Sublime “Straddie” (North Stradbroke Island)

February 23, 2022

I’d like to make a not-so-secret confession. I was never going to be disappointed by a holiday to North Stradbroke Island (or “Straddie” as it is affectionately known by the locals and return visitors alike). Situated in the picture-perfect environs of the bejewelled, sparkling and pristine waters of Moreton Bay, and some thirty kilometres from the Brisbane CBD, Straddie’s serendipitously revealed features never tire this particular visitor to it’s vibrant shores.

I have had a fervent love affair with Straddie, in all of it’s untethered guises, since I first frequented it’s welcoming shores as an entranced and captivated fifteen year old – camping with my family at the Adder Rock Camping Ground, on one of the northern beaches of Straddie, nestled in the ‘happening’, yet serenely peaceful locale of Point Lookout, on the eastern coast of Straddie.

The Quandamooka people are the traditional owners of North Stradbroke Island. Captain Cook was the first European to ‘spot’ Point Lookout, on the seventeeth of May in 1770, as he was exploring the Australian east coast. Did Cook ever realise he had sighted a future haven for world-weary folk to frequent? Perhaps not, although it is sombrely poignant to note that explorer Matthew Flinders came ashore in 1803 at Cylinder Beach at Point Lookout in search of  water, and it is then that there was the first record of contact between the Noonuccal people and the British in that area.

Now I find that I am venturing to Straddie (a week ago), positively giddy with anticipation, with my eighty-two year old mother, sisters and nieces, a niece’s partner and two exuberant dogs (a dainty black Labrador and an excited German Shepard/Rottweiler cross). After an hour’s drive to the coastal hamlet of Cleveland in the Redland Shire, outside of Brisbane, we embark on a forty-five minute ferry voyage on “Minjerribah”, one of the two ferry services operating at regular intervals throughout the day. Once on Straddie’s tranquil shores, we find ourselves travelling some twenty minutes to the sunny climes of Point Lookout.

Some of our travelling party have grabbed deliciously enticing treats (a salad roll, a spinach and ricotta triangle and a pie) at “The Straddie Island Bakery” in Dunwich, while the rest of us partake of grilled snapper, calamari, sea scallops, chips and coffee from “Fishes on the Point” at Point Lookout, as well as roast vegetable paninis and coffee from the hip and well-stocked ‘go-to’ cafe at “The Point”, “The Blue Room” (it obsequiously ‘hums’ with patrons, particularly at the weekend).

We arrive at our rustic beach house in a state of eager anticipation for the myriad of ways in which we plan to spoil and indulge ourselves in the coming days; and simply generally ‘inhale’ all of the beatific seascapes, wildlife (dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and kangaroos), as well as oasis-like beach enclaves.

Our beach house is discretely situated in a cavalcade of greenery; a leisurely two minute walk to the unpatrolled, yet enticing beach for dogs and humans alike – Deadmans Beach – which encompasses rock pools to ‘soak’ in, and softly lapping waves in shades of exquisite aqua, that peter out to a rich indigo blue where the ocean depths resolutely stand.

Most days we indulge in a luxurious swim at the nearby Cylinder Beach (patrolled all year round), and, floating in the transparently idyllic turquoise waters, find ourselves transported to a place of such bliss and tranquility, that it is hard to believe that we ever had any worries and cares in life at all. The powdery-blue sky sits securely overhead, as cumulus clouds arch cotton-like in the atmosphere.

Late Monday afternoon, my nephew arrives on the water taxi, a twenty-five minute journey from Cleveland, and stays with us for a little over twenty-four hours. He is as jubilant to be on the island as we are, and makes the most of his brief, yet heavenly, respite on Straddie.

Every day at about five o’clock, we indulge in a beguiling hour or so of  drinks, including champagne and fine wine, alongside cheese, crackers and chips – our very own ‘happy hour’. Dinners for us range from the ‘best pizzas ever’, the “Straddie Wood Fired Pizzas”, and “Sunshine Street Foods” (both situated at Cylinder Beach), and a delectable chicken pie sourced from “Bob’s Shop”, a well-used supermarket close to where we are staying.

High recommendations must go to “Rufus King Seafoods”, located in the nearby fishing village of Amity Point, and “The Prawn Shack” at Point Lookout.  We bought simply wonderful prawns from both businesses, which we polished off deftly, feeling like royalty as we ate such delicacies from the ocean depths.

Almost every day, we succumbed to the mouth-watering and high-quality gelati sold by the “Oceanic Gelati and Coffee Bar” (their coffee is also to-die-for). One night, we went to the “Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel” bistro for spectacular dinners, encompassing prawn and scallop pappardelle, grilled snapper, sirloin steak with red wine sauce and calamari on top, and Straddie coconut king prawns. The unanimous verdict was that the meals at the ‘pub’ were top-level.

There are some magnificent beaches existing in Point Lookout. These include Main Beach, some thirty-two kilometres long, Home Beach, Frenchmans Beach, Deadmans Beach, Flinders Beach and Cylinder and Adder Rock Beaches. For swimming, it is best to stick to the patrolled Cylinder and Main Beaches, and Adder Rock Beach, when it is patrolled during the summer and Easter holidays. Be sure to include in your visit the “Gorge Walk”, which is situated profusely at Point Lookout, and from which you may sight whales, dolphins, sea turtles and manta rays.

Although our visit to Straddie’s shores was in summer, it is worth noting that  visits from June to November will ensure the sighting of whales as they migrate northwards and southwards through the nearby Coral Sea.

Could there possibly be any things better in this life than a day or a holiday on Straddie? Perhaps, but surely there can’t be that many. Sublime Straddie has never not meant my expectations as a holiday destination, and has always surpassed my expectations of what I thought a holiday could ever be like.

As I try and immerge myself back into the hustle and bustle of life back at home in the ‘big smoke’ of Brisbane, I find my thoughts frequently drifting to an enchanting and never-forgotten island so close, but a world away in terms of beauty and ambience. Celebrities and the wealthy may flock to the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast, but give me Straddie any day. Straddie has captured my heart, and I don’t think it will ever let me go.

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