Located just a stone’s throw from Townsville, we spent two glorious days on Magnetic Island. A relatively short 25-minute ferry ride takes you from the small hipster town to a true dream island, filled with hidden coves and a relaxed holiday feeling.
Here are the highlights from our two glorious days on Magnetic Island, and how you can make the most out of your holiday!
Life is Better at the Beach
Who doesn’t know that feeling? As soon as you arrive at the ocean, you feel as if a heavy coat, which lies invisibly on your shoulders, is removed. At least that is how I always feel when I’m at the sea. A lightness comes over me, and within a few minutes, I feel relaxed and balanced. Our ferry to the island departs early in the morning. Due to COVID restrictions, we are not allowed to leave our campervan Putu but still have beautiful views.
As soon as we arrive on the island, we turn to the left, instead of to the right like every other car. We are not in a big hurry to get to our campsite and want to have breakfast somewhere near the ocean. At Nelly Bay, near the ferry terminal, we find what we are looking for. A small residential street that runs parallel to the ocean. We make ourselves comfortable with a cup of coffee and muesli. It doesn’t take long before a local, who is out walking her dog, stops and has a nice little chat with us. That’s how they are, the Aussies. Super friendly and outgoing. After she leaves, we continue to enjoy our view of the sea, finish our coffee, and decide to drive towards Arcadia.
A short drive away is Arcadia, which not only offers beautiful views of Geoffrey Bay, but you can also see Rock Wallabies in the wild. We walk between the rocks and are intoxicated by the sea views here. And here we already see our first Rock Wallaby! And then the next one!
They are partly shy but partly very curious.
It seems as though many tourists feed them here. This is why a sign has been erected that states if you can’t stop feeding the animals, you should at least feed them the right food. We read about what harms them and what does not and don’t want to feed them. Marveling at these cute animals, a couple arrives and begins feeding them.
We start chatting, and they tell us that Wallaby pellets are sold in their accommodation. Yes, Wallaby pellets were listed on the sign, and are harmless for the Rock Wallabies. The couple persuades me to give the Wallabies a few pellets. I am in a quandary. We are very much against feeding wild animals. They should eat what they are used to and what is good for them in their natural environment. On the other hand, I know that this bag of pellets will be fed to them one way or another. I decide to take a few and swear that it will be the first and last time.
My heart melts when a Wallaby hops straight up to me and grabs my hand. I find this little guy to be pretty brave. He begins to eat out of my hand. Feeling his little paws hold my hand is so moving that I almost start to cry.
SS City of Adelaide
After these enchanting moments with the Rock Wallabies, we go back to where we came from. Heading back to Nelly Bay, we continue past Picnic Bay and arrive at Cockle Bay. There we reached our destination: the beach that leads to the SS City of Adelaide. The fact that we had gone back and forth is not a sign of us being clueless, this time anyway, but was intentional! We wanted to wait until low tide because this is the only time that it is possible to walk out to the shipwreck. Through muddy mangroves, we head towards the SS City of Adelaide. I get stuck in the mud a few times with my flip-flops until I finally had enough and take them off.
Tip: At first, we thought it was easier to walk along the shore, but it is quicker and easier to wade through the water.
After a slow and laborious walk, we finally arrive. Unfortunately, we did not know anything about the history of the shipwreck, but it was so cool anyway!
Bungalow Bay Koala Village
It’s late afternoon and time to drive towards Horseshoe Bay in the north, where our campground is located, and check-in. We had booked a package for $223 that includes return tickets for the ferry, and one night at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village. But it is already clear to us that we will extend our stay by another night. This is possible for an extra $40.
The campsite itself is relatively spacious and offers all the usual: powered and unpowered campsites, a kitchen, toilets, and showers. At the reception, there is also a bar where you can end the day with an ice-cold beer, which we enjoy later.
Tip: Don’t fall for the advertisement “1 Corona and Tortilla Chips for $10”! It is not a Corona, but rather a Coronita, which becomes clear from the size and the label. It is a mini beer that you will finish in two sips. LOL!
What is new or unusual is that the campsites are not numbered. They give you a cone, which you put on the campsite you have chosen to reserve your spot. The deposit for the cone is $10.
Every day at 4 p.m., Lorikeets are fed here. We just arrived, parked, and sat down for a minute when we heard a loud clamor. Curious as to what was going on, we walked towards the bar and could hardly believe our eyes.
Lonely bays and sweet Koalas
After a restful night, today is supposed to be all about lonely bays and sweet Koalas. There are so many beautiful bays on Magnetic Island. Many are accessible by car, others only by boat, 4×4, or on foot. Our first stop is Horseshoe Bay, which is only a few minutes away from our campsite. Horseshoe Bay is the largest beach on the island and offers all types of water sports, such as jet skiing. We have breakfast at the beach before heading south again.
We would like to do “The Forts Walk”, which is touted as one of the best hikes on the island. One reason for this is that you can see koalas on this one-and-a-half-hour return walk. For us, the koalas are admittedly our main reason for the hike, while the ruins of the fortress from the Second World War are secondary.
It is a very pleasant walk that has fantastic views of the offshore islands once you reach the top. And on the way back we are rewarded: we spot a sweet koala, peacefully sleeping high in the trees.
Tip: the parking lot to the Forts Walk and Radical Bay is small. It is best to arrive early in the morning or in the late afternoon to get a parking space.
Afterward, we continued to Picnic Bay where we admire the Jetty.
This is also where you are supposed to be able to find the Hawkings Point Track. We drive back and forth, but we just can’t find the way and give up after a while. That was too bad because this viewpoint supposedly offers spectacular views of the island and of Townsville. Instead, we take a look at Alma Bay, a popular bay for families, that has a surf club, picnic tables, and a playground.
Relaxed return trip to Townsville
Our two days on Magnetic Island passed way too quickly, and we realized we could have spent days or even weeks here. We start our return trip back to Townsville slowly. We stop at the parking lot at The Forts Walk and walk down to Arthur’s Bay. The path continues all the way to Radical Bay, which we don’t do. Instead, we sunbathe and lounge around Arthur’s Bay. It is moments like this that remind us how lucky we are, and that our decision to leave everything behind to explore the world and play golf was the right one!
We also take one last look at the Rock Wallabies before catching the ferry back to Townsville. We will miss Magnetic Island a lot!
Facts about Magnetic Island
How to get there
Magnetic Island is 8 kilometers from underrated Townsville and can be quickly and easily reached by Catamaran or car ferry. Bookings can be made online or by phone:
Sealinkqld.com.au or by phone at +61 747260800
magneticislandferries.com.au or call +61 47969300
If you would like to book a package for ferry tickets with Magnetic Island Ferries, which includes a car or campervan and an overnight stay at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, contact the property directly by calling +61 7 4778557.
We decided on the ferry and Bungalow Bay Koala Village package for $223, and therefore can only recommend this accommodation. Since most of the sandy bays and sights are located near it, the location is in our opinion excellent.
Magnetic Island has 300 sunny days a year. With average maximum temperatures of 29° and minimum temperatures above 20°, the island definitely offers the best holiday weather.
What to Do on Magnetic Island
Diving, snorkeling, fishing, water sports, or sunbathing in one of the many bays.
Hiking. Magnetic Island offers a total of 25 km of hiking trails, with something for every fitness level.
Golf. There is the Magnetic Island Golf Club for those who can’t go on holiday without playing golf.
Animal watching. Magnetic Island has wild koalas, rock wallabies, snakes, and numerous birds.