Tag Archive | North Stradbroke Island

No Photos!

Close to home #6 Kayaking with Straddie Adventures

When I hear the words “Don’t bring anything you don’t want to get wet” my plan to take beautiful photographs of the sea disappears with my camera, which I reluctantly put away. I’m about to paddle a kayak for the first time in 40 years and it’s likely more than the camera will get wet.

P1040036

I’m kayaking with friends at North Stradbroke Island, 30 km east of Brisbane, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Debbie, an island local and part of the team at Straddie Adventures, will be our guide as we paddle south from Amity Point into Rainbow Channel. We launch our kayaks in the late afternoon sunlight and paddle out past the pier, giving it a wide berth. “The kids jumping off the end of the pier enjoy trying to overturn passing kayaks,” says Debbie.

P1030975

The incoming tide carries us along, towards broad sand flats where sea grass bends with the current. At first our steering is as poor as our timing and we laugh at our efforts, but Debbie reassures us: “Laughter is good. I know everyone is enjoying themselves.”

Sting rays live in these shallow waters. Suddenly there’s a flash of silver; the water stirs as the first one glides under us. There’s a flurry as another burrows into the sand. Even though she does this trip most days, Debbie is as excited as we are when more sting rays appear. “It’s different each day,” she says. “The sea is never the same. We can’t predict what the animals will do or where they will be.” Ahead of us fish leap out of the water, a sure sign that shovelhead sharks are about, but they’re shy and swift. We only see black fins and water churning in their wake.

We paddle into Wallum Creek, country of the indigenous Quandamooka people. This part of Moreton Bay is a protected marine park; only the traditional owners are allowed to hunt and fish here. Around the first bend of the creek our paddling slows as the tide takes us deeper into the mangroves. The sun dips lower in the sky and there is silence along the creek banks. “It’s never this quiet on the mainland,” says Debbie. Green turtles are often seen in the creek, but today they are hiding. As the sky darkens we grudgingly leave this magical place. Now the paddling is harder, as we push forward against the tide.

As we reach the mouth of the creek, the sun, a huge fiery ball, hovers just above the mainland before slipping behind the blackened mountains of the Taylor Range. To the north, the jagged shapes of the Glasshouse Mountains are silhouetted in the burnt orange sky. The last rays of sunlight are replaced by city lights while the jet stream from an invisible plane glows like a firebrand.

Another day, another glorious sunset!

Another day, another glorious sunset!

The water of Moreton Bay has turned from aquamarine to deep oily green, the sky’s reflection gilding each ripple. I too reflect on the day. I may not have stunning images on my camera, but they’ll be in my memory forever. And I’m only a little wet!

P1040013

*This story first appeared in Queensland Smart Farmer Magazine, November/December 2015.

Living on an Island

During our week long stay on Stradbroke Island, we saw plenty of interesting plants…

and animals…

We saw one of these too, but he didn’t want his photo taken!

20150413_062633

Island in the Sun

Close to Home #1 North Stradbroke Island

It’s always lovely to go on a long holiday to a far flung destination. There are times, however, when it’s not convenient or cost effective and a staycation, closer to home, is the way to go. The destinations in this new series of posts are all within a couple of hours’ drive of our home. They’re easy to get to, there’s plenty to see and do and at the end of the holiday we’re home again in no time.

With their island destination getting closer with each passing minute, excited passengers gather at the railings of the ferry, willing it forward, eager to begin their holiday. They’re heading towards North Stradbroke Island, 30 kilometres off the coast of Brisbane. The island, fondly known as Straddie, is the second largest sand island in the world. It’s only accessible by water taxi or vehicular ferry; today the ferry is loaded with cars, caravans, trucks and even a fire engine.

P1030665

Within a few minutes of the ferry docking at the small township of Dunwich, all the vehicles have disembarked and the holiday makers are on their way. Before they go too far though, it’s necessary to purchase Vehicle Access permits for driving on the beaches. If camping is the plan, a camping permit is required too. For those not into camping, either in the beachfront campgrounds or tucked away in secluded spots in the sand dunes, there are plenty of other choices. There are no flashy high-rises on the island. Instead there are boutique resorts set in natural subtropical forests, cabins and architect designed homes for rent.

P1030849

Most of these homes are in the small township of Point Lookout, on the ocean side of the island. Its elevated position means the views of the Pacific Ocean, the rocky cliffs and expansive beaches are spectacular. A 1.1 kilometre circuit from Point Lookout skirts around the sheer, stony walls of North Gorge where pandanus trees cling precariously to the rocks. The best vantage points for seeing migrating whales from May to October are along this walking track and there’s an elevated view of the eastern side of the island, from Main Beach to Blue Lake Beach and Eighteen Mile Swamp.

P1030802

P1030807

Main Beach and Flinders Beach, on the northern side of the island, are both open to four wheel driving. The wide stretches of hard, flat sand are broken only by the occasional groups of fishermen, swimmers or games of beach cricket and drivers must give way. They also need to check the tide times because driving is forbidden an hour either side of high tide.

P1030892

Another walk, leading inland this time instead of along the coast, goes to Blue Lake. Fed by fresh underground water, the lake is a haven for bird watchers. The 2.5 km walking track winds through a shaded eucalypt forest dotted with clumps of grass trees, their tall black flower spikes a tasty treat for birds.

P1080622

There are no facilities at Blue Lake so for a family day out Brown Lake is a better option, where there are picnic grounds and public amenities and it’s accessible by road. Even the Mr Twirly ice cream van goes there, its familiar tinkling tune competing with the birds as it announces its arrival. Brown Lake is a perched lake, set above the water table. The tea trees around its shore colour the water with their tannins and it’s a popular place for swimming.

P1030694

Amity Point is also a favourite with swimmers. There’s a netted swimming area designed to keep the sharks out. Don’t be alarmed though. The sharks are wobbegongs and shovelheads and they’re not usually a threat to swimmers, although they may be a little cranky if they feel cornered. A safe way to see the sharks is to take a kayak out onto the calm waters of Moreton Bay. Paddle south into the shallow waters of Rainbow Channel where fields of swaying sea grass are also the home of manta rays, green turtles and the elusive dugong.

P1040034

P1040040

As well as looking at the sea life, catching fish like flathead and bream is a popular pastime along the jetty at Amity Point. Keep an eye on the locals; if they are out on the jetty it means there are fish about! Or it might just be easier to visit the fishing trawlers which tie up in the early morning and sell their catch from the deck. More local produce, like organic honey and freshly made fudge is sold at the Point Lookout Sunday markets. The busiest stall is the Island Juice stall, where the flavour combos have enticing names like Island Elixir, Straddie Sunset and Beach Bliss.

P1030775

20150412_094852

The best ice cream on the island comes with a wonderful ocean view at Oceanic Gelati and Coffee Bar at Point Lookout, while appetising meals are served al fresco at Seashells Café at Amity Point. The waiter recommends the prawns and says: “They are fresh caught and came off the trawler up the road first thing this morning” – just like the newest ferry load of visitors to this island paradise.

20150414_132813

One, Two, Three, Jump ~ Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Motion

The jetty at Amity Point, on the north western tip of North Stradbroke Island, is a major focal point for the small township. It’s the best place to spot dolphins and often a fisherman or two will try their luck where the water is deeper.

P1080663

It’s also the perfect launching pad for those game enough jump headlong into the pristine waters of Moreton Bay. The young and not-so-young compete to make the biggest splash as they hit the water.

P1040085

It’s enough to chase the sharks away!

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Motion

On The Beach ~ Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Early Bird

I’ve just spent the last week on North Stradbroke Island, a large sand island off the coast of Brisbane. Every morning we went for a walk along Home Beach. We watched the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean and found exciting new treasures washed up on the shore.

P1030749

Home Beach, southeast to Cylinder Headland

P1030752

Home Beach, northwest to Rocky Point

P1030760

Weekly Photo Challenge – Early Bird