South Stradbroke Island is an 1800-hectare conservation park located approximately two kilometres from the glitz and glamour of Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Accessible only by boat, water taxi, seaplane or jet ski, South Straddie – as it is known fondly by locals – has been kept in a pristine condition through strict regulations enforced by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).
Aside from the lush rainforests, rolling dunes and unspoiled beaches, the island is home to a spectacular array of native wildlife you can observe from afar or get up close and personal with.
South Stradbroke Island wildlife
With a thriving marine and land-dwelling population, South Stradbroke is the only place in Australia you’ll see the golden wallaby in its natural habitat. The native species has become quite confident around humans and can often be witnessed waiting to sneak dropped leftovers as campers eat around the fire.
With this in mind, always clean up properly and never leave scraps for the animals. Feeding the wildlife can be extremely harmful and can reduce intrinsic ‘hunting and gathering’ instincts.
For the keen birdwatchers, look out for up to 150 different species of bird recorded within the park. Providing quite a display, some of the more exotic birds that might give you a little show on South Straddie are:
– Beach Stone Curlew
– Red-Capped Plover
– Australian Pied Oyster Catcher
– Little Tern
– White-bellied sea eagle
– Bar-tailed godwits
– Curlew sandpipers
– Greater sand plovers
– Red neck stints
– Grey-tailed tattlers
As native wildlife, it’s important to remember that you’re in the birds’ natural habitat, and not the other way around. Always take the utmost care to observe from a distance and avoid flocks of birds when driving, fishing, or hiking.
During the winter months and until late October, humpback whales pass through Straddie on their migration route north. If you’re lucky enough, you may even catch a rare glimpse of Migaloo, one of only a few white whales in the world.
With nature preservation at the heart of island heritage, boats are advised to exercise caution in the waters around the island. Go-slow areas exist in the vicinity of the seagrass beds to avoid disturbing marine life, including the lovable dugongs.
Many species of turtle frequent the waters off South Stradbroke Island. Eastern Beach is a nesting ground for the endangered loggerheads between October and March, and the more rarely seen endangered green turtles have also been spotted nesting.
What can you do at South Stradbroke Island?
The conservation park is home to many walking trails where you can witness an array of flora and fauna and immerse yourself in the contrasting landscape of forest to sand.
Walking trails take between 20 and 90 minutes and are suitable for most ages and fitness levels. While walks aren’t necessarily strenuous, remember that you’re exposed to the elements, so preparation is key. Never attempt a walk without water, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and a first aid kit.
For the thrill-seekers, South Stradbroke Island has access to plenty of activities that will get the blood pumping including kite-surfing, sea kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, parasailing, and snorkelling.
The water is calm on the inner side facing the mainland, but the ocean side may be prone to rips so it’s advisable to use the patrolled swimming area for safety. Avid fishers can catch various species including tailor, whiting, flathead, dart and bream.
What can you expect at South Stradbroke Island?
The authorities want you to enjoy the park responsibly leaving only your footprints behind.
The island is protected by the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and getting back to basics is a must for all visitors to the conservation area.
While Couran Cove and Tipplers resorts are located just outside the conservation area, there are limited facilities on the island itself. Bring with you what you need and take all rubbish home with you to avoid putting wildlife, and its natural habitat at risk.
Be aware that there is no healthcare service on the island so bring any medications, a first aid kit and be prepared for every eventuality.
Getting there and around
You can reach South Stradbroke Island with a one to two-kilometre ride in a water taxi, ferry, private boat or jet ski.
The South Stradbroke Ferry runs roughly every two hours between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm with a break over the noon period. You can access their schedule here https://railmaps.com.au/routedetails.php?RouteSelect=909. If you want to visit by water taxi, try the Broadwater Taxi http://broadwatertaxi.com.au/
South Straddie is an absolute haven for wildlife and some of the most stunning natural wonders in the area. To get the most out of the island in a short amount of time, consider a 2.5-hour boat trip that will take you through the Broadwater and give a scenic look at some of the best spots on the island. Look out for native wildlife and round the trip off with a stop off at Tipplers Café for an ice-cold soft drink.
Guest numbers are limited to eight, so you’re guaranteed to see the highlights of the island in an intimate setting.
If you’re planning on driving over, familiarise yourself with the restrictions as preserving the conservation park is of the utmost priority. Driving in the vegetation is strictly prohibited, and harsh penalties apply.
While four-wheel driving is allowed within designated tracks, there are no public barges to get vehicles to the area and access is by private boat only.
South Stradbroke conservation park area is just a short boat ride yet a world away from the hustle and bustle of the lively Gold Coast. Home to a wide array of wildlife and all manner of outdoor activities to take part in, what are you waiting for?
To find out more about Sea the Gold Coast’s South Island Adventure, contact us today.