Magnificent, Memorable Magnetic Island

Alma Bay just one of the many picture-perfect beaches around Magnetic Island


This Island is dominated by boulders and when Captain Cook sailed by here in 1770 the compass on board fluxuated and it was thought, at the time, that some magnetic force in these rocks and boulders had affected it. So Cook named the island Magnetic. This is not the case, but the name remains…

Leaving Townsville on the ferry

Magnetic Island is only a 20 minute ride from Townsville on the Quick Cat ferry that takes you from city, well big town living, to the peace and tranquility of Island life. Adult daily return fare is $32, but a senior concession rate gets me there for the bargain price of $16, and an all day bus pass is $3.50. I was very pleased to be on the bus when it took me across the Island to the furthest bay, Horseshoe Bay. The road is narrow, steep and very windy. I planned to work my way back to the ferry getting on and off the bus exploring each bay.

Horseshoe Bay, childrens play-ground

Backpackers? They love it here

All types of water sports available

Horseshoe Bay is the most popular place as all the water sports, cafes, bars and restaurants are here. You can be very active or just relax. I loved people watching and wandering along the Esplanade. I was so busy looking along the beach I forgot to take any street scene photos of the cafes etc. I will have to go back in the name of research!!!! After recharging with a muffin and iced coffee I hopped aboard the bus and went 10 minutes along to Arcadia Bay…

Alma Bay just one of the many picture-perfect beaches around Magnetic Island

Geoffrey Bay a Marine National Park

These two Bays had a different atmosphere to Horseshoe Bay, very few people here. One family group enjoying a picnic. It was more of a park area with BBQ and picnic tables, a life-saving club, children’s play area and, across the road, the Arcadia Tavern. This place would come alive on Wednesday evening when the famous cane-toad racing is held. (20 years ago we stayed on the island for a few days at the backpackers hostel and witnessed these races. You can buy a toad, auctioned to the highest bidder, then the toad that wins gets a kiss from its cringing owner…) At 2pm on a Friday it was one more sleepy little Bay.I walked along past Geoffrey Bay, a Marine National Park area, and noticed a house with “open, Fine Art” so wandered in for a look. Peter Lawson  ( click on this link you will see some of his beautiful work)had lived and been painting on the Island for over 20 years and his oils captured the atmosphere and magic of the Island and also the outback. In particular was a large painting of the Mitchell grass plains that we had just crossed, with two horse drawn wagons of wool bales. Click on the link to see this painting…

I waited again for the bus. This time I was going to the other end of the island, past Nelly Bay where the ferry comes in, onto Picnic Bay. This time it was up and round all that twisty road again. Thank you Mr Bus-driver…

I planned a walk up to Hawkings Point for the view across to Townsville and along the beaches of Magnetic Island, classed as easy and short, 600 metres. Well maybe 20 years ago I would put it in that category but today on a hot, 29 degree, afternoon those steps just seemed never-ending…

The steps, up and up

Near the top the track winds around big boulders

No-one else was on the track as I went up and, of course, what goes up has to come down again. I must admit I was thinking thoughts of mad dogs and English men (women), but the view was impressive and worth every sweaty moment of the walk.

Looking along the coast to Horseshoe bay

This is looking back across the bay to Townsville…

When I finally reached the road again the bus was not due for 45 minutes. The ferry I planned to catch left at 4-30pm, it was now 3-30pm. OK, only 4 kilometres to Nelly Bay and the ferry, no problem, I will walk along the coast line. First it went through a shady littoral forest area that led to more steps…

It was a scenic walk and I reached the ferry just 5 minutes after the bus pulled in and 10 minutes before the ferry left for the return journey to Townsville. The incoming ferry was packed, today is the start of school holidays, The families poured off with cases, kids and patience in tow. Perfect weather, an average 320 days of sunshine per year, ideal family destination with all levels of accommodation from hostels to 5 star hotels, lots to do, or just relax.

It was 20 years since we visited and though there is definitely growth here, especially in the apartments and hotel area, it seems to be clustered around Nelly Bay and the ferry terminal area. Thankfully most of the bays and scenic areas remain unspoilt. They seem to have reached a happy medium.

Apartment living at it’s best



Categories: Australia, Magnetic Island, photos, Townsville, travel | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Magnificent, Memorable Magnetic Island

  1. Absolutely beautiful!


  2. What a great advertisement for Magnetic Island – you´ve sold it to me!

    It´s good that after a 20 year gap you have returned to find growth, but yet they haven´t spoiled the island. Sadly, that´s not always the case as we found when we visited Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, earlier this year. The island has been ruined.

    Great photos and lovely words – well done!


    • G’day Marianne, thanks for lovely comment. Sorry to hear about Ko Phi Phi. we loved Thailand but haven’t been for about 15 years


  3. Wow – absolutely fantastic! We stayed at Jupiters a few weeks back and could see out to Magnetic Island. What an idealic place it is 🙂


    • I was pleasantly surprised to find it still with unspoilt island charm away from the development around the ferry. I was only there for a few hours so would need more time to make an in-depth assessment. An excuse for another visit….?


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