North Stradbroke Island, QLD, Australia
Affectionately referred to as ‘Straddie’ by locals, this picturesque island is the most popular in the Bay area and has become an increasingly desirable postcode for weekending Queenslanders looking for a holiday home. Just a hop, step and 30-minute ferry ride from Cleveland, 30km southeast of Brisbane, it makes for a convenient and utterly delightful getaway.

The eastern side of the island is fringed by white sandy beaches and turquoise waters and the rocky outcrop to the north is a regular spot for sighting dolphins, turtles and manta rays. Between June and November, hundreds of humpback whales can also be seen here.

The middle of the island is peppered with freshwater lakes and waterways, and the southeastern coast is a haven for 4WD drivers. There are ample opportunities for swimming, surfing, snorkelling and fishing, and there are also some decent bushwalking trails. There are three main settlements on the island that are all grouped towards the northern end. Point Lookout is on the surf side and is the major tourist destination, while Dunwich, on the western coast, is where the ferries dock. The southern part of the island is closed to visitors because of sand mining.

Although quiet most of the year, the population swells by nearly five times during school holidays so if you are planning a trip then, you will need to book accommodation well in advance. The Stradbroke Island Visitor Information Centre 8.30am-5pm is 200m from the ferry terminal in Dunwich.

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