Embark on a delightful Minjerribah / Stradbroke Island day trip from Brisbane and immerse yourself in secluded beaches and a laid-back island lifestyle.

The Perfect Minjerribah / Stradbroke Island road trip from Brisbane

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, in the 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.

Stradbroke Island road trip journey

 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. For a Brisbane to Stradbroke Island day trip, 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 offers 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.

Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Aboriginal Art Gallery

 Saltwater Murris Quandamooka Art Gallery. Photo: Kerry Heaney

This Stradbroke Island day trip begins 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

​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.

Diabla Oysters

 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 day 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 Sealevel 21 at Amity in Ballow Road or Bo Beans Coffee (many say this is the best coffee on the island).

Then, take a dip in the shark-safe swimming enclosure on high tide. Look for wild dolphins around the jetty at 4 pm daily.

Diabla Oysters

 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 at Amity Point

Sealevel 21 at Amity.

Watch the whales at Point Lookout

From Amity Point, it is another easy 20-minute Stradbroke Island day 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 to buy a 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 on 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 wonderful 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 is 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.

Straddie Point Lookout beach


Going off-road

Beach driving and camping is a popular Straddie day trip activity, especially for fishermen when the 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 day 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

Stradbroke Island Road Trip