Stradbroke Island, now North and South Stradbroke Islands, forms the outer south-eastern land enclosure of Moreton Bay. Its northern point is 30 km east of the mouth of the Brisbane River, and the bay's southern waters are about two km wide at the southern tip of the south island, opposite Labrador on the Gold Coast. The break in the island, known as Jumpinpin, was formed in 1894-96 during heavy storm activity. (Jumpinpin was an Aboriginal word meaning Pandanus.) Some credit the beginning of the break in the island to the detonation of the explosives aboard the barque Cambus Wallace that ran aground in 1894. The complete island was 60 km from north to south. North Stradbroke Island falls within the boundaries of the Redland Shire Council; South Stradbroke the Gold Coast City Council.

Stradbroke Island was sighted by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770 who renamed Point Lookout on its north-eastern extremity. The bay behind the island was unexplored by Europeans until Matthew Flinders' voyage in 1799 and it was John Oxley in 1823 who confirmed Stradbroke's status as an island. In the following year Oxley established a short-lived European (convict) settlement at Redcliffe. Amity Point, the north-west tip of North Stradbroke Island, was renamed after Oxley's vessel. Conflict arose between the European soldiers who began clearing areas of the island including bora grounds and significant sites and the Aboriginal Goori people of Quandamooka.  The Goori had long established villages, pathways and walking tracks, ceremony places, tool sites and quarries, fish traps, wells and middens.

The convict settlement was transferred to Brisbane under the command of Captain Patrick Logan (1825-30), and in 1827 Captain J.N. Rous charted the bay. In recognition of his work Governor Darling allocated the names Stradbroke and Dunwich to the island and its westerly point; Rous was the second son of the Earl of Stradbroke, and his elder brother was Viscount Dunwich.

Point Lookout, Amity and Dunwich became North Stradbroke Island's population centres.

During Logan's time Dunwich served as a depot for supplies which were off-loaded there before being taken up the Brisbane River by shallow-draught boats. A quarantine station was established at Dunwich in 1849, barely in time to receive passengers from a fever ship and to bury several of the victims. In 1864 a benevolent asylum was added for aged and infirm persons, and in 1892 a lazaret (hospital for incurable diseases, mainly leprosy) was established. In between these events the quarantine station was moved to Peel Island, midway between Redcliffe and Dunwich.

The asylum consisted of numerous well-constructed buildings, with the dining hall being converted to a community hall well after the closure of the asylum in 1947. Less well constructed was the Aboriginal settlement Myora at Moongalba two kilometres north of Dunwich. The site includes the Myora spring, is an environmental reserve, and the last resting place of Aboriginal poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal (1920-93), who was born on Stradbroke Island.

Proceeding from the jetty along Junner Street there are several heritage-listed sites: the remains of a convict-built causeway (1827), a public reserve with the remains of convict barracks etc (1827) and the Dunwich hall (1913) at Ballow Street. Northwards, there are St Mark's Anglican church (1907), Row Street, and the Dunwich cemetery (1847 -) in Bingle Road.

In the 1933 census for Dunwich males were three times the number of females and the total population exceeded 1000. After removal of the asylum the population fell to under 150. With a jetty and regular boat services from the mainland the repopulation of Dunwich began in the 1950s. There are State primary (1904) and high (1992) schools, local shops, two caravan parks, visitor centre at the ferry terminal, a golf course, and a church. The spectacular Blue Lake national park (a sacred Goori Men's area) is 10 km south-east of Dunwich.

Moreton Bay's early non-Aboriginal historian, Thomas Welsby, had a house at Amity Point where he spent time with the local Aboriginal people (mostly the women) recording their daily lives, language, customs and practices. Amity is a fishing village with local shops and a caravan park. To its east is the long Flinders Beach which leads to Point Lookout. Its census population in 2006 was 408.

When Cook renamed Point Lookout he observed numerous rocks extending out to sea. Point Lookout is the rocky part of Stradbroke Island against which north-directed coastal water movement deposited sand, backing southwards. There is a linear township behind a foreshore reserve, running about four kilometres. Substantial settlement began in the 1970s and there is now a bowling club, together with local shops, four resorts and a church. Over half the population at any time is non-resident; 50% of the houses were recorded as unoccupied on census night in 2001, and there are camping areas and two caravan parks. There are both a sheltered beach and a surf beach, separated by a lighthouse erected in 1932. The beaches and headlands between and including Cylinder Beach and Frenchman's Beach are listed on the Queensland heritage register.

South Stradbroke Island has remained relatively undeveloped, comprised mainly of a wilderness area with a sparse population. In the 1870s there was oyster farming at Curriggee on the west (mainland) side of the island, across the Broadwater from Paradise Point. Currigee school opened in 1890. Farms were worked from the 1920s-1940s to the north at Couran, opposite the north end of Coomera Island. In the 1950s and 1960s the island's beaches were sand mined, stymieing proposals for canal estate development on South Stradbroke. In 1998 the island's largest development, the 'eco-resort' Couran Cove built by former Olympian and Gold Coast City Mayor Ron Clarke, was opened. Low occupancy rates led to the resort's closure in June 2011, but 18 months later it was purchased by a local businessman and re-opened to guests in mid-2013.

The major settlement census populations have been:

 Census DatePopulation
Dunwich19111031
 19331095
 1947165
 1954460
 1966766
 1976931
 2001936
 2006805
 2011883
Point Lookout195475
 1971240
 1981758
 1996925
 2001861
 2006669
 2011678

Ellie Durbidge and Jeanette Covacevich, North Stradbroke Island, North Stradbroke Island, Stradbroke Island Management Organisation, 2004

Helen Horton, Islands of Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Boolarong Publications, 1983

Murray Johnson, ed, Brisbane: Moreton Bay matters, Brisbane, Brisbane History Group, 2002

Beryl Moore, Island Eden: Point Lookout and its pioneers, Stradbroke Island, Beryl Moore, 1993

Carolyn Nolan and Robert Longhurst, Brisbane's Moreton Bay: our heritage in focus, South Brisbane: State Library of Queensland Foundation, 1996

Lindy Salter, South Stradbroke Island, 2nd edn, The Gap, Lindy Salter, 2002

Thomas Welsby, Memories of Amity, Brisbane, Brisbane Courier, 1921

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