Affectionately known as Straddie to the locals, North Stradbroke Island is the closest island from Brisbane for a quick island getaway, less than an hour and a half away from the city. It’s great for day trips and weekends, with plenty of beach driving, freshwater lakes and wildlife to spot around the island.
There are three little towns around the island, with Point Lookout claiming to be one of the best land-based whale watching sites in the world. Whales can be spotted here anytime between late May and early November each year, as they make their way down the coast on their annual migration. In the later months you might even spot a mother whale travelling south with her new calf.
We’ve put together everything you need to know to plan your trip to North Stradbroke Island, so let’s jump into it.
How to get to Straddie
Getting to North Stradbroke Island is easy with SeaLink South East Queensland. They operate a vehicle and passenger ferry between Straddie and Cleveland, just out of Brisbane. The ferry is crosses a nice calm passage of water and is an easy ride. You can choose to either stay in your vehicle, or head to the passenger deck during your trip, where you can also find a café.
Tickets to North Stradbroke Island start from $83 one way for a standard car or $92.50 one way for a 4WD or large car, with passenger fares costing $17 per adult for a return trip (or $9 one way), with discounts for children, students and concession.
It takes about 45 to 50 minutes to get from the mainland to Straddie, with regular ferries running every hour to 90 minutes. Make sure to check the timetable for the latest updates.
Permits for Straddie
If you’re bringing your car over to the island and plan to drive on the beach you will need to purchase a vehicle access permit from Minjerribah Camping. Permits cost $53.65 per vehicle for up to one month and can either be purchased online here or at the Adder Rock Camping Ground on the island, on East Coast Road in Point Lookout.
You will have to collect the physical sticker rom the Adder Rock office when you arrive on the island, and the permit must be displayed on your dashboard any time you’re driving along the beach or in restricted bushland. Vehicle access permits are only available for 4WD cars.
What to do
The Gorge Walk is the most popular thing to do on North Stradbroke Island. The walk is only one kilometre long and is quite easy to follow on the dedicated boardwalks. Along the way you’re likely to spot turtles and dolphins in the water, and maybe even a koala or kangaroo along the trail. Between June and November you can also see humpback whales swimming past on their annual migration. This was definitely our highlight from Straddie and is a must-do for anyone coming to visit the island.
The Gorge Walk begins from Point Lookout, just at the end of the car park and works its way around a circuit back to the main street.
If you want to take a dip head around to South Gorge, located right next to the gorge this is such an epic spot for a dip. The gorge here isn’t patrolled however, so it’s only recommended for strong swimmers.
Head to Deadmans Beach to spend a day rockpool hopping along the beach. Check the tide times and visit when the tides are lower to find most of the rockpools out of the water. During high tide the swell can be absolutely huge here, so be careful if you’re going for a swim.
Behind the rockpools along the shoreline you can also find a giant sandhill that you can climb up, which gives you incredible views across the beach and island.
Take a drive along Main Beach, where you can fish, surf and swim right out of your car or park up along the sand for a great beach day. It’s a great place for beach driving, and you can often find that you have the beach almost all to yourself. This is also a patrolled beach, giving you a great safe place to swim on the island.
Our other favourite was Cylinder Beach, which can be found right in front of the camping spots along the island. As well as having a great surf beach, Cylinder Beach also has a nice lagoon running along the sand, which is perfect for a lazy swim and soak in the water.
Check out the Brown Lake, which can be found about 15 minutes from the ferry terminal. This tea tree lake is a sacred place for the local Quandamooka women of the island and is a great place to take a dip. The water was actually lovely and warm and the sandy bank is a perfect picnic spot.
Watch the sun set from Amity Point. There’s a small jetty you can walk along, as well as a grassy park that’s perfect for a fish and chip dinner. You can often spot dolphins swimming by Amity Point if you’re lucky, as well as koalas in the trees.
Amity Point is a great spot for fishing and also has a great calm swimming enclosure that’s right in the ocean.
Head to some of the local galleries to check out all kinds of artwork created on the island. You can find the main ones in Dunwich, including Made on Minjerribah, Island Arts Creative and Salt Water Murris.
Jump on a kayaking tour with Straddie Adventures in Dunwich. They offer local tours with a cultural twist and are highly recommended.
Where to eat on Straddie
There are lots of places to eat around the island, but we did find that many of them have limited opening hours or days, so it’s a good idea to do a quick check before you go. For some great options check out:
Straddie Hotel – one of the main places to eat on the island, the Straddie Hotel offers great views, a big menu and a great selection of cocktails. It’s a great place to stop for a drink or a meal during your visit.
Fishes – popular spot for takeaway fish and chips, right across the road from Headland Park, which is the beginning of the Gorge Walk. Make sure you also stop at the gelati shop next door for a gelati before you head home.
Blue Room Cafe – open for breakfast and lunch, Blue Room Cafe offers lots of healthy options and delicious colourful food! Great place to head for smoothies, juices or a big breakfast.
There are also lots of great options around the island to stock up on fresh food for your own BBQ or picnic during your stay. Head to Prawn Shack to stock up on prawns and oysters, Stradbroke Butcher for everything you need for a BBQ and Island Fruit Barn for all your fruits and veggies.
If you’re visiting North Stradbroke Island over the weekend, head to Cylinder Beach for some food vans right along the beach. You can usually find Straddie Wood Fire Pizza there on Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm, and Sunshine Street Food from Thursday to Sunday nights, with great Mexican food!
Where to stay on Straddie
Experience the best of island life by camping on the beach during your stay on North Stradbroke Island. Beach camping is available at both Main Beach and Flinders Beach, although you will need a 4WD to access them, as well as a vehicle access permit. These are also a great option if you’re travelling with a dog, as furry friends are welcome at both camp areas.
- Main Beach: stretching for 38 kilometres along the eastern side of the island, camping on Main Beach is available in 15 specific camp areas at the southern end of the beach. Camping fees on Main Beach cost $17.65 per night.
- Flinders Beach: there ae 12 beachfront camping areas at Flinders Beach, when the camps are found just over the sand dunes. There are toilets as many of these camp areas, which are accessible through the bush tracks or right from the beach during high tide. Camping fees for Flinders Beach cost $20.25 per night.
There are also campgrounds around the island that offer all kinds of other accommodation options. They don’t require a vehicle access permit and are much easier to access. You can find campgrounds at:
- Amity Point
- Point Lookout – at Adder Rock, Cylinder Beach and Home Beach
- Dunwich – at Adam’s Beach and Bradbury’s Beach
Many of these are accessible for caravans and motorhomes, as well as offering cabins, bathrooms, laundry and BBQ facilities. You can also find very cute glamping tents at Adder Rock and Amity Point.
We visited North Stradbroke Island in collaboration with SeaLink SEQ. All opinions are, as always, our own.