and-zones After reaching Cleveland station, it is only a matter of a 5-minute bus ride before you arrive at the ferry terminal. The island can be accessed via water taxi or vehicle ferry. Stradbroke Flyer and Stradbroke Ferries operate water taxis from Toondah Harbour, with the journey taking around 25 minutes. The services run hourly from 4:55 AM to 7:25 PM. The Stradbroke Ferries-run car ferries take 50 minutes to complete the journey. It is advised to make advanced bookings to take advantage of the best rates.

stradbroke4Getting around the island can be done via car, with the sealed roads making the best of what the island has to offer easily accessible. If a 4WD is brought along, make sure you have the appropriate permits and information on beach driving. Commuters will be happy to know that there are buses on the island, which has a schedule that corresponds with water taxi times almost exactly. It should be noted that the bus does not run at night. In case of getting stranded at nighttime, there is one taxi operating on the island. Cyclists can opt to take their bikes out for as far as 20 kilometre trips or for leisurely rides on the street of Amity or Point Lookout. Ultimately, walking is still your best bet as the island has paths perfect for a good stroll while taking in the sights and sounds of all the island has to offer.

There are three main areas you can stay on the island, depending on what you want out of your holiday: Point Lookout, Amity, and Dunwich.

Point Lookout is the tourist centre of the island, offering a wide array of resorts and apartments. The only scuba centre on the island is available to enjoy at the backpackers’ lodge at Adder Rock. Those looking for holiday houses will find no shortage of them at Point Lookout, with something to suit every budget– from modern beach houses that come with whale-watching towers to simple surf shacks. There is always the option to camp at Flinders and Main beaches and the Adder Rock and Cylinder Beach camping grounds have toilets and barbecues available.

stradbroke5For those looking to feel a long way out from home, Amity is a great place to relax in the quiet of nature, as long as you are willing to part with some of life’s luxuries. Camping is the main offering at Amity Point. Beachfront spots are available if you arrive early, with glamping options from Straddie Camping for those who would like a little more luxury. There are also several holiday houses available for renting at Amity Point.

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When taking the passenger or vehicle ferry to North Stradbroke Island, you will find yourself in the island’s cultural centre–Dunwich. Most of the locals live in Dunwich, which ensures plenty of amenities featuring several takeaway restaurants as well as a good-sized supermarket. Since it is not the primary tourist destination, the accommodation available does not vary much from private houses with holiday rental services, though there are camping grounds and a caravan park at Bradbury’s Beach.

stradbroke6There is a long list of things to do and enjoy on Stradbroke Island to help ensure your vacation is a memorable one. Wildlife watching is a popular activity. Wildlife are right at home on the island and there is no shortage of animals all over Straddie. Dolphins arrive at the jetty at Amity Point at both sunrise and sunset, while kangaroos and koalas abound and are easy to spot. North Stradbroke’s natural features attract 253 species of birds providing an excellent chance for birdwatching. Whale watching even without leaving the shore is possible throughout June to November; there are several viewing platforms made for this purpose. For a more aquatic adventure, you can meet the fish face-to-face via scuba diving. There are manta ray pods, leopard sharks, turtles, and plenty of fish out on Shag Rock and Flat Rock. If you’ve never dived before, you can get qualified at Manta Lodge while you are on the island. Joining a kayak tour to Peel Island to see the shipwreck of the Platypus (which sank in 1930) might let you see dugongs and turtles. The bioluminescent plankton literally light up Straddie’s shore in the evenings.

stradbroke1If wildlife isn’t your thing, you can take in the local scenery and enjoy the island in different ways. The 1.2km North Gorge Walk boasts an excellent view of the sea and greenery, with the Oceanic Gelati Bar conveniently located at the entrance of the walk as a reward for conquering the stairs. The equally picturesque walk through Naree Budjong Djara National Park will grant you stunning vistas of Blue Lake– but make sure not to jump in; the lake is a culturally important area for the local Quandamooka people. The views of the water are scenic, as are the clear skies. Being far away from the city means bright, starry nights best viewed out on the beach.

stradbroke8If thrill is what you seek, Straddie is the perfect place to catch both sun and waves with surfing spots for experienced and beginner surfers alike. Those who need surfing lessons can avail of them at North Stradbroke Island Surf School. On calm days, you can head down to Flinders Beach to hire a stand-up paddleboard and hit the waves that way, or hire an instructor from Straddie Stand Up Paddle and learn to SUP for yourself. If you prefer land to the waves, you have the option of surfing down sand dunes all over the island. Cyclists can take advantage of the winding, sealed roads and head out on bikes either by bringing your own or hiring one on the island.

stradbroke7When all else is said and done, you can head down to the piers for a spot of fishing, grab a massage at the Stradbroke Hotel, play a round of golf or bowls, or go shopping at the Sunday Straddie Markets. You even have the option of bringing a piece of your trip home with you by purchasing plants not available on the mainland and growing them back in the city.

There’s always an adventure to be found at North Stradbroke Island. For more information, visit this website.