Located just off the coast of Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island is a popular day trip, easily accessible by ferry and great getaway for people in South East Queensland.
As North Stradbroke Island is quite a large island (not possible to travel across by walking – unless you had, like, a lot of time), a lot of people opt to take their vehicles over on the car ferry. However, this does add quite a bit of cost and after discovering there was a local bus service on the island that takes you from the ferry terminal to Point Lookout (the main touristy area of North Stradbroke Island) I decided to venture over by passenger ferry.
To see my photo diary of the day: North Stradbroke Island in Photos.
North Stradbroke Island Passenger Ferry Tickets
I booked to go over with Stradbroke Ferries. I believe there may be a few companies that go over so it can be worth doing some research.
With Stradbroke Ferries, I was blown away by how cheap the passenger ferry was. When I visited in August 2020, the price was $17AUD return for an adult. I booked my tickets online and didn’t have to choose a date or time as the ticket purchased is valid for one year. Unlike other ferries where you book a spot on the ferry, the Stradbroke Ferries appeared to be first come, first served. Ferries were running once an hour, so you would hope that they wouldn’t get full too regularly; however, the ferry does look like it can take quite a few people across.
If you don’t book your passenger ferry ticket online, you can purchase them from the office at Toondah Harbour, or even on board the ferry itself (which accepts both cash and EFTPOS).
Toondah Harbour in Cleveland
The ferries across to North Stradbroke Island leave from Toondah Harbour in Cleveland, which is south of Brisbane.
How to get to Toondah Harbour by Car
I drove from Brisbane City to Toondah Harbour. The journey took approximately 45 minutes. While there are plenty of dedicated car parks, the parking was crazy and completely full when I arrived early in the morning.
As you can leave your car at Toondah Harbour overnight, I imagine a lot of people do this. However, the car park being full is not an issue as there is a substantial amount of on street parking in the area. I ended up parking just around the corner on a quiet street and walking down to the harbour.
How to get to Toondah Harbour by Public Transport
For those who don’t have a car or don’t want to drive, you can also access Toondah Harbour by public transport. Simply catch the train to Cleveland Train Station (about an hour from Brisbane City) and from here there is a public bus that will bring you to Toondah Harbour. The public bus connects with most ferry timing (the ferry schedule will tell you if it connects with the Cleveland public bus), which is great.
Passenger Ferry Schedule
The North Stradbroke Island passenger ferry leaves approximately every hour, with extended services on week days. It takes only 25 minutes to cross from Cleveland to North Stradbroke Island.
North Stradbroke Island Side of Things
As mentioned above, the public buses connect remarkably well with ferries. The buses from Dunwich (where the ferry gets in) to Point Lookout (the main area of Straddie) depart every hour and I was nervous that if the bus didn’t connect well with the ferry time or was full, I’d be stuck at Dunwich for an hour waiting for the next bus.
However, the bus was waiting (literally just for our ferry) when we arrived at Dunwich. While the bus wasn’t full from picking us up, at the next stop (a different ferry arrival area), it did get full. However, there was a second bus already waiting to take the extra people. Clearly the whole system between ferry and bus on both North Stradbroke Island side and Cleveland side was very well thought out, which was great.
A one-way bus fare from Dunwich to Point Lookout was $5AUD, that was valid for 2 hours. However, I believe you could buy a ticket for multi-trips for a whole day etc., depending on how you wanted to use the transport.
It was about a 20 minute drive from Dunwich to Point Lookout and the bus dropped you off right at the start of North Gorge Walk and next to Main Beach.
The buses returning to Dunwich were again timed to meet the ferry. Something to keep in mind if you are staying in Straddie overnight and need the bus to get back to your accommodation (from my experience I would recommend staying right in the centre of Point Lookout so you are not reliant on this).
In summary, the passenger ferry was very efficient and easy to use. It was great how well it timed with the public transport, enabling very easy access to the island.
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