North Stradbroke Island: Too good to be true
We've all got that one spot that never leaves our mind, the one that appears at tough times to get you through, be it work or when you realise it's been so long between trips you've forgotten how to light a fire!
North Stradbroke Island, or Straddie, as it is known by the locals, is one of the many sand islands off the coast of South-east Queensland. You'll be spotting dolphins and whales off Point Lookout before you know it!
The island is known for the sheer abundance of quality campsites, making it hard to choose a favourite. Only accessible by ferry, it's just under an hour ride from Cleveland to Dunwich, the last place to stock up on supplies before heading off in search of adventure.
Trans-Island Road cuts straight through the Island direct to the entrance of Main Beach and will take you about 15-20mins in high-range. Just the sight of the blue horizon of the ocean is enough to hit home and let you know you're away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Letting down your tyre pressure is paramount. Anyone who goes camping is usually packed to the brim so 18psi is a good starting point; this is where the tyre gauge and air compressor earn their keep.
If you like roughing it then Main Beach is for you; it is 32km of rolling white sand skirted by deep blue ocean. The permit conditions keep you off the sand 2hrs either side of high tide so plan your trips up the beach front accordingly.
Once on the fluffy stuff you'll be embracing adventure and changing into beach mode. Drive until you start to see the camp ground signage and entrances on the dunes. This is where you can take your pick and set up your camp in one of the well cleared sites. The Rangers check them regularly so always have your tag on display.
There are absolutely no facilities on the foreshore, so make sure you take plenty of water and your own amenities.
The southern tip of Straddie is something to behold at sunset, a well-known spot where you can park your 4WD, kick back on the tailgate and crack a few cold ones as the sun dips below the horizon with the silhouette of Brisbane in the background.
Throw a line in and when the grubs start biting, punch on up the beach back to camp, circle the 4WDs and get the fire cranking with some tucker in the crockpot.
Heading back from Main Beach head towards Dunwich and along the way you will come across Blue Lake. It's a 5km trek to the lakefront but with the promise of a swim in the clear blue waters at the end it goes quickly.
After Blue Lake you can head towards Dunwich where you will come across Brown Lake, a nice spot for families to enjoy lunch and a swim, this area is facilitated too. Brown Lake gets its name from the tannin in the water, although it is brown, it's surprisingly clear!
If the 4WD bug is biting then the Keyholes are well worth a look. The area is full of waterways, giving you a chance to get your 4WD muddy.
If you've never done it before, get a mate to walk through for you, as there are often submerged objects lurking just below the surface.
Once past the sea of water holes, the road is easy to drive with a multitude of picnic areas along the way giving you the opportunity to slow it down and truly appreciate the area.
The lagoon got its name due to the shape looking like a keyhole. The scenery is just magnificent.
Mark this on your bucket list and hit the repeat button because that's what you'll be doing. Pack the truck, chuck in the kids and the dog, fill the tanks and get those rubber feet on the ferry.
You can't come to Straddie just once, the beach and the dunes change every time, making it one escape we guarantee you'll never forget.
What you need to know:
You must have a 4WD Beach Access Permit to be able to drive on the beach, these can be obtained online. You must also have a camping permit and show your camping tag at all times in your campsite. Camping Permits can also be obtained online.