Hello from sunny Magnetic Island! An irresistible flight sale and an easily persuaded travel buddy made the decision to book this trip effortless. Gresa, my roommate in Brisbane and friend from Ottawa, joined me on Magnetic Island for 4 days.
Our flight was 2 hrs from Brisbane to the city of Townsville. Townsville is located on the northeastern coast of Queensland, Australia. Queensland is the second largest state in Australia, with Brisbane being its capital. Townsville is in the dry tropics region of Queensland, adjacent to the central section of the famous Great Barrier Reef. As a result, the weather was very hot and we were exposed to different animals than those we were accustomed to in Brisbane.
Our first day was spent in Townsville. We woke up at 6 am, planning to beat the heat common for the area and hike up Castle Hill. Boy were we wrong. With the sun shining bright even in the early morning, our 2 hour hike up the hill was difficult but the gorgeous views of surrounding blue waters and the city below made it all worthwhile. We spent our afternoon at the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium and even visited the local turtle hospital. In the evening we walked along the waterfront and met up with a friend of Gresa’s from Kingston, Ontario who is now living and working in Townsville. It was then off to Magnetic Island for the next two days.
Magnetic Island is located a short 30 minute ferry ride from Townsville. With a population of only 2,500 people, this island is a popular vacation destination for travellers from around the world. Magnetic Island’s relaxed tropical lifestyle, quiet beaches, and abundant wildlife made it the perfect place for us to relax and explore.
Our first day on “Maggie” island as many call it, was spent driving around. We rented a mini red moke car, better known as the “Barbie Cars” by the locals. Rightly named, these topless convertibles are miniature sized and so much fun to drive. Both Gresa and I quickly adjusted to driving on the left side of the road and enjoyed navigating the windy roads with beautiful ocean views. Sticking our hands out the top of the car while singing out favourite songs was fun too !! The island was small in size, making it easy to drive to the different beaches and lookout points. With a total of 23 beaches on the island, we were never bored by the views. Our favourites were Alma Bay, Horseshoe Bay, and Picnic Bay.
Horseshoe Bay became one of our favourite spots on the island, mainly due to it being the farthest in distance from our hostel and therefore more time driving around in our cool car. We enjoyed yummy fresh fish and burgers by the water here and a sunset along the beach. Alma Bay was also a favourite spot of ours. Here we went swimming in the crystal clear blue waters. One downfall of the beautiful warm water was the increasing prevalence of dangerous animals such as the Box and Irukandji jellyfish. Box jellyfish can administer a sting that can inflict searing pain and leave prominent scars and if severe enough, can also be fatal. Irukandji jellyfish are much smaller than box jellyfish measuring only 2cm in diameter. These tiny creatures are the most venomous jellyfish in the world—and the most venomous creature on Earth! As a result beaches are closed during the warm months of November to April with stinger net enclosures available on some popular beaches, allowing locals to cool off in the water while keeping the jellyfish out of the swimming area. Townsville has a longer stinger season than beaches in the south (such as Brisbane) due to the warmer water and greater prevalence of mangrove swamps. We were extremely lucky to not see any jellyfish during our short swim in the water.
On the opposite end, Magnetic Island is also home to some adorable animals like the koala. Thanks to a tip from some friendly locals, we were able to spot some wild koalas well hidden and nestled in some trees away from the roads. These furry koalas were perched in shady gum trees and didn’t seem to be bothered by having us there. We spotted two koalas sitting low in the trees, making for a ‘koality’ photo opportunity (see what I did there). We loved the koalas so much that we returned to visit them on our second day on the island. Lucky for us, they were still in the same trees the following day when we returned to see them.
The remainder of our second day on the island was spent driving around in our beloved car and relaxing at our beachside hostel. Our hostel felt more like a resort, surrounded by palm trees and beautiful blue water. They even had hammocks for us to relax in. Before we knew it, it was time to take the 30 minute ferry ride back to Townsville and catch our flight back to Brisbane. Despite a three hour delay at the airport, we managed to keep enjoying our mini vacation, having fun in an almost empty airport. What a great way to spend a long weekend! I am happy to have visited yet another beautiful destination in Australia.
I’ve attached the link for video highlights of our trip. Enjoy!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3bgYl96N9I