Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bills' Fabulous Adventures: Maddie on Straddie - Part I

We wanted to take Maddie to Straddie.... Maddie was a Swedish exchange student, Madeleine, in Australia for a year to experience Aussie culture and language, and what little tradition we have. She wanted to see Stradbroke Island, a secluded beach paradise off the coast of the south eastern suburbs of Brisbane. As Australians are oft to shorten names, it is affectionately called Straddie, even though it has anything but humble beginnings being named after the the Lord of Stradbroke....

Aboriginal communities have long existed on Straddie, as has a plethora of wildlife and flora including the much loved koala, kangaroo and gin - gin (otherwise known as a grass tree). Plus there is miles of pristine, well almost pristine, (there is the ubiquitous plastic litter) on white sand beaches, waves that a surrie would die for, as well as a swimming meccas for locals, dolphins, and very occasionally, sharks.

"Maddie" wanted to see "Straddie", so we booked in at the Backpacker's  Manta lodge, situated a few kilometres back from Point Lookout. Took the early morning ferry from Cleveland to Dunwich. This was actually called the 'Flyer' and cost about $40 for two adults and one child return. This fare also included the bus to our lodge, which has a convenient timetable that coincides with the arrival of the ferries from the mainland.

The ferry ride takes about 40 minutes and the bus about 30 minutes to traverse from one side of Stradbroke (Dunwich) to the other (Point Lookout) Something to remember is that from 10am - 12noon, the  bus drivers have their lunch break and there are no buses then, so you are in for a long walk if you want to go anywhere between those times.

You are able to take your car over on the other ferry service, but it becomes quite expensive - around $100 for a standard vehicle.

The beach from the porch of the Manta Backpackers Lodge

We stayed at Adder Rock, at the Manta Badkpackers Lodge, an accredited scuba dive centre and above average Backpackers, in a 4 share room. They do have double beds here, but bathroom is all shared in a common area. As we had a child staying with us, they could not allocate the spare bed to a stranger so we spread out a little. Rooms are very inexpensive around $30 p.p. and the amenites included: hammocks, (where a foreign tourist was found catching up on some zzzz's and could not be roused), BBQ's, pool and ping pong table, TV's and DVD's and well equipped kitchen. This backpacker is in an excellent location: step outside and you are on the beach, also reasonably close to Point Lookout by road, but we chose to walk along the beach for the scenic journey over the rocks and beach verges.

Beware: this beach route can take one over an hour, and there are some sections where you have to climb over rocks, dependant on the tide movements,  and it is more direct to walk along the road, or catch the bus, but it is a lot less scenic. If you have mistimed your beach walk, you can always find toilets/amenities half way along at Cylinders beach Caravan Park, where there is also a small shop and Post Office.
4WD is permitted on the beach here

We even saw a Beach wedding taking places. High Heels in the sand... can you imagine???

Beach walk continues and continues.....

You do pass the Point Lookout Hotel (pub) along the way, so a good diversion could be to stop in here for a rest, or for lunch, or a liquid refreshment, or two. The view from there is simply amazing, and this you will see from anywhere in the hotel. The food itself: well, you can go upmarket and spend a small fortune, or just have a small snack from the bar, such as fresh prawns and salad for $11 (lunch prices). Dinner prices are simply ridiculous for a pub, but as there is not a lot of choice, or competition, onStradbroke Island, they presumably charge what they like.

Bar and eatery
Upmarket restuarant adjacent to the bars

 And so after you are suitably refreshed, you can continue on, exploring the headland at Point Lookout, named by Captain Cook as he sailed along the East Coast in 1770.

Views out to the North at Point Lookout

Guntur's point where perhaps a German tourist was not careful enough?

Amazing views along Thirty? or was it Sixty mile beach.....plenty of it anyway:-) Take the Gorge walk for a long and very scenic view of this cove and the turbulent surf hitting the headland in front of the Surf club. If you do, you will see views like this....

Part of the Gorge walk

As for Point Lookout amenities, there are a number of eateries serving Breakfast specials. If you stay at the Backpackers at Adder Rock or nearby camping grounds/accomodation, you will find that a hearty english breakfast of Bacon and eggs is served for just $5.00 at the Convenience store next door to hte hostel!  Bargain, it was, and the quality was good. As it was Mothers day and I was the Mother, I even got an extra rasher of bacon free!!!

Back to Point Lookout and there are also a few souvenir type shops and a chemist there, a bakery selling pies, Ginormous salad rolls and sweet pastries, but NO foccacia, despite the signs advertising them, and of course, a 'fish n chip' shop. And a playground for kids too!

The "Prawn Shack"

On the eastern approaches to the main Point Lookout stores, you will find a small collection of avant garde gift and boutique fashion shops. Their opening times are various, but you could be lucky and be then when the doors are open. One that caught my eye seemed so 'Straddie' ie:.... laid back.... not always open, simple, and not at all pretentious ..and that was the Fresh local Seafood shop called "The Prawn Shack"...Love it? (pictured above)

Time to meet our local tour guide - the quiet achiever Bill who would take us on a 4 hour tour of the Island....  see part II of Maddie on Straddie ( published 30/8/11)

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