Just 8 kilometres offshore from Townsville, Magnetic Island – or ‘Maggie’ as the locals fondly refer to her as – is a world away from the mainland.
From the moment you step on the island life seems to slow down to island time and natural adventures await you, whether that be cuddling a koala, swimming in the turquoise waters or hiking one of the island’s trails.
While 48-hours isn’t a lot of time, it’s more than enough to get a dose of Maggie’s magic that will have you wanting to come back for more!
How to make the most of 48 Hours on Magnetic Island
How to get to Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island can be reached by Sealink Queensland‘s passenger ferry from Townsville and takes around 30 minutes. There are also private boats that can take you across at a premium price.
When to go to Magnetic Island
With hot, humid summers and warm winters, Magnetic Island hosts warm weather for much of the year and over 320 days of sunshine.
The best time to visit is between May and September where the days are warm, but evenings are cooler. The hottest time of the year is October through April where the weather can be a bit too intense for spending long days outside or in the water.
Magnetic Island Race Week is hosted at the end of August and there are plenty of New Years Eve celebrations along The Strand to usher in the New Year.
Where to stay on Magnetic Island
We chose to stay at Peppers Blue on Blue, the islands luxury accommodation. Located conveniently next to the passenger ferry terminal, many of the rooms and suites at the property overlook the surrounding ocean and hills.
The property boasts one of the Southern Hemispheres largest lagoon pools that wrap around the property, an Endota Spa on site, and the chic full-service Boardwalk Restaurant & Bar.
I felt at home at the property, and not just because of the comfort factor! Each day the staff would greet me and ask me what I saw, their concierge also helped me plan some of the activities I wanted to take part in when I headed back to Townsville. I love when staff take the time to go that extra step because it really does make all the difference!
What to do on Magnetic Island
Cuddle a Koala
Let me tell you a little secret – I melt anytime I see a koala. Magnetic Island has the highest population of koalas in the wild so if you don’t want to take the Forts Walk consider making a quick stop at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village. There are two ways to meet these cute creatures – during the Champagne Bush Tucker Breakfast or during a tour.
I took a tour, which runs three times daily, and led by the energetic Ranger Tony. It’s a fast-paced tour that will have you holding turtles, have lizards perched upon your head, getting wrapped up in a snake, hand feeding lorikeets, feeding Black Cockatoos seeds from between your lips and even cuddling a koala!
They also offer budget accommodation with a YHA Hostel on site that offers double, twin, dorm and family room options for those wanting to spend the night.
Note: You will need to buy a koala photography package during the tour to hold and have your photo taken with a koala. This money goes to support and conservation of injured and orphaned animals on the island.
Take the Forts Walk
If you’re hoping to see koalas in the wild then this is a must-do! The easy 4km walk takes your past the historic remnants of WWII fortifications before opening up to spectacular views of Palm Island and the Bowling Green Bay National Park.
This is a hike that’s best to take early in the morning before the heat sets in, and also – hopefully – before the koalas are disturbed and climb higher!
Zip-around the island in a mini moke
Having four girls and just one guy on the trip, our pink mini moke from Tropical Topless rental was by far one of the highlights of our trip. As we zipped up the hills or by bays we giggled as the wind caught in our hair or we waved as we saw another mini moke past us.While there aren’t many roads on Maggie driving, and the bus is pretty efficient, the moke made seeing the highlights of the island a lot easier especially since we had such a limited time on the island.
Never fear boys, there are blue and white ones for rent if you aren’t cool enough to be seen in the pink mokes!
Enjoy the waters surrounding the island
Surrounded by water it just makes sense to spend some time relaxing on the turquoise waters to get a new perspective of the island and enjoy the coral reefs.
There’s a range of ways to explore the water from charters to snorkeling trips or even fishing trips. Magnetic Seafaries were recommended to me by the staff at Peppers Blue on Blue as the people to speak to if I wanted to explore.
I visited during Magnetic Island Race Week and while things were hectic, if you genuinely want to go out on a boat for the day to help the crew (and I mean help the crew!) then talk to the organisers, I’m sure they’ll be able to put you to good use.
Head down to Geoffrey Bay around sunset and you’ll find dozens of rock wallabies enjoying corn and carrots. We were lucky enough to see a few baby wallabies still in their Mother’s pouches! If you want to feed them stop at the newsagents next to the Arcadia Pub and pick up a bag of wallaby feed.
If you’re taking the bus just ask the driver to stop at the Arcadia Pub; You’ll pull up near a newsagent and then walk down the dirt road opposite. Otherwise, if you’re cruising around in a moke there’s parking there.
Sunset at Horseshoe Bay
At the westernmost point of the island that can be accessed without a 4WD is Horseshoe Bay, the best place to see one of Queensland’s stunning sunsets!
We enjoyed dinner overlooking the beach at Barefoot Art Food Wine – an award-winning restaurant that incorporates a gallery of local works. If you’re feeling like something a little less formal, consider grabbing some fish ‘n chips and enjoying them on the sand.
Where to stay and what to do in Townsville
It’s great to escape to island time on Maggie but it doesn’t stop on the island. Why not spend a night in Townsville? Check out the view from Castle Hill, for great food and drink check out the new City Lane or head further afield into the Paluma Range National Park.
For more ideas be sure to read this article on what to do in Townsville!
I stayed at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in the iconic ‘sugar shaker’ building. Offering large comfortable rooms, the view from the property across the city to Magnetic Island and beyond was perfect at sunset.
Magnetic Island really is a must-see area of Australia. The natural beauty and relaxed vibe seemed to flow everywhere. I’d love to come back again and explore more of the area, and think you should too!
Let me know in the comments:
Are you planning a trip to Magnetic Island?
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My trip to Townsville and Magnetic Island was arranged by
Tourism & Events Queensland and Tourism Townsville North Queensland.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.