Another Festival Just Across The Ditch.

First of all a confession:

I’m a seafood snob. Comes from catching, filleting and cooking my own fish since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Both my parents were keen fishos ( to non Aussies thats fisherpersons. We lazy Dinky-Di’s abbreviate nearly everything) and I received my first rod at the age of 3 or 4. Our annual family holidays were always at a sleepy fishing village on the south coast of New South Wales, which thanks to progress is now bustling. One of those places where you take your life into your own hands trying to cross the road.

Ummmm, a while ago……

We never holidayed anywhere else. My father would say “ I’ve seen the world. Dropped bombs on it.” I was always badgering him to go somewhere different and new. Never happened. “ I’ve seen the world. It didn’t impress.”. To shut me up he gave me airline tickets for my 21st birthday. To Port Macquarie – 350 klms up the coast from home.

Although my sister and I revelled in the beach culture eating seafood three meals a day quickly lost its appeal. Can’t even consider cold fish on toast for breakfast these days.

We learnt so very much about seafood as my Dad was instrumental in tax law changes in line with the seasonal catches of the local Italian fishing fleet all those years ago.

So I know my seafood. Fresh fish and prawns are as familiar to me as dark chocolate.

Therefore I have never eaten seafood at restaurants ( makes me a cheap date, I know), and don’t buy any seafood for Easter nor Christmas despite it being traditional, as so much of it has spent time in the deep freeze.

And I would throw myself under a train before eating any of that imported rubbish from Asia so readily available in supermarkets. Just pass me a bucket…….

A seafood banquet is my speciality when guests come to town. Admittedly, I think its the only reason the son-in-law visits.

So I’m excited about the Straddie Oyster Festival, an annual event which provides local farmers, fishermen, and restaurateurs the opportunity to promote their produce in a relaxed party atmosphere in parkland backing on to Moreton Bay.

North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie, is a sub-tropical island located 30 km southeast of Brisbane and is the world’s second largest sand island. Take my word that the 30 minute trip by water taxi or 60 minute journey by barge from the mainland across to the island is a delightful respite from the Big Smoke in itself.

Catching the water taxi over to Straddie

But back to the Oyster Festival held at the Ron Stark Oval in Dunwich with its beautiful water views. There will be prawn and oyster eating competitions as well as live mud crab races. Market stalls and live music will keep Mums and Dads contented whilst the jumping castle and face painting will keep the kiddies occupied.

And remember, with the Festival taking place on Saturday, 23rd of November, from 10am till 6pm, it will be warm enough for the children to paddle and play in the sand so pack their swimming gear. (Always wears them out and ensures a good nights sleep which I totally endorse).

View from Dunwich back over to the mainland



Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known by the traditional landowners, will also have Indigenous Art displays including framed ceramic tiles, fibreglass turtle shells, and artworks. I’m as keen as mustard.

NOTE: North Stradbroke Island is well worth a visit at any time of year. It’s Mother Nature at its best ( and sometimes at her worst).

Seafood Breakfast in Tasmania is an exception to the rule. Doesn’t matter what the time of day a girl never declines the offer of Tasmanian Scallops or a Scallop Pie.

Cheers!

Lastly, here are some amazing facts about our Moreton Bay Marine Park:

  • It’s Queensland’s third-largest—and one of Australia’s top 12—shorebird habitats.  
  • It’s one of three extensive intertidal areas of seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh on Australia’s east coast. 
  • It supports the southernmost population of dugong in Australia and is among the top 10 habitats nationally for this vulnerable species.
  • It’s one of the most important feeding areas for threatened marine turtles along Australia’s east coast and we have 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles!
  •  bottlenose dolphin population, centred around Point Lookout, is one of the largest congregations of bottlenose dolphins in the world!

Alas, Progress is threatening the bay with plans to build 3,600 units into the Mangroves despite it being a designated RAMSAR Wetlands area.
End of rant.

Quandamooka Festival At My Back Door

Without being too controversial the best thing about visiting Brisbane in S.E Queensland is North Stradbroke Island. Casinos? Patting a koala? No thanks. Give me Straddie each and every time.

Winter on Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known to the traditional landowners, is also a time of much activity on the Island. The Quandamooka Festival runs across the winter months, and celebrates the original custodians and culture of the people living from Cape Moreton, on Moreton Island, south along the coast to Logan River, stopping just short of the Gold Coast, and including the Bay islands.

This year a wide variety of events have been organised including whale watching, cultural tours, Kunjiel (corroborees), music, eco boat tours, art exhibitions, fibre art and weaving workshops, bush tucker dining, arts and cultural talks by specialists, and First Nations dancers and performers.

I enjoyed the Opening Day at this festival at Dunwich on Straddie last year where we were welcomed with the smoke ceremony to ward off evil spirits. Although there is a variety of accomodation choices on the Island a day trip on the ferry from Cleveland is also a viable option. The twenty-five minute Bay crossing is simply beautiful and booking ahead is not required. Keep an eye out for dolphins and dugongs too!

The Squeeze and I enjoyed the aboriginal dances and music which were given relevance according to the culture. The Dance Of The Eagles, for example, refers to the schools of Mullet that arrive in the local waterways in winter. When the Eagles spot these fish they ignore the leaders, or first schools, as these are the Elders who show the way to the other schools of fish. The Eagle then goes in to feed on these younger fish.

What a wonderful opportunity to learn from another culture and to see the young children also learning by participation.

When the kids were little we would spend several long weekends a year on the surf side: lots of long beach walks, body surfing, and fish and chips in wet cossies at the pub. It’s beauty is stunning, wild and untamed.

The Hotel has since undergone a revamp and dripping wet bods are no longer allowed. Property prices have skyrocketed, and sadly, progress is beginning to leave its mark. * Find the twenty minutes to undertake the Gorge Walk and you’ll have a true understanding of how spectacular, brutal, and intoxicating Mother Nature can be.

I’ll be making the journey for the festival shortly. I’ll also be visiting the Historical Museum at Dunwich ( facing the Mainland) which was formally Brisbane’s Benevolent Asylum. The fish and chips will be much appreciated too.

Looking back to Cleveland on the mainland

More info on the Quandamooka Festival here : https://www.redland.qld.gov.au

*Yet again refraining from political comment. I must be growing up.