“ Country: Australia / World Region: Australasia / Pacific „
Magnetic Island is situated off the coast near Townsville, km north of Brisbane and km south of Cairns. The island is only a twenty minute ferry ride from the mainland and as it has several "normal" settlements, not just tourist resorts, it's accessible by a reasonably priced ferry (a return family ticket cost around 60 AUD).
The island is something of a tropical paradise, with the chief two attractions being bushwalking in its mostly wooded interior and swimming and snorkeling off its beaches.
Many people visit the island as a day trip from Townsville. We spend two nights (and one full day) here and as our kind hosts lend us their truck, we manage to explore a little during this time.
The weather, as befits dry season in the tropics, is hot and sunny but not unpleasantly clammy. We take a taxi from the train station to the ferry terminal and soon are on the boat across, crowded with day trippers and backpackers making their way to the island.
Tourist brochures make a lot of the "magnetic" part of the island's name, but the reason for such an enchanting title was more prosaic: the early European explorers thought that the island disturbed their compasses and thus the name (it was proved to be wrong later on).
The ferry journey to the island, despite the crowd, is fun in itself. We quickly leave the Ross Creek inlet, with the pink granite monolith of Townsville's Castle Hill raising behind us on and the green and hilly Magnetic Island quickly growing before us as the catamaran ferry approaches the terminal at Nelly Bay.
Nelly Bay is the main settlement on the island, and since the ferries started to arrive here rather than in Picnic Bay in 2003, it has also became the main center for the island's tourism, with resorts, hotels, car hire companies and bus tour operators. Still, it's all fairly low scale and easy to leave behind once we are past the terminal with its information-cum-booking office (it's often hard to distinguish "proper" tourist information from travel agents and tour operators in Australia) and in the taxi to our hosts' home.
The house is beautiful and designed for the tropics: airy and light, with a large living area simply on a roofed deck without walls, shaded by a tropical garden and with an inviting pool accessible by steps from the living room/deck. As we are visiting in the dry "winter" season, the weather is rather wonderful, warm to hot but not unbearably so (in fact, the water in the pool seems quite cold, but our daughter doesn't mind) and the humidity levels are quite low. The humid summer is a different matter, to which tarnished brass knobs on wardrobes and window frames testify.
We walk back to the village along tree-lined streets, with flowering plants and trees, gardens filled with hundreds of birds. We spot a huge centipede among the ground cover foliage, and numerous colorful parrots, sun-birds and other birds. The beach at Nelly Bay is narrow and a bit stony, but lined with graceful palms and the promenade boasts several good examples of strangle figs growing in impressive circles.
The whole island has a resident population of slightly over 2,000 people in a string of four villages spread mostly along its eastern coast. The largest is Nelly Bay, technically and practically a suburb of Townsville from where many people commute to the mainland. South of Nelly Bay is Picnic Bay, which used to be the main center of tourism, but with the move of the ferry to Nelly Bay, acquired a slightly desolate feel of a place who has seen better days. North of Nelly Bay is Arcadia, and then on the north coast of the island, Horseshoe Bay. The road between Picnic Bay and Horseshoe Bay is sealed and has a regular bus service, or you can hire a car or a Mini-Moke (a type of buggy based on a Mini chassis and engine: looks very uncomfortable - and most of the ones on the island seem to be virulently pink - but presumably has some kind of fun or cool factor to warrant its popularity). There are also rougher tarmac roads to several of the coves on the eastern coast, on which you can drive - carefully - in most cars, but on which the Mokes (weirdly, as they are supposed to be rough terrain and beach buggies) or rental cars are not allowed, as well as dirt track to West Point. Majority of the island is a national park, and most of the northern section and the hilly interior is not accessible by vehicle. Walking is certainly a great option as the island is fairly compact - it's only about 10km from Horseshoe Bay to Picnic Bay - albeit hilly, and there are many good walking tracks.
The next day, equipped with our hosts' truck we set off to explore a bit. With a joint objective of doing a bushwalk with views and scenery, and incorporating a beach with a swim, we decide to do the Forts Walk. We park four and a half kilometers from Nelly Bay, at the turn-off to Radical Bay on the Horseshoe Bay Road and set off on a well-marked and well-maintained track. The path follows a ridge in a steady climb and every so often we get a glimpse, or even a full view, of the island's arresting bays. The walk is through a dry bush composed mostly of eucalyptus and hoop pine and beside the track, the ground is stony and with many granite boulders. We keep on the path, especially as venomous snakes are known to live in the area. Children complain about the heat but we press on, encouraged by the hope of spotting a koala (Magnetic Island has a large resident population, but as they are solitary animals with an individual range of 3 sq km and blend well with the environment, I am not too hopeful).
The Forts Walk is named after the complex of defence buildings (observation posts and gun batteries) operated during World War II and as we get near the top, we see remains of dank looking, square, concrete military constructions. We are also told by walkers coming down that there is, actually, a koala to be spotted near the munitions store! However much we look, though, we can't see the creature and thus we concentrate on admiring fantastic views of the boulder-dotted headlands, beaches in the island's bays, mainland hills and other small islands in the vicinity.
The walk back is quick and easy. Still no koalas, and the kids who have been fed and watered as we picnic on a large boulder by a pathside are in a much better mood.
The walk is about 4km long and officially needs 1.5h to complete, less for a fit and fast walker and more for kids or those with a tendency to stop frequently, take hundreds of photos and linger over the views. There are some short, steep(ish) sections, but most of it is fairly mild and easy to tackle (but hot, even in the winter).
The beach is next, with a turn-off to Radical Bay, apparently one of the nicer beaches on the island, just by the car park. Rental vehicles are not allowed on the narrow and pot-holed (although mostly tarmac covered) road, but it's fairly easy to tackle in a normal car if you drive slowly and carefully. Radical Bay is lovely indeed, with two rocky headlands enclosing a cove of silvery sand, and a warm, clear water. It's July, so no dangerous jellyfish about, and we (in this case, your writer and the nine year old) happily wade in for a swim and a paddle as the day is drawing to the close.
On the way back we drive past Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay, where we wade on the beach (there is even a bit of the reef here, especially near the jetty) and after a coffee and kids play in a good playpark we go back to our hosts after what was one of the best days we had in Queensland.
Our train leaves the next day, so we have to leave the gorgeous Magnetic Island, but we wish we had more time here to bushwalk, swim and snorkel. Despite quite a bit of development, the island still has an authentic and popular-but-unspoiled feel and combines all the things we like. I would happily come back here and stay for a few days.
This is my new home for the next 5 months or so.
Magnetic Island is 20 minutes by ferry for $30 return from Townsville in Queensland. It is one of the most beautiful places I have been in Australia.
Most people only come here for a few days to see the beaches, the wildlife and relax. I am now working in a hostel here and really enjoying myself.
The hostel Im staying in has a wildlife park that the public can go to. Bungalow Bay is the most chilled out hostel, with a bar and restaurant that close early so you can get a decent nights sleep. Otherwise theres Base or Magnums which have loud bars and although they are both great locations right next to the beach you will get less sleep here than at Bungalow.
Theres loads of accomodation like holiday homes but they are all privately owned.
There are some amazing beaches here. My local beach is Horseshoe Bay which is lovely and has a stinger net so you can swim in the sea without a stinger suit on.
Other nice beaches that are just spectacular are Radical Bay, Florence, and Arthur Bay. They are exactly how I imagined Australia to be. They can be walked to or reached by car.
You can hire mini mokes on the island which are basically like Barbie and Kens cars, or you can hire a scooter for pretty cheap.
There are lots of walking trails to get to each little village and can take a full day. I like the walk over the mountain from horseshoe to radical.
There are some restaurants and some bars but basically its make your own entertainment here. Everything shuts early and its very quiet at night time. Its so relaxing in the day as well just to go to the beach or read a book.
If your looking to have a relaxing few days or even thinking about moving here then this island is so nice and I am really loving living here.
Tonight I will be watching a live band at work and enjoying the tropical evening temperatures.
I went to Magnetic Island on a two night trip organised by YHA Australia. To get there you have to take a ferry from Townsville (this was included in the cost of my trip). Once on the island most of the accommodation will collect you from the ferry terminal or you can take an island bus for a small charge (I think it was $2).
The accommodation books up quickly so make sure you book it far enough in advance. I stayed at the YHA lodge which is a series of bungalows in Horseshoe Bay, it was very nice and the hostel had its on bar/restaurant as well. The hostel is also home to Bungalow Bay Koala Sanctuary, which houses a wide variety of animals and you are given a chance to hold a koala, crocodile, snake and lizard.
The twenty-three beaches around Kangaroo Island are beautiful white sand and depending on the individual beach they can also be quite secluded. Hiring a moke can help you get around so make sure you take your driving license with you.
The island has 15km of walking tracks giving you plenty of areas to explore and hopefully see some of the natural wildlife! There are also trips to the outer reef where you can go diving. Most accommodation will have information on this.
I highly recommend a trip to Magnetic Island, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
If you happen to be travelling down the east coast of australia, this is one place you must go.
Magnetic Island is one of my favourite places down the east coast.
There are different packages you can get when you go to Magnetic Island, the one I signed up for myself was a package including 2 night accomodation, return ferries from Townsville and you could pay an extra £10 to do a wildlife tour at this particular hostel.
I stayed at Bungalow Bay Koala Village which is a YHA so was a very clean hostel with good cooking facilities and staff.
The only problem I would say with this hostel is that the parrots and birds from the Wildlife Santuary woke me up at 5-6 in the morning which was a little annoying!
As for the Island - there are different parts of the island that you can visit by bus which doesn't cost an awful lot, you sort of have to go around the outside though as the middle of island is more or less all national park greenery!! You can do some nice walks aswell, I spotted a Koala on my way to a beach whilst on a walk. Some of the small bays are nice and quiet aswell.
You can also kayak to the different bays aswell. Myself and my boyfriend did so which was a lot of fun and we spotted a whale!A little scary!
If you do stay at Bungalow Bay, I would recommend you do the Wildlife Tour, as you can hold all sorts of animals - I held a small croc, lizards, snake and last but not least a koala bear!The latter did cost a little money think it was about $10-15, but you get 2 pictures of you with the koala and a bookmark with the picture on.
In the area we stayed there wasn;t much nightlife, just a few restaurants/bars. So its not for those who want to drink all the time. But is for those who want to experience a gorgeous island!!
Definately worth a visit!!
Magnetic Island, or Maggie Island as you will soon call it, is supposed to recieve the most sunshine per year out of everywhere in Australia, how unfortunate that during our three day stay, two of them were cloudy! Typical.
Despite this Maggy island was one of our highlights of the east coast. It is so cheap that you are stupid not to do it really. It cost us about 50pound and for that we got return ferrys, 2nights accomadation, breakfast and free internet. We were paying about this for a normal dorm on land so to get it here was very good value.
We stayed at the YHA, called a Koala resort, and being a YHA was obviosly going to be a good standard of accomadation. The staff were very friendly and helpful and the beds were in a wooden hut which was novel and comfortable. There was a large communal kiktchen, big enough for about 12-14people to cook, usually they only hold about 5-6.
There are so many activities to do on the island, lots of bush walks, chilling on the beach, we took a sea kayak out for the afternoon and managed to kayak out to a very tiny remote bay where we stayed for the afternoon and were the only people on it...very romantic! There are other water sports to do too, and other accomadations to stay at, such as base.
Despite it not being sunny it was very warm still, we could still sit in our swimwear on the beach, so if your goiung in the summer i would imagin it to be incredibly hot, so take plenty of suncream.
There was one downside, when we wanted to eat on the beach, or on grassy areas, there was a type of multi-coloured bird that was intent on attacting us! was sort of like the film 'the birds' apart from this though, the island was fantastic.
Magnetic Island is one of Australia's many National Parks and was named by Captain Cook who found that his compass went haywire when he sailed close to its shores. The island lies in the South Pacific just 8 kilometres from the Australian city of Townsville on the coast. In a country that has done a good job at attracting the hoards to its island retreats, Magnetic Island remains a wonderful exception. Its proximity to the mainland and its laidback attitude make for one long picture postcard break away from it all. Getting to 'Maggie' is easy. There are at least a dozen Sunferries services from the Flinders Street East Terminal in Townsville's city centre. The journey only takes 30 minutes and the ferries are comfortable, timely and provide as much free tea and coffee as you can drink. The return fare is a little pricey for the distance at $5 but for the unrivalled beauty that awaits it is worth it. The main port of entry on the island is Picnic Bay, a coral fringed harbour with warm waters and good views of Townsville and the surrounding hills in the distance. The island is currently experiencing its driest summer for 2 decades which is something considering that there are 320 days of sunshine every year. When you see the locals struggling in the midday sun you've got to wonder how temperate climate fragiles like us could survive it. But survive it we did, even if most of our bodily fluids seeped from our deluged pores for the duration of our stay. PICNIC BAY Picnic Bay is the biggest resort on the island and has a good range of accommodation. For those with bigger wallets there is a massive choise of places to stay. In fact Magnetic Island has probably retained its peaceful serenity by hiking prices to keep the backpackers at bay (sorry). At the top end the more established places seemed to be the Dunoon beachfront apartments which have been on the go since tourists first ar
rived on the island over 100 years ago. The apartments on offer have one or two bedrooms with prices starting at $110 per night (gulp!). At the other end of the scale the Travellers Backpackers Resort has air-con beds going for as little as $12 a night. We stayed in an air-con double with no less than 4 beds charged at $48 a night (hmmm $12 times 4, a bit unfair when all we needed was a double bed). There were ensuite facilities and the room was comfortably cool and spacious. The Travellers Resort has it sussed when it comes to keeping its clientele happy. There is a huge pool and shower facilities as well as a tidy garden area. The basketball court and table tennis is free and the resident crocodile Rin Tin Tin adds a little bit of nature to proceedings. Rin Tin Tin was bred in captivity and he is destined to enjoy his retirement under the watchful gaze of young travellers. Each day there is a bird feeding session on the grounds of the hostel that attracts the most colourful parrots imaginable. The Travellers Resort was once a motel and it retains the dreary colours but the 3 bars (the Shed is the liveliest on the island at the weekend), budget meals (at $8), immaculately kept pool tables and good laundry facilities help overlook this fact. HORSESHOE BAY So called because of its shape, Horseshoe Bay is located on the north of the island a mere 9 km by road from Picnic Bay. Although the authorities frown upon motors in the bay some jet skiing does take place. Thankfully paddle boats are much more common. During the summer when jellyfish are a risk there is a huge safety net set up that allows you to swim without the threat of painful death. Be warned, however, that smaller jellyfish (the Kurandi for instance) can still make it through the nets. If you're healthy they'll only have you landed in hospital overnight. We didn't go swimming! T
he beach itself is quite narrow but there is a wonderful landscaped garden corridor that provides Palm tree shading just beyond it. The Esplanade a little further back has plenty of restaurants including the Marlin Bistro with some great views of the bay. Cotters On The Beach and Gourmet Fillings are also popular if a little pricey. There is a good value supermarket on the main drag. The best value backpacker accommodation on the island is located here. Maggie's Beach House is a huge complex with pool that also offers a limited free ferry service to the bay. Horseshoe Bay is close to the Koala Sanctuary and several good walks lined with Eucalyptus trees. The Radical Bay walking tour begins just off the Esplanade at Henry Lawson street and extends to a deserted beach and Radical Bay itself which has some amazing views. ARCADIA (aka Geoffrey Bay) Home to one of the islands biggest backpackers resorts Arkies, Arcadia is a nice alternative to Picnic bays fine tuned commercialism. The Arkies complex has internet facilities, pokies (gambling machines), a well landscaped pool and best of all toad racing every Wednesday night. There are some diving schools in the area and the restaurants and bars are moderately priced. Arcadia is where the islands only car ferry docks which means that at certain times of the day the serenity is broken. At low tide the main beach is a little haggard looking but the surrounding forested hills are beautiful. Alma Bay is across the road from Arkies and despite its small size is probably the best beach on the island for swimming. The absence of stinger nets is a big deterrent but the sloping grassy hill down to the shore makes for a pleasant days lazying about. All the buses going north and south on the island stop opposite this lovely turquoise bay. NELLY BAY Due to the major redevelopment of this area, including the construction of a new
harbour no less, Nelly bay is not much to look at. It has a few facilities however that might make a stop worthwhile. The Nelly Bay supermarket is the biggest on the island and provides a nice alternative to the grossly overpriced version in the Picnic Bay mall. Also worth a couple of hours of your time is the mini golf course that charges just $6 a day. Besides the golf, there are table tennis tables, island bowling and free use of the barbecue facilities. TRANSPORTATION It's funny how travelling the world opens your eyes to the wide array of transport that goes beyond conventional vehicles. Thailand has its Tuk Tuk's, Cambodia its converted motorbikes and Laos its unmistakable mobile lawn mowers (seriously). Well to these add Magnetic Islands' Mokes to the list. Mokes most resemble elaborate golfing carts or upmarket dune buggy's. They come with a removable plastic roof and look easy to drive. You can rent them from several agents throughout the island but a drivers license is a requisite. The Topless (!) motor company rent out a similar vehicule except that this motor has no roof (geddit!). These mini cars are really dinky, so much so that if you were hit by one you'd worry about the passengers rather than yourself. Scooters are very popular on the island too, some of the hilly stretches are a challenge but it sure beats cycling. The big drawback in renting the scooters is that you need a drivers license. The most popular way to traverse the island is by the Magnetic Bus Service. This service is extremely efficiently run when you consider that many of its drivers are semi-insane. These characters often play the stand up comedian perfectly, offering great insights into the islands diversity and one or two of them have unfeasibly large beards. An unlimited day pass that covers the whole island costs a reasonable $11 ($13 for 2 days). There are plenty of tours ava
ilable on the island from the agencies in the main resorts. The more popular include the good value for money ($25) jet skiing that circumnavigates the island. There are also Kayaks available for rental or you can join up with a group where there are chances to see Dolphins and Turtles. The Harley Tours are also very popular. Here the tour guide takes you around the island while you look all cool on the back of the famous bike. No sweaty leather jackets or huge beards required. Bluey's Bush and Beach Rides offer horse rides in the blue waters of Horseshoe Bay and along the many man made tracks. Quite how the animal would react to a stinger is hard to contemplate. Magnetic Island is an expensive place to visit but it just oozes charm and authenticity. Its population of 2,000 understand its reliance on tourism (although many take the ferry to Townsville for work each day) and are pros at making every visitor feel at home. For budget travellers 2 days is more than enough to see the main highlights before carrying up and down the coast to meet the party crew at Airlie Beach or Cairns. By then you be as relaxed as a dozing Koala with a stomach full of leaves.
Magnetic Island has 23 (many secluded) pristine beaches, from which you can swim & snorkel all year around in crystal clear waters with beautiful corals and tropical fish. It also has some nice restaurants ..and...for the young (and young at heart.. like me) it caters for a wide variety of activities, such as yachting, sailing & fishing tours, bush walking, mini golf, catamaran sailing from the beach, horse riding, sea kayaking, jet skiing, scuba diving, bowling, golfing on a 9 hole course....(my husband tried this) ....and to top it all you can hire one of their Mini Mokes (doorless cars) or TopLess Hire Cars to experience it all in a very unique and relaxed Tropical Island way; Magnetic Island, 11 km at its widest with a coastline of 40 km, is only 8 km by ferry from Townsville. The scenery here is fantastic, the climate terrific, the lifestyle is crime free and the environment very clean and healthy. It also has private and public doctors and a regional clinic (hopefully you wont need them but good to know) a supermarket Food is really cheap in Australlia as a whole with such variety that you won't go hungry! So if you are doing a tour of Australia be sure and make it to Magnetic Island.You wont be sorry!
Magnetic Island is a tropical island off the East Coast of Australia. It can be reached by ferry from Townsville and is perfect for just relaxing and working on that tan! The island is fairly large but most of the accommodation will collect you from the ferry. It is highly recommended that you book ahead because rooms fill up quickly. If you want to explore the island a bit then it is best if you hire a 'Moke'. A little self-drive jeep (you must have a full recognised driving licence - A British driving licence is fine) that will take you and 3 friends off to explore the beeches. They are fairly cheap to hire (the longer you have them for the cheaper they work out per day), but if you are under 21 you will struggle to find a hire company that will touch you; and if you are between 21-25 you will have to pay an additional insurance premium, which significantly pushes up the price! There are buses that will take you around the island but these can be pretty infrequent. You may be able to arrange transport with your hostel but that is likely to be limited to catching their ferry buses and being dropped off somewhere on route with you walking back. Another thing to bear in mind is that the really nice secluded white sand beaches are not accessible to vehicles because of park restrictions. So you will find that you will need to do a fair bit of walking. If you struggle with walking, or are not as fit as you would like, take some advice from your accommodation reception about which routes to take, as some of the pathways involved some very steep steps. There are some amazing beaches on the island and the sea is really clean so you are fine for swimming. It is however very shallow close to the beach. Great for children, but not so great if you want to snorkel. If you want to see wild Koala then the fort walk is a must. The best time to see them is late afternoon and if you keep your eyes open you will see pl
enty of them. There are also some pretty impressive views of the coastline from the top. Be warned though the walk will take about an hour to get to the top and while the path is pretty good it is a bit of a climb. The nightlife on the island isn't great. You need to make sure that you eat early in the evenings as most places tended to stop serving around 9pm. Most of the accommodation has its own bars and cafes so you probably won't need to venture far, and you won't be missing much by not! Magnetic Island is great for recharging the batteries, perfect for chilling out before travelling on to explore the rest of Australia!
Magnetic Island, just offshore from the city of Townsville, Queensland, Australia in Cleveland Bay is a 52 km² mountainous island which has effectively become a suburb of Townsville having well over 2000 permanent residents. It is accessible from Townsville by ferry. Ferries arrive at Nelly Bay. There is a large 27 km² national park and bird sanctuary and excellent walking tracks can be taken between the populated bays and to a number of tourist destinations such as the World War II Forts.