Disembarking the ferry it seems somewhat unfathomable that, after just a week, you could possibly have explored all that this island, that only a lucky handful can call home, has to offer. However, with a car brimming full of luggage and the surfboards strapped to the roof, I set out to do just that – my first destination Cylinder Beach. Before my journey began, a stop at the Island Fruit Barn was a must. Situated along the main road of Dunwich (Bingle Rd), this casual café boasts a variety of a palatable café-style meals as well as smoothies, that in my opinion, were amongst the best I’ve tasted.
In order to get to Cylinders, a 20 minute drive was required, one which curves along the Island’s coastline and then is submerged by a thicket of bushland and its wildlife. A pertinent example of this is when, just before the Bowls Club (which hosts a great bingo on Thursday nights) along the East Coast Rd, I was stopped by a group of Koala’s in a tree on the side of the road. I still hadn’t reached my destination, yet already I had been greeted by the local wildlife.
On arriving at Cylinders, I couldn’t believe the ethereal like manner of the water. It truly was heavenly in its clarity and blue colouring – a swim becoming the first and only thing on your mind. While hours could have been spent swimming to the rhythm of the waves, stand up paddle boarding and learning to surf was also easily accessible with friendly locals ready to help you with these endeavours. In the same way, if Cylinders was to be your stopping point, a campsite was a stroll up the beach.
Home and Flinders Beach:
Standing on Cylinders and looking left, you are able to make out Home Beach and then further along the coastline Flinders Beach in the distance. Both Home and Flinders are ideal dog walking beaches, offering off lease areas in which your Canine friends can roam free. For the human species, Home and Flinders also offers early morning yoga classes. Attending one myself, I can tell you first hand that starting your morning with the orange embers of the sun and the gentle crash of the waves all awhile posing for a downward dog is truly breathtaking.
If you are feeling a more upbeat start to your morning then Deadmans might be a better choice. This beach offers a vast array of rock pool and caves to explore as well as sand dunes that make for great fun sliding down. Fishing at Deadmans is also ideal, with a morning chat to a local an inevitable occurrence.
Moving further along the coastline, Frenchmans Beach is home to Point Lookout and a Gorge Walk that not only helps to capture more of the wondrous views of Frenchmans but also the Gorge and Main Beach. At low tide, around the Gorge, a multitude of rock pools and caves emerge and while a bit of swimming is required to access them, they are definitely worth the exploration. Finally after this circuitous track, head over to Oceanic Gelati and Coffee Bar where you will find some of the best tasting gelato – their inimitable flavors and friendly service sure to become part of your daily routine.
Main Beach and Gorge:
With the Surf Lifesaving club overlooking the beach, Main is definitely the most iconic surfing spot on Stradbroke Island. While being suited to the more experienced surfers among us, a swim in the waves at Main is still ideal. However, if the big surf isn’t for you, the Gorge is a small 5-minute walk from Main for a change in scenery.
If you want a break from the salty seas, a 20-minute drive back to Dunwich and 10 minutes inland will bring you to a small oasis – Brown Lake. The Paperback and Ti-Tree foliage surrounding the lake stains the water a rich brown colour – making it look as if you are swimming in a cup of earl grey tea. Ideal for stand up paddle boarding and floating on inflatables, a day on the lake will not only be an enjoyable change from the waves but also leave you with soft skin and smooth hair due to the Ti-Tree oil properties. Pack a picnic or grab some fish and chips on the way through Dunwich to eat at the lake’s shore and enjoy the distinctive golden beauty of the water.
After the adventures of the day, travelling to Amity point for a dusk filled with dolphins and a delectable dinning experience at Seashells Cafe should definitely be on the agenda. Between 4-6pm the dolphins usually grace Amity point with their presence, swimming close enough for a pat and a cuddle from the shore. Therefore, a stroll around the markets adjacent to the Seashells Cafe as well as an early dinner at this venue is a great late afternoon pastime as you wait for the dolphins to arrive.
Amity also offers a vast array of daytime activities such a snorkelling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and an enclosed beach for swimming. Snorkelling is something I definitely would recommend with the prospect of seeing wobbegong sharks up nice and close. Friendly locals with all the knowledge and gear helped to easily access these activities and set up a truly envious itinerary for the day. If you also want to visit some native land wildlife, a koala and its baby are both residents at a tree just near the construction bins inside the caravan park and are worth a look and a picture.
After a week spent exploring North Stradbroke Island, I concluded that a second trip was necessary to truly experience all the individuality and character of this island. With so much do and see it really is an ideal holiday destination for those of all ages. It’s hard to believe that a short 40 minute ferry ride from mainland (Cleveland, QLD, Australia); and there you are at the tropical oasis that is North Stradbroke Island . Falling in love with ‘Straddie’ (as the locals call it) was all too easy and I am sure you will one day no doubt feel the same.