Take a North Stradbroke Island road trip and explore the secluded beaches and relaxed lifestyle of Minjerribah on a Straddie day trip.
The Perfect Stradbroke Island road trip
One by one, drop your mainland cares and worries into the deep blue water of Moreton Bay as you cruise on the barge to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). It’s only an hour away from Brisbane, but island life seems much more distant from the hustle and bustle of city life.
This is a place where the day runs by tides and weather. Where the activities are organised by Mother Nature, and the nights are the time for a gentle recharge. Think beach strolls, fishing from the headlands, walking around the gorges and swimming in the lakes. While outdoor life can be a priority, there are also shops stocked with unique island products, cafes and restaurants and a market to explore.
Locals will tell you that the weather on Straddie, as they call the island, is warmer in winter and cooler in summer microclimate of mainland weather. It’s not uncommon to swim in the ocean most of the year and the sea breezes keep the worst of summer’s sub-tropical heat at bay.
View from North Gorge. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Starting your Straddie day trip
The Stradbroke Ferries vehicle barge leaves Brisbane from Toondah Harbour in the bayside suburb of Cleveland. Make sure you pre-book a return car spot and book early for peak periods. The ferry journey takes about 50 minutes to reach Dunwich. It’s a great time to relax with a coffee or beer in the top-level café. Driving off the ferry at Dunwich, the first thing you will notice is that there are no traffic lights. Instead, there are just 22 kilometres of sealed roads connecting the three centres of Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout.
Stradbroke Ferries also offer a 30-minute passenger taxi which is useful when you are meeting friends already on the island. The ferry links with the local Stradbroke Island bus service and there are also transfer services available to take you to your destination.
Saltwater Murris Quandamooka Art Gallery. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Start your Stradbroke Island road trip in Dunwich
It’s tempting to just hit the road and speed off to your accommodation at Point Lookout, leaving Dunwich behind, but that would be a mistake. There is much to explore in the island’s main centre, including the paintings at Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Aboriginal Art Gallery in Ballow Road, a contemporary visual arts and craft centre and the Island Gallery, where you’ll enjoy a great view of the water.
Artist Delvene Cockatoo-Collins interprets her family’s stories of life on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) through textiles, ceramics and jewellery. You will find her stunning works at Made on Minjerribah in Stradbroke Place. Would you like to know more about local artists? Follow this self-guided Stradbroke Island Art Trail.
Look for the big trees near the jetty to find the Dunwich swimming enclosure. It is perfect for a quick ocean dip on a high tide before you board the barge home. Brown Lake, 3.5 kilometres out of Dunwich, is another favourite swimming spot with barbecue and picnic facilities. The rainwater in this perched lake is coloured by native tea trees. Stop for French pastries, New York-style bagels and awesome pizzas at CJs Pizza in Dunwich. They have the best on the island.
North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum.
A bit of history
Home to the Quandamooka people for centuries as a seasonal visiting place and tribal land, Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island has been the site of European settlements for the past 180 years. First used as a military depot and convict outstation, it was a later a Catholic mission, a quarantine station and benevolent asylum. You can explore the island’s fascinating history at the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum in Welsby Street, housed in original and replica Benevolent Asylum buildings. Take a wander through the graveyard where 8500 people are buried in unmarked graves.
Freshly shucked oysters are a Straddie treat.
Off to Amity Point
Just out of Dunwich on the bush-lined road to Amity Point, you’ll find Myora Springs. A favoured camping place for generations of Indigenous people, the freshwater spring has large middens on its banks. It takes about 20 minutes on this Stradbroke Island road trip to drive the 18 curvy kilometres via East Coast Road and Beehive Road between Dunwich and the relaxed seaside village of Amity Point. Stop for lunch at Seashells at Amity in Ballow Road (currently closed for COVID) or Bo Beans Coffee (many say this is the best coffee on the island).
You may also find the Morrocan Magic food van at Rufus King on weekends. I highly recommend their delicious food, especially when you eat it overlooking the Amity jetty. Then take a dip in the shark-safe swimming enclosure on high tide. Look for wild dolphins around the jetty at 4 pm daily.
Amity is the centre for the island’s fishing community. Stock up here on local prawns, crabs, oysters, bugs and fish at Rufus King Seafoods on Sovereign Road, During the oyster season from September to February, pick up freshly shucked shellfish from Diabla Oysters in Kawana Street. What’s a Straddie day trip without a seafood feast?
Seashells Cafe at Amity.
Watch the whales at Point Lookout
From Amity Point, it is another easy 20-minute Stradbroke Island road trip drive (18-kilometres) via East Coast Road and Dickson Way to Point Lookout. Point Lookout’s gentle 15-minute North Gorge Walk is a top whale watching spot in the season from late May to early November. It could be the highlight of your Straddie day trip. Locals say buy gelato and eat it while walking around the headland.
On a good day, you might spot 12 whales in an hour or just enjoy seeing the kangaroos which have made Headland Park their home. Continue your whale spotting from Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel Bistro on Dickson Way, and take in the views out to Shag Rock. For breakfast or a light lunch with sea views, try The Blue Room.
Next door, The Prawn Shack in Mintee Street has fresh local mackerel and seafood. The Sunday market at Stradbroke Bowls Club is where local artisans sell their wares during school holidays. It is also a great place to pick up local honey, freshly shucked oysters or the day’s catch from the sea. There are plenty of beaches to explore near Point Lookout when it is time for a swim. Home Beach has an off-leash area for dogs, and north-facing Cylinder Beach is the place to swim when a southerly wind blows. The Bowls Club also has a thriving night-time restaurant which open most days and very popular with locals.
The beach at South Gorge is not patrolled but is easy swimming when a northerly wind is blowing. Point Lookout’s Main Beach is where the real surfing action happens especially when there is an easterly wind.
Beach driving and camping is a popular Straddie day trip activity, especially for fishermen when mullet is running from May to August. Only 4WD vehicles are permitted on Flinders Beach and Main Beach with entry at marked access points. Just remember, you can’t drive on the beach for one hour and 15 minutes on either side of high tide. A Vehicle Access Permit for beach driving can be obtained from Minjerribah Camping.
Turn your Straddie day trip into an overnight stay
You’ll need somewhere to stay on your Stradbroke Island road trip. The island offers a mix of accommodation, including resorts, holiday house rentals and camping, mostly at Amity Point and Point Lookout. Explore the options or try Stradbroke Island glamping.
During the peak holiday periods, Stradbroke Island businesses, cafes and restaurants usually open every day. During quieter times, many small businesses close on Monday and Tuesday so be sure to check the opening hours if you are travelling off-peak.
For more information on Stradbroke Island, visit stradbrokeisland.com
More to explore
- Try one of these glamping tents after you have worked your way through these 10 things to do on Straddie.
- Come back for the Straddie Oyster Festival.
- Try these nine top Queensland road trips.
There’s nothing better than catching a whale cruising up their superhighway from the Point Lookout lookout!!
One of the best local places to view the whale trail from land. Good tip Belinda!
What a beautiful slice of paradise is our Straddie. I have only been once, a few years back with a couple of girlfriends & our daughters, (all Straddie-virgins!) What a fun weekend we had at WhaleWatcher resort, where we didn’t see any whales (wrong time of year I guess) but such a beautiful view. The water was stunningly clean & clear, a perfect temperature to swim in the roley poley waves & then a relax on the beach for a bit of vitamin D.
I picked up a cookbook while there, to which my husband just rolled his eyes. He knows I can’t go anywhere without visiting a book store, second-hand book shop or library. I love my coffee-table book which is a trove of info on the island & it’s history, including an informative piece on the Quandamooka people, a nod to the indigenous people who’ve inhabited this island since time immemorial. My favourite recipe would be the Grilled Moreton Bay Bugs, but I need to get back there to buy some of Straddie’s beautiful, fresh bugs to make it! And guess what the books called Kerry?… Eat, Drink and be Straddie.!! Huh, coincidence, or what?
Here’s another coincidence Patsy – I have that book too!
People always forget about The Little Ship Club at Dunwich.
This place is like the land time forgot. They have great meals, fresh prawns and 1982 drink prices with a million dollar view ! Best in the afternoon to watch the sunset. There is a huge grassy area with tables and they often have live music. It is also dog friendly so you can take your pooch for a beer or a glass of bubbles and take in those last bay and sunset views before you come back to the mainland. A must on the way to the Barge home !
That’s a great tip Clare and so good that it is dog friendly too.
Thanks Kerry…always love reading your delightful road-tripping stories! Straddie is the perfect place to unwind. Our top tips include taking the family down to Point Lookout Bowls Club for a great night of bingo or trivia and dinner (it’s surprising how competitive the kids get…always a lot of laughs to be had). Following the morning at the beach, stop by Oceanic Gelato for the best gelato or coffee. And if you are passionate about design make sure you stroll around the back streets of the island…you will enjoy seeing many fantastic architect-designed beach homes, plus some older mid-century beach shacks (highly likely you will also spot the odd koala and wallaby which is a treat for everyone). Happy holidays!
Bingo with the kids sounds like so much fun. Bowls Clubs are the best.
Being a Brisbane local, I always take friends I’ve met from overseas trips to Minjerribah/Straddie! It’s nearly always a day trip as they are nearly in a hurry to see ‘everything in Aus.’ I tell them just to pack their togs and be prepared to explore, as we have a big day. Leave lunch to me. I secretly pack ingredients for a picnic into my backpack, wine (Granite Belt of course), and everything I’ll need for a seafood picnic (except for the seafood – you can get that on straddie!). After building up a hunger looking around Point Lookout, seeing turtles, eagles, kangaroos, lizards, whales, dolphins, rays, you name it, and going for a swim at a surf beach, we find a picnic spot (can’t tell you where). I get the seafood. The seafood is nearly always the best-tasting, freshest, biggest prawns my guests have ever seen, and the local oysters are always a treat. The wine, miraculously, always comes out of nowhere, and it’s always very appreciated! And we just sit there basking in the incredible nature, having an amazing picnic with an amazing view. And then afterwards, we trace the coast around to the Stradbroke Island Hotel for beers until the last bus comes around. It’s such a simple day but I always get told its among the best things travelling friends have experienced in Australia. It’s a special place.
What a great way to show off the region. Good tip Karl!
Straddie is always an adventure and brings me a smile ; we go there to chill. fish, and enjoy the relaxed lifestyle
You can feel the stress evaporating on Straddie – so relaxing there.
North Straddie has the most easily accessible island near Brisbane. Many ferries, loads of wildlife and oodles of places to eat. I especially love the deep clear water, sand dunes and kangaroos everywhere. Sunrise and sunsets have always been winners for me.
I bet you have some great Straddie sunrise photos Margot.
Gotta be in it to win it. Please count us in for the Free Ferry Ride comp.
You are in the running Krista.
Kerry, your blogs never fail to disappoint with handy tips and facts of things to do and find! We love Straddle for the magical combination of pristine beaches, Australia’s best wildlife on display and spectacular views at every corner. Keen to go over and try the new Straddle Brewing beer and we’ve never been to Diabla Oysters, so that will be on the itinerary for our next trip.
I hope you mean ‘never fail to please’ Anita! Straddie Brewing Beer is a great tip.