Travelling Omnomnivore

Join me on my travelling and nom nomming adventures!

Day trip to North Stradbroke Island

Well, what a year 2020 has turned out to be. I had plans to visit 8 new countries this year. Instead, I’ve been to Singapore once, and am now looking into exploring more of my home country of Australia in the next 1-2 years depending on how long travel restrictions continue to be in place. Lucky for me, I am blessed with a large country that boasts great weather, stunning coastlines, peaceful mountain escapes and plenty of gourmet food trails. In other words, there should be plenty to keep me occupied and take the sting out of having my travel wings clipped for some time.

Main Beach

Looking towards Main Beach from the southern arm of North Gorge Walk

Beginning safely within the borders of the state that I currently live in, I decided it was a great opportunity to plan a few day trips with the old folks and my 8 year old twin nieces. Knowing how much the girls love the beach, I decided to start our explorations at North Stradbroke Island.

Point Lookout

Where? North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie, is located in the Moreton Bay region of Queensland, about a 45 minute ferry ride and 40 minutes drive to the ferry terminal from Brisbane. At just 38km long x 11 km wide but with sealed roads connecting only 3 main townships in the northern third of the island, it’s a great option for a Brisbane based outing, or a long weekend for those with a 4WD who are up for some offroad exploring.

North Stradbroke Island ferry

Waiting for our morning ferry to Straddie at Cleveland

How? The Stradbroke Ferry Terminal is at 12 Emmett Drive, Cleveland. Vehicle ferries depart roughly every hour between at least 6am and 5pm, arriving 45 minutes later at the island township of Dunwich. The same outbound ferry returns from Dunwich 15 minutes later, ie roughly every hour between 7am and 6pm. The passenger ferry departs Cleveland roughly every hour between 4.55am and 5.25pm on weekdays with a later 7.55am start on weekends and public holidays, and returns roughly every hour between 5.25am and 5.55pm (8.25am start on weekends and public holidays). Being a smaller boat and requiring less time to load and unload, this journey takes just 25 minutes.

Dunwich jetty

Dunwich Jetty in the evening

How much? The cost for the vehicle ferry starts from $100 return but varies depending on the length and height of your vehicle and your preferred ferry timings. I drive what is considered to be a standard car (Honda CRV) and paid $168 return on a 9am outbound ferry and 5pm return, inclusive of a small online discount and a mandatory credit card fee. Passenger fares are $17 return for adults, $15 for students, $11 for children 5-14 years old, and free for children up to 4. Book your tickets online here. If you’re planning to explore offroad, you’ll need a 4WD permit too, which costs $52.75 for 1 month and can be purchased here.

Do I need a car? There are bus, shuttle and taxi services on the island, but I think it was worth paying roughly $75 more (once you take into account the costs for the passenger ferry and an all day bus ticket) for the convenience of being able to go as we please and carry water, snacks and other necessities for the day in our car. The all day bus ticket is roughly $4 for adults. The bus stops at each of the major townships with roughly hourly services between Point Lookout and Dunwich between 6.50am and 6.55pm, and less frequent services to Amity Point. Check the timetable here to see if this may be a better option for you than driving.

Cylinder Beach

There’s plenty of time to play and relax when you don’t have to worry about bus timetables

What is there to do? With no intentions to venture offroad, my only plans were to just follow the sealed road from Dunwich to each of Straddie’s 2 other main townships, allowing my nieces some beach time wherever we were able to pull up close to the sea. This meant stops at the following places.

Amity Point

From the Dunwich Ferry Terminal, we headed straight for the jetty at Amity Point, 17km north and a roughly 20 minute drive. Here, the adults enjoyed the view from the jetty towards a picturesque bay, spotted a few dolphins, and entertained ourselves by taking photographs of socially distanced pelicans. The girls enjoyed the seesaw and mini zipline in the playground, and spotted dead jellyfish by the water’s edge. We called them over to look at the dolphins, but alas, the pod was gone by the time the girls deigned to join us.

Amity Point pelicans

Cylinder Beach

12km east and a roughly 12 minute drive from Amity Point will take you to a coffee van situated next to a natural doorway formed by island mangroves and other vegetation. Beyond the trees is a long stretch of beach, which on the day we visited, was studded by several pools and a long stream of water that was apparently teeming with guppies. I didn’t bother to authenticate their words, but my nieces enjoyed splashing in out of the stream, squealing about their toes getting nibbled.

Cylinder Beach stream

Point Lookout

It is perhaps fitting that our last stop, just 2km along the northeast coast and a roughly 5 minute drive from Cylinder Beach, is the most picturesque part of the island. After a very satisfying fish, chip and burger lunch at Fishes at the Point where the $12 kids’ fish and chips impressively included a portion of barramundi larger than my niece’s head, I was able to coax them to join me on the North Gorge Walk. Well, at least for part of it. And in exchange for some ice-cream and playground time after the walk. Not only is this an easy walk on an incredibly well maintained boardwalk with spectacular views especially south towards South Gorge Beach and the Point Lookout Surf Life Saving Club, there’s a high chance of spotting birds, whales and kangaroos. If, like our girls, you need an ice-cream reward at the end of your hike, head to Oceanic Gelati, but do NOT order the kid size cup. As E proclaimed with disgust before we’d even made it out the door, “That is SO SMALL!” Apparently I now owe her 3 scoops on our next outing.

Anything else I can do? If you have a 4WD permit, consider also visiting Flinders Beach between Amity Point and Cylinder Beach. Heading inland east from the Dunwich Ferry Terminal, you can also visit Brown Lake and Blue Lake.

North Gorge Walk silhouette

I couldn’t get to the lakes, so here’s a fancy tree silhouette instead

What do I bring? If you visit in winter like we did, you really only need sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunnies), a water bottle and some money for lunch. You don’t even need the water bottle to be filled as there are ample facilities all over the island including water fountains, lots of picnic tables, and washrooms. Pack bathers and a change of clothes in summer.

Amity Point

The beach at Amity Point

Verdict? Little Miss E was a little wary before we set out, but towards the end of the day declared it, “The best day I’ve had all year,” despite her disappointment at the size of her ice-cream serve. This probably isn’t hard given the circumstances we now live in. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it as an easy day trip from Brisbane that will reward you with stunning coastal views and plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities.

North Gorge Walk

North Gorge Walk

Have you been to Straddie? Where are your favourite spots on the island? Where else should I take the family for an awesome Brisbane outing?

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