North Stradbroke Island

North Stradbroke Island

Straddie – this trip for me can be summed up in one word. SMELLY! Let’s just say Chris won’t be eating salami and sleeping in the rooftop again any time soon. It’s making my brain work overtime to gain enough oxygen to think straight so I can write! My goodness – sorry. That wasn’t how this blog was meant to begin. Ok, let’s start again …



It’s been back to back adventures for us lately with the Adventure Bash at Imbil wrapping up 4 days ago, Chris and I working just 3 days (technically 4 for me as I had to teach a Zumba class this morning) and now here we are at North Straddie, parked on the sand listening to the waves crashing around us.


It’s been many years since we’ve been to North Stradbroke Island, and we felt it was time to revisit this slice of Queensland holiday paradise.

Last time we came I was fairly new to Queensland and Chris brought me over to show me around. We had recently sold off our camp gear and were in the process of researching camper trailers, so we booked an apartment (what a foreign concept these days!) and spent our time exploring in the old black Hilux we were driving at the time.

Before we got together Chris used to come over every year for the Straddie Assault, a surf comp that attracted a large number of local surfers and spectators. He tells me stories of what the old Point Lookout Pub was like (apparently it had so much more character ‘back in the day’, and then the bowls club was ‘the spot’ to go for dinner).

Thanks to all those visits, he knows his way around, and lucky for me – he can take me straight to the best bits! That’s what he did last time and I can remember falling in love with the place as I saw whales and turtles in the crystal clear water under the endless blue skies.


The old 2005 Hilux

Us … 6 years ago!

We were lucky to make it onto the 3:00 barge as we’d forgotten to declare that we are over 2.2m in height and the barge was fully booked. We waited in the far left lane behind another 4WD (aka leaning tower of camp gear) who had done the same thing. Talk about an entertaining half hour wait! We watched as he unpacked bikes, scooters, ladders, boxes, tarps etc in what appeared to be an attempt to reduce the height, only for him to wind up with an even higher pile of stuff up top.

It’s a fairly quick, quite spectacular 45 minute trip through Moreton Bay as you head South East from Cleveland towards Coochiemudlow Island to avoid the shallow waters, then make a sharp left and head East/North East passing Peel Island and into Dunwich.

The great weather, calm waters, blue skies and sun dropping low behind us set the perfect scene for a GoPro Fusion (360) shot. We love this camera so much, it produces the most insane footage!

Before long we were on the island (with Chris pointing out the bakery and reminiscing about how ‘epic’ it was as we drove past), heading directly East driving past the golf course, Brown Lake and Blue Lake, onto the short gravel road and straight onto the beach from the access track stopping only to let the tyres down.

The bright yellow westerly sun, misty ocean spray coming off the water and kangaroos on the dunes watching us drive past instantly reduced our stress levels as the ‘real world’ started to fade from our minds.

In less than 10 minutes we’d found our spot and just 8 minutes later the Alucab rooftop tent was up and the Batwing awning was out. I love this set up! It’s so quick and easy.

Chris grabbed his first Big Head and we took our camp chairs to the edge of the dune where we sat and watched some playful whales splashing around out behind the swell.  The sky turned a dusty pink in front of us while the brilliant yellow sun set behind the dunes at our backs.

We had a platter (which included the chilli salami that Chris will not be eating ever again!) and relaxed until we realised how many mozzies were buzzing around. It’s quite strange to see so many this time of year, especially with the cooler temps. We got out the ego insect repellent (all natural of course) and sprayed ourselves and then set about cooking the lamb chops.


It was dinner, dishes and a quick tidy up as rain was expected over the weekend, and we weren’t sure when or how much. We climbed up into the rooftop where I began to write, and Chris began (and continued) to gas me out.

One of my favourite parts of getting away is that both of us like to go to bed not long after the sun goes down and get up when the sun rises. It’s proven that people are much healthier and happier when we live like this, and we don’t need the studies to show us! We feel it within a couple of days. We are pretty good at home with early nights and early mornings but climbing into bed as early as 7:30pm is usually something that happens when we are away from home.

Night one was spent listening to the waves, anxiously waiting to see what the next day would bring (hopefully not the gusty winds, rain and thunderstorm that was predicted!).

I peeked out of the window about 8pm and what looked like a full moon was shining brightly over the ocean and in through our window. The stars were scattered across the sky and there was a gentle breeze.

We woke with smiles on our faces as the sun came up and set the scene for a magnificent day.

It was warm, sunny and there wasn’t much wind until later in the afternoon. We had planned to head off exploring, but sometimes it’s nice to just ‘be’. So that’s what we did. We had brekkie, then set off on a 5k walk. The rest of the day was spent relaxing (in our KNOBBYs!), getting our tan on and watching the odd 4WD get bogged.

This VW was highly entertaining! They got bogged so the guy camped next to us headed down with his maxtrax to help. In the second pic it looks like Chris was going to help as well, but that’s an illusion! He was just wandering down the beach to wash his hair. Haha – you should have seen him dancing around! Turns out the bogged VW didn’t want help anyway as they sent everyone away and dropped their tyre pressure. At the end someone came down and tried to get it up the access track. They failed and went to the next one. It was all quite amusing 🙂


What would a blog post be without a few good KNOBBYs pics? 🙂

Afternoon entertainment 😉

The winds picked up in the afternoon and Chris was getting storm warnings coming through as his phone went in and out of reception. We managed to pull up the local radar and could see some pretty impressive systems going on around us.

The couple parked next to us had spent the day over at Flinders Beach on the other side of the island and came back saying it was like Armageddon over there with people pulling their annexes down and trying to keep things secure. They had expected to return to their campsite being obliterated! But no, it was calm over this side thankfully.

The sky turned black and then orange as the continual lightening flashed around and thunder cracked and boomed across the sky. I love storms, and this was one of the best I’ve ever seen! The rain held off until we were almost done eating dinner and it was a bit of a mad rush to close up the back of the car and drop the legs of the awning so the rain that was pooling up could run off into the sand.

We had to wait for the rain to stop before drying off, dusting the sand off our feet and climbing into the rooftop, so we watched a movie. It was perfect timing as the movie ended at the exact same time that the rain stopped.

I woke at 2:05 to the sound of rain belting down on the roof, and the side of the tent pushing into my back as the wind howled around us. The winds had changed direction to South, South Easterly as predicted which meant that the Main Beach side of the island was no longer sheltered. When we got up the next morning, it was obvious that our decision to move to Flinders was a good one.

We tidied up what we could before moving our chairs to the other side of the car to eat brekkie. As I was about to take the last few mouthfuls, Chris (who is the fastest eater on the planet and was already washing his dish) told me to hurry up and help him pack. When I looked out across the ocean, I could see why! The dark clouds and rain were coming heavy and fast.

We packed up as quickly as we could but forgetting to put the ladder into the rooftop meant we had to open it a second time to slide the ladder in, and then it wouldn’t close so we had to open it up again to take a pillow out. Even with this little mishap we managed to get everything sorted before the rain hit.

All around us tents were bending and giving way, people were scrambling to catch flying gazebos and dogs were running around spooked. We exited down the access track past a lady who was holding onto her toilet tent for dear life!


The rain started to fall as we drove down the beach, onto the sealed roads and into Point Lookout where we stopped so Chris could get a coffee.

Chillers is a great little café with gluten free and dairy free options (yay!) so we stayed for a while, grabbed a bite to eat and watched the storm clouds roll in.

The sky got darker as we left Chillers and headed to the Bowls Club to have a wander through the local markets. There were a few stalls outside and some inside – I knew where I’d rather be! One of the stall holders who was set up selling t-shirts outside was having a laugh with the lady next to her saying her hubby had sent a screenshot of the BOM radar and a laughing emoji. Yes, we all knew that some serious wet weather was about to come our way! Still, moods were high and plenty of people were wandering through.

There were some amazing paintings for sale, old records, used clothes, kids toys, local honey, and lots of other fun and quirky things. I loved the stand that was selling bags that were ‘handmade in Indonesia from waste collected by trash pickers’.

We walked away with a Straddie stubby cooler (as we’d left all of ours in the caravan).

We were almost done when the rain started to fall; Chris wanted to wait it out, but I wanted to make a run for it. As soon as the rain lightened up we raced to the car and made it just before the torrential downpour began. Chris was pleased as this meant a lot of the sand would be washed off the Hilux.

We went to Foodworks to grab a few things and as we were driving down the road, I caught a glimpse of the storm pushing in across the ocean and I desperately wanted to stop and take a few pics. Chris kept driving, eventually stopping at Headland Park telling me the views were just as good from there.

He wasn’t wrong, but this meant I had to go on a bit of a hike in my thongs in the rain and gusty winds down a windy path, up some stairs to the viewing platform. I’m always up for a bit of an adventure so I set off to snap some pics. Once I got there I recognised the place immediately. It was where he’d brought me all those years ago and we had seen wales and turtles! While there was definitely no whale watching going on this time, the grey clouds and stormy ocean made for a pretty spectacular view. I snapped a few pics and raced back to the car.


We went to Amity Point Jetty and sat and watched the storm out on the ocean, grabbed some fish and chips for lunch, went back and watched the storm some more (well, I did while Chris had a snooze), and then we headed to Adder Rock Campground for showers.

We had paid $10 extra with our camping fees to use the showers, and man – what a rip off! We had to push a button to ‘turn the water on’ and by the time I’d taken my clothes off and hung my towel, the water had shut off already. So, I had to wrap my towel around me and head back out to push the button again.By the time I’d gone back into my cubicle, the drain also blocked and filling quickly with other people’s dirty water.

The showers were full, and everyone was complaining about the cold water and how it was cutting out before they were done. I had goose bumps while I was showering which resulted in my legs being completely hacked by my razor, and lots of blood.  Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.

I met Chris back at the car and he’d had a similar experience, minus the bleeding legs!


We headed down Flinders Beach to our campsite, a lovely little spot right on the water, far away from the winds that we knew were smashing the other side of the island.

There was quite a bit of space between campsites here too which definitely wasn’t the case at some of the other campgrounds. It looked like the tents were peg to peg in some places! I guess it’s to be expected on a long weekend taking place at the beginning of the second week of school holidays.

We set up camp, relaxed, had a few beers and cooked dinner before heading up into the rooftop for the night.

We (I) only had one ‘incident’ during the night when during our ‘pee break’ about 2 am we climbed down from the rooftop to be greeted by grunting and ‘squealing’ from the GROUND! So we (I) had a little panic and thought PIG (I think I’m permanently traumatised from the pigs at our campsite up in Cooktown) – when in fact it was just a koala as Chris continued to assure me.

To reassure me, Chris shined the light on 2 sparkling little eyes and we watched as her fluffy butt bounced back into the bush.She was cute and I’m pretty sure it was the koala we saw near here yesterday. Chris has named her ‘K-Lo’ as she has a big butt.

The next sound we heard was birds chirping, and as I unzipped the window I could see the sun rising over the ocean, hardly a cloud to be seen.

It was bacon, eggs and all sorts of other deliciousness for breakfast as we sat and took in the serenity of the place. The trees were fairly still, the sky was blue, and the ocean was a sparkling turquoise. We decided that as much as we loved our spot, we wanted to head off and explore a little, so we packed up and went for a drive.

We started at Chillers café grabbing another cappuccino and chai latte, both made with coconut milk, because they are insanely good. We can’t figure out why other cafés can’t make their drinks taste this amazing.

We parked the car and were about to head off when Chris noticed some wetsuits hanging in a gazebo out front of the surf shop. A couple of hundred dollars later we headed off on our walk (as usual).

We had come back to the lookout I was at in the crazy weather less than 24 hours before, and it felt like an entirely different place – much more like I remembered from our trip all those years ago. Magnificent views kept our cameras busy as we wandered along the boardwalk and ventured down the cliffs.

After about an hour we headed into the bakery to grab some lunch before heading back to Flinders to see if our campsite was still available. It wasn’t, but that’s OK because we found an even better one! Within 8 minutes we were set up once again and having a beer.

We went down to the beach for a few hours which was incredible, aside from the occasional gusts of wind that blew sand all over us.

The one thing I will never forget was when I was sitting in my chair and Chris was lying on his belly on his towel facing me. He said, ‘Crazy wind thingy!!’ and pointed behind me. I turned and could see a whirlwind of sand heading straight for us!

I held up my magazine and took cover and watched Chris get completely hammered. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages!

We had showers at about 3:30, and no, we didn’t return to the caravan park that we had paid to use.

We used our camp shower and even though the water was luke-warm, it was still better. Besides, who doesn’t like stripping naked and showering at the beach? We were totally able to do this as our camp spot had nobody anywhere nearby at all. Over half the holiday makers had packed up and headed back home this morning, leaving us all the privacy we could ever want. Perfect!

The winds were pretty cold as we discovered when the sun disappeared behind the trees and the shadows crept over the sand. It was time to rug up and get dinner sorted.

We were all packed up and in bed by 7:00. We had plenty to keep us occupied, we just wanted to be out of the cold!

Our last sleep on the island was deep and we both woke up with the sun, feeling well rested.  It was another big brekkie before our final pack up. We headed down to the beach for a while so Chris could surf, but the waves weren’t quite what he’d hoped for, so we headed back to Chillers Café for another round.

We drove back across the island to Dunwich where we pulled up, had something to eat and then lined up to board the Sea Breeze. The ferry was delayed by 15 minutes – we are guessing it was due to the windy weather and choppy seas.

We were sailing back across Moreton Bay by 12:30 and back in Cleveland a bit after 1:00. We had a great time on the island and have vowed to get back over to Straddie again sooner rather than later, regardless of what the forecast says!

Bigriggen by Miriam

Bigriggen by Miriam

This was one of the rare trips where we head off on a Saturday morning. Usually we pick the kids up from school early and head off on a Friday afternoon, or if it’s just the 2 of us, we leave before lunch.

Our 2 older kids are now in high school (and loving it believe it or not!) and refuse to be picked up early. So, it was an early rise Saturday morning.

I’d prepped the food, sorted the clothes and packed the van the night before – I even managed to sneak the girls off to the movies! We were aiming for The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman (Charli was meant to watch it for her dance group), but it wasn’t playing and the only appropriately rated movie was Hibiscus and Ruthless. It was actually pretty good and both girls really enjoyed it. Slightly different to our normal Friday nights in the caravan!


Anyhoo, slightly off topic! We headed off about 7am on the Saturday and it took us about 10 minutes before we made our first stop – Shorties for coffee of course! Chris just isn’t quite right without that first coffee of the day.


The weather was gloomy when we set off for Bigriggen. A grey and misty drizzle was hiding the mountains in the distance. By the time I’d thought to check the radar, we’d lost phone reception. QLD weather just hasn’t been on our side lately! It’s generally hot and sunny during the week, and then the clouds roll in just in time for the weekend. But this time we were determined not to cancel as we did last weekend!

2nd coffee of the morning!

We’d heard so much about this place and thought it about time that we checked it out for ourselves. And that’s exactly what we did!

We had heard that it’s dog friendly, but keeping a dog on a leash for long periods of time in an unfamiliar place can be a bit tricky, so we left our Sprocket at home. Others seemed to be doing okay with it though so we may try it next visit.

Everything about Bigriggen is picturesque, even the driveway. The tall trees, wooden fences, and rolling hills were just lovely, even with the grey clouds hanging low in the sky. I did my usual video as we turned in, and while Chris chatted to a meandering bovine, an elderly man stopped to make sure we weren’t lost! Imagine that happening in the city!!


The way into Bigriggen is stunning!


Check in …


At reception we picked up not only our maps but a nice pile of grass clippings from the recent mowing. Good thing I keep gumboots in the van for times like this – the others weren’t so lucky – thongs and bare feet don’t go well with wet grass!


We got a great spot not far from the water hole


After the general rundown we drove around to check the place out and found the ‘perfect spot’- an unpowered site not far from the little BMX track and close to the entrance to the swimming hole/creek. Within minutes – well, almost, we were all set up and the kids had headed off on their bikes. I wandered over to check out the amenities, which weren’t too bad for a bush retreat. Three toilets, three showers and as clean as they could be considering everyone’s shoes were covered in mud and freshly cut grass! There was a mop and bucket that was used every now and then and not a drop toilet in sight.

We all landed back at the van around the same time and the kids and I made a group decision that it was time for a swim. While the clouds were looming overhead and the raindrops occasionally fell, the temperature certainly did not! It was hot and pretty sticky, making the swimming hole very inviting – until we dipped out toes in! Ugh!! It was cold enough that we actually shivered and broke out in goose bumps. That’s not supposed to happen in Queensland, so not to be deterred we soldiered on, and the more of our bodies we immersed, the more refreshing the water became.


We braved the chilly water!


We navigated some large, smooth, super slippery rocks to get to where the water hole narrowed into a little fast flowing stream complete with beckoning rapids that dragged the kids, laughing and shouting downstream. They loved it, not minding a bit having to fight the water to get back upstream!

It was a few hours later we discovered that was where people were jumping on their flotation devices and heading down stream. We saw mattresses, giant hot dogs, bananas, pizza, watermelon and plenty of inner tubes disappear around the bend only to reappear back where we’d walked down the bank to the swimming hole in the beginning.

We headed back to the van for a rest, and the kids made themselves comfy and got out the board games. 5 Second Rule always makes me laugh! Gosh – the things they come up with. Cooper asked Charli ‘Name 3 places starting with L’ to which Charli replied ‘Lake, Loose Kid Factory and Lansion.’ When Cooper asked what a lansion was, Charli explained it was a mansion with lots of land! Haha. I could listen to those guys play for hours.


5 Second Rule … those kids cracks me up every time!

Frisbee, Popball and more swimming to wash off the dust – and then it was time to eat! Mealtime is probably my favourite time of day, especially when we are in the van and when I’ve prepped ahead. It’s a such a great family time. This time Chris got the BBQ going for the sausages while I heated up the cauli mash and steamed the veggies. We eat as well when we’re away as we do at home, and to do that prepping ahead is necessary.


Beer O’Clock – Chris loves his Big Heads!

Our friends arrived while we were eating and while they had their dinner we had the scrumptious, super-yummy, deliciously thick, sugar-free custard that tasted like cheesecake.

Our friends had the coolest 3 Second Tents!


Our friends arrived while we were eating and while they had their dinner we had the scrumptious, super-yummy, deliciously thick, sugar-free custard that tasted like cheesecake.

The storm hit just as my Apple Watch predicted and we all toasted marshmallows over the Weber gas flames while oohing and aahing at the lightning as it lit up the sky. Talking was a challenge as the rain pelted down so we said our goodnights and attempted to get some sleep.

Some people, like Chris, can sleep no matter what, and they’re out like a light as soon as their head hits the pillow. Not me though… I need dark and no noise… but we had an unpowered site and that meant windows open because of no air con and plenty of light. So, I was up and moving after only a few hours. Cooper was already out riding but the girls were still sleeping as was Chris so this was a perfect time for me to have a wander with my camera. It’s one of my favourite things to do when we’re camping. This is the time you see and hear things you wouldn’t otherwise; the sun has a special glow as it slowly wakes up and the light it casts over the park is otherworldly. I can see why the Celts called it the ‘gloaming’ – it just seems to fit! The grass was a brilliant green, still wet from the cleansing rain so that when the sun hit the droplets they outshone even a diamond ring! Light flashed clear then with hints of rainbow colours in the quiet stillness. I began to feel excited about our winter camping trips as I traipsed around in my gumboots, capturing the beauty in some magnificent photos.


Sunrise over the Park

I have to mention brekky because food is such an important part of camping! No coffees for the caffeine addicts though because the inverter wasn’t powerful enough to run the coffee machine (something to remember if you like your coffee) so off they went to get their fix from a nearby cafe. Back to brekky… it was better than most people have at home! Earlier that week Chris had been left to his own devices and came up with a gourmet meal. You should try this: bacon and asparagus cooked in lots of butter on top of a bed of fresh baby spinach then topped with chopped tomato, chives and spring onion. And, of course, you don’t waste that lovely butter and bacon fat – we all had some of it poured over our meal. AMAZING!! And the best thing is that it was extremely filling, and this is important because… keep reading!

The kids went for another swim and we took Vaughn, Georgia and Sarah down as they hadn’t seen the waterhole yet. It was too cold for Georgia, but Vaughn and Sarah gave it a crack … the kids went down the rapids on the inflatable mattress first, then Vaughn had a turn.

Ready to head down the rapids

We discovered that people use Bigriggen as a base for all the amazing things there are to do around there, and we’ll make sure we do that next time. But this time we only had time for one thig before heading home.

Upper Portals Track is an eight kilometre, three – hour return trek that crisscrosses Yamahra Creek and takes you through patches of rainforest, eucalypt and hoop pine forest finally arriving at a refreshing waterhole. The brochure mentions that a ‘high-clearance 4WD is required for access beyond Waterfall Creek campsite.’ It sounded like just the thing for us in our Hilux that’s lifted so high you need a ladder to climb in! Our friend Vaughan had his brand new Hilux too, so off we went.

The road started out easy enough, and then came the big red sign ‘LONG STEEP CLIMB NEXT 4KM. 4WD VEHICLES ONLY’ The kids laughed saying ‘that’s us!’ Vaughn and Chris were mucking about, one going past the other, Chris taking the hard, steep climbs … and then BANG. Yep. We broke it. And that’s where breakfast being so filling comes into play.

I could spend hours writing about what happened, but to sum it up, Our Hilux has been lifted with no diff drop kit being put in and we broke the front right CV/drive shaft. The way Cooper assessed the situation was this: ‘It’s just like dad’s shoulder when he puts it back too far – it just pops out!’

It wouldn’t have been a problem if we’d had tools – but no one did. It started with a huge branch, a rock, two jacks and a butter knife. Needless to say, they didn’t do quite what we needed them to, and the boys had to make the hour long trek into Boonah (on a Sunday!) to buy tools.


It was all fun and games to start with … !


Georgia and I stayed with the kids – we laid out the towels, the kids ate the food from their eski, and I started this blog. We were there for about 1½ hours before the boys came back … strangely happy and rather excited. Just quietly, I think this might have been their favorite part of the trip! Vaughn is an engineer and Chris likes to play – bush mechanics it was! It was laughs and grease all around, and three hours after we started, we had a 2WD Hilux reversing back down the steep hill, turning around and heading back to the caravan park. I must admit I was half waiting for the wheel to fall off, but Vaughn assured me he’d put more wheels on than I’d taught Zumba classes, so that was a little reassuring.


At least we had the LKI BAF towel to lie on!


We made it back to the park just as the owners and campers were about to call the police to come and find us! We’d called reception earlier telling them what happened when we were trying to find a 24-hour mechanic in the area. They were all quite interested to hear what had gone down on that steep hill with no one anywhere near by to help!

We saw lots of these little guys bouncing around!


The park was almost empty, and the peace and serenity of the morning was back along with lots of kangaroos and a sun that was hanging low in the sky. It was home time.

It is such a beautiful place!



So much lush green grass


We prefer to get a late checkout and head home later in the day – there’s not usually as much traffic and we can take our time.

Our time at Bigriggen wasn’t at all what we expected, but it was an adventure all the same. We can’t wait to go back (when we’ve got that diff drop kit fitted!) and explore what surrounds this beautiful bush retreat, maybe in winter next time so we can have a campfire and snuggle up under the doona 🙂