North Stradbroke Island, QLD, Australia
Budget: ticket ($12AUD round trip) + accommodation (about $70AUD for 2 person accommodation) + groceries ($5 per meal!!)
*I've included the cheapest pricing for overnight accommodation that I could find, but North Stradbroke Island is a great spot to do a day trip at from Brisbane or any surrounding area, and staying overnight isn't necessary to get the full experience in my opinion.*
As part of the Marine Biology segment of my program here in Australia, I spent nine days on North Stradbroke (Straddie) Island, planning and carrying out (and analyzing for hours again and again) a project on meiofauna, the little microscopic guys that live just in the upper surface layer of the sand (think Plankton from Spongebob–everything I looked at under my microscope that week was just as evil). These meiofauna live in depressions in the sand caused by stingray foraging activity (stingray pits), so we were looking at how human disturbances to these pits affects the meiofauna.
If you're confused by that last sentence, keep reading, this post isn't actually about my project. Alternatively, if you're intrigued, I have a lengthy paper filled with complicated statistical analyses and fancy looking graphs that I made but likely still struggle to understand that explains everything. I'll send it your way.
One of the highlights of visiting North Stradbroke is learning about the Quandamooka people and their culture. Traditionally and formally known as Minjerribah, the island is traditionally owned by the Quandamooka people and their descendants. When you visit the island, you're visiting their Country, and can take the chance to learn about their rich history. In the Moreton Bay Area. (A short introduction to their values: https://stradbrokeisland.com/about-stradbroke/quandamooka-country/)
One of the elders of the tribe welcomed my group to the island and did an informational presentation about their history. These "Culture Talks" are available to all guests of Minjerribah, and you can learn about the history of their land and details about their culture through photos, art, and tools. (Here's the website with more information about these Culture Talks: https://stradbrokeisland.com/see-do/history-culture/)
As a group, we also got to learn how to throw a boomerang, which are traditionally used for war and hunting, as well as some forms as toys. Since my name is an Australian name derived from an Aboriginal word for boomerang in the the southwestern region of Western Australia (http://ozwords.org/?p=3113), there were great expectations for my throwing performance.
I was terrible at it.
This beach is about a 30 minute bus ride from the Research Station where I was staying. The buses on Straddie are the same as the ones in Brisbane but you can't use a GoCard so plan on having cash with you (it was $5-10 all day for students).
If you are looking to surf, be you Alana Blanchard or a thirteen year old Kook who surfed once on his family vacation to Hawaii, there are waves for you at Cylinder beach. The swell was mediocre the day I was there, so we rented soft tops and messed around and still had a really good day.
Attempting to tandem surf on an 8'0" soft top when the waves break 10 feet from shore and the current is dragging you down the beach might sound like a challenge, but not everyone can be tandem surfing champions like myself and my friend Ali. We're currently filtering through sponsorship offers so stay tuned.
The last thing to do on Straddie is the Gorge walk. Plan to spend at least two hours doing this, not because it is particularly long or tedious but because you will definitely want to stop along the way and sit.
The pathway is paved so any shoes (or no shoes) will do, although if you want to walk out onto the cliffs along the way I’d recommend shoes you’re comfortable walking on cliff rock with (again, I choose no shoes but it’s up to you).
From the cliffs, you can see whales (humpback, minke, southern right), turtles, and even sometimes sharks (bull, tiger, sand tiger (nurse shark in Australia)) and rays (manta and eagle rays).
To finish, we walked down to the beach that is overlooked by the beginning of the Gorge walk and had lunch. I don't know what it is called but its hard to miss. The waves are clear and really fun for bodysurfing, and there's a ton of sand space (we set up a full sized soccer game on the shore).
Overall, Straddie is definitely a gem. All sarcasm aside, I had a wild nine days doing research in a bathing suit and surf booties and wouldn't trade anything about the experience (even the 1am trampling). If you're in the area, definitely make your way over to Straddie if you're looking for ocean between the Gold and Sunshine coasts and its easy and cheap to visit! Stop by the research station while your there too and maybe you'll hear about more cool ocean things that are happening!
Here's a short video I made, if you still aren't convinced that this is a cool place (as always, hit the settings button to watch in HD1080p!):