but in my happiness
this morning, this noon, this afternoon
you’re the best beach
on the peninsula
– from ‘Paradise Beach’ by Dorothy Porter
Stradbroke Island – Straddie, to locals – is less than two hours from Brisbane city. To get there you have to board a ferry and leave the mainland. The crossing of water increases the sense of distance; lone sea birds fly alongside. Straddie itself is relatively small. From delightfully pristine beaches with water as clear blue-green as cut glass the land slopes up, faded Queenslanders and luxurious holiday houses sitting side by side to catch the sea breezes. If you’re into casinos and crowds head to the Gold Coast, but if you’re into rugged coastlines and sleepy towns, head to Straddie.
S took a couple of weeks off work at the start of November and we spent ten days kicking our heels up on the island. We didn’t do a hell of a lot, which was kind of the point. We would head down to the beach nice and early most mornings where we got salty and sandy, often having the place to ourselves for an hour or more. We ate a lot of gelati, drank affogatos, cooked uber-fresh seafood outside on the barbecue, watched movies, took walks, spent time on the swings, drank champagne, ate fresh papaya doused in lime juice. Basically we just hung out, all four of us, with nothing but time and sunshine for company.
if this is love
let’s go swimming!!
then it’s hot chips
in greasy paper
killing me with suspense
burning my fingers
sharp with salt –
– from ‘Paradise Beach’ by Dorothy Porter
My Stradddie recommendations below the (many, many) pics!
Getting to and from Straddie is easy. The ferry leaves from Cleveland, and you can get to the dock by train or car. If you plan on taking your car across to the island on the ferry be sure to book a few days in advance, but if you’re walking on you can just buy a ticket when you get there. Once you dock at Dunwich, the bus will take you right up to Point Lookout, with plenty of stops along the way.
Your best bet is to rent one of the many, many holiday houses available. You want to be in walking distance to a beach, and I’d also suggest picking someplace in – or in walking distance to – Point Lookout, which is both the quaintest of the three towns on Straddie, as well as the one that has the amazing gelati bar in it. You can find links to holiday rentals here. You can also camp in a few places along the island; the campground at Cylinder Beach looked simple but lovely, and is so close it’s practically on the sand.
For all of your gelati needs, Oceanic Gelati & Coffee Bar at Point Lookout is all kinds of amazing (check the photos above) – they have new flavours daily, including inventive ones like Iced Vovo and Blood Orange, plenty of dairy-free options, and if you’re in the mood for a coffee definitely get an affogato.
The Island Fruit Barn in Dunwich is perfect for lunch, or morning tea – wonderful fresh salads, pies and tarts (go for the ones made on site, I loved the spanakopita), and an amazing array of homemade cakes served with a scoop of icecream (almond-orange was my pick of the bunch). The coffee was also pretty damn good, and they stock fresh bread, fruit & veg, and various sauces and dry goods.
It may not look like much from the outside, but Fins ‘n’ Fries in Point Lookout do an excellent fish ‘n’ chips – ask what the fish of the day is as it is usually freshly caught, and make sure you get some of their special marinated calamari. I recommend getting your fish to go and strolling down to the beach to enjoy your dinner with an icy cold beer and a side of sunset.
If you’re doing some home cooking, head to The Green Room in Point Lookout for a fantastic array of fruit & veg (as in the photos above), as well as fresh bread, dry goods, dairy products, tea, eco-friendly bathroom products, etc. For seafood, you can pick up fresh prawns and fish next door to The Green Room and for oysters head to Amity Point – just follow the signs that take you to some dude’s front yard where you will get a dozen of the freshest most delicious oysters for a cool $10!
This section is kind of sparse ‘coz we didn’t actually do much more than eat, beach, and sleep. Aside from checking out all of the beautiful beaches, the North Gorge Walk at the tip of Point Lookout is a must. It shows off Straddie’s blue waters and rugged beauty most excellently, and if you’re there in the right season you might spot a whale or two. We also did the Blue Lake Walk (out past Dunwich), and what it lacked in the breathtaking vistas of the North Gorge Walk it made up for in greenery, lake views, and no one else to break the peace & quiet of the bush.