Natural Delights off the Backpacker Trail – North Stradbroke Island, Australia

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We decided to jump off the well-travelled backpacker trail down Australia’s East Coast and check out North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane. After a train ride, a bus transfer and a 30-minute ferry ride, we had arrived on Stradbroke Island. Here, we had to wait for a local bus to bring us to our YHA hostel (the only hostel on the island). The island is quite large and holds the distinction of being the second-biggest sand island in the world, after recently-visited Fraser Island.

Sand Mining forms the basis of the island's economy. There are proposals to turn the island into protected parkland and close the mining operations, but many locals oppose these.Sand Mining forms the basis of the island's economy. There are proposals to turn the island into protected parkland and close the mining operations, but many locals oppose these.
Sand Mining forms the basis of the island's economy. There are proposals to turn the island into protected parkland and close the mining operations, but many locals oppose these.26-Oct-2011 14:24
 

Once we dropped our bags, we decided to take a nice long walk to the heart of town with many shops and restaurants. The main attraction for us was the view of the rugged coast and the wildlife at Point Lookout. From this huge cliff, we immediately saw two massive manta rays. We have yet to dive or snorkel with them, but we definitely were excited to see them. It was quite a thrill watching them “fly” through the water as they glided along the surface.

A large manta ray just off the beach.A large manta ray just off the beach.
A large manta ray just off the beach.26-Oct-2011 16:00
 

While there, we also saw a pod of dolphins frolicking in the waves. A few minutes later we saw our friends, the humpbacks, surfacing and breaching in the distance. And in a large cove, we saw two turtles being tossed around in the waves. We felt like we had hit some kind of wildlife jackpot seeing all of these incredible creatures in the span of just an hour!

Erik at Point Lookout - Queensland's easternmost point and a great place to watch marine life.Erik at Point Lookout - Queensland's easternmost point and a great place to watch marine life.
Erik at Point Lookout - Queensland's easternmost point and a great place to watch marine life.26-Oct-2011 16:26
 

Erik had considered diving while we were there, especially after we saw the gigantic manta rays, but it was insanely expensive. That, and there had been a few fatal great white shark attacks while we were in Australia. We had even read about a fatal shark attack in the shallow shores of North Stradbroke a few years back. So, he opted to give it a miss.

A beautiful cove near the Point Lookout Headland.A beautiful cove near the Point Lookout Headland.
A beautiful cove near the Point Lookout Headland.26-Oct-2011 16:34
 

While beautiful, getting around Stradbroke was a royal pain. This main part of town was at least a 45-minute walk away, and much of the walk wasn’t very scenic. There are expensive restaurants, trendy hotels, a pricy grocery store where we bought most of our food supplies and an amazing homemade ice cream shoppe. But apart from that, it was a real to-do to get anywhere on the island without our own transport.

We spent a lot of time walking Straddie's beautiful, desolate beaches.We spent a lot of time walking Straddie's beautiful, desolate beaches.
We spent a lot of time walking Straddie's beautiful, desolate beaches.26-Oct-2011 13:47
 

We made all of our own food to cut costs while on the island. The next day, we basically did the same walk. The skies turned grey and the wind kicked up, so we didn’t see as many animals the second go-around, sadly.

A sign in our hostel kitchen.A sign in our hostel kitchen.
A sign in our hostel kitchen.26-Oct-2011 12:48
 

If we had to do it again, I think we would have stayed an extra day or two. And maybe we would have gotten up the nerve to dive and snorkel with all of the amazing underwater life surrounding the island.

Even if we’d wanted to stay, our hostel was booked since a reggae festival was on tap for the weekend. Just as well. We left with a good taste of the island and were happily on our way to Surfer’s Paradise.

About Heather

Heather and Erik set off on a round-the-world trip in April, 2010, travelling overland through Central and South America before getting engaged in Antarctica. In 2011-2012 they tackled Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

One thought on “Natural Delights off the Backpacker Trail – North Stradbroke Island, Australia

  1. Rebecca

    Very interesting read. I was debating going to Stradbroke a few years back, just to avoid Brisbane (But then I was offered free accommodation in a lux apartment with my best friends cousin and how could I say no to that after 6+ weeks of hostels?!) so I skipped it. You don’t see much written about it, so very interesting from a backpackers POV.

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