6 things to do on Magnetic Island (with or without kids)
It’s no coincidence that Magnetic Island pulls you to its shores – it’s scientific.
Captain Cook was the first to point out the island may have its own magnetic force when his compass went haywire eight kilometres off Townsville’s coast. Sure, his theory was disproved… but the name stuck and we think it still rings true.
After a visit to Maggie, it’s easy to see why James Cook was so eager to ditch his faulty compass, anchor up and come ashore to kick back on palm-fringed beaches and rub his eighteenth-century shoulder pads with the largest wild koala population in northern Australia.
If you are looking to maroon yourself on Maggie, we suggest you tick off these six must-dos.
1. GO TOPLESS
Sure, you can take your regular car across to Magnetic Island but why would you bother when there are Topless Hire Cars for the touring! What these vibrantly coloured Daihatsu lack in street cred, they certainly make up for in the fun department as you explore the 52 square kilometres of the island.
We suggest you bring your own music and pump the jitterbug as you cruise around like Dion and Cher from Clueless.
2. HIKE TOWARDS MILITARY HISTORY
It’s worth every step in the Forts Walk to the top of Magnetic Island to check out the panoramic views over the island and back to the mainland. It’s no surprise that the forts were set up here in WWII as a military base for Australia – the view is uninterrupted and stunning. It takes about 40 minutes to walk up to the two fully intact military forts – but put aside a whole morning to enjoy the interpretive centre at the second fort.
Pack lots of water (it’s hot in Townsville, even in winter) and keep your eyes peeled as you make your way through the eucalyptus forests. This is koala territory and scientists predict there are over 800 of them on the island. The forts walk just happens to be one of the best spots to see a koala snoozing in a tree.
3. CUDDLE A CREATURE GREAT OR SMALL
Find yourself something to cuddle at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village, Maggie’s own animal sanctuary. From the soft and furry to the leathery and slimy, Bungalow Bay will let you get close and personal with just about every creature in their habitat.
If you’ve never held a crocodile, snuggled into the soft fur of a wombat or performed mouth-to-mouth to a black cockatoo – prep the pen and postcard – Bungalow Bay Koala Village is something to write home about.
4. SAIL AWAY, SAIL AWAY, SAIL AWAY
If the words ‘boom’, ‘jib’ and ‘tack’ ring no bells, perhaps it’s time to plan your Magnetic Island adventure to join the fleet of yachts that spend one week in September during Magnetic Island Race Week.
Don’t have a few million to splurge on a yacht of your own? Pop down to the marina and offer your deckhand services – in no time you’ll be out on the high seas, running from side to side of a yacht as you tack the course.
Trust me, after a day on the water you won’t be confusing your starboard with starburst anymore.
5. HAVE A WILD ANIMAL ENCOUNTER WITH THE ROCK WALLABIES
Every evening as the sun sets, the native rock wallabies of Magnetic Island come out to play on the granite boulders overlooking Horseshoe Bay. You can hand-feed these little guys by picking up food at the local shop or packing your own crunchy vegetable treats.
Tip: These little guys go nuts for capsicum. Although they are as cute as a button, beware, it’s still a wild experience so it’s best to keep your distance as they munch away.
6. EAT, REST, WALK, REPEAT
Maggie is certainly where the polar opposites of ‘relaxation’ and ‘exercise’ attract. If you’re up for it, eat all night and walk it off all day – with over 70% of the island National Park to explore.
From Peppers Blue on Blue at Nelly Bay, you can tick off the eating and the resting in style. Sitting right on the water’s edge, you’re also in the perfect position to explore the 23 bays dotted around this triangle-shaped island by day.
Of course, if you find your love affair with Maggie is more than just a weekend fling – you’ll be happy to know Maggie is one of the only Great Barrier Reef islands with a postcode. If you have some spare coin lying around, secure yourself a piece of freehold Magnetic title.
Ready to go? Start planning your Magnetic Island escape now.
This post was originally published in 2015 and was updated on 21 March 2018.