How to spend the perfect weekend on North Stradbroke Island
Laid back island communities where shoes are optional and the living is easy aren’t typically found within an hour of the city. Unless you’re in Brisbane, of course. Introducing North Stradbroke Island, just a 15 minute boat ride from Cleveland Point on Brisbane’s Bayside (45 if you’re taking the car ferry).
Known as Minjerribah to its traditional owners, the Quandamooka People, Stradbroke Island is beloved by locals for its unpretentious, down-to-earth charm. The fact that it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and home to endless sandy beaches, glittering inland lakes and an abundance of native wildlife doesn’t hurt either.
Throw easy access from the city into the deal and Stradbroke Island is the perfect destination for a spontaneous weekend getaway. Here’s everything you need to know to plan the ultimate Straddie weekend.
Where to stay
Sleep behind the sand dunes
For an authentic Stradbroke experience, camping or glamping is the way to go. Experienced campers with all the gear can pitch a tent just behind the sand dunes on Main Beach or Flinders Beach.
Fish for your supper in the shallows, cook up your catch on the campfire, then fall asleep to the sound of the Pacific Ocean crashing against the shore. (Note: these foreshore sites are pretty special but you’ll need a 4WD to reach them – and don’t expect hot water and toilets. This is as basic as camping gets).
Camp and glamp in style
Rather not have to BYO toilet for the weekend? Take your pick from one of island’s six campgrounds with facilities – all are in equally picturesque spots close to the water.
If glamping’s more your style, check out Minjerribah Camping’s quirkily cool Ecoshacks. Located at Adder Rock, just a few steps from the surf breaks of Cylinder Beach, each shack comes complete with a comfy double bed and private deck with snooze-worthy outdoor hammock.
What to do
Cruise down an endless beach highway
Testing out your beach driving skills should be top of your Stradbroke Island bucket list. And with 32 km of uninterrupted golden sands to explore, Main Beach is the perfect spot to get behind the wheel.
Cruise past pelicans, surfers and seagulls with the windows down and sea spray in your hair – just remember to keep an eye on conditions and tide times before hitting the beach highway. You can pick up your beach driving permit on arrival in Dunwich.
Connect with an ancient culture
Slow your weekend down with a leisurely hike along the craggy clifftops of North Gorge Walk – a significant place for the Quandamooka People who used it for hunting, gathering bush tucker and sacred rituals. (Keep a lookout for dolphins, turtles and, if you’re there between June and September, humpback whales).
Take the dirt track through the centre of the island to swim in the balmy, tea-tree coloured waters of Brown Lake, another sacred Indigenous site. Known in the local Jandai language as Bummeira, Brown Lake is where Quandamooka women and their children traditionally came to pray, play and connect to the land.
If you’re visiting Stradbroke Island in August, immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the Quandamooka Festival, a celebration of Aboriginal culture that includes music, dance, storytelling and culminates in an electrifying Kunjiel Corroboree.
Dive with manta rays
The waters in and around Stradbroke Island are teeming with colourful marine life, but if you head to a point just off the island’s northeastern tip, you’ll encounter something really special.
Regularly voted one of Australia’s top 10 dive sites, Manta Bommie is a rocky reef where giant manta rays come to feed during the warmer months of October through to April. Book a scuba adventure with Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre and be mesmerised by the underwater ballet of these gentle giants of the sea.
Where to eat and drink
From prawns fresh off the trawler to classic pub grub, you won’t go hungry on Stradbroke Island.
Get your daily caffeine and sugar fix
Start your weekend off right with an organic coffee at Dunwich’s Island Fruit Barn, an eclectic cafe and grocer just a few minute’s walk from the ferry, or head to Oceanic Gelati and Coffee Bar for a scoop with a view. With homemade flavours like iced vovo, coffee almond and rosewater meringue to choose from, you’ll need to visit more than once to make the most of this local icon.
Take a long lunch overlooking the water
Take the coastal road east up to Point Lookout for a pub lunch at local favourite the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel, or get comfortable on the balcony at Point Lookout Surf Club. With panoramic views over North Gorge and Main Beach, it’s the perfect spot for an ice cold beer and some peaceful contemplation. (Note: it opens from 2pm on weekends).
Grab dinner to go
If you can’t resist seafood, pay a visit to the Point Lookout Prawn Shack and stock up on fresh-caught prawns, oysters, crabs and the local specialty, Moreton Bay bugs (like a lobster, but smaller).
Find a picnic table overlooking the beach and tuck into your seafood feast as the sun sets over the water. (Fact: thanks to its island geography, Stradbroke is one of only a handful of spots in South East Queensland where you can do this.)