Overdue for a bit of R&R, I recently set my sights on Stradbroke Island for a few days away. Living on the Sunshine Coast, it is not too far away, but far away from home enough to feel like we were actually away on a break.
North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie, as it is affectionately known, is just a 40 minute ferry ride across Moreton Bay from Cleveland, just south of Brisbane.
Apparently Straddie is the second largest sand Island in the world – at 38km long and 11km, it is a bit of a walk if you are planning on walking around it… I wasn’t… it was R&R…
I am not sure how I have managed to overlook Stradbroke Island all this time. It is really a beautiful island, the beauty in that it is quite laidback and undeveloped, but developed enough to have all of the modern conveniences that are often hard to live without… like mobile coverage and wifi.
Normally, I would have wanted to do the whole camping on the beach thing, but due to a number of factors, one of them being time, we decided that we would stay in the flash new Eco tents at the Adder Rock Camping Grounds, and treat ourselves to a bit of glamping. There was also the small matter of our 3rd Anniversary… and we just wanted to keep it simple 😉
And it really is glamping. At Adder Rock you have the choice of the Glamping Tents, and the Eco Tents, the main point of difference being, that the Eco Tent is a little larger and perhaps, more comfortable… and has a fan… and a fridge… and power… and a hammock out the front… and a deck… and beach basket, bedside lamps, dining implements and a few other handy little extras. I was in.
AND, it has a full sized, and might I add, very comfortable queen bed, with nice crisp linen… and really quite roomy! Nothing wrong with glamping!
The ferry disembarks at Dunwich. We 4WD-ed it, but the roads to all of the camp grounds are sealed, so you can quite happily bring the family sedan without issue, unless you want to drive on the beach, in which case you will need a 4WD, and a permit, which you can get at most of the camp grounds.
Because the Eco Tent pretty much had everything, all we needed to bring was the esky… I decided I was taking some time off from cooking, so brought very little in the way of food. The only food essential for this trip was going to be the oysters that we picked up at Amity Point direct from Diabla Oysters, who harvest fresh oysters from Moreton Bay daily. It doesn’t get much fresher than that, and I loved being able to by them direct from the oyster farmer.
Amity Point has a beautiful little pier, so we stopped for a bit of a meander enroute before making our way to Adder Rock.
Adder Rock is on the other side of the island from Dunwich, not far from Point Lookout, which is where we ended up spending most of our time.
My plan was simple… eat, relax, eat, sleep, and maybe a few little walks. Straddie was very obliging.
Check in wasn’t until 1pm, so we stopped for lunch at The Blue Room at Point Lookout. This was a recommendation from a friend who lives on the island, and I was pretty happy to discover it. Looking out to sea, it was a pretty perfect way to greet the island.
Fresh healthy juices, salads, chia puddings, burgers and for me the ‘Dipster’, a healthy mezze-like collection of goodies.
Straddie was putting on its brilliant blue best. A spectacular day, the ocean was a striation of vivid blues and turquoise greens, and here we were just relaxing and enjoying it.
Adder Rock is only a few minutes drive, or a substantial amount of minutes longer to walk, from Point Lookout.
Adder Rock campground is right on the water. You can camp, stay in the tents as mentioned before, or there are also some cabins. It has all of the usual campground facilities that were all very clean and well maintained. I quite liked that it wasn’t super big, and it was off-season, so it was far from crowded. The Eco Tents are quite new, so while the tents are awesomely appointed with pretty much everything you need, the surrounding flora has a little catching up to do, but it is as private as any other camp site is, and while the purpose was to relax, the reality was we didn’t end up spending that much time at the tent… there was just too much I wanted to do and see, and most of it involved eating – I was taking this ‘time off from cooking’ thing very seriously.
Our afternoon was pretty cruisy. We wandered out to the actual Adder Rock and conquered it in a matter of minutes… bit more casual than our usual climbs, but I think it may have been the highest peak on the island, so yep, another peak conquered. Spectacular vantage point. Trees cling to the edge of the rocks, the root systems beautifully exposed, sea breeze. This was relaxing vantage point #1.
We decided that we needed a beer… and those oysters that we had bought earlier on, so we went back to the tent, got ourselves kitted up and then went to vantage point #2 on the rocks, facing the west so we could watch the sun go down… beer, fresh oysters, ocean, sunset… it doesn’t get much better than that.
Once the sun had gone down we drove back to Point Lookout to French Ease, which is opposite The Blue Room we had visited earlier, for dinner.
Initially we had stopped at the Manta Ray Bistro at the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel, but we hadn’t planned ahead, and as sleepy as this island seems, it appears that everyone comes out after dark, as it was booked out. We could have eaten at the beer garden, but it was pretty noisy, and I felt like something a little more than what was on the menu there. But we went back to Manta Ray Bistro the next day for lunch, and it was little quieter, and I had a delicious salmon dish, so just plan ahead I guess.
Having said that, I loved the ambience of French Ease. Low lit, laid back music, sea breeze, lovely friendly staff (most of them French which made the experience quite authentic), great food. Between the mussels and the confit duck, and local beer (well, from across the bay at Cleveland), we were good.
In fact, so good, we came back for breakfast. This time we scored the couches at the front that looked out to Frenchman’s Beach. Breakfast doesn’t get much more perfect, and we were in no hurry to vacate our spaces… then, or later when we returned yet again for another coffee. I know where I would be spending most of my time if we lived there! Unless we bought a house on the point and I had my own cappuccino machine and sea views, but going by the real estate prices, that is not going to happen any time soon!
After breakfast we decided to do the most energetic thing that we did for the entirety of our visit, and that was to walk along the North Gorge Walk at Point Lookout. It is not a long walk, or a difficult one, but it is one that needs to be done with a locally made gelato from the Oceanic Gelato and Coffee bar, which is strategically located at the beginning of the walk. Awesome 🙂
Equipped, we began our walk.
It is quite an incredible walk. Edging the actual gorge that divides the point, it makes for a string of dramatic vantage points out to the ocean as well as the depths of the gorge. Turtles bobbed up their heads intermittently as they dived into the deep to feed. So I spent quite a bit of time trying to capture one on my camera, which was a bit futile considering I had left my zoom at home. But I got heaps of photographs of a brown dot in a sea of emerald green…
The area is actually filled with local fauna if you look closely. I spotted a dozen or so kangaroos on the walk, quietly grazing in the scrub. Most people walking by missed them as they were unperturbed by the presence of people and would continue to graze happily and many lay relaxed in the grass, so unless you looked closely you would miss them altogether.
I got my stealth on, and was able to sneak up quite closely to get some pics. My husband tells me that I was not stealth-like at all and suggested that the kangaroos were just extremely tolerant and immune to clumsy foreigners trying to get close… The joeys were especially cute, barely even giving me the time of day. I made sure I didn’t get too close as I didn’t want to disturb them so just sat and watched for a while. It is nice to be able to get so close as to really get a sense of their environment and interaction without them being affected by our presence. It made my day, even if they were probably wishing I would bugger off and leave them alone… I did eventually…
Loved the walk and we were pretty lucky with the weather. While the rest of the Sunshine Coast was experiencing a deluge of rain, we got the odd sprinkle here and there but that was pretty much it.
Dinner that night was at Whales Way. Whales Way is a restaurant at the resort at the top of Point Lookout. The views are a little impeded by the resort, but the food was sensational.
On our final day, it was breaky again at what had become our local… French Ease followed by a walk at Frenchman’s Beach and then a quick trip up to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is an historical one, but as the road leads past a number of residential homes, it gives the appearance that visits are not exactly encouraged, and there is not really much to see once you get there. Just a big white lighthouse. I expected it to be like the one on Moreton Island with a residence etc., but it is not, so don’t go up there with any great expectation.
Our final stop was at the Little Ship Club in Dunwich for lunch while we waited for our ferry. It is next to the historical cemetery that we had wondered around upon our arrival. I have to say I have quite a thing for historical cemeteries. I love wandering around cemeteries, and reading tombstones; the dates and the various references and epitaphs that reveal private thoughts and loving messages. I wonder at the stories that they must have had to tell, and the great adventure that brought them to this glorious little island in a time in history when travel was not what it is today. They would have endured great hardship, and the adventure would have been an arduous one, which for many of them ended upon their arrival to the island, to their final resting place where they now were. The story of the The Emigrant illustrates some of the hardships of endured. The island as a whole has quite an interesting history, so it is worth taking the time to read up on it.
I loved North Stradbroke Island. The only thing I didn’t love, was having to go home quite so soon and I silently made a promise to return for a little longer next time.
If you need a little Straddie motivation, Straddie locals Angie Simms and Stuart Quinn have produced a beautiful recipe book, “Eat Drink and be Straddie – Tales and Tastes from an Island in the Sun”, with some Straddie visual inspiration, which you can buy at numerous locations around the island, or online here.
(Great Christmas Present!)
What you need to know:
To visit North Stradbroke Island you will need to book a ferry online – ferries do book out at busy times of year so it is a good idea to book in advance especially if you are taking over your vehicle…
Where we stayed:
We stayed in the Adder Rock Eco Tents, which you can book online here…
Where we ate:
We ate at a few places around the island. Our favourites were:
The Blue Room – for breakfast or lunch
French Ease – for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or just coffee (we did them all)
Whales Way – lunch and dinner
This story was written by Petra Hughes – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds – Petra’s visits was paid for and unannounced.