48 hours on North Stradbroke Island
If there were a beauty pageant where all of Queensland’s stunning islands were the contestants, North Stradbroke Island (Straddie to the locals), would be a shoo-in for Miss Congeniality.
The ultimate all-rounder, a triple threat – brains, beauty and brawn – this gem of a sand island is not just a pretty face. In classic more-than-meets-the-eye fashion, North Stradbroke Island throws up a delightful array of things to do, see, and taste, all just a one-hour ferry ride from Brisbane.
While you could easily spend more than two days on Straddie and never get bored (um, have you seen Cylinder Beach?), 48 hours is more than enough time to sidle up to this beauty, and get to know her best-kept secrets.
Pack the sunscreen, GoPro and your adventurous spirit; Straddie bliss is yours for the taking.
Friday Evening – Ferry to (Weekend) Freedom
You can still fit in a full day of fun (or work) in Brisbane before heading east to Cleveland to hitch a ride on one of two ferries departing on the hour from 5.30am until 7pm.
Four-wheel-drive or not, heading to the island (and getting around) is easy peasy thanks to Stradbroke Island Ferries and a network of well-maintained, paved roads connecting the beachside townships dotted across the island.
There’s just enough time to finish a local Straddie Honey Cream Lager before the ferry docks!
7-8pm – Dinner Date
Hightail it to CJ’s Island Pizza in Dunwich to grab some dinner on the go; island time is a thing around here so you may go hungry if you aren’t prepared.
If you make it to Point Lookout before 8pm, then dinner at local café Fishes is the best way to knock that hunger on the head. Opt for the fresh prawns and salad, or grab a fish and chip combo pack and some wine to take back to your digs for the weekend.
(We stayed at Samarinda Jewel of the Sea in the heart of Point Lookout – beautiful self-contained units with to-die-for-views.)
7am – Salute the Sun
Sure, sleep-ins are great but why dream of sheep when you can watch dolphins play while practicing your down dog? Make like a true yogi and roll out your mat for sunrise yoga on the headland as the sets roll in below you. How zen!
Seeking nirvana not your thing? The gnarly crew at North Stradbroke Island Surf School will have you hanging ten in no time.
8:30am – Pastry Pit Stop
Swing past Point Lookout bakery Loaves for a quick recharge post-yoga and surf with some coffee and croissants.
10:30am – Have Your Cake… And Eat It
Locals know it as the perfect spot for a brekkie catch up, but whether you’re stocking a picnic basket with fresh produce and deli items, or looking for another hit of caffeine, Island Fruit Barn (aka The Fruitshop) is your jam.
This flower-covered deli/market/café slashie has more than its fair share of cute. Did we mention they have cake?
11:30am – Being Thrifty
St Marks Thrift Store in Dunwich is the kind of place that vintage lovers and bric-a-brac collectors dream of. Explore at your leisure.
Jumbles of clothes, old furniture, art and accessories are just some of the things you could uncover here.
12:30 pm – Get Shucked
If you happen to visit the island during November, head to Stradbroke Island Oyster Festival in Dunwich for some fresh local oysters and a cheeky tipple.
You’re in Mr Whippie’s territory now; grab a nostalgic cone before you head back to Point Lookout.
2:30pm – Drop Dead Gorge(ous)
Walk off the morning’s indulgences with a brisk but jaw-droppingly beautiful North Gorge Walk. Stretching for 1.5 kilometres, the easy walk loops past the picturesque gorge with access to the two main headlands so you can step off the beaten track.
If you’re lucky, the turtles will take time out of their busy schedules to frolic above the waves for a close-up!
3:15pm – Hunt For Treasure, Find Gold
It takes real skill to sniff out a shopping opportunity on an island holiday, but you won’t have to go looking too hard – Straddie delivers in that department too.
Strategically perched at the end of The Gorge Walk, Stradegy is packed to the rafters with clothing, jewellery and accessories from local and international designers.
If eclectic art, home décor and jewellery are your thing, then Drift Handmade Treasures on the corner of Mooloomba Road and Mintee Street is must-do. Local artists are featured regularly, and there are plenty of island-themed mementos to remind you of the weekend.
Grab a sneaky second ice-cream on your way past Oceanic Gelato; the mango/raspberry is totes apropes for the tropical vibes.
5pm – Sippin’ on Sundowners
Consider all the holiday sunset drinks boxes ticked (and then some) as you head to The Beach Hotel for sundowners with a killer view.
Grab a frosty and set up camp on the perfectly positioned deck before grabbing some classic pub grub from the bistro. Fresh seafood abounds but who can pass up a Caesar salad with fresh prawns, and a perfectly cooked rib eye?
8am – Breakfast of Champions
The eggs florentine and an old fashioned milkshake at Look Bar Café and Restaurant in Point Lookout are calling your name so head there early to snag a spot.
Once you’ve licked the plate, head across the road to fresh seafood masters The Prawn Shack and grocery store the Green Room, for some picnic fodder.
9:30am – Market Sweet Spot
Every second Sunday, Noreen and friends take over the Stradbroke Island Community Centre with a fab’ array of pickles, preserves, clothing, homewares and art.
Grab yourself some local organic honey and say hi to Phil, beekeeper extraordinaire and the island’s resident philosopher. You’ll walk away with some amazing fudge, honey and some pretty interesting bee knowledge.
10:30am – Get Beached
Beach time! Cylinder Beach is a clear winner—and fully patrolled. If you want those deserted island, solitude feels though, then check out Frenchman Beach (to the east) and Home Beach to the west.
12pm – Bring Out the Basket
Once you’ve soaked up all the salt and vitamin D you can handle, make your way to the headland between Cylinder and Frenchman for a casual little picnic.
The view north to the mainland is the perfect way to toast a weekend well-spent. A quick dip in the ocean again, and you’re ready to hit the road.
1pm – On the Road Home
A quick stop to check if there are any dolphins to feed at Amity Point Jetty but alas, flipper is frolicking elsewhere.
To escape the heat, grab a cold drink and sit in the shade of Seashells Café’s lovely alfresco deck, nestled into the trees in Amity Point’s main (and only) street.
1:30pm – Ship to Shore
Like a lonely sailor looking for the shore, we’re hungry again; put it down to the holiday hunger phenomenon. The Little Ship Club on the water at Yabby Street, Dunwich, serves a great bistro-style lunch and as the name suggests is, in fact, a sailing club.
Serving until 2pm daily (or earlier dependent on demand), the bar continues to pull cold beers and reasonable selection of wines until later in the afternoon. There’s a lovely lawn, with picnic tables and sun loungers, and a gentle breeze swishing through the palm trees. Island bliss = found.
(Ed note: The Little Ship Club, with its northwest vista easily makes it into the hit-list of sunset photo spots.)
3pm – Don’t cry though, the holiday’s not done yet!
You’ve still got some time to kill before the ferry home… and freshwater swimming hole Brown Lake is accessible by car and only seven minutes away from Dunwich – so don’t pack that swimsuit away yet. The weekend ain’t finished ‘til you say so, adventurer!
Still need more proof that Straddie should be top of your must-visit list?
Watch this video by filmmaker Matt Raimondo, uncovering the beauty of the island through the eyes of Dave Thelander (aka Barefoot Dave).
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