Kayak camping on North Stradbroke Island

by Robert de Bondt

Having wanted to go kayak camping on North Stradbroke Island for quite a while, the day had finally arrived. After attending the Dawn Service in Brisbane City, which had meant an early 3.30am wake-up, we had some brekkie and left for our Victoria Point launch site about an hour’s drive away.

Victoria Point has a small beach just south of the car ferry terminal which is an ideal launching point for the trip. You can conveniently off load your kayaks and gear close to this beach and leave your vehicle in the parking area nearby or a $10 per night car park just around the corner.

The weather was sunny and a 15 knot north westerly wind was blowing across the bay. Our kayaks were an Eco Bezhig which can hold tons of gear and a brand new Wilderness Tsunami 165 which we hired from Rosco Canoes. We were loaded and on the water by 9am. This was a bit later than planned as high tide was at 9.17am and we were hoping to paddle south with a bit of assistance from the flow. In this area, an incoming tide gives a southerly set, whilst the outgoing tide is northerly.

Kayak Camping on North Straddie - Gear

Our first stop was to be Karragarra Island which has toilets, BBQs, and shaded picnic tables. It is approximately 7.5 kilometres south east of Victoria Point or around 1.5 to 2 hours of easy paddling. The plan was to go between Garden Island and Macleay Island, but instead we finished up on the west side of Garden Island. Thankfully we managed to cut through a passage half way along to make our way back toward Macleay Island. The beach landing place at Karragarra Island could be clearly seen from there and gave us renewed energy to paddle the last few kilometres.

We met about 10 members from the Sandgate Canoe Club at Karragarra Island. They had been on a day trip to Blakeley’s Beach, but had turned back as it was getting a little too rough with the wind against tide creating 1 metre chop. We decided after a cuppa and a few health bars to brave the chop rather than call the trip off and head for home. A decision was made to go through Logan’s Passage which is between Macleay and Lamb Islands. This is the shortest route but we had to hurry as it does dry up on low tide and that was to take place at 3:40pm.

We copped the chop as soon as we came out of the lee of Macleay and took a bit of water over the bow and occasionally from the side, but it was very manageable. There were lots of sand banks about and although at times our paddles were the sand, we passed clean over most of them. Any later and we might have had to drag our kayaks to deeper water. It is definitely worthwhile to keep a close eye on the tides when paddling in this area. After about a two hour paddle we landed at 2pm at Blakeley’s very pleased with ourselves but a bit sore in the shoulder region.

This was my first time in a Tsunami 165. It proved to be a very snug fit for my 191 centimetre, 108 kilogram frame. It had great secondary stability but I think it might be suited to someone weighing less than 90 kilograms and standing less than 6 feet tall. The foredeck is pretty low and this makes it hard to get big feet back on the rudder pedals if they happen to slip off in rough conditions.

Blakeley’s is nearly half a circle of beach about 0.75 kilometres long and the shallows go out quite a long way. There is plenty of camping just off the beach. There are garbage bins but no toilets so bring your little shovel along. There isn’t any water either. We had about 12 litres with us which is plenty for a two night stay when used only for the essentials. This was supplemented with a 3 litre cask of red wine in case of “emergency”.

Kayak Camping on North Straddie - Campsite

Soldier crabs are quite remarkable when feeding at low tide. There were thousands of the little critters marching about. The kookaburras were also very friendly and tried to beat us to the goodies whenever we were eating anything. Given half a chance they will even grab a sandwich from your hand.

Kayak Camping on North Straddie - Soldier crabs

Dark came quickly at about 5.30pm and a couple of camp fires lit up along the shore. There are signs prohibiting this but judging by the number of blackened circles, nobody seems to take much notice of this. Maybe that’s because the signs are facing inwards?

Dinner was “cooked” on our Shellite fuelled MSR stove which is very effective and extremely light and compact.  After devouring a wonderful meal prepared by my friend’s lovely wife and washing it down with a few reds and a cup of coffee we hit the hay at about 7.30pm for a well-deserved rest.

We were woken up by the raucous laughter of our friends the kookaburras. It was our intention to paddle north to Dunwich and back today which would have been a round trip of about 18 kilometres. However the wind was from the north at about 20 knots. Instead we scouted our surroundings, read, slept, ate and generally relaxed which is something that in this day and age we don’t do often enough. This was made easier by the fact that there is no mobile phone reception. We basically had the whole anchorage to ourselves with the occasional motor boat pulling in for a short break.

Kayak Camping on North Straddie - Relaxing

After an early dinner we retired to our tents for the night. The sky looked absolutely fabulous, with the Milky Way glowing in all its glory and the trusty Southern Cross looking benignly down up on us.

The next morning we quickly ate our breakfast before the kookaburras could beat us to it and loaded everything back in the kayaks for the paddle home. Seeing there was very little wind we set off at 8am for the northerly tip of Macleay Island 5 kilometres away. High tide was to be at 10.45am but the flow didn’t seem to have any significant impact on us and there was hardly any wind.

We reached our destination at about 9am and stopped on the beach and boiled the billy for a cuppa. The area has picnic tables and toilets and a nice war memorial facing the sea. At about 10am we set off for Victoria Point, keeping a watch out for the various ferries and car ferries on route to the various islands. The paddle from Macleay to Victoria Point is about 4 kilometres and we landed safely on the beach of our departure by 11am.

Kayak Camping on North Straddie - Map

The route we ended up taking was took is about 25km in total, with the first day taking the bulk of about 15km. All in all it was a great weekend and a trip I really enjoyed.

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