ABOUT THE WRITER: Eleanor Margareta is a resident escape artist who doesn’t ask for much, just a life of leisure.
Colin Battersby certainly is a well-travelled gentleman. And after fifteen years of moving between Thredbo, Sydney and Brisbane, he has settled for the laidback lifestyle on Stradbroke Island. Growing up in Brisbane, Colin has fond memories of his family holidays on Straddie during the 70s. After a brief stint in Sydney and Thredbo, Stradboke proved a siren song – where he has remained ever since.
From an island of pristine beaches and blue waters, Colin chooses to acquaint the world with the natural resort that Straddie is – which we experienced and can be read about here. Stradbroke Island has to be the South East’s best kept secret. As the world’s second largest sand island, its proximity to Brisbane makes it an easy destination to disappear and rediscover the simple pleasures – the bounties of nature, fresh trawled seafood, long days in the sun and sand. Straddie’s sun-bleached sands are putting an old school filter on beach holidays. In this new age of mindfulness, old-school charm is exactly what Colin is going for.
Enter Discover Stradbroke where Colin and his team offer everything needed to escape the bustle of the city to enter an idyllic world of simple calm. Since the island isn’t really a drawcard to international tourists, Straddie remains a true gem for local enjoyment. Discover Stradbroke extends a wealth of information for holidaying on the island and services to help plan the ultimate stay-cation. As an ideal escape, it’s all about enjoying enough modern comforts without compromising on the genuine Straddie experience. We sit down with Colin and get his insider tips on the best things to do on Stradbroke Island, what visitors get out of the experience and how he keeps that fine line between sellout tourist destination and natural resort.
What does Stradbroke offer? It is a natural environment: the beaches, the headlands, the whales, the kangaroos, koalas, fishing. Stradbroke offers an old school kind of holiday – it’s undeveloped, especially relative to the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast. It’s what we like to call a Chips ‘n’ Gravy holiday. It’s a full on city life most people lead these days. People come here on holidays or on weekends and hang out with their kids and get to know them again. It’s the most idyllic place of blue water and white sands – chips ‘n’ gravy. It’s unpretentious. There aren’t 5-star Michelin restaurants, but there is fresh seafood straight off the trawlers. There’s no theme parks, only nature’s theme park.
What is Discover Stradbroke? We manage and market about 100 premium holiday rentals on Straddie. Anything from a house you are used to living in Brisbane, to the old school Straddie beach house which people have been building here since the 30s. Most of the properties have ocean views. We are food and beverage, have a house-keeping department as a separate standalone business and managing and marketing services. I manage it from the point of view that it is a resort. When you a get a holiday with us, you get a package with a voucher for at least one meal and transport to the island by ferry. It’s a one-stop shop. Come to us and everything is organised.
What would you say is one of your most enjoyable activities that you like to do on Stradbroke? Sitting in the shade or on the deck of your house reading a book is probably the best thing you can do and what people like to do when they come over here. The beaches are fantastic. We’ve got beaches around Point Lookout on three different sides so no matter where the breeze is coming, there’s always a beach that’s out of the wind. People come here to go to the beach and everything associated with the water – fishing, surfing, hanging out.
How do you keep that fine line between keeping Stradbroke pristine and a natural resort but yet still opening up to people to enjoy? We don’t oversell what is here. People are coming for the beach. The settlements on the island are actually quite small with only 400-500 beach houses on Straddie between Coolangatta and Amity Point. That footprint is not going increase in the near future. The rest is national park. A natural filter is you can only get here by ferry – that naturally puts people off, which is good and bad. We do need to grow the market a little bit more to get a few more people here sustainably so there’s critical mass for the restaurants to prosper. But what we don’t need is tons more people. Peak season is booked out all the time.
What do people get out of coming to Stradbroke Island? It’s a wonderful place that you come to with friends and family. There are no flash restaurants -it’s understated. Come to Straddie to experience the laidback lifestyle. If people say there need to be more restaurants – they have picked the wrong place. If they want shopping or retail, Straddie isn’t the place. If they want to hang out with their friends and family and rediscover their friends and family relationships, this is where they come. A lot of people may not know about Straddie, but sooner or later, people are going to discover the magic of Straddie.