There’s no doubt that a getaway to Straddie immediately turns your body clock to relax – even if you can get wireless internet access from your holiday apartment.
Certainly there are far more interesting things to look at on Straddie. This is the perfect short break escape, offering all the benefits of a tropical island holiday without the jet lag – and I do mean the domestic variety caused by interminable delays, sour service and sardine-style seating. I have to admit, I am more comfortable sitting in my own car, listening to my own music enjoying the air conditioning to my own comfort and taking on board as many bags as I can fit in!
Not that you need much baggage for a short break at Stradbroke Island – where the locals boast the summer never ends and the first thing you want to do on the ferry ride over is stand out in the breeze and shake off your city cares. Time your arrival for an early lunch and your city detox can begin in earnest at the Island Fruit Barn – the first time I visited Straddie I went past it because I thought it really was just a fruit barn, but it actually has a small undercover outdoor area for sit-down eating and they serve up healthy meals (vegetarian is the specialty) as well as a decent coffee and home-made cakes.
It’s interesting to see how much city people don’t know about Straddie (but then it’s surprising to see how many still haven’t been there as well), so to save embarrassment before meeting the locals it’s worth dropping in to the Historical Museum in Welsby Street to get the crash course from wall posters and memorabilia. Real history buffs can pick up a brochure to guide them through the heritage trail or the Dunwich Cemetery trail.
There are plenty of places to stay on Straddie but my dream of living on an island – even for a few days – does not have a campsite in it. Off-peak, there are some great deals at apartments, especially for more than two people – and that means rates at less than $100 per person per night on special deals.
I sleep much more soundly in accommodation with facilities as good as or better than I have at home and by the time I had unpacked my bag at Allora, (there’s a choice of either a two-bedroom or three-bedroom townhouse) between Flinders and Home beaches on the way to Point Lookout, I was ready to move in. The first floor deck is the perfect spot for a private happy hour watching the sun go down, kitchen and bathroom facilities are first rate and there’s plenty of space for two couples to stay without feeling claustrophobic.
But you can’t spend all day reading the paper on the deck. You do need to venture out to Look café to see what’s going on and you never know what that’s going to be. By the time I had my coffee an affable Kerry O’Brien had come in to have breakfast and a fleeting glance at the magnificent sea vista became mesmerising when a whale came into view. During whale-watching season the shopkeeper across the street notches up the number of whale sightings daily on a blackboard.
But even looking isn’t as good as doing and one of the true delights of going to Straddie is getting out on the beautiful blue water, made easy by Jeff Bush and Debbie Cullen who operate guided Bay and Island Tours from a 12-man Gemini inflatable craft.
Once you’re out on the water you could be in the Whitsundays as you drop into pristine beaches, draw alongside the Platypus wreck, dip your toes in the water at Peel Island or sit on a sand cay to enjoy a cool drink at Bird Island. A full day tour ($129 per person) includes lunch at the Little Ship Club. But plan ahead as these tours go out only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Of course, the very nature of a short break means you risk it being over all too soon and one night on this island isn’t long enough to do everything you could do. For example, you should factor in a Sunday night stay to be able to enjoy late afternoon drinks at the Point Lookout Surf Lifesaving Club at Straddie – it has one of the best panoramas on the island and the laidback vibe is what dreams are made on. Then there are the drives and walks to the Brown and Blue lakes, and the days when you just want to sit on the beach…I could go on, but that reminds me – it’s time to book in another short break.