Brisbane is the gateway to some of the best authentic Australian day trips. The Australian east coast is lined with islands. Fraser Island, Moreton Island, the Whitsunday Islands and of course, North and South Stradbroke Island. All within such short distance away from the sunshine city it would’ve been considered silly to not visit these islands whilst living in Brisbane. One of my favourite trips in Australia was intact this North Stradbroke Island day trip otherwise known as north ‘Straddie’. Straddie, though popular with the locals is often missed amongst travellers to the east coast. I get it. It’s competing with the likes of the Whitsundays and Fraser Island but the beauty on this island is just as magnificent. It’s the perfect island for an easy and pretty cheap day trip. In this guide to a north Stradbroke Island day trip, I’m showing off the best that this island has on offer.
How to Get to North Stradbroke Island
Getting to North Stradbroke Island is super easy from Brisbane. There are both passenger ferries and transport ferries that run daily from Cleveland. Cleveland is a suburb just 50 minutes drive east of Brisbane towards the coast. It’s also easy to get to on public transport with a straight train running from the city to Cleveland. The train runs from Central Station in Brisbane all the way to Cleveland no changing required. Just make sure you’re on the blue line towards Cleveland. The ferry terminal is then literally a couple of minutes walk away, it’s really easy!
The ferry across to North Stradbroke Island takes just under an hour making it a perfect day trip destination! For a passenger ticket across the water, tickets start at just $10 for a vehicle if will be considerably more. We took a large 4WD across and it cost $150 return for the ferry. Considering we split between four it wasn’t bad at all. If you plan on taking a car across get a group together to lower the cost. You can use this website to book your ferry across to North Stradbroke Island.
Once on the ferry, the amenities are brilliant. Get out of the car and take a look at the vast ocean views from the upper deck. Depending on the time of year you may get to see some sea life too! During our trip to Straddie in June, we saw whales, dolphins and turtles in the waters so keep those eyes peeled! There’s also toilets and a cafe upstairs in the ferries as well and I must say, they do a rather delightful hot chocolate (yes, even in Brisbane they still drink hot chocolate)!
Getting Around North Stradbroke Island during a Day Trip
There are a couple of ways to get around the island once the ferry has docked. The easiest option and by far the most popular is to drive yourself. The island isn’t that big but it is large enough that you need some sort of transportation other than as your legs. There are also some cool sand tracks to get stuck into if you have a 4WD. But don’t despair if you don’t have a car. North Stradbroke Island also runs a bus service all around the island and its excellent value for money! Get a daily bus pass for as little as $10 to enjoy all the main sights on the island. The bus terminal is located just as you leave the ferry. Check out more details about the bus service on North Stradbroke Island here.
Four-Wheel Driving on North Stradbroke Island
Firstly, to be clear there is no NEED for a 4WD on NorthStraddie. The roads are tarmac and any old car can drive around the island. However, if you do have a 4WD and want to drive on the sand then you can. There are various sand bush tracks and beaches where 4WD driving is permitted. The majority of the bush tracks don’t require a permit just a 4WD.
That said if you want to drive on the beaches then a beach permit is required. The prices for these start at around $40 for driving on Main Beach and Flinders Beach which are the only beaches that allow four-wheel driving on. There are rules that driving isn’t permitted 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to high tide so check the tide times if you want to fit it into your North Stradbroke Island day trip! For more information on permits and driving on North Stradbroke Island take a look at this website.
The Best Time of Year to Visit North Stradbroke Island
Time of year to visit North Straddie will depend on personal preference but winter in Queensland is so fabulous! The temperatures in Queensland don’t particular soar in the summertime staying consistent at around 28-32 degrees but what does soar is the humidity. Queensland can see days as humid as 90%+ in the summertime. If you talk to most Queenslanders they’ll tell you that they stay indoors in summer and outdoors in winter! Autumn – winter time in Queensland is like most peoples summers, temperatures vary between 20-26 degrees with constant sunshine and very little rain/cloud! Another awesome reason to take a North Stradbroke Island day trip in the months of June-November is to do some sea-life spotting! This is the seasons when the humpback whales migrate up the Australian Coast and you will be able to see them from the island!
How to Spend Your Day Trip on North Stradbroke Island
For a fairly small Island, there is a lot to get stuck into on North Straddie. From fabulous walks, shimmering lakes, pristine beaches, sandboarding, fishing, four-wheel driving and eating ice cream there is something for everyone to enjoy. During our day trip to North Stradbroke Island, we crammed a lot in and this could easily be split over two days if you wanted to stay longer than just one day.
North Gorge Walk
Kick off the North Stradbroke Island day trip by heading straight to enjoy the Gorge Walk. At 1.5 km in distance, it’s a fairly easy walk combined with paved tracks, broad walks and some small inclines. From bushland to beaches this walk showcases some wonderful views of the oceans and Straddie coastline. The Gorge Walk is a paradise for any bird or marine lovers out there. We visited North Stradbroke Island in late June and couldn’t believe how much marine life we spotted.
As we followed the Gorge Walk we saw not only humpback whales but dolphins, turtles and array of seabirds in the distance. It was incredible to see whales dancing together as they make their migration and turtles swimming with the current. The water is so clear close to the coast so the turtles were so easy to spot as they were pretty close to the land! The only thing I wish I had taken along was a pair of binoculars!
Spend the morning immersed the beautiful views along the coastline, divine views across Main Beach, the North Stradbroke Island blowhole (look out for turtles in this area) and point lookout! The Gorge Walk is an easy walk for most abilities with just a few stairs and a couple of inclines. The area is shaded intermittently by trees but remains in the open for the majority of the walk. You could spend hours just wandering along the Gorge Walk but if you do want to squeeze everything into your day trip on North Stradbroke Island then I recommend spending around 1.5 – 2 hours exploring this area of the island.
Park at Point Lookout Before The Gorge Walk
There’s free parking all around the island but I recommend parking up by Point Lookout surf club to get to the start of the walk. From the parking bays at this spot, you can explore the Main beach before beginning the Gorge Walk. Main Beach is one of the beaches that permits 4WD driving on North Stradbroke Island. To drive on this beach you’ll need a permit starting at $40 so check that out before arriving. Main Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand to talk a walk across too, follow the steps that lead onto the shore and enjoy the beauty.
Ice Cream at Oceanic Gelati
There’s no better way to cool down after a walk then with ice cream, especially when it’s to die for! Head to Mooloomba Road after the Gorge Walk for ice cream and enjoy a few of the indy shops that line the street. The ice cream at Oceanic Gelati was gorgeous there was four of us and everyone definitely enjoyed my flavour of Raspberry the most – creamy but fruity it certainly hit the spot! There are also a few cafes along the road too if you need a pick me up.
Explore Cylinder Beach – The Best Beach on North Stradbroke Island
A short drive away from Point Lookout is Cylinder Beach hands down my favourite beach on the island! In fact, this beach could easily be one of my favourites in Australia. The waters are pristine and the beach was wonderfully empty when we visited in June. I imagine it’ll be a lot busier in the summertime but it was nothing other than tranquil during our visit. It’s the perfect way to round off the morning.
Take out those swimmers, stand up paddleboards, surfboards whatever you like and get into that water. It’s also a lovely spot for lunch. There’s a campsite on the beach which also has some public toilets and BBQ areas for public use. If you want to stay on North Stradbroke Island longer than just a day then this campsite would be a great overnight location. You can take a look at the facilities on this website.
Visit the small town of Amity Point
Amity Point is the most Northerly tip on North Stradbroke Island. There honestly isn’t much there but there is a wonderful jetty which is a popular fishing spot as well as the swimming area on the beach. The swimming area in Amity Point has a shark net around some of the water. Sharks are known to roam the waters in Queensland so you just never know when and where they could be lurking (not to scare anybody) so remember this spot for some extra safe swimming!
North Stradbroke Island Day Trip – Afternoon
After a jam-packed morning spend the afternoon exploring some of the National Parks and stunning lakes on the island. We visited both Blue Lake National Park and Brown Lake during our North Stradbroke Island day trip. But before we made it to the lakes we took the scenic route via one of the sand tracks! Driving on sand is a lot of fun in a 4WD but does require some experience beforehand.
Even though you don’t need a permit to drive some of the sand tracks I highly recommend taking some lessons before trying it out on Straddie. Though not as bad as the sand tracks on Fraser Island (those sand tracks are CRAZY) there is still a lot of hills with some steep drop-offs. The time on the sand took up the first hour of our afternoon so if you don’t want to go driving you could definitely fit something else into this day trip on North Stradbroke Island. At the end of the post, I’ll list some more options of things to do on this beautiful island.
Blue Lake National Park
Blue Lake National Park is the perfect destination on the island for walkers and avid hikers! As big outdoor enthusiasts we couldn’t wait to head on another walk for the afternoon and there’s so many to choose from at Blue Lake National Park all which end up at the Blue Lake/‘Karooba’ eventually. The easiest hike is 5.2 km to the lake one way so it’s a fair distance taking a couple of hours. The Blue Lake is sacred to Quandamooka people of North Stradbroke. Legend says that the Blue Lake is home to a huge carpet snake. It has big cultural significance to the Quandamooka people and therefore swimming isn’t allowed.
The walk to the lake from the car park is relatively easy bushland with some small inclines. It does take a couple of hours there and back so be prepared with your time. We probably should’ve gone earlier in the day but we somehow managed to get back to the car before sunset and head next door to Brown Lake.
Brown Lake is the hidden gem of North Stradbroke Island! Though we arrived late in the day I’m so glad we did! We were running a little short on time after our walk in the Blue Lake National Park and got to the Brown Lake just before the sunset. What a magical time of day sunset is at there. Though the sun does not directly set above the lake the red hue that filled the sky was nothing but dreamy. Again we were the only ones at the Brown Lake and the water was so still and the reflections, magical. I highly recommend giving Brown Lake a visit during the golden hours!
But this lake is also a favourite for swimming and water sports in the summer! A great place to get steady on a stand-up paddleboard or enjoy a tranquil swim in calming waters. The lake is surrounded by bushland and trees which are actually tea-trees. We were pretty intrigued to see whether or not the lake smelt like tea-tree and it certainly did! It wasn’t overpowering but the smell was definitely there. I’d say the Brown Lake and Gorge Walk were my two favourite things we did during our North Stradbroke Island day trip!
Watch the Sunset at the Ferry Terminal
From Brown Lake, the ferry terminal is only a short distance away and the sunset over the ocean is incredible. Watch the sky as it lights up in reds and oranges mimicking fire sparkling over the horizon. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful day. I honestly felt like I’d seen the majority of beauty on the east coast of Australia but as we left Stradbroke Island it had become one of my favourite places in the country.
Of course, this guide to a North Stradbroke Island day trip is just how we spent our day and although it was a great one, there is so much more to do on North Stradbroke Island! So here are a few other things you can enjoy.
Other Things to do on North Stradbroke Island during a Day trip:
- Take a dip in the freshwater at Myora Springs in Dunwich
- Find your wild sand and sandboard on Straddie!
- 4WD on Main Beach and Flinders Beach
- Explore Flinders Beach
- Go Fishing
- Cycle the island
- Beach Yoga is held during the summer months!
How ever you choose to spend your day trip on North Stradbroke Island I can guarantee it will be one to remember! I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope it’s given you some inspiration to visit this part of Australia. If you love to explore islands then Fraser Island is a must-visit on the East coast of Australia and I’ve explained exactly what makes it so amazing and unique in this post! If you did enjoy this post then I would be so thankful if you could share it with your friends!
Happy and Healthy Travels!