Magnetic Island is a 52 square kilometre mountainous island in the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Its name came from the magnetic effect it had on the compass of Captain Cook's ship as he sailed by in 1770. Many have explored the island to verify the magnetic field, but with no results.
The island is close enough to the mainland to be considered a suburb of Townsville. It has around 2000 permanent residents who commute by 20-minute ferry ride. It is an established holiday destination with hotels and resorts providing all levels of accommodation. An enormous attraction is its 27 square kilometre national park and bird sanctuary and walking tracks between bays, tourist destinations and WWII forts.
Magnetic Island is a haven for wildlife. The national park is mostly on the steep hilly interior and rugged north-western side. The piercing cry of the bush stone curlew can be heard at night and koalas are easily found on the Forts Walk.
Go Electric has introduced state-of-the-art electric transport vehicles for exploring the island. Part of the range are eZee bikes, built from the ground up to flatten hills but keep the cyclist at the centre of the vehicle's motion. They are simple to operate and can travel at around 25 to 30km/h on flat ground without pedalling. Turn on the battery, hop on and away you go. Turning the throttle adds as much power as you want. Stop pedalling or apply the brakes to automatically cut the motor. They can also be ridden as a normal bike.
eZee bikes can be dropped off at your accommodation or day-trippers can be met with the bike at the ferry, charged up and ready to go.
Take a ride to Barefoot Art Food and Wine, overlooking Horseshoe Bay. They'll cater for events held at any of the island's beaches or remote locations. Barefoot Gallery showcases the works of local talent. Wander through and enjoy the paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewellery, silk work and mosaics.
The owners host some fun evening events wine tastings, tango classes, yoga, aromatherapy and guided meditation and on the first Saturday of every month, free art classes for children.
Bungalow Bay Koala Village YHA has a koala sanctuary on-site, something you won't find anywhere else in the world. It also provides the rare chance to learn about the wildlife and bush from three locals, including one from the indigenous Wulgurukaba people.
Start the day with a campfire champagne brunch, including sausages, bacon, fresh fish and damper with native bush chutney. Each day there is lorikeet feeding at 4.30pm with a ranger. You can hold a saltwater crocodile, wrap a python around your neck and have your picture taken with a koala. Then take a guided bushwalk to explore the island's forests, mangroves, coastal dunes and wetlands.
There is a pool at the village, complete with hammocks, open-air deck, Swensons Restaurant and night activities including fire twirling, coconut bowling and limbo.
Cleveland Bay, 20 minutes from Townsville.
Go Electric bike hire is $25 a day. Helmet, lock and insurance are included.
Bungalow Bay Koala Village tours run three times every day. They cost $19 for adults and $10 for children.
Virgin Blue has flights to Townsville.
One-way fare from;
- Brisbane, $129
- Sydney, $149
- Melbourne, $209
- Adelaide, $280
- Perth, $310
- Darwin, $315
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are Internet only and one-way. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at February 8, 2007, and are subject to change.
Go Electric Bikes
Magnetic Island 4819
Ph: 0427 44 33 22
Fax: (07) 4778 5586
Barefoot Art Food Wine
5 Pacific Drive
Horseshoe Bay 4819
Ph: 07 4758 1170
Bungalow Bay YHA
40 Horseshoe Bay Road
Magnetic Island 4819
Ph: 07 4778 5577
Fax: 07 4778 5781
Ph: 13 6789