Five weeks into a ten week stint in Australia, and I have finally found somewhere that I can honestly say I really like – Magnetic Island. Thank goodness for that, because I was beginning to think that Australia did not have anything to offer me!
Magnetic Island is just a short 20 minute ferry ride from the mainland town of Townsville (now isn’t that an original and well thought up name? I wonder how long it took them to think of that?). Anyway, back to ‘Maggie’ as it is commonly known by locals. From the moment we arrived at the YHA near Horseshoe Bay, I was relaxed and content. Set in beautiful bush grounds with wildlife galore we stayed in a wooden A-frame bungalow backing onto woodland whilst balcony faced an open green area reserved for campers. It was just bliss.
Our bungalow at the YHA on Magnetic Island The grounds of Bungalow Bay YHA, Magnetic Island, Australia Koala signpost in the grounds of Bungalow Bay YHA, Magnetic Island, Australia The grounds of Bungalow Bay YHA, Magnetic Island, Australia
Trees, bushes, plants and shrubs helped to attract a plethora of wildlife from butterflies to wallabies, curlews to possums. Not to mention the screeching birds of all varieties making a racket all day and night. It sounded like we were sleeping in the middle of a zoo at night. Somehow I didn’t find the noise of the wildlife a problem at night and slept peacefully – I would much rather listen to a ‘natural’ racket rather than a thumping disco or bar with lots of rowdy drunk people (as had been the case in the last three places we had stayed unfortunately).
The wonderful array of wildlife didn’t stop at our accommodation either. Every day we went out walking along well-sign-posted trails through bush land, up and down rocks, and along beaches. One bush trail in particular had been documented as passing through the World’s largest free-roaming population of koala bears, and as we had not yet seen one of these shy creatures since arriving in Australia we just had to go on that walk to undertake our very own ‘Koala Watch’! We considered ourselves extremely lucky to spot two wild koalas on our walk, both up high in different trees, and both asleep (naturally). Apparently koalas sleep for 20 hours per day. My kind of animal! Trying not to wake one of them, we climbed up some rocks and through the trees to try to get a better view and an unobstructed photo!
When we weren’t out walking, we were taking advantage of the sunny weather by chilling out on the quiet beaches. A couple of times we found we even had a whole beach to ourselves! This was a welcome change from the busy backpacker route on the mainland. Mark did some more snorkelling whilst I splashed around in the water cooling off from the hot sun. When I asked if he had seen much he told me about a ‘fish’ he had seen that was the size of his arm. It later transpired (after speaking to some other snorkelers) that this had been a baby shark! Species unknown, but we knew it wasn’t one of the friendly black-tipped reef ones that we had swam alongside in Thailand.
Four days and nights was plenty of time to see the island and to enjoy the back-to-nature approach of our stay. I could easily had stayed longer, but our trip northwards up the East Coast was fast approaching its conclusion and we still had two more places that we wanted to visit before catching our flight from Cairns back down to Tasmania. And so with that, we checked out, caught the local bus to the ferry terminal on the other side of the island and took the ferry back to Townsville, where we boarded a long-distance bus bound for Mission Beach…