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Weekend in Pictures – Stradbroke Island Escape

Above: Daybreak on the Stradbroke Ferry, gliding over Moreton Bay, heading to North Stradbroke Island

I have been looking forward to sharing a bit more of what’s been happening on North Stradbroke Island since I shared the last glimpse a few months back. 

Straddie has fast become the place I escape to as often as I can, and it also has fast become the place where I feel the most connected to my work and craft – photography.

Sometimes I’ll escape to the island on the weekends when I’m not travelling away on shoots, other times I may visit through the week if time allows.

So I thought I would share a personal visual diary into what it looks like when I come over to Straddie, so you too can see what I see!

Above left: A Moreton Bay seascape at first light/ Above right: Me, shooting the ocean from the ferry

There is something rather spiritual about travelling to a place over water. It’s cleansing and there is a sense of renewal once you arrive at your destination.

This is how it feels each and every time I park my car at the ferry terminal in Cleveland and walk onto the ferry, to start the journey over Moreton Bay to Straddie.

Above: A moody Moreton Bay seascape at first light

With each visit to the island I work – sometimes with my camera, sometimes just with my eyes.

I’m documenting and opening my heart to what is around me, both the big and the small. I’m aware and try to be completely in the moment, as I’m bringing together a forthcoming body of photographic work, created entirely on the island.

Above left: Loading gear into the back of Dusty, my 1971 Landrover Series II which stays on the island/ Above right: Map of Stradbroke Island

I walk off the ferry and lug my gear to a nearby grassy plot, where people park their ‘island cars’.

This is where I pick up ‘Dusty’ my 1971 Series II Land Rover which I found on Gumtree back in May. I have long loved old Land Rovers and as soon as I see her in the grassy plot I can’t help but smile and feel a sense of freedom.

Above left: Picking up Dusty at Dunwich, Stradbroke Island

There is always a chance that Dusty won’t start, but it’s never a problem. Someone always seems to appear out of nowhere to help, like some kind of Leyland Brothers adventure.

Though usually I just take my time with her. Things are slower on the island and nothing can be rushed or forced, which I long for when I’m not here.

Above: Heading off from Dunwich, the interior of Dusty

Above left: Heading to Point Lookout on East Coast Road/ Above right: details of Dusty

It takes about 20 minutes to drive to Point Lookout where Timothy O and I have our place.

The landscape changes dramatically on the short drive, from dense leafy tropical, to dry bush with gum trees, then to coastal shrubby wetlands. You get both the bush and the beach here.

Stradbroke Island, also known as Minjerribah is actually a sand island, and was once one large island, until one night a wild cyclone hit and the island became two, north and south, separated by fast moving tidal water.

Above: Me, inside of Dusty, Stradbroke Island

Above left: Dusty’s interior  Above right: Me, in the reflection of Dusty’s side mirror, down a dirt track

There is a whiteish track I like to pull over and go down, just off the main drag. I love how the sunlight bounces off the lightly coloured earth and back up into the landscape, making all the colours that bit more vibrant.

Above: Exploring a favourite track of mine, off East Coast Road

Above left: Photographing down the track, / Above right: photographing flora of Stradbroke Island

Above: Dusty and I, Stradbroke Island

Above left: Photographing down a dirt track / Above right: the fauna of Stradbroke Island

Above: Interior detail of Dusty with some collected seashells

Above: Driving into wet weather on East Coast Road, Stradbroke Island

 The weather is the thing which keeps me in the moment here the most. Being an island, the weather changes fast.

What was good in one moment, will be gone the next. So it’s best to make the most of every weather condition –  even when it’s wet, it’s beautiful.


Above left: Unpacking the island necessities from Dusty, the Landy/ Above right: arriving and coming into the house

Arriving at the Straddie house is a really special feeling. Pulling up with Dusty and opening the front door and catching the fragrance of timber in the air is so comforting.

It’s a simple timber 70’s house, with a really clever use of glass and light. The light bounces around the house, making everything golden and warm.

Above: Unpacking my clothes in the bedroom and cuffing the sleeves of my old fisherman heavy cable jumper

The house is still very basic in its comforts, and I like it like that for now.

We have made only one change to the house, and that was adding ceilings to the bedrooms.  I don’t want to rush the improvements, I want to understand the house first, observing how we live in it and how it makes us feel. Once you go forward, you can’t go back.

Above: Unpacking and changing into island clothes in the bedroom

I always change out of what I’m wearing when I arrive, to completely wash the city off.

Lots of natural fabrics and textures in gentle tones.

Above left: Opening up the house and drawing the curtains/ Above right: Interior corner of the house with my 4×5 Linhof field camera on the tripod

Above: Leaving the house with my Papua New Guinean Buka gathering basket, to collect some banksias. My fins and beach tyre hang on the hooks

One of my absolute favourite things to do, is to go collecting foliage at Adder Rock and to bring back home.

I take my Hasselblad camera and old snips in a Buku gathering basket from Papua New Guinea and head down the track to the coastal heath.

Above: Leaving the house to head to the beach with my Buka gathering basket, to collect some banksias

Above left: A collection of seashells from the local beach, on the ledge of the house/ Above right: Leaving the house with my Buka gathering basket and heading to the beach to collect banksias

Above: Low tide at Adder Rock, Stradbroke Island

This is our local beach, Adder Rock, on low tide. I love exploring through the costal heath and walking barefoot along the cool sandy tracks, up on the cliffs of the rock.

The traditional owners of North Stradbroke Island, the Quandamooka people, say that Adder Rock is a special place for women. I believe that and would love to learn more about it.

Above left: Close up of a Pandanus fruit, while exploring the coastal heath/ Above right: one of the many pandanus of Adder Rock

The forms and graphic nature of the pandanus is something I’m really drawn to at the moment. So artful. An icon motif of Old World tropics.

Above left: Walking back up the ‘home track’ towards the house after gathering some banksia cuttings from Adder Rock/ Above right: fern fronds on the ‘home track’ back to the house

Above left: Returning to the house and coming up the stairs with gathered banksia from Adder Rock / Above right: banksias, my Hasselblad camera and a pandanas fruit in the Buka basket

Above left: Arranging the banksias in an old woven covered bottle as a vase/ Above right: a handmade cane table at the entrance which acts as a good spot to place found bits and pieces from the beach

Bringing nature inside always helps bring a space to life. And using only what is native makes so much sense.

The flora compliments the colour palette of the landscape, so you are gently reminded by a branch of banksia that you are at the beach.

Above left: The collected banksias from the beach,, with a pandanus fruit, shells and rolls of 120mm film in a shell/ Above right: The collected banksias from the beach, on a vintage cane console from eBay with favourite vessels and an octopus etching by Luke Sciberras, below a vintage cane mirror

Above left: Work in progress. Old shark jaw from a market in Cairns sits besides a collection of Buka baskets from Papua New Guinea and a vintage ceramic lamp, on top of an unfinished fireplace surround / Above right: an interior corner of the living room, with banksias and vintage finds

Being so close to nature makes you really aware of what you live with and how you live.

All of the pieces in the house are mostly secondhand finds or are made from natural fibres and materials. Sisal rugs, cane tables, raffia lampshades, paper lanterns.

Low fi materials which work in a calm way together, without too much fuss.


Above: A seascape of Adder Rock, Stradbroke Island

When the light drops off a bit in the afternoon, I usually head back down to the beach again with my camera.

The tide would have changed, and the light would have changed, so really everything has changed.

Above left: Back to the beach in Dusty the Landy, with my Hasselblad medium format camera, in the buka basket, alongside dried fern fronds /  Above right: shooting with my Hasselblad at the beach

Above left: A solo tree on the fringes of Adder Rock/ Above right: me, sitting in the cliff of Adder Rock, Stradbroke Island with my Hasselblad

Being at Straddie has given me the opportunity to study and capture nature in a way I have never been able to before, by observing and documenting the same landscape throughout the changing seasons and also through different weather.

As opposed to flying in and flying out of locations around the world, I am really starting to develop a relationship with the landscape here.

Above left: Walking through the coastal heath of Adder Rock, brushing past the banksia and pandanus and feeling the cool sand underfoot/ Above right: me, collecting pandanus fruit in Adder Rock, Stradbroke Island

Above: Loading and winding 120mm film on my Hasselblad camera, at the beach

Above: Shooting a seascape on my Hasselblad, from Adder Rock

Above left: Rolling off a roll of 120 film/ Above right: a seascape from Adder Rock, Stradbroke Island, of the South Pacific Ocean

And then there is the sea. A whole other scape to be explored and be captivated by.

It’s always so emotional to watch the waves roll in, each one never the same.

Above left: Looking through the viewfinder of my Hasselblad into the ocean/ Above right: a seascape of the South Pacific Ocean

Above left: My favourite little spot on earth, through the coastal heath and under the pandanus of Adder Rock/ Above right: rolling on a roll of film for my Hasselblad

Above left: A seascape of the South Pacific Ocean/ Above right: back at the house, watching the last of daylight from the doorway

The day usually ends like this, watching the last of the sunlight disappear, as the night air starts to fall.

There is always a sense of being so grateful to the island, and never taking any of this for granted.

I hope you enjoyed this personal post and feel as though you know the island that bit more.

I’ve made a ‘Mix Tape’ below for you of some current song on high rotation at Straddie – it’s a random mix.

K x

Stradbroke Island Playlist


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34 Comments to “Weekend in Pictures – Stradbroke Island Escape”

  1. Hi Kara, woohoo! thanks for sharing this So inspirational… i am so curious about what kind of lens you use for your canon camera?

    • Hi Lysse – glad you enjoyed it. I use a few different lenses actually – depends what I shooting – My main ones are my 50mm and my 85mm primes :)

  2. Such beautiful photos. I always enjoy seeing pictures of your collected treasures and the calming environment you’ve created for yourself. So inspirational. The island looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us!

    • Im so pleased to hear thats why you like to see Donna – I too always like to see what people collect and choose to surround themselves with – it’s so intimate. Happy Friday! x

  3. Ahh Straddie!! Loved the tour Kara and was interested to see you’ve got a Hassy! I’m hopefully picking one up on Monday. What lens do you find works well for seascapes etc? Regular 80mm? I’m new to medium format. Can’t wait to get stuck into it x

    • That is exciting Susie – the focal lengths on medium format are different to 35mm. If you have a good wide angle – like a 40mm or 50mm that will work and then a nice portrait lens – like an 80mm or 100mm Have fun with it, they are beautiful cameras. x

      • Thanks for your reply Kara, the camera comes with the 80mm so I’ll have to keep an eye out for a 40 or 50mm too. Can’t wait to try something new, film really forces you to slow down which I love.
        All the best :)

  4. Spectacular Kara – every single shot. Loved seeing and reading about your special place and now of course, want to go too!

  5. Hi Kara,
    Love, love, love this post, thanks for sharing. I live nearby on the Gold Coast and keep meaning to head over here, so I’m feeling nice and inspired now! Love the playlist too.
    x Jean

    • Hi Jean – Come on over!! Book your car on the barge and make a weekend of it! There are plenty of places to stay and I have heard that above the Point Lookout Pub is very very good xx Kara

  6. Dear Kara,

    I am always look forward to your posts! Always so special and inspiring to read. To the point, I would prepare my coffee and my time before I read yours. Because it is worth it.

    I love that you have such connection with nature and bring about the beauty and mystery of it and that you appreciate so much old vintage pieces for your home decoration. I am curious what era inspire you? why? who are the icons? :) I got carried away by your journey.. hahaha.

    Thanks for your work and this lovely article! Enjoy the weekend.

    A big kiss from Shanghai.

    • Hi Catrin – I love how you prepare you coffee beforehand – ha, my posts do tend to be loooong don’t they. I think the eras of the 30s and 40s speak to me the most. Very difficult eras with the war and depression, though there is something about that I’m attracted to. In terms of being inspired, most things come back to nature, which is completely timeless and I love that. K xx

  7. I loved this kara, it was like having a mini holiday myself. Could almost smell the salt air. Just loved it.

  8. Such a joy Kara to see your special place through your eyes. Going back to nature is just so good for the soul and mind! Thank you for sharing.

  9. Oh Kara, that was wonderful. Like others, I savored the moment by making a cup of tea and reading slowly. I searched the elements in each photo. Taking in the nuances you are gifted with looking so natural and unstyled. I could almost smell the salt air and feel the surf mist. A world away from my current surrounds. Thank you for sharing your special place xx

  10. My wife told me to have a look at this post. Beautiful style as always, but I wish I could find a similarly proportioned house to record drums in! That high ceiling would be amazing, haha.

  11. Oooh Kara.. as always you don’t just capture the pictures, but you take us on a little escape and adventure with you so and we can almost feel like we are there. Love your blog and playlists too! Thank you.. we really are the lucky ones xx S

  12. Love your collection of Buka baskets made on the island of Buka – Bouganville – I hope there are some lapoon meri’s (old ladies) keeping the tradition of Buka basket making alive. Did you ever see the movie Mr Pip staring Hugh Laurie – it was filmed on Bouganville, a very good movie.

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