Brisbane experiences

North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island is located two hours journey, or a little more, from Brisbane. It is a place where one really ought to stay, but it is possible to see it as a day trip, either with a tour, or by public transport. North Stradbroke Island is a miniature version of the more famous Fraser Island further north. Fraser Island is composed totally of sand and North Stradbroke Island is almost completely sand.

These two are amongst the largest such islands in the world. North Stradbroke Island has the advantages of being easily accessible from Brisbane and being well developed in terms of transport.

By public transport, first take a suburban train from Brisbane to Cleveland, which will take a little less than an hour. From Cleveland Station, walk down to the harbour, a walk of about fifteen minutes. There is a bus available if you prefer, but the distance is quite walkable and the route signposted. From Toondah Harbour in Middle Street, a ferry runs across to the island, taking about twenty minutes.

stradbroke ferries

When you arrive, it will be in the small town of Dunwich on the west side of the island. There is a Tourist Information Centre, a museum, an art gallery, and an old cemetery with, surprisingly, as many as 10,000 graves. Moreover, evidence of aboriginal occupation in this town goes back 21,000 years. Dunwich has been, in its time, a convict settlement, a Catholic mission, a quarantine station and a benevolent institution.

The benevolent institution operated here from 1866 until 1947 and was responsible for 8,000 of the graves in the cemetery. There are also the graves of 26 immigrants who died of typhoid on the ship Emigrant in 1850, and the victims of various shipwrecks.

The present industries of North Stradbroke Island are tourism and sand mining. In two places on the island a mining company operates, mining the sand, extracting valuable minerals and then returning the unwanted 99% to its original location. 3,000 tonnes of sand per hour are shifted in this process.

There is a bus service on the island, with buses meeting most ferry arrivals, and there are two other little towns. At the north-western point of the island is Amity, first settled as a pilot station in 1825, and at the north-eastern point is Point Lookout, the favourite destination.

Point Lookout is the most easterly point in Queensland. There is a series of beaches, with plenty of accommodation available, for this is a popular holiday spot. There are walks, of which the North Gorge Headlands walk is the most spectacular, offering coastal scenery and the chance to see turtles, dolphins and whales in season. There are places for diving, and down the east coast of the island stretches Main Beach, 32 kilometres long and good for surfing.

There is also a South Stradbroke Island, stretching down nearly to the tip of the Gold Coast, but it is less accessible and less developed. The two islands were originally one, but they were separated by a storm in 1896.

There is quite an array of accommodation, most of it at Point Lookout. There are camping sites at all three towns. Free camping is permitted on Main Beach from a point ten kilometres south of the causeway on the main access road. However, that point is nearly twenty kilometres south of Point Lookout, a long walk with a tent and supplies.

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