One of three small towns on North Stradbroke Island, Dunwich is only accessible by ferry. With a population below 1,000 there are few amenities, but the town has plenty of attractions, particularly for anyone who is interested in outdoor living and water sports. The subtropical climate makes for a very pleasant year-round temperature that lends itself well to an active outdoor lifestyle.
- Population – 864
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander percentage of population – 37.9%
- Closest major town/city – Brisbane (44 km)
- Distance from airport – 60 km (Brisbane)
- Cinemas – 0
- Cafes/restaurants – 6
- Pubs/bars – 3
- Primary schools – 1
- Secondary schools – 0
- Tertiary education providers – 0
- Annual average maximum temperature – 25.5°C
- Annual average minimum temperature – 18.5°C
Dunwich is on the western shore of North Stradbroke Island and overlooks Moreton Bay. It is a short distance from Brisbane – only 44 km including the ferry crossing to Cleveland.
The Quandamooka people who have lived in the Moreton Bay area for over 20,000 years still make up a significant proportion of Dunwich’s population, with close to 38 percent of residents of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.
Dunwich’s median age of 42 is a few years older than the state figure, and marriage rates are low, with half of the town’s adult residents unmarried. Just over one in ten adults have completed a university degree – half that for the whole of Australia – though other post-secondary education levels are similar to state and national levels.
There are two medical centres on North Stradbroke Island. Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health is located in Dunwich, while Stradbroke Island Medical Centre is at Point Lookout on the island’s northeastern corner. There is no hospital on the island but the Marie Rose Centre in Dunwich provides 24-hour accident and emergency care as well as other services. The nearest hospital is Redland Hospital in Cleveland.
The population of Dunwich is considered relatively disadvantaged healthwise due to income levels being significantly below the state average.
Dunwich is in the Brisbane South PHN and is rated RA3.
North Stradbroke Island has one school, Dunwich State School, which covers Prep to Year 6. For education beyond this, children travel to schools on the mainland, with many attending Cleveland District State High School. Alternatively, parents can opt to send their children to boarding schools for their secondary years.
Preschoolers are also catered for on the island, with Stradbroke Early Learning Centre located in Dunwich.
Career options for partners
The short commute to Brisbane makes Dunwich an ideal location for partners in just about any vocation. On the island, there is limited work available outside the sand mining industry, though there may be some opportunities in tourism and related sectors.
For anyone looking to do volunteer work, the town and surrounding area have a number of active organisations including Volunteer Marine Rescue and the local historical museum.
Arts and culture
Two of Dunwich’s cultural experiences are the Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Aboriginal Art Gallery and North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum, which is housed at the old Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. For those interested in marine research, the Moreton Bay Research Station has periodic open houses for the public to see firsthand the work being done at the station.
The Island Vibe Festival is an annual celebration of the island’s culture held at Point Lookout. It includes dance, music and art from indigenous groups, as well as from farther afield. Also located at Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island Yoga & Massage offers creative arts workshops in addition to its regular schedule of yoga classes. For the latest movies, the closest cinemas are on the mainland at Victoria Point and Capalaba.
North Stradbroke is one of the largest sand islands in the world, meaning that there are great sandy beaches for family picnics and fun. And of course there are many places around the island that are ideal for swimming, surfing, boating and fishing. There is also unique habitat for bushwalkers, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy.
For a small town, Dunwich has a reasonable variety of sports to choose from. The local Straddie Sharks Allsports Club, primarily a rugby league club, offers several other sports, including touch football and squash, as well as a gym. For golfers, there is also a nine-hole course just a few kilometres from town.
Food and drink
With North Stradbroke Island being a tourist destination, Dunwich has more places to dine out or have a cold beverage than many towns of its size. The local clubs and restaurants are well visited and see plenty of activity. There are also several places to grab a coffee or a bite to eat during the day, such as the local bakery or Island Fruit Barn. In addition, it’s just a short drive to the island’s other two towns, which also have a range of places to choose from, such as the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel.
Dunwich is quite affordable because of the low demand for housing in the town. There are a few flats available, but the majority of the housing stock is stand-alone houses – both older character homes and new models. The median price for a three-bedroom house is $315,000. Long-term rentals may be hard to come by but average around $200 per week.
Although there is no road access from Dunwich to the mainland, there are both water taxis and vehicular ferries that commute between Dunwich and Cleveland. From there, residents can either drive their own cars or connect to Victoria Point and Brisbane via local buses.
The island has its own bus service that connects its three towns, with buses running regularly each day. There is also an island taxi service. Another way to get around is by cycling, though many roads away from the towns are unsealed. Private cars are also an option, and for those with four-wheel drive vehicles, beach driving is allowed in designated areas.
Broadband – ADSL2+ is available in Dunwich at speeds up to 15Mbps. Connection to the National Broadband Network is expected to be completed in late 2019, giving speeds up to 100Mbps.