TRAVEL - South Stradbroke Island

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: David Lockwood

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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Looking for a family & boat friendly resort just a short cruise from the Gold Coast? Try Couran Point Island Beach Resort on South Stradbroke Island,.

TRAVEL - South Stradbroke Island
TRAVEL: SOUTH STRADBROKE ISLAND

Where better for a boating holiday than a huge sand island? Not that South Stradbroke is a secret. On the contrary, being just a short cruise from the Gold Coast, it’s frequented by more people than most far-away Queensland islands. But this doesn’t mean that Straddy has lost any its charm or amenity.

At the top end of South Stradbroke lies Jumpinpin channel and bar and the popular yet somewhat under-sung Northern Bedrooms anchorage. A little farther along you strike Tipplers, which is true to name. Take the Panadol. Then come the big resort of Couran Cove and, the subject of this travel adventure, honest Couran Point Island Beach Resort.

At the top end of South Stradbroke lies Jumpinpin channel and bar and the popular yet somewhat under-sung Northern Bedrooms anchorage. A little farther along you strike Tipplers, which is true to name. Take the Panadol. Then come the big resort of Couran Cove and, the subject of this travel adventure, honest Couran Point Island Beach Resort.

We arrived by Mustang 43 Sports Flybridge after our sea trials and a hasty departure from Runaway Bay just across the way. In the interim, we test the Maritimo 55 Sports Cabriolet before returning back to the mainland the following day on Riviera’s new 43 Offshore Express.

The boats came and went, making good use of the marina. But it’s the bit in the middle that was a lot more relaxed. Hanging out by the pool, marvelling at the bold local wildlife, and taking a 4WD tour to the beach.

You come to Couran Point Island Beach Resort down the same channel for Couran Cove, only instead of veering to port you continue dead ahead to the foot of the bay. A couple of marinas (being overhauled at the time of writing) ensure there is plenty of berthing for your boat. But take a tip: it’s busy during weekends and holidays so bookings are advisable.

As any skipper will attest, there’s a sense of relief once your beloved boat is tied to a marina. Larger boats can hook up to shorepower to keep their fridges running and there is freshwater to top up the tanks for those day-boating showers and subsequent Broadwater adventures.

Down the gangways, a stand of age-old native livistonia palms and a colourful tropical garden acts as a gateway to Couran Point Island Beach Resort. Follow the signs to the freestanding office where you will be greeted warmly along the way by the friendly agile wallabies, which bound nonchalantly about the mown grounds.

SUNDOWNERS AT SUNSETTERS
The skipper will need to give his or her details to the office, a mobile phone number —
yes, reception is good even for wireless broadband

the number of crew and the boat’s name. You are then required to purchase a $50 food voucher (per boat) that is subsequently deducted from your bill at the surprisingly good family restaurant, Sunsetters, alongside the popular bar.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sunsetters dished out decent grub during our visit. For this reason, it’s popular with dayboaters short on provisions. Grab a juicy burger and a beer, better still order the barramundi, while the littlies entertain themselves in the games room, with the canoes back in the canal, or down at the tennis courts and playground.

The resort doesn’t permit eating or drinking aboard boats in the marina, in fact, no food or drink can be brought ashore. This made it difficult for us with a hungry two-year-old, as breakfast didn’t start till about 8am and there is no food allowed in your room. But Couran Point Island Beach Resort is a family retreat with zero tolerance for bad behaviour. As such, you can relax safe in the knowledge your kiddies can play about to their heart’s content.

 


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SKIPPY AND SKIPPERS
The highlight is unquestionably the sprawling 1500m² pool that encircles the aforesaid restaurant. You cross a small wooden bridge to reach the eatery and bar within and, amusingly, the access route hasn’t gone unnoticed by the local wallabies.

At the time of our visit, a bold wallaby bounded right through the restaurant, past the bar, to eventually plonk on its side and kick back beside the pool. Ah, what a life!

Besides a plethora of tables and chairs around the pool, some shaded by palms or bures, there is a small manmade beach, a brilliant waterslide with waterfall that beckons a ride, and plenty of open water to wash away your worries on a steamy Queensland day. Oh, and there’s a second smaller pool back down near the marina with a heated spa that might be nice in winter.

Elsewhere, the 27 hectare resort has 32 hotel-style rooms whose accommodation I rate as honest three-star. The standard room where Trade-a-Boat stayed has two queen beds, but there are kitchenette rooms with microwave and toaster if you don’t want to be held hostage by the restaurant.

Fans instead of air-conditioning are provided, along with a bathroom with shower. The soft furnishings have seen plenty of traffic, not that you should be stuck in your room.

At the time of writing, rates for a standard room ranged from $150 for one night to $120 if you take five nights. But in peak season, you pay as much as $200 for a room on a standby basis. These prices, which include a continental breakfast, are based on twin-share occupancy; an extra adults costs $50 each per night. The marina berth costs $30 per stay and you aren’t permitted to sleep aboard.

TRADE-A-BOAT FISH COMP
Unsurprisingly, the affordable nature of the accommodation appeals to the knockabout boating set as well as budget-conscious families and clubs. Among the big annual events, Couran Point Island Beach Resort hosts the Broadwater Open Fishing Tournament in March sponsored by Trade-a-Boat and TrailerBoat. There’s more than $5000 in prizes.

When you aren’t out fishing, boating, kicking about the pool, sleeping in your room or dining out, you can catch the daily beach shuttle through the melaleuca-studded wetlands, along the windy sandy road, to the ocean side of South Stradbroke Island, where there’s a patrolled surf beach. I also spy cute pied oystercatchers during our beach drive. Twitchers will be kept busy on the island.

But rather than join the throngs, Trade-a-Boat was taken on a 4WD tour by our Couran Point Island Beach Resort host Justin Small, 39, one of three sons and a daughter to Bruce and Margaret Small, who bought 200 acres of South Stradbroke freehold in 1987. This was the family home and playground and Justin grew up doing all the things that we boaties love to do today.

In fact, the Smalls were ahead of their time when they initially excavated the canals on South Stradbroke Island, moved sand around, and filled in much of the swamp. Incidentally, Bruce was also a 505 Australian champion before he moved from Ballina. He bought Marina Mirage with Christopher Skase then, eventually, his land on South Straddy.

The interesting thing is that Couran Point Island Beach Resort is self-sufficient. In fact, the Smalls sell power, sewerage services and water to residents on the island. They have three 275kVa generators, a 30m deep bore and water treatment plant, as well as a sewerage treatment plant whose water is used on the resort gardens.

"The best thing is the ease of access for the average punter —
we’re 20 to 30 minutes from Surfers Paradise —
plus there are terrific enclosed waterways that in 20 to 30 knots of typical SE-NE summer breeze still offer protection and a great time," says Justin.

The tenet at Couran Point Island Beach Resort may well be "as long as the kids are happy and busy, so are the parents."

Worth a day visit at least, especially if you need to get the rug rats out of your hair.

*Trade-a-Boat stayed as a guest at Couran Point Island Beach Resort.

TRADE-A-BOAT LOG
WHO
: Couran Point Island Beach Resort.

WHAT: A family resort with two big marinas accommodating boats up to 20m, with about two metres of water at low tide, plus a 27 hectare resort with 1500m² pool, restaurant and bar, family entertainment and playgrounds, and 32 resort rooms from $120 per night.

WHERE: South Stradbroke Island, 30 minutes from Surfers Paradise.

WHEN: The resort is open year-round but closed for Christmas. Arguably the best weather is from March to May. Think light autumn winds, warm days and cool nights for sleeping.

HOW: Come by boat or hitch a ride on the resort’s ferry from Marina Mirage ($65 for day visits).

WHY: Dayboaters will get a decent feed and can chill out while the kiddies run riot in the pool. Stay overnight if the weather is lousy during your Gold Coast boating holidays.

SUMMARY: Couran Point Island Beach Resort is a three-star family resort that welcomes boaties. Its food, service and amenities are honest. I can well imagine the place thronging with kiddies during holidays. Sandflies and mossies are rife, so don’t forget the RID.

BOOKINGS AND INFORMATION: Couran Point Island Beach Resort, phone (07) 5501 3555.

 


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