Magnetic Island is about 8km off the coast of Townsville. Over half of the 52 km² island is national park and it has one of the largest concentrations of wild koalas in Australia. That fact had me sold on visiting ‘Maggie’.
How we got there
Magnetic Island can be reached by ferry. There is a passenger ferry run by Sealink and a car ferry operated by Fantasea. We used Fantasea so we could take the camper van with us. This cost $193 for a return ticket and the journey took about 40 minutes. Both ferries come into Nelly Bay.
If you don’t have your own transport on the island, there is a bus that travels between Picnic Bay and Horseshoe Bay throughout the day. If you would rather drive yourself then you can rent either a scooter or a moke but you need to be over 21 and hold an international or Australian driving licence.
Where we slept
Accommodation of various types is plentiful around the island. However there is only one campsite offering powered sites so booking in advance is advisable.
Bungalow Bay Koala Village is located just a 5 minute walk from Horseshoe Bay. It is a YHA associated hostel with A frame bungalows backing onto a national park. In amongst the bungalows is the camp ground, made up of grassed areas and concrete slabs for parking your van on a flat surface. They have a restaurant and bar with events on each night. The bonus and major highlight is that they have their own wildlife park where you can learn about the animals and even have breakfast with koalas.
At about 4pm each day they feed the local rainbow lorikeets. More than 100 of these beautifully coloured birds swoop in for their daily dose of soggy bread which the park keepers slop into your hands. I think these photos say it all!
As well as the lorikeets we hung out with wallabies, possums, chickens, various types of cockatoos and curlews who happily wandered around the camp grounds.
What we did
There are quite a few walks through the national park so pick whichever suits your fitness level and interest. The Forts Walk (about 3 km return) was great for checking out the WWII forts and coastal views but my favourite part was spotting the wild koalas in the trees along the walk. Keep your eyes peeled as some were quite small and a few metres off the track.
Another walk worth doing, particularly if you like quiet beaches, is the Horseshoe Bay Road to Balding Bays to Radical Bay which also take you past Arthur and Florence Bays. For us, Balding and Radical Bays were our favourite. If you have time, Arcadia Bay is also worth a visit.