North Stradbroke Island is the perfect beach holiday destination for families and kids. Surrounded by ocean and beaches and offering freshwater lagoons, rainforest walks and abundant wildlife, it is easy to see why Straddie is also one of South East Queensland’s most popular holiday destinations. Here we explore some of the main places to go and things to see when you head to Straddie with kids from how to get around to things to do and places to see on the island.
North Stradbroke Island is known at Minjerribah by its traditional owners the Qandamooka people and it is the second biggest sand island in the world. Whether you want to head here for a day or a month, there are accommodation options to suit all budgets and activities to keep the kids happy for as long as you choose to stay.
Another great feature of North Stradbroke Island is that you are allowed to bring your dogs providing they are kept on a lead unless they are on the off leash beach areas. They are not permitted in the townships or in the National Park sections of the Island. (Visit the Redlands City Council website for specific information about this)
Getting to Stradbroke Island
There isn’t a bridge to North Stradbroke Island, so all visitors must arrive by sea or air. Most visitors travel by ferry and there are several options depending on whether you plan to bring a car or not. All commercial operators to the island leave from Toondah Harbour, Middle Street, Cleveland, and arrive at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island.
- Stradbroke Ferries run vehicle barges and passenger water taxis. You are best to book your barge ticket in advance and head to the Cleveland terminal where you drive past a ticket window and they direct you to the appropriate line for your vehicle to board.
- Big Red Cat operates vehicle ferries and allows walk-on passengers.
- The Stradbroke Flyer commands passenger catamaran ferries.
The journey to the island takes 40-50 minutes for vehicle ferries and 20-25 minutes for the passenger water taxi. Prices vary between the operators however, cars cost around $149 return (including the legal number of passengers for your car). If you are planning to walk aboard, adult walk-on passengers are about $20 return and children 4-14 are approximately $10 return, dependent on the operator chosen. All vehicles must be booked with the respective operators and during peak times the car barge, in particular, will book out.
Getting around Stradbroke Island
The island has sealed roads and four-wheel drive vehicles are not required unless you plan to drive on the beach, in which case a permit is required. These permits are available from Straddie Camping on arrival in Dunwich at a cost of $38.25 (you can also buy these online and pick up after hours). Otherwise, a normal car can access all other parts of the Island which is what makes Straddie so accessible for all families.
If you plan to leave the car at home, there is a fairly frequent bus service on the island connecting the main towns, allowing you to get from Dunwich to Amity or Point Lookout. Many visitors do come to the island just for the day and leaving the car at home or at Cleveland needn’t impact on you enjoying the best parts of the Island. There is also an island taxi service and several tour operators you can connect with if you are without a car.
Places to stay on North Stradbroke Island
Where you choose to stay on North Stradbroke Island is a bit like choosing which side of the city you prefer. There is no right or wrong way to stay at Stradbroke Island. Camping spots abound at Amity Point and Point Lookout, as do holiday homes. If your kids are likely to seek out waves then you possibly want to situate on the surf side of the Island but even so, if you camped at Amity, it is only minutes from the surfside anyway.
- Dunwich, on the western side of the island, is the largest town and home to around 800 permanent residents. It is the main port for passenger and car ferries and has shops, a pharmacy, and the island’s post office. It is also home to some remarkable historical sites including an old leper colony, cemetery and Indigenous art galleries.
- Amity Point is the north-eastern township, home to about 400 permanent residents and has both houses and a popular affordable camping ground for Brisbane families and tourists. Many families stay here for entire school holidays either in the campgrounds or local holiday homes. It is well known for fishing and boating and there is a netted recreation swimming area here for the kids. This is also referred to as the calm side of the island.
- Point Lookout is on the surf side of the island, surrounded by picturesque beaches. Home to around 700 permanent residents, this is also the most popular holiday town on the island with tourists and locals alike. There are accommodation options ranging from holiday apartments and homes to camping in powered sites or even on the beach. It contains 3 main campgrounds, Cylinder Beach, Adder Rock and Home Beach with glamping and cabins available. This is where you will find the North Gorge walk, The Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel and a range of cafes, gelato shops and surf beaches.
Things to do on Stradbroke Island
- Whale watching
Whales (and dolphins) are visible from the shore as they travel to and from the Great Barrier Reef, between May and November. The best vantage points are at Point Lookout, Norm’s Seat and Whale Rock on the North Gorge Walk, or from Frenchmans Beach and Cylinder Beach depending on the direction of the whale’s travel. You can also sit at the Stradbroke Beach Hotel and admire the whales from a distance as they head past. It isn’t a case of whether you will see a whale, but how many you will see. It is also not uncommon to spot pods of dolphins at any number of the beaches on Stradbroke Island.
- Lake swimming and exploring
North Stradbroke Island is known for its unique natural formations like Blue Lake and Brown Lake. See more information about the National Parks on the island here. There is a carpark directly next to Brown Lake and Blue Lake is about 5km from where you park. There are also a number of walks throughout the Island and down to beaches at the front of Point Lookout.
- North Gorge Walk
The North Gorge Walk at Stradbroke Island is one of the most iconic and breathtaking walks in Australia. There is no way to really explain how incredible this walk is except it will exceed all your expectations. It will also be a wonderfully unique experience each time, depending on the time of the year, the time of the day and the weather. We highly recommend this be part of your holiday bucket list.
- Gelato at Point Lookout
It’s almost a must that you save your pennies for a Gelato at Point Lookout. Two different shops offer you a range of flavours and it is not uncommon for lines to be out the door and down the sidewalk. The gelato shops at Point Lookout are next to the Blue Room Cafe and a fish and chip shop and across the road from the main lookout. The main lookout features a grassed area with plenty of room to pull out a blanket and enjoy the view and the whales as they swim past.
- Beach swimming
The island has six popular beaches – Flinders, Home, Cylinder, Deadmans, Frenchmans and the huge 32-kilometre long Main beach. There are two patrolled beaches or 3 during the peak seasons. Cylinder Beach also offers a small lagoon that sits behind the surf beach for those with young ones. Amity Point is located near calmer waters and offers a netting recreational swimming area.
Fishing is popular from most of the island’s beaches. If you have a 4WD or access to a boat, head to Junpinpin channel for the island’s best fishing. The channel is located at the southern tip of North Stradbroke Island.
- Wildlife spotting
Kangaroos are everywhere on Stradbroke Island, particularly at the main Point Lookout recreation area and it is not unusual to see a dozen (some with joeys) just hanging around here. Koalas are equally abundant, and while its difficult to say where to find them exactly, Adder Rock Campers often spot them within their campgrounds. In addition to these native animals, you may also come across wallabies, eagles, unusual seabirds, turtles, goannas and snakes.
- Heritage Trail
The North Stradbroke Island Heritage Trail, prepared and collated by the North Stradbroke Island Museum, notes many places of interest, several with historical significance, in each of the three townships. Pick up a copy from the museum at 15-17 Welsby St Dunwich or download a copy here.
- Holiday activities Many of the most popular campgrounds offer kids activities during the school holidays and are well worth enquiring about when you are planning your stay.
- Electric Scooters If your kids are over 12 years of age you can hire an electric scooter from https://yurabanjiscooters.com.au/ to explore the Island (they are located near the Point Lookout Bowls Club on the main road, you can’t miss them).
- Playground There is a fairly robust playground with a mega slide across the road from the Point Lookout Bowls club along with a skate bowl. There are smaller playgrounds dotted throughout the island.
This island map shows the location of the main points of interest and the facilities available at each. Being a coastal community, Stradbroke Island is often impacted by weather events and you should check the warnings and the National Parks and Wildlife website prior to and during your stay.
So what are you waiting for? Explore the wonders of an island paradise, right on your doorstep.
Minjerribah resources and links
Find a camping spot at Minjerrabah Camping Website
Information about walking tracks within the National Park, places of historical significance and park alerts Department of Science and Environment Website
General Island information at Stradbroke Island Website
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