North Stradbroke Island or Straddie- as its affectionately known by many is the worlds second largest sand island and is a haven for visitors wanting a place to relax, get away from the city or for the die-hard fisherman to wet a line in the waters of Moreton Bay. Located out off the coast near Brisbane QLD.
Predominantly, the main activities on Straddie are 4×4 based. You will need a 4×4 permit for any beach driving ($39 a year- as of May 2014). Main Beach is more popular with beach fishermen and surfers whilst Flinders Beach is popular more so with families and campers who set out to find their own piece of paradise amongst the dunes.
Although many suggest swimming is unsafe due to sharks people still venture into the waters for a dip. Amity Point has a shark net that’s safe for swimming and on the weekends it fills up with young kids making use of the calmer waters and the nearby playground.
We hopped on the Big Red Cat ferry from Cleveland. The 45 minute ferry ride was over before we knew it. We arrived at Dunwich and made our way to Amity Point campground. We only booked for 2 days as we wanted to assess the beach camping spots and evaluate our options taking out our camper along the beach. It was mainly the dune entry and exit points I was concerned about. Although after checking them out and determining that we could in fact get our camper there, we were also worried about the sandflies (we had been told they had been pretty savage) and we had a great spot at Amity Point anyway so we decided to stay put and extended our stay for a week. We used our NRMA membership to get a substantial discount on our fees.
We chose an unpowered site and relied on our solar panels and Ecoboxx to keep us powered up- we had a few overcast days early on which kept us close to camp but as the week went on, we ended up with some marvellous sunny days that kept our batteries charged and allowed us to spend some time at the beach.
Straddie is much more developed than I thought it would be. Far more permanent residents then I expected and a little less ‘touristy’ than I thought it would be. However I was not disappointed. I loved the relaxed atmosphere and the people were very friendly. The main town I guess would be Dunwich (where the ferries leave/arrive) and and Point lookout which is a little more visitor orientated with shops, cafes and stunning beaches. Then there is Amity Point, where we stayed- a little less ‘fancy’ but more suited to those wanting a laid back camping holiday. We even got to watch dolphins swim right in front of our campsite- the kids loved it!
In our opinion the Ferry to and from Straddie is quite pricey- we got the ‘off season’ special where caravans and trailers are free. Our return pass still cost us $149. If we had to pay for the camper I probably would have given Straddie a miss. With the 4×4 permit on top and camping fees around $22 a night- it quickly adds up but it is a place worth visiting, just be prepared for the costs of getting/staying there.
Apart from the glorious sunsets, great driving beaches and the smell of the ocean air- we were quite fond of the local seafood too. We grabbed ourselves some fresh Moreton Bay Bugs, fresh scallops and kilo of fresh prawns. In our opinion the seafood outlet at Amity Point is our pick for seafood!
There are all basic services on the Island- post office, supermarket, butch, bakery, doctor…….. all that you would need and if you did need to shoot back over to the mainland, water taxis run frequently.