Looking for real Redlands experiences to treat your family or visitors to this weekend?
The team has come up with this guide to the magic of Quandamooka country, from cushy cruising to top taste tempers and unique Redlands treasures.
Those in the know say there are few better ways to lift your spirits than sailing southern Moreton Bay, let alone doing it in style.
Here, the sheltered waters, islands and bountiful marine life make for particularly cruisy cruising, especially when you are on a big and stable luxury sailing catamaran.
Robinson Cruises’ new Axis Vitae and Brisbane Yacht Charters’ Aristocat can take you into the heart of the Quandamooka experience.
Wayne at Robinson Cruises and Darren at Brisbane Yacht Charters also team up to provide charters for groups of up to 66, ideal for big Christmas parties and get-togethers.
Axis Vitae can carry 36 guests and Aristocat 30 on experiences which can be as relaxing or as adventurous as you like.
Our spy headed out on the Axis Vitae in good sailing winds and had an exhilarating ride to Peel Island’s Horseshoe Bay yet barely a drop of bubbly was spilled!
You would struggle to find a better spot – or experience – in the Whitsundays yet it is right here in the Redlands.
And where else do you leave and return to a lovely harbour in Raby Bay, which boasts such an eclectic mix of eateries?
Stradbroke Island Kayaking
Straddie Adventures’ kayaking tours off the shores of North Stradbroke Island are amazing.
The kids (including those young at heart) won’t be able to stop talking about your wildlife encounters on the day.
When conditions allow, the Straddie Adventures’ crew gets … well, adventurous, and heads out to places such as Shag Rock or Manta Bommie, where you can snorkel with a wide array of marine creatures.
Or you can paddle the calm waters along Straddie’s western shores, exploring inlets and creeks where you are likely to be escorted by sea turtles or dolphins.
Highest of teas
If you fancy a little luxurious self-indulgence it’s hard to go past Mt Cotton Retreat’s high tea set in a secluded natural bush setting.
You will most likely be greeted by Chikko, Sue Panuccio and Trevor Penson’s spoodle, dressed in his very regal welcome jacket.
Out on the deck, you’ll sit almost in the tree tops surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wild Redands.
It’s sort of old English colonial grandeur with a hint of Bali.
The baked goodies are exceptional, along with the delicately cut sandwiches and bottomless service of tea, coffee and juice. Bookings here are essential.
There’s also Victoria Point’s Wishing Well Café, with its hint of all things lovely from times gone by.
Discover the colourful history and life of the café with its historic wishing well in the courtyard and the quaint “tea tree” (pictured below).
If you are free on a Sunday, why not try tea of the Devonshire variety at historical Ormiston House.
Yoga in Tranquil Nature
In the Redlands, you can take care of your mental, spiritual and physical needs to the backdrop of some of the most stunning scenery you will find anywhere.
You can stretch out on North Stradbroke Island’s beautiful Home Beach with Linda Rago’s Beach Yoga Straddie. Stradbroke Island Yoga & Massage host regular weekly yoga classes as well as yoga retreats.
For a yoga experience with a difference there’s Bay Island Stand-up Paddle Board Yoga, which hosts morning yoga classes for all skill levels every Saturday at 8am.
Pelican’s Nautical Treasures, a boatshed cafe set right on Redland Bay harbour, also can get you connected with your inner self.
OK, there are lots of great cafes and restaurants in the Redlands but how many can boast dozens of flavours of macarons with plans to top 100 by the end of the year?
At the gorgeous Whisky Business café in Shop 4/200, Old Cleveland Road, Capalaba, the macaron menu is ablaze with the cute and colourful sweet treats, even dairy-free and gluten-free varieties.
The cafe also serves breakfast and lunch. If you are visiting the stunning Southern Moreton Bay Islands, try the award-winning eatery at Macleay Island Bowls Club where the meals come with a million-dollar view.
For something special there’s also Cleveland’s Doug & Pearl and The French Table, but in the Redlands you really are spoiled for choice.
Where better to experience the culture and heritage of what we today call the Redlands than the Saltwater Murris indigenous art gallery at Dunwich, on North Stradbroke Island?
You will find local indigenous arts and crafts for sale including beautifully woven bags made from items found on the beaches of Minjerribah, the traditional name for the island.
The gallery also sells hand-made bracelets, necklaces, woven bowls and tea towels among other wonderful items.
These are created mostly by people whose history on the island dates back many thousands of years and often tell a story.
The gallery is open Wednesday to Friday from 9.30am-3pm and on weekends from 10am-2pm.
Sounds of the bush
A government initial, IndigiScapes environmental centre has audio walking tours aimed at children aged six to 10 years. And best of all they are free.
Each trail takes about 30 minutes, which includes six stops along the way. Ideal for family groups, Cassie the koala and Snuffles the bandicoot will guide you along their favourite trails, telling you about the habitat they live in, the food they eat and the dangers they face in the wild.
The friendly IndigiScapes staff will be happy to loan you an mp3 player and a portable speaker so you can hear Cassie and Snuffles. Kids can also fill out a fun activity sheet along the way.
Day Trip to Coochiemudlo Island
Coochiemudlo Island with its beautifully protected beaches is a top spot for a day trip but there is more to this little isle just off Victoria Point than first meets the eye.
It is also home to Coochie Candles, where you will find homemade, environmentally friendly soy candles in the gift shop on Ooyan Street at the top of the island.
They would make great Christmas gifts. While you are there, try out the new surrey bikes or aqua bikes and have a bit of fun while touring the island.
Redlands Day Spa
We revel in our relaxed lifestyle here in the Redlands, which is probably why we have so many top day spas.
The Thai-inspired Harbour Day Spa overlooking Redland Bay Harbour has a deserved reputation for its quality spa experience, while Stephanie’s Day Spa is set in a wonderfully restored old Queenslander which dates back to 1852 and is loaded with shabby chic.
Mt Cotton Body and Soul is secluded in natural bush and epitomises relaxation. If holidaying on Straddie, you can head to the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel Spa Resort, while you can get the full beauty treatment at Capalaba’s Milque Spa.