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On our second day with Paul, Kate, and Jake, they treated us to a trip to North Stradbroke Island, or “Straddie,” as the locals call it. This barrier island, off the coast near Brisbane, is only assessable by a vehicle ferry or water taxi. We took their fully equipped, off-road vehicle to the island, so we could drive along the white sand beach. We loved exploring a beautiful place that most visitors overlook.
Getting to Straddie
Our trip started with a drive to the coast, where we boarded the vehicle ferry. If you want to take a trip to Straddie, you can do so with a rental car, but be sure to get the appropriate insurance. The ferry ride took about 45 minutes. We sat on the top deck and sipped coffee while we watched the island grow larger in the distance.
Driving on the Beach
Upon arrival, we drove directly to the beach on the opposite side of the island. Paul chose a route that wound through areas filled with various Eucalyptus trees, including the “scribbly bark” variety. After about 30 minutes, one bog down, and a few lizard sightings, we reached the beach.
Because it was low tide, Paul was able to drive directly onto the flat expanse of beach. We turned south and drove down the entire length of the island, watching the bushes for birds and kangaroos. A few eagles tracked along with us, and we spotted a kangaroo along the edge of the sand. We reached the south end of the island as the tide was coming in. Paul had to turn around quickly and squeeze through a couple tight spots, but we made it back to where we started. Tip: Only drive along the beach during low tide. It can be dangerous if you get caught in the rising tide.
Before leaving the beach, we stopped for a picnic. They packed some sandwiches and leftovers from dinner the night before. We ate and then sat around, enjoying the blue skies and white sand. We even chased some little crabs around on the beach.
North Gorge Walk
When we left the beach, we drove to the North Gorge Walk. This is a well-built coastal walkway along the cliffs. On the walk from our parking spot to the path, we ran into another wild kangaroo. The trail itself follows the path of the gorge and makes a loop, so you will end up back at your starting point. We stopped off at scenic viewpoints to take pictures and watch the waves crash on the rocks.
Toward the end of the walkway, we had the opportunity to look down the beach we had driven earlier. Before climbing back into the car, we stopped to grab some ice cream at a shop near the trailhead. This was a very nice treat on a warm day.
Our final stop on the island was the appropriately-named, Brown Lake. This is one of the lakes on the interior of Straddie. As you probably guessed, the water in this lake is brown. However, it is not murky or muddy like most brown lakes I’ve seen. The color in the water actually comes from high concentrations of tea tree oil, which is very good for the skin. We went for a dip in the water, and I was surprised that I could actually see through the water quite well. This was a nice, refreshing way to end our visit to the island.
Dinner – “Cheeky Nando’s”
Back in Brisbane, we decided to go for a “Cheeky Nando’s” for dinner. We first heard about Nando’s chicken during our English Bus Tour to Stonehenge. Our tour guide raved about how delicious the food was, but we never got the opportunity to try it in England. With no locations in the United States, we had to wait for a visit to Australia for our first taste.
Nando’s serves Portuguese flame-grilled PERi-PERi chicken in a variety of sauces. I requested a mild version of their most popular sauce, and it was very tasty! My wife went with the paella, which was also delicious. Well done, Nando’s!
If you get the opportunity to visit North Stradbroke Island, we highly recommend that you take advantage. It has a nice, laid back feel, with beautiful scenery and interesting wildlife. Bring a picnic for the beach, and take a skin-soothing dip in Brown Lake. Thanks again to Paul, Kate, and Jake for being awesome tour guides! Cheers!