A local’s guide to North Stradbroke Island
When he’s not galavanting around the globe, travel writer and photographer David May is lucky enough to call the paradise of North Stradbroke Island home. His ‘insider tips’ will have you booking the next ferry over, stat!
I prefer something light for breakfast but when visitors arrive I take them to Fishes at the Point on East Coast Road. They have everything from Canadian pancakes to Eggs Benedict and a Whale Rock Big Brekky special with bacon, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, baked beans and English spinach.
I can’t go past the Island Fruit Barn in Dunwich and its shady garden cafe, where Sonia and her friendly crew dish up some of Straddie’s best coffee and healthiest food from a dazzling assortment of vegetarian creations to gourmet pies.
Point Lookout’s Look Cafe and Bar (eds note: cafe has changed ownership and name to French Ease) where French brothers Mathieu and Fabien Bilhe from Biarritz turned up one day in early 2012 and turned the island’s gastronomy on its head with a clever synthesis of French and Australian cuisines. My favourite dinner scene is Mathieu’s signature dish, the wonderful chilli pork belly with a decent red and the stunning view of the Pacific Ocean.
Top spot for a tipple
When the sun sinks slowly in the west, those in the know head for Yabby Street on the waterfront at the One Mile and the beautifully landscaped lawns of the Little Ship Club. Pleasure craft wobble lazily at their moorings and hundreds of lorikeets swarm and screech around the massive trees signalling time out for a sundowner or three.
Favourite way to spend a Sunday
It would be grabbing a bunch of cooked prawns from The Prawn Shack fresh from the local trawlers and heading for the beaches – Main Beach, Frenchman’s Beach, Deadman’s Beach, Cylinder Beach, Home Beach, Flinders Beach, take your pick!
If salt water’s not your thing, head off to Brown Lake just east of Dunwich and bliss out in its cool, fresh, brown, tea tree water.
Best activity for under $50
Spend your last $50 at The Most Amazing Shop, a couple of doors up from the Island Fruit Barn in Dunwich, where the most obvious items are on the outside: Chinese guardian lions, oversized garden gnomes, gargoyles and other stuff for the garden.
Inside is a chaotic jumble of indescribable kitsch packed into every nook and cranny, from talking skeletons, guffawing toys, furniture, ‘naughty’ statues and retro clothing. It really is amazing!
Secret only a local would know
Point Lookout Bushcare not only help to preserve the local bushland but at their nursery in the Point Lookout Headland Reserve by Kennedy Drive, the volunteer group also sells native plants, most of which are unavailable in mainland nurseries. They are open on Sunday Market days and every Thursday from 10am – 12 noon.
Every morning, whenever possible, I get up with the birds just before sunrise and do the North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout Headland, where I stroll past a family of grazing kangaroos so tame I can almost touch them. I see the family of five small black cormorants watching for fish from the tree they have claimed at the bottom of the cliff. There are sea eagles, manta rays, turtles and dolphins, even an echidna once and, in season, as many as a dozen whales. Early morning is always best.
Sold? Book your ferry and have this weekend guide handy to soak up the best of Straddie.
Have you been to North Stradbroke Island? What are your favourite things to see and do?
*This post was originally published in 2013 and updated in March 2018.