North Stradbroke Island at a Glance
Trip Duration & Difficulty
- Half-day minimum
- Easy to Moderate (Decent vehicle clearance advisable)
- Capable 4WD or AWD
- Tyre gauge, air compressor, shovel
- Recover equipment
- GPS, Maps and compass
Longest distance without fuel
Best time of year to visit
- High season during school holidays and tailor fishing season (Spring and Summer)
- Flinders Beach
- Main Beach
- Tripod Track
- Adams beach campground, Dunwich (rating)
- Adder rock & cylinder beach campground, Point lookout
- Amity point campground, Amity
- Bradbury beach campground, Dunwich
- Flinders beach foreshore camping area
- Homebeach campground, Point lookout
- Main beach foreshore camping area
About North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke Island, commonly referred to as Straddie, is located in Moreton Bay, 30kms southeast of Brisbane CBD. Spanning an area of 275 sq kilomertres, it’s the second-largest sand island in the world. Minjerribah is the Aboriginal name for the island, which translates to “island of the sun.”
With its stunning beaches, lakes’ and natural beauty, the island has plenty to offer visitors all year around. Being so close to Brisbane, it’s usually packed during school holidays. Additionally, it’s also popular as a fishing destination, attracting many angulars during tailor fishing season between spring and summer.
A network of paved roads connects the three small townships (Dunwich, Amity, and Point Lookout) on the island and major attractions. Vehicles are allowed on Flinders beach on the north shoreline and Main beach on the island’s east coast. Make sure to buy a permit before driving on either beach. Tripod Lookout, accessible via a 4wd track running through the island, offers stunning panoramic views and is worth visiting.
A range of accommodation is available for those looking to stay overnight. There are also plenty of campgrounds to choose from, including camping on the foreshore! Reservations are essential so be sure to book ahead.
4G coverage is pretty good along the shore. However, coverage can get a bit patchy in the interior of the island.
Getting to North Stradbroke Island
A barge transporting visitors and vehicles to and from Straddie departs from Toondah Harbour, Cleveland, in east Brisbane, about a 40min drive from the CBD. Barges depart on an hourly basis with more services added for weekends and school holidays. The barge will head east across Moreton Bay and arrive at Dunwich, the main township on Straddie. A one-way ride usually takes about 50 mins.
Tip: Discounts are available for booking ahead of time. For pricing, timetables and to make a booking, visit the operator’s website.
Things To Do
Stradbroke Island offers two stretches of beach and an inland track for the keen 4WDer.
Vehicle access permits are required for 4WDing on Flinders and Main beaches. Just like driving on regular roads, the same road rules apply when driving on the beach. Vehicles are not allowed on other beaches.
Driving on sand is different from driving on hard surfaces. You will need a 4WD vehicle. Be alert and familiar with sand-driving techniques, and only travel at low tide times, stay on harder sand, do not drive or park in the water or the dunes, and slow down for other beach users and wildlife.
Running along the northern edge of North Stradbroke Island, Flinders beach is the shorter (7kms) of the two beaches where 4WD vehicles are permitted. A vehicle access permit is required to drive on the beach and can be purchased online.
There are three separate access points onto Flinders beach; Amity Point, Adder Rock, and Flinders beach township. Try to avoid the Amity Point access point where possible as it’s often closed due to frequent erosion from tides.
Before heading onto the beach, make sure your vehicle is well prepared, and you have dropped your tyre pressures accordingly. Once on the beach, the sand is usually quite firm, perfect for cruising but stay below the limit of 40 km/h. The beach is a natural surface, which is different from a paved road. Always be alert, especially around hide tide, which can cause sharp cutaways to form.
As the name suggests, Main beach is the longest beach on Straddie. It runs along the eastern coastline of the island and spans an impressive 38 kilometres!
Vehicle access to Main beach is possible at two points. There is an access point at the northern end of the beach, near Point Lookout. The other access point is off Alfred Martin Way, roughly two-thirds of the way up the island. Soft sand covers both access points and will require a considered approach. Once on the beach, the sand is usually firm and there are no creek crossings to worry about. This is not an invitation to hoon so make sure to stay below the 60 km/h limit.
Tripod Track & Lookout
Tripod track is the only inland 4WD track on the island. The track runs through the interior of the island, over sandy dunes covered in dense vegetation. Its two access points are off East Coast Road to the north or off Alfred Martin Way in the south.
The overall track surface is generally firm and offers an easy drive. After a dry spell, its sandy track surface tends to loosen up, providing some challenges.
Tripod Lookout is a standout highlight on this drive. As a result of its elevation, this informal outpost offers spectacular panoramic views of the island. Definitely worth checking out!
Amity is a small seaside village at the north-west edge of the island. It’s popular with young families looking to spend some time in the calm waters of the enclosure.
For the more active, heading out for a paddle in a rented kayak is always a fun way to explore the coastal waters. If you are lucky, you may even spot the occasional dolphin gliding through these waters.
Whatever it is you end up doing, make sure not to miss a sunset here. It’s truly a spectacular view and well worth checking out.
Location: 4km east of Dunwich.
How does the lake get its brown colour?
Paperbark and Tea-trees surround Brown Lake, whos leaves fall and end up lining the bottom of the lake. Tannins within the leaves mix with water, resulting in the signature rich brown, tea-like colour.
Legend of Brownlake
Brown Lake (Bummiera – Aboriginal name) is one of the two largest lakes on North Stradbroke Island. According to Aboriginal legend, the lake is home to Yuri Kabool, an immense snake spirit.
The lake is a popular spot for visitors looking to soak up its picturesque scenery. It’s an ideal spot for a bit of lunch. Bring a picnic, kick back and relax before heading out to explore the rest of the island.
If you are looking to stretch those legs, there’s a short walking trail along the lake that takes about 15mins to complete.
Beach driving Tips
Driving on the beach is very different from driving on paved road surfaces. There’s a lot more to it than simply turning on 4×4 then stepping on the load pedal. Driving on the sand, when done correctly, is relatively easy on your vehicle and its drivetrain. However, when done incorrectly, the risk of spending hours recovering and damaging your vehicle is very real. For those without much sand driving experience, we’ve put together a handful of tips so you can hit the soft stuff with confidence.
Beach Driving Gear
Beach driving is relatively accessible. Most 4×4 and All wheel drive vehicles, without modifications or low range gearing, are more than capable of traversing both beaches on Straddie. While a fairly basic vehicle is sufficient, having essential beach driving gear in your vehicle, at all times is critical. These include…
- UHF Radio
- Recovery gear
- Traction aids such as MaxTrax is not a must-have but do come in handy for recovery
The most useful advice for driving on sand is to lower tyre pressures before hitting the soft stuff. Letting air out of tyres causes them to bulge, increasing its contact area, resulting in more traction. Similar to how snowshoes work, the increased contact area distributes the vehicle’s weight over a larger surface, reducing the tendency for your tyres to sink into the soft sand.
A good rule of thumb is to drop your pressures by 50% for soft sand. Once back on the black stuff, remember to reinflate your tyres back up to normal pressure with an air-compressor.
Momentum Is Your Friend
In most off-road conditions, torque is more important than horsepower. This is not so for sand driving. Wheel speed translates to forward momentum, which reduces the chance your vehicle becoming bogged in soft sand. To save potentially hours of recovery effort, avoid stopping while on soft sand. If you must stop, steer your vehicle onto a firmer part of the beach before stopping.
Stick to Formed Tracks
When cruising along the beach, it’s advisable to stick to driving over formed tracks left by other vehicles. Sand in these tracks has been compressed by other vehicles, which makes for a smooth ride and a comfortable cruise.
Washouts & Water Crossings
The beach is a natural surface shaped by natural forces. Changing tides can often leave behind washouts which you may have to cross. These may look shallow and harmless but can often be deceptive. Running water can hide deep holes and other obstacles along the bottom. For this reason, always walk the washout before attempting to drive through. During your walkthrough, take note of any potential risks.
Obey Road Rules
It may surprise some that road rules are in full effect on the beaches of Stradbroke Island. On that note, keep left of all oncoming vehicles. Flinders beach has a limit of 40 km/h while the limit on Main Beach is higher at 60 km/h
Required to access Minjerribah Recreation Area and onto Flinders Beach or Main Beach.
- 1 month – $53.65 per vehicle
- 12 months – $160.80 per vehicle
The quickest way to buy a beach access permit is online at the Straddie Camping website.
First Timer Tips
- Lower your tyre pressures!
- Turn off traction control!
- Don’t drive on the beaches one hour either side of high tide. Click here to tide times
- If you do end up beached and need a hand shaking the sand loose, RACQ has a car on the island that can help you. Call RACQ on 13 11 11