North Stradbroke Island or Straddie as it’s more affectionately known, is a little island paradise just off the coast of Brisbane and is accessible via vehicle ferry. It’s the world’s second largest sand island and has three little townships and a range of shops and services to support any type of holiday from luxury homes to waterfront camping, but it’s just that little bit more fun with a 4WD.
The island is known for its landscapes, with scenic headlands, freshwater lakes, and epic coastlines of rolling surf and white sand beaches. It’s the perfect place to escape the city at any time of year and enjoy the relaxed coastal vibes.
With long stretches of stunning, pristine beaches, you can take your time and explore all that this island has to offer and find a little bit of the coast line all to yourself, even on a busy long weekend.
The Quandamooka people are the traditional owners of the land and sea and call North Stradbroke Island by its Jandai name, Minjerribah. The island is rich with indigenous culture and heritage and it’s vital that this beautiful part of the world is respected by visitors to ensure it remains for future generations.
You can stay a week or just a day, but no matter how long you spend on Straddie, you’re bound to come home feeling refreshed.
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Our most recent adventure began with rain and the threat of rough weather and ended watching the sunset on the ferry back to the mainland.
It was an epic trip and one that summed up just how special this place is to visit.
The plan was to spend an extra long weekend from Friday through to Monday on the island exploring all the different beaches and really getting a true sense of what makes this place such an incredible destination for all types of adventurers.
I’d been to Straddie a few times before, in fact it’s where we got married, but through those trips we’d never had the opportunity to fully explore the island and all its natural beauty.
To start, we began at Brown Lake, a quick stop on the way to the beach access. This was my first visit to this inland freshwater lake and it’s the perfect place to stop in for a picnic. There is a walking track around the edge, however it was closed at our time of visiting due to track damage.
We also had an opportunity to check out one of the other inland freshwater lakes, the Keyholes located at the Point Lookout end of Main Beach which is a beautiful stop if you’re driving along the beach. It would also be a great place to put the kayak in and get a different vantage point of the area.
We found camp in a large spot that had plenty of shade, was set back a little behind a dune so there was some protection from the wind but still offered some beautiful views over the ocean. It made for a fantastic home base for our trip – a place to come back to each day after being out exploring the island.
Our days were spent hopping between different beaches, swimming in the crystal clear (but admittedly quite freezing) water and generally hanging around camp enjoying a couple of drinks and a lot of food.
We checked out the furthest south you can drive down the eastern side of the island, before driving all the way back to Point Lookout and checking out North Gorge Walk which is a pretty easy walk around the headland offering up some spectacular views of the famous rugged Straddie coast line.
Depending on which way the wind was blowing, we found ourselves parked up at Flinders for a lazy afternoon, or swimming and exploring the rock pools at Frenchmans beach, or simply throwing in a line out the front of our camp at Main Beach.
With so many options for beaches, and each one more beautiful than the next, you’ll never have a chance to get bored.
There are also plenty of 4WD tracks around the island if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous. The furthest we got was playing around on a giant sand dune that was part of the inland track through the camp grounds with the finest, softest sand.
For our final day, we had a slow pack up waiting for the tides to go down and with a late ferry that afternoon we made the most of our time with a final swim and then to Amity Point for some fresh seafood from Rufus King.
Our ferry had us departing right at sunset which was the perfect way to say goodbye to the island and enjoy the final moments of being on holiday as the sky glowed orange behind us.
Planning a Trip
For a camping trip to North Stradbroke Island, especially one where you’ll be camping on the beach it’s best to make sure you have the right equipment to ensure you have a comfortable stay.
Firstly, if you are wanting to drive on the beach, make sure you have a 4WD and let the air pressure down in your tires before making your way to the beach. It’s always handy to make sure you have all the essentials as well such as recovery boards, a shovel and an air compressor to pump your tires back up before driving back on the bitumen.
Camping on the beach is harsh, and the weather on the island can be unpredictable, so you’ll want some form of shelter from the wind, rain or sun. That could be a gazebo or an awning off the side of your car or trailer. You’ll also need some ropes and pegs, as speaking from experience, it only takes one gust of wind to have an awning casualty.
For these remote camps, similar to camping at Double Island Point, you’ll need to be completely self sufficient which means bringing your own food, water, shower and toilet.
For Straddie, you’ll also want to be sure to book ahead of time to make sure to secure your ferry and camping permits. You’ll also want to make sure to look at the tides as you’re not allowed to drive on the beach 2 hours each side of high tide for safety reasons, so make sure you plan ahead so you don’t get stuck at camp when you should be catching your boat home!
Camping at North Stradbroke Island
Camping at Straddie is via Minjerribah Camping which since 2017 has been a private company owned by the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation with the intention of strengthening the partnership between the Aboriginal and mainstream communities through the conservation of the natural landscape.
We chose to camp at Main Beach which is a campground right on the beach. This area is 4WD accessible only and is also dog friendly! You’ll need to keep your pup on a lead at all times, and both a camping permit and 4WD access permit will be required before you arrive.
At our time of visiting in April 2022, proof of vaccination was still required prior to arrival and still appears to be needed based on the website. You’ll also need to print off your permits before arriving as you’ll need to keep these on display on your camp and in your vehicle.
The camping area for Main Beach is across 15 designated areas along the Eastern side of the island and is about $20 per night, with vehicle permits being $55.90 per vehicle and are valid for 1 month.
More information about other camping options and booking details can be found on the Minjerribah Camping website.
Don’t forget with any camping, you’ll also need to make sure you’ve booked your ferry as Stradbroke Island is only accessible by boat! Prices vary depending on the day and time, but expect to pay up to $100 each way for a standard vehicle. Find all the booking information and timetables via the Sealink website.
The vehicle ferry departs from Cleveland which is approximately 40 minutes from the CBD of Brisbane. You’ll need to make sure you arrive at least 20 minutes before your ferry departs as they do not wait around for anyone and are usually pretty booked solid, so it’s not as easy as thinking you can simply just catch the next one.
The boat takes around 50 minutes and is definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.
You don’t have to take a car to Straddie, as there are walk-on options and a passenger ferry also available and a bus that will pick you up at Dunwich and take you around to Point Lookout.
It’s definitely worth taking a vehicle over though, even if you don’t have a 4WD as it’s a big island with plenty to explore.
- You are allowed small fires for cooking only.
- Fuel is available at Dunwich.
- Straddie has dog friendly campsites and beaches! Make sure to review the particular rules for the area you’re visiting.
- Do not drive on the beach for 2 hours either side of high tide. The tides here are high and there is a good chance you’ll get stuck if you disregard this safety notice – it’s been put in place for a reason.
- The 4WD accessible beachfront campgrounds at Main Beach do not have any facilities so you’ll need to be fully self-sufficient.
- There is patchy Telstra service available around the campsites at Main Beach, but full service available in the main parts of the island around Point Lookout, Amity Point and Dunwich.
- There is a dump point available at Amity Point Campgrounds. It’s behind the boom gates so you’ll need someone to let you through, but it’s open to everyone.
- Leave no trace and ensure to take care to leave the campgrounds as you found them, taking all rubbish out with you!