“ Address: Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island, North Queensland / Australia / Tel: +61 07 4778 5577 „
I have recently returned from a trip to Australia and before leaving the UK, decided to pre-book most of our accommodation. I thought I had done my research well! However during our stay at Agnes water I met another traveller who advised me to visit Magnetic Island, somewhere I had decided to miss! I took his advice and am really pleased I did! He also recommended we stay in YHA accommodation known as bungalow bay, Koala village.
I am not going to say too much about the Island as it deserves a separate review (to follow) .However it is situated 8 KM off the coast of Townsville in Queensland, Australia. The Island is 11 KM at its widest point and has 40 Km of coast plus 60 Km of road to explore. The Island has world heritage listing and is situated on the Great Barrier Reef.
The passenger ferry leaves from Townsville and is well signposted from the outskirts of the town. I hired a GPS with my car and am really glad I did as finding places such as the ferry terminal were really easy! There is secure parking available for around 15 dollars a day (if I remember rightly). However be aware that although the parking is described as secure, your car will be in an open car park that is not patrolled at night.
If you want to take your car to the Island then the ferry terminal is located in a different part of town; again just follow the signs for the car ferry! I really wouldn't advise you to take your car as there are plenty of busses and you can also hire a car on the island.
The Greyhound bus drops at the ferry terminal and it is also possible to take a train to Townsville and then get a taxi to the ferry port. We booked a package that included our return ferry tickets so I am not sure of the cost.
The ferry is a very pleasant 20 minute ride and we were lucky enough to spot dolphins on the way over! There are toilets situated in the ferry terminal building and on board.
Once you arrive in Nellie bay the local bus meets the ferry and will take you directly to bungalow bay. We paid about 4 dollars each for our single ticket.
Bungalow bay Koala village.
The reception desk is situated in a large common area. When we arrived it was very busy and we had to wait about 20 minutes before our reservation could be dealt with. We were offered plates, cups and cutlery each and have to leave a deposit. We were also given a map and information about the hostel.
Bungalow bay is the only place on Magnetic Island where you can camp. The camping area is small and pitches should be reserved to avoid disappointment.
The rest of the site consists of small A framed timber chalets. There are doubles/twins for 74 dollars per night, dorms with either 8 or 6 share for 28 dollars per night or ensuite doubles for 90 dollars per night. There are also various packages available and we opted for the so called Koala express for 130 dollars each for a 2 night stay. We then added a night and paid an extra 28 dollars each (not sure how this was calculated!)
The Koala express includes 2 nights in a double chalet, return ferry tickets, entry into the Koala sanctuary with a souvenir photo of each guest holding a Koala , a pizza or large jug of beer, ½ day snorkelling and mask hire, 2 hours Internet use and a bag each of Wallaby food.
We hired 2 chalets as there were 4 of us. Each chalet had bunk beds with fully sprung mattresses. The beds were already made up on our arrival .There was a fan and small fridge in each chalet. The chalets have insect nets to all openings and a small veranda with a couple of plastic chairs.
During our first night, my son woke up as he needed the loo. I was already awake and had been listening to an animal scratching around outside- or so I thought. On putting the light on he informed me that the animal was not outside! Looking over the covers I saw a large wide eyed possum sitting on top on the fridge trying to get into my wash bag! I'm not sure who was more surprised! Possum evicted we headed to the loo block!
The toilet block was really clean and had plenty of showers with lots of lovely hot water! There were several sinks and these had well lit mirrors.
Our chalets looked onto the green camping area and this was frequented by numerous tropical birds including parrots and Kookaburras. As the sun went down we spotted Wallabies and of course those cheeky possums!
There is a large camp kitchen complete with numerous hobs and fridges. It was really interested watching what others were cooking! There is a small outside eating area with tables and chairs. This is a favourite area of the possums and despite the notices asking you not to feed them; several people decided they knew best and did just that! The kitchen was cleaned every day but was often left in a mess by selfish people who didn't think it was their job to clean up their own mess!
The site has a decent sized swimming pool across from the bar, although we didn't actually use it. It always looked clean and well maintained.
The bar and surrounding area is of course a great place to socialise and meet other travellers. The hostel caters for all ages and there were several other families with children staying. The bar is reasonably priced (for Oz!) and serves Pizza and garlic bread if you are hungry.
There is a small Internet room next to the reception desk. We had a few hours use included in our package but you can buy credits from reception.
Best of all was the nightly entertainment! It was free and brilliant fun! One night we had a coconut skittles tournament with prizes of free jugs of beer to be won. The night ended with groups from the various countries singing their national anthems. The best rendition won! I still think the couple from Korea were the best!
Tit is also possible to book tours from reception. We decided on a jet ski tour from the nearby Horseshoe bay and although expensive it was excellent!
The Koala sanctuary.
This is a bit of a misnomer, as the Koalas have been bread in captivity and will not be released into the wild. However the adjoining park is small and has several local animals and birds to view. There are small crocodiles, spiders, snakes and birds. You need to be with a guide to tour the park and there are 3 daily shows, each lasting 2 hours. During the tour you can hold a baby crocodile, python, Lorikeet and Koala. The ranger was very informative about the local wildlife and the animals appeared well cared for.
During our stay I decided to hire a 4 wheel drive buggy from the hostel. I paid 80 dollars for this and think it was well worthy the outlay! Many of the roads are dirt tracks and the best and most secluded beaches are only accessible after a long hot walk or with a 4 wheel drive. The car also enabled us to drive to West bay to watch the most amazing and beautiful sunset I have ever seen!
If you decide not to hire a car, then you will need to rely on the busses. There is a bus stop outside the hostel that goes to most tourist spots. However the bus starts in Horseshoe bay and is often full by the time it reaches bungalow bay and won't stop! To get around this you need to catch the bus on the opposite side of the road and travel the short distance to Horseshoe bay. The bus then stops for a few minutes before continuing back past bungalow bay.
Horseshoe bay is about a 5 minute walk from the hostel and has a gorgeous long sandy beach. It is safe to swim during the Aussie winter, but there are stingers during the summer! There are various water sport opportunities from the beach as well as several eating places and a bar. There is also a small, well stocked supermarket. The prices were really expensive so I suggest you carry as much food as you can from Townsville.
Overall we really enjoyed our 3 night stay in bungalow bay and would highly recommend it! The chalets are fun and comfortable, the wildlife and scenery amazing and the atmosphere relaxed and friendly.
I now work at this great hostel on Magnetic Island off Townsville.
The hostel is in Horseshoe Bay which is the largest beach accessible on the island. In the local area there are bars, a shop, takeaways and touristy shops. Theres also the beach, water sports and horseriding.
The hostel is based in a koala sanctuary, where you can do a tour for $19. You can hold a python, koala, spider, baby crocodile, parrots and lizards. Its pretty scary holding a snake!
I love this hostel because of the location, and the staff. We are a very friendly bunch and its great fun working there.
The hostel is infact lots of little cabins set in a campground. Its a YHA so if your a member you get a discount per night. Its a really chilled out place, and if you like peace and quiet then book this over Base or Magnums.
The bar has events on weekly like band night, coconut bowling and trivia. Its a 5 minute walk to the beach or 20 minutes to the forts walk. The bus drops you off right outside, and you can get to the ferry or anywhere on the bus route from here.
I can really recommend this hostel as I am having a lot of fun on this island, and the hostel is one of the most friendly places I have been in Australia.