Although it might be one of the most accessible islands from Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island will still have you feeling like you’re a whole world away from the city. Known as Minjerribah to the local Quandamooka people, the island has a rich Indigenous history dating back more than 21,000 years ago. With spectacular sunsets, an abundance of wildlife, a proud Aboriginal culture, camping spots right on the beach and holiday houses overlooking the ocean, it’s the perfect place to unwind and escape to nature for a few days.
Straddie, as it’s affectionately known, is the second largest sand island in the world, with three townships spread across the island, Dunwich (Goompi), Amity Point (Pulan) and Point Lookout (Mooloomba). With extensive walking trails overlooking the ocean, 4WD tracks to explore inland on the island, beaches you can drive on and plenty of great places to eat, there’s always something to do and explore on North Straddie.
Getting to North Stradbroke Island
SeaLink South East Queensland offers passenger and vehicle ferries between North Stradbroke Island and Cleveland on the mainland (about a 45 minute drive from the CBD). It takes about 45 minutes each way, with regular ferry services running every hour to 90 minutes. You’re also able to take caravans, camper trailers and boat trailers with you on the vehicle ferry.
Book your ferry here: sealink.com.au/north-stradbroke-island
1. Whale watching
Sitting alongside the ‘whale highway’ North Stradbroke Island is considered one of the best land-based whale watching sites in the world, where thousands of humpback whales migrate each year.. Between late May and early November is considered whale season on the island, with whales heading north to the breeding grounds earlier in the year, and then migrating back south with their babies in the later half of the season.
You can see them right from the land, breaching, tail slapping and blowing water into the air. The Gorge Walk and the headland boardwalks around Point Lookout are the best place to view them, which dozens passing through each day. Keep an eye out for a blow of water and you might see some action!
2. Check out the Gorge Walk
Start your day with the beautiful Gorge Walk, an easy one kilometre wander along the boardwalk with great views of the ocean, Main Beach and the North Gorge. One of the best places to spot whales during the season, as well as turtles, rays, koalas and kangaroos all year round. The new headland boardwalk extends across many of the beaches around Point Lookout, giving access to the beach as well as great lookout spots all along the coastline.
3. Camp on the beach
Really immerse yourself in nature during your visit to North Straddie with camping sites right on the beach, where you can wake up to the waves rolling in, kangaroos bouncing by and the most beautiful pastel sunrises. Minjerribah Camping has 6 beachfront campgrounds across Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout, as well as 4WD accessible campsites on Flinders Beach and Main Beach. Camping fees apply and can be booked and paid for at Adder Rock. There are also luxe glamping options at Cylinder Beach, Adder Rock, Amity Point and Bradbury’s Beach for something a little bit different.
4. Meet the wildlife
An incredible place for wildlife spotting, you’re likely to see kangaroos and koalas wandering across the road, turtles and manta rays swimming not too far from the shore, kookaburras and eagles flying overhead, and then of course, there’s the whales.
Point Lookout is the best place to see kangaroos hopping around, while Amity Point at sunset is considered the best for koala spotting in the trees.
5. Try a local beer from the Straddie Brewery
A great place to watch the sunset with a local brew in hand, the Straddie Brewing Co is a new favourite spot on the island, for locals and visitors alike. Open for lunch and dinner from Thursday to Monday there’s fresh craft beer, fine wine and artisanal spirits on the menu, along with a range of sharing plates, Straddie seafood and homemade pizzas. Stop in for a brewery tour on Saturdays or a tasting paddle to try some of the current favourites.
Straddie Brewing Co | 7 Junner Street, Dunwich
6. Visit the Brown Lake
Stop for a dip at the Brown Lake, receiving its name and colour from the tea trees that surround it. It’s a sacred place for the local Quandamooka women on the island, and a lovely warm spot for a swim. There’s BBQs and picnic facilities here, so it’s a great place to bring some lunch and set up for an afternoon.
7. Learn about the Quandamooka culture
Learn more about Minjerribah’s cultural history, with a guided walk along the Goompi Trail. Led by a local Quandamooka guide, the walk takes around an hour along the Dunwich foreshore, sharing stories about traditional hunting methods, bush-tucker recipes, medicines and traditional ochres. It’s a great way to learn about Indigenous life on the island, their customs and traditions.
Find out more and book your experience HERE.
8. Beach hop across the island
There are plenty of beautiful beaches across Straddie, giving you a new place to swim every time you get a little warm. The South Gorge is a great swimming spot, surrounded by the rocky gorge walls, it feels more like a secret beach than one of the main spots in town.
Cylinder Beach is another favourite swimming spot, right in front of the campsites. As well as being a great surf beach, there’s also a nice lagoon running along the sand, perfect for kids to play or a lazy soak in the water.
Rockpool hop your way along Deadmans Beach, best visited at low tide when the rockpools are accessible and out of the water. There’s also a giant sandhill here, with incredible views across the island from the top.
And for the safest place to swim, patrolled by lifeguards, head down to Main Beach.
9. Visit the local art galleries
Check out some of the local art galleries, to see beautiful works of art created on the island. The main galleries can be found in Dunwich, including:
- Made on Minjerribah – 7 Stradbroke Place, Dunwich
- Island Arts Gallery – 9 Ballow Road, Dunwich
- Salt Water Murris – 3 Ballow Road, Dunwich
10. Eat your way across the island
With delicious menus across the island, you’re never far away from a great meal during your stay.Start your day at Blue Room Cafe with healthy smoothies, acai bowls, homemade sandwiches and great coffee. Pick up fresh local seafood at the Prawn Shack, stop at local favourite coffee spot FEVER on Straddie, the cute vintage caravan in the Bowls Club car park, or grab a sweet afternoon treat at Oceanic Gelati. Head to Oasis Mexican Cantina for tasty tacos and margaritas, or watch the sunset with a classic pub meal at the Beach Hotel. Down at Cylinder Beach, the Straddie Woodfire Pizza food truck can be found on the weekend, for a delicious pizza right on the beach.
Where to stay
Discover Stradbroke has a great range of accommodation options, from apartments to beach houses, pet friendly stays and options to suit every budget across the island, with plenty of great options for large families and groups. During our visit we stayed at First Point Down, a massive three bedroom apartment in prime location at Point Lookout. It had a massive balcony (check out that view), that we could literally watch whales jumping out of the water from all day long, was in between some great cafes and a only a block from the main shops, across the road from the beach and it was absolutely beautiful. Highly recommend for anyone planning a trip to Straddie.
Find out more and book your stay: First Point Down, North Stradbroke Island
We visited North Stradbroke Island in collaboration with SeaLink. All opinions are, as always, our own.