Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island, or ‘Maggie’ as it is affectionately known by locals, is one of the many islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef. It boasts many beautiful but quiet beaches and is an undisturbed home to lots of wildlife. It lies 8km offshore from Townsville and is a magical escape from the mainland, accessible on a 20 minute ferry ride. We thought it would make a fantastic spot to take a day off from the days of driving on our roadtrip. Car and passenger ferries operate between Townsville and Magnetic Island and should be booked ahead of travel, to ensure you can get on. The ferries arrive into Nelly Bay, which is the most developed area on the island, with a marina, supermarket and several shops.

Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island

There are four main areas on the island. These are Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Arcadia and Horseshoe Bay. Picnic Bay was the first area settled by white people. It has a few shops and a fabulous beach, which looks back towards Townsville, with stunningly clear water and a swimming area. Arcadia seems to have a lot of residential property, as well as some shops and access to Alma bay and Geoffrey bay, where it is possible to feed rock wallabies. You can buy food in the Post Office. Horseshoe Bay is at the Northern end of the island. It is the widest bay, has a protected swimming enclosure and several bars and cafes line the beachfront. We also drove out to West Point, which requires a 4WD on the unsealed road and takes about 20 minutes in each direction. The beach is rewarding (and will probably be empty) but there are no facilities of any kind, so have a wee before you go!

Camping on Magnetic Island

We stayed at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, which is just a few minutes walk from Horseshoe Bay. It has an onsite koala sanctuary and offers wildlife tours, champagne bush breakfasts and a range of accommodation options varying from dormitory beds to private bungalows with ensuite facilities. We stayed in one of their bungalows and enjoyed evening visits from kookaburras, geckos and some naughty possums, while we had our dinner on our private verandah. We really enjoyed the tranquillity of the site.

Greedy Possum


Snorkelling, sailing, fishing and horse-riding are all available on the island. The island dive centre runs trips to the SS Yongala shipwreck and the outer barrier reef. Walking is very popular and walking tracks cris-cross the island. The island was used as a protective fort during the second world war and there is a walk to the ruins of the forts open to the public. Car-hire is available too and mini mokes are a popular choice for exploring the island at your leisure. Having your own car is not essential though as there is a regular island bus service.

We thoroughly enjoyed our two nights of island life on our way North through Queensland. It was lovely to be surrounded by nature and broke up the journey wonderfully, without adding significantly to our journey time.

This post was made possible with the assistance of Bungalow Bay Koala Village. As always, all opinions are my own.


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