Totally hooked on Straddie
IT'S fair to say I've had more dramas on North Stradbroke Island over the years than an episode of The Bold and The Beautiful. But just like any soapie fan, I'm hooked.
This picturesque island on Brisbane's doorstep is just a ferry ride across Moreton Bay.
My introduction to "Straddie”, as it is affectionately known, was as a third-year journalism student, investigating the local residents' thoughts on the Joh Bjelke-Petersen government pursuing the idea of a bridge from the mainland.
My two student friends and I set up our circus-style tent in the old camping ground overlooking Point Lookout.
The torrential rain and mini-tornado that swept through the open area, forcing us to hold up the tent poles against the wind for two hours before retreating to the toilet block for the night, would be enough to put a lesser person off ever returning.
But the sun came up the next morning and we could only bask in our glorious surroundings.
A few years later, with only fond memories remaining, I convinced my then fiance to honeymoon there.
A case of tonsillitis combined with the stress of the wedding planning turned my throat septic and I couldn't kiss my new husband for the whole five days we were there.
But memories of hours of fun running down the sand dune at Frenchman's Beach, afternoon sessions with the locals at the pub, surfing Main Beach and Cylinder to our hearts' content and long walks on pristine sands cemented our love affair with Straddie.
Over the years, we've packed up the car many times, headed towards Cleveland and caught the Stradbroke Island vehicular ferry to a resort or holiday home accommodation (we finally gave camping the boot).
But this time, our much-anticipated holiday really could have been ruined.
For our 30th wedding anniversary, we decided to return for a week-long family holiday.
Forget that the pet-friendly accommodation we chose wasn't really suitable for a cattle dog that can jump small fences and balconies.
Forget that one son could only stay for the weekend and the other couldn't come at all due to work commitments.
This was far more serious.
The surfing Mecca was flat - flat for virtually the whole weekend and then washing machine unsurfable with the southerly swell.
But like all the other Straddie dramas over the years, we couldn't help but still love the place.
The Sunday afternoon drinks on the Point Lookout Surf Club balcony was mesmerising.
On several mornings, we parked atop Frenchman's Beach, took the stairs down to the water's edge before rock-hopping over to Deadman's Beach and either taking the stairs and main road back to the car or rock-hopping to Cylinder Beach for another cool swim before the return journey.
Sunset cocktails in Pandanus Palms Resort's Whale's Way bar, fish and chips from Fishes at the Point at Point Lookout and fresh prawns direct from a supplier living on the ridge in Tramican St are all recommended.
The 5.2km return walk to Blue Lake (the carpark is accessible to non-4WD vehicles) is another worthy holiday activity.
But what's wrong with doing nothing? We found a morning walk and swim, rest in the middle of the day, afternoon swim and drinks on our own balcony with a hotly contested game of Trivial Pursuit was just as satisfying.
That's the beauty of Straddie: it doesn't put on airs and graces. You don't have to dress up or have the latest gear to fish, surf or loll on the beach.
It's somewhere you can count on to deliver a good old-fashioned family holiday like you remember as a kid - no dramas about that.
Check out www.stayz.com.au or www.raywhitestraddie.com