Call it Straddie or Minjerribah, but do discover the many things to do on North Stradbroke Island, all just an hour’s drive from Brisbane. It’s a real island experience for visitors with great local seafood and wonderful beaches to explore.
The trip from the mainland to the island departs from Cleveland and takes 45 minutes by the Stradbroke Ferries car barge. but it’s more of a journey into a different realm where it’s hard to work up the energy to get stressed about anything. If you need to get there quicker, it takes 25 minutes by fast water taxi. When you arrive, use this ultimate Stradbroke Island road trip as your island guide.
When there’s plenty of beaches to roam, friendly folk to chat with, incredible vistas around every corner and comfortable accommodation and food, life seems pretty sweet. One Straddie devotee takes all his out-of-town visitors to Straddie because it showcases the region in just a day with wildlife (dolphins, kangaroos and whales in season), white sand beaches and water activities. Now we can add local art to the mix with the Minjerribah Arts Trail.
Apart from swimming at any of the beaches, here are my top 10 things to do on Straddie. What are yours? Please leave your Straddie tips in the comments section at the end.
Photo above – Sample local seafood at Point Lookout with a Straddie Brewing Co Beer. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Stop for coffee
Start your Straddie sojourn at CJ’s Cafe and Pizza which is located on Ballow Street, Dunwich. You can get a coffee on the barge, but I prefer to just enjoy the water views and wait for land. Plus, CJs have these amazing croissants and bagels. Their pizzas also come highly recommended by locals. The cafe opens in at 7 am for coffee..
If you feel like a pie, the shop next door sells their homemade versions.
Sam and Helen at CJ’s Pizza will tell you the pastries are very good and they are right. Photo: Kerry Heaney
2. Enjoy some art
While you are in Dunwich, check out the local Aboriginal art at Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Art Gallery. There are some beautiful works by local artists inside.
The Island Arts Gallery in the same street is filled with more interesting pieces from local creatives.
Another place well worth checking out is Cockatoo-Collins Studio where Delvene Cockatoo-Collins creates some wonderful textiles, ceramics and jewellery. She uses a lot of found objects and really captures the essence of Stradbroke Island in her works.
Delvene Cockatoo-Colins in her studio. Photo: Kerry Heaney
3. Discover the history
North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum, also in Dunwich, is a wonderful browse and a chance to learn something of the island’s history as an asylum.
We bought takeaways from Moroccan Magic and enjoyed them on the Amity Point picnic tables. Photo: Kerry Heaney
4. Stop for lunch
Mooch around Amity and find some local seafood to eat overlooking the jetty or to take home and cook later. I found great oysters at Rufus King Seafoods which is also home to Bo Beans Coffee and the Moroccan Magic food van. Check on Facebook to find the opening days and hours for these venues as they change on weekends and school holidays.
Stradbroke Island also is an oyster growing centre and oysters were an important part of the diet of the coastal Aborigines who lived here. It’s hard to believe today, but for the early settlers, the value of oysters lay in their shells which were converted to lime for building construction.
The Moreton Bay Oyster company was formed in 1874 and operated until disease depleted the oyster backs in 1956.
Oyster growing is once again popular on Minjerribah with several local growers. The annual Straddie Oyster Festival showcases the region’s harvest.
Moreton Bay oysters from Rufus King Seafood at Amity Point. Photo: Kerry Heaney
The Prawn Shack at Point Lookout has fresh local seafood. Photo Kerry Heaney
5. The Point Bar
Enjoy a sunset drink at The Point Bar, Point Lookout Surf Lifesaving Club, Kennedy Drive, overlooking Main Beach, Point Lookout. Open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 2 pm, it is a perfect place to kick back and relax.
Kerry Heaney enjoyed half of this $40 seafood platter at Point Lookout.
6. Where to dine
Night dining options on Straddie tend to open up during school holidays and weekends and close during quiet periods. One of the best places to eat at night on the island is the Stradbroke Island Bowls Club. They have a great chef who offers an extensive menu and the club is open most nights.
One place you can always be sure to get a meal is the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel which locals call the pub. Their bistro is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
I had a good seafood platter for $40 that I shared with a friend over a local Straddie Brewing Co beer, at Fishes at the Point. A cone or cup from the gelato shop around the corner is a great finish to the meal.
Straddie Brewing Co plan to open a brewhouse and taproom at Dunwich near the ferry terminal but this plan has been delayed until 2021. When they move onto the island the sand-filtered water will give a unique flavour to their brews. Their range includes a Point Lookout Lager, Amity Pale Ale and the Myora Springs Gose, a German-style sour ale that is a great palate cleanser for a hot summer’s day.
You could also check out the menu at the RSL in Dunwich where locals rate the Thai food as fairly good.
Allure Stradbroke Resort
7. Where to stay
My best tip here is book direct, rather than through an agency where you may be slugged with a $25 booking fee.
When I talked to the receptionist at Allure Stradbroke Resort, I realised how much better off I would have been booking direct and I could have chosen a beach shack with a koala in a tree right outside the deck – how cool would that be?
You also could try a stay at Whale Watch Resort, Samarinda Drive, Point Lookout and walk down to the beach for a swim, up to the Point for fish and chips or a drink at the Surf Club anytime.
Perhaps you would prefer glamping? Mindjerribah Camping on Stradbroke Island has tents decorated with designer flair.
Homewares at Starfish Studio. Photo: Kerry Heaney
8. Market browsing
On selected Sunday mornings, browse the Point Lookout Markets beside the Bowls Club on Dickson Way, Point Lookout.
There are several shops to check out in Mulumba (Point Lookout). Noreen’s Seaside Shop has a great collection of the sort of relaxed island wear that you’ll also enjoy wearing during hot summer months. I saw many tempting things here. Just around the corner, Seascape is a collective featuring local artists with both paintings and jewellery.
Look out for Fever where they also serve coffee along with their clothing and Starfish Studio. The original prints at Starfish Studio have been turned into a wide range of homewares by owner/designer Jess. Who would of thought that Stradbroke Island would be a great place to shop when you are looking for a casual beach look?
Perhaps my favourite spot is Linen Caravan. This shop is filled with goodies that you will want to bring home and serves good coffee and cake.
9. Go for a walk
Make sure you do the Point Lookout Gorge Walk which leaves from just opposite the shops where you’ll also find great fish and chips at Col Battersby’s Fishes Café. Eat in or takeaway for a picnic under the she-oaks on the spectacular headland overlooking Frenchman’s Beach.
10. Visit the Amazing Shop
It truly is amazing what you will see inside this shop and on the grounds. You will find in Dunwich on the main street. It is hard to miss because of the array of statues out the front. Wander in and be prepared to be amazed.
How to get there:
There are several ways to get to the island. If you want to take your car try Stradbroke Ferries (Vehicle Ferry/Water Taxi), which leaves from Toondah Harbour, Cleveland.
Travelling on foot? The Straddie Flyer / Gold Cats (Water Taxi) is a good option.
For more information visit Stradbroke Island
For another island experience, try this joy flight over Fraser Island.