The Natural Environment

North Stradbroke Island is 38km long and 12km at its widest point. It is the world's second largest sand island, supporting a rich variety of fauna and flora and numerous diverse habitats on which to focus research and educational programs. Habitats include rocky shores, mangrove forests, mud and sand flats, wallum scrub, fresh water lakes, sclerophyll forests, sand dunes, wetlands, coral reefs and seagrass beds.

To the west of the Island is the shallow embayment of Moreton Bay, to the north is Moreton Island and to the east the Pacific Ocean, with the edge of the continental shelf approximately 35km offshore. NSI sits within the boundaries of Moreton Bay Marine Park and much of the Island itself is designated a National Park. Research and educational activities in the area require permits. Make sure you're aware of the relevant zoning information before visiting.

Portions of the waters, islands and coastal regions of Moreton Bay are also listed as Nationally Important Wetlands, significant sections of which are designated Ramsar wetlands. 50,000 migratory shorebirds of at least 43 different species winter here each year during the non-breeding season. These wetlands are rich in fisheries, contain over 355 species of marine invertebrates, seven mangrove species with 55 species of associated algae, and seven seagrass species.

The Bay and ocean waters also contain significant populations of dugong, six of the world's seven species of marine turtles, numerous species of sharks and rays, Indo-Pacific humpback and bottlenose dolphins, as well as other cetaceans, including a large population of humpback whales which migrates past the Island between May and November each year. Visit our Media Gallery to see the range of flora and fauna found on and around the Island.

The Human Environment

With its proximity to Queensland's largest population centre and its long history of inhabitation and industry, NSI is an ideal location for cultural, human impact and coastal management research. Known as "Straddie" to the locals, the Island has a permanent human population of approximately 2,100 located almost exclusively in the three townships of Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout. The Island is a favourite weekend and holiday destination for many city dwellers while the waters of beautiful Moreton Bay and the Pacific are a mecca for fishermen, surfers, divers and recreational boating enthusiasts.

Cultural heritage

Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is home to the Noonukul and Goenpul clans who, together with the Nughi of Moorgumpin (Moreton Island), make up the Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) People. A rich, colourful and thriving culture continues on Minjerribah despite its proximity to the influences of Australia's third largest capital city.

An archaeological site at WallenWallen, south of Dunwich, shows evidence of continuous occupation over the past 20,000 years, making this site unique on the east coast of Australia. The continuous occupation and living culture of the indigenous people of Quandamooka has now been formally recognised through recent Federal Court decisions under the Native Title Act 1993. These rulings give custodial rights to traditional owners of land and water in the Quandamooka area (Moreton Bay and surrounding Islands). 

The first recorded contact between Aboriginals and Europeans on Minjerribah was in 1803 when the local people provided assistance gathering fresh water for Captain Matthew Flinders on his ill-fated journey to Sydney. The site is commemorated with a memorial on the Cylinder Beach headland.

Myora Mission Dunwich 1906 from John Oxley Library

Myora Mission Dunwich 1906
from John Oxley Library

In the 1830's a European settlement was established in Dunwich. The Myora Mission, located just outside of Dunwich was established in 1892 as a place of confinement for the Quandamooka people. The mission closed in 1942. An interpretative walking trail is now located at the former mission site and is open to public access. This site is now known as Terra Bulla Leumeah ('beautiful land I sleep here').

The Myora Cemetery is where the Quandamooka ancestors are laid to rest. Skeletal remains collected from sites around the world have been repatriated here.

Many other sites of cultural significance located on Minjerribah and Moorgumpin have been destroyed by development and mining activities. Significant cultural sites were awarded protection under the Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and we are fortunate that two sites very close to the Moreton Bay Research Station remain largely intact. Further information regarding these sites, particularly in relation to field activities, is provided to all visitors of the research station during the MBRS induction.