For our last three nights in Australia we went to an amazing little place called Magnetic Island. This was planned pretty last minute, as I originally had wanted to go to Straddie Island near Brisbane, famous for mantas and diving, but because of severe Brisbane flooding, we had to be flexible. It was sunnier the more north that we traveled, so we decided on going to Townsville. We used the same bus company (Premier buses) to travel from Airlie Beach to Townsville, and fortunately for us the bus stop was at the ferry terminal. I think the bus was from around 9 AM until 1 PM, and we arrived at a perfect time. We purchased our round trip ferry pass, with an additional bus ticket to get around on the island. We had to wait only around 20 minutes until the ferry started boarding, and it was only a 30 minute trip to get out to the island. Magnetic Island, known locally as Maggie Island, is 52 km2 in size, which over half is a national park protecting the islands wildlife. Maggie is home to the largest population of koalas in northern Australia, and was a selling point of why we wanted to visited.
We found a pretty nice hotel on Booking.com, which was located right next to the ferry terminal which was very convenient for us. It was pretty dang hot and humid, so we checked in, got settled into our room, put on our bathing suits, then tried to go get acai bowls. This is when we realized how weird the hours were on the island (and the rest of Australia). We couldn’t find anywhere that was open so we went to the grocery store and had a very strange lunch of carrots, hummus, and ice cream. Fortunately, this island had electric scooters like Bargara, but unfortunately they were harder to find, and the range was pretty small. But we found some, and decided to do some exploring. We rode our scooter to the adjacent bay, called Arcadia. It wasn’t a far scooter ride, but it was very scenic because we had to go up and down the little mountain, giving us beautiful views of Geoffrey Bay.
We decided to do a little hike, so we parked our scooter at Alma Bay, and did a little hike up to a spot called the Arcadia lookout. During the hike, we were making an effort to look up in the trees to spot wild koalas, and after only five minutes we found one, chillin up in the trees. It was so cool! The look out was also stunning, but we were definitely
dripping with sweat by the time we finished, it was so hot and humid. After the hike we looked at the beautiful Alma May, which I think is the prettiest beach on the island, and then we went to a spot nearby that is famous for its friendly rock wallabies that come out at sunset and sunrise. We forgot to bring carrots to feed them, but they are regularly fed so we found some food on a rock and were able to hand feed the wallabies which was so much fun. A tiny bit terrifying but also very cool.
That night we really struggled to find a place to eat dinner, since the hours are so weird and we weren’t hungry until around 7, which happened to be when things start to close. Then we learned that due to covid, we needed a reservation at most places, which we didn’t have. We also couldn’t find any working scooters, so we were walking around trying to find an open restaurant with very little luck. We were walking in the dark and almost stepped on a snake, so then we started using the lights from our phones. In the end, we found a Thai restaurant that was closed, but we convinced them to let us get takeaway since we were desperate for food, and they let us take some vegan chicken pad thai to go, which we ate back at our restaurant.
The next day we decided to try to find more koalas on the famous hike called the Forts. It goes through a eucalyptus forest and then ends near old forts with a nice lookout. Sadly, it was way too hot for the koalas, even though we started early, so no luck. But we decided to go to the beach on the other side of the island, which we got to on the boat. We headed to Horseshoe Bay where hung out, got some (kind of bad) acai bowls, and laid in the shade until around 1 PM when we signed up for a tour of Bungalow Bay Koala Village. It was an amazing tour led by a biologist who taught us about a bunch of cool Australian animals, like koalas, echidnas, crocodiles, lizards, birds, snakes, and even a wombat! Our guide was super passionate and knowledgeable, highly recommend a visit here. For sunset we headed to our hotel pool where we chilled and relaxed for the rest of the day.
On our last day on Maggie, we took the bus to the last bay on the island that we hadn’t visited, called Picnic Bay. There was a netted swimming area there to protect us from jellyfish, so we could tan and swim and we had a lovely relaxing morning on this beautiful beach. We also did a hike to a lookout point, that ended up being longer than we anticipated, and it was super hot the whole time, but it was still lovely. We had a great stay on Maggie, and an overall incredible trip to Australia. We flew from Townsville to Brisbane where we stayed overnight. Fortunately, Saudi changed their entry rules so we didn’t need a covid test. We did find out the there is a free shuttle from the airport to DFO (not sure what that stands for, factory outlet?) This is the cheapest and best outlet mall I have ever been to, it literally sealed the deal and made me want to move to Australia. So if you ever fly through Brisbane, make sure to go and check out the mall, I got a ton of nice clothes for so cheap.