Accommodation in Magnetic Island 23 Accommodation
Rentals on Magnetic Islands 10 Car, Bike & Boat Hire
1 Organisations
Spa, Beauty & Health in Magnetic Islands 4 Spa, Beauty & Health
Charters in Magnetic Islands 8 Charters
Events in Magnetic Island 2 Events
Weddings in Magnetic Islands 5 Wedding Services
3 Conference Services
Art & Culture in Magnetic islands 2 Entertainment, Art & Culture
Tours & Activites in Magnetic Islands 19 Tours
Travel & Transport in Magnetic Islands 4 Travel & Transfers
Scuba Dive in Magnetic islands 3 Scuba Dive
Attractions in Magnetic Island 5 Attractions
Dining in Magnetic islands 9 Food & Wine
3 Educational

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About Magnetic Island.

About

Magnetic Island is part of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, situated just 8 kilometres off Townsville in Cleveland Bay. A playground for Townsville, Maggie Island as the locals affectionately know it is about 5184 ha in size, with just over half of the island protected as a National Park. A continental island composed mostly of granite, Magnetic Island is surrounded by 23 pristine beaches and bays, framed by rocky headlands. The Island terrain is mainly covered with open eucalypt woodlands, tall Hoop pines, native kapok found on the headlands, and pockets of rainforest found in sheltered gullies.

For residents, the stunning natural landscapes combined with all the conveniences of modern living, has created a haven in this piece of paradise. Magnetic Island is one of few islands on the Great Barrier Reef with permanent residents and a short commute to the mainland. Resident population is around 2,000 people which more than doubles during peak holiday season. There are four towns that service the island - Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Arcadia and Horseshoe Bay, where residents and visitors have access to services such as boutiques, hair salons, coffee and craft shops, supermarkets, chemist, newsagent, bakery, hardware and all other amenities you would expect to find in a local community. Magnetic Island also has the unique distinction of being a suburb of the City of Townsville. For more information on services, facilities, markets, gig guide and key events, visit whatsonmagneticisland.com.au

magnetic island

History
'Yunbenun', as Magnetic Island was known by the island's traditional inhabitants, had a semi-permanent population of Australian Aborigines well before European exploration of the area. The Wulgurukaba people, the ‘canoe people’, lived on the island and nearby mainland for thousands of years. These populations were known to have permanent camps at a number of bays, and had the ability to travel to the mainland using canoes. Folklore of the Wulguru tribe, who inhabited the island, recounts a long history of inhabitation and annual migration to the mainland to avoid the traveling tribes from Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait, who used the northern trade winds to travel south from their native lands in order to head-hunt indigenous tribes along the northern coasts of Australia. Aboriginal middens and cave drawings can still be found in a number of bays around Magnetic Island, and shell middens, stone tools and art sites are physical reminders of their strong connection with the island.

The first European accounts of the island come from Captain James Cook who, in 1770, while navigating the Australian coast, called the island Magnetical Island, as he believed that the Island possessed a magnetic force that caused interference with his compass. Over the course of time, the island has developed an interesting history. In 1875 Magnetic Island was set aside as a quarantine station, although buildings were not constructed at West Point until 1885. In 1876 the first guest house on the island was built. In 1909 farming land became available and large areas of pineapples and fruit trees were planted, resulting in a successful pinapple industry. From 1942 Townsville became a major base for the military and its harbour, Cleveland Bay, an important assembly point for shipping. Two 3,000,000 candle-powered searchlights, capable of spotting aircraft at 30,000 feet, were located at Horseshoe and Florence bays, and a radar screen was located high in the hills above Arthur Bay. Today, the ruins from WWII are protected under the Queensland Heritage Act 1992, and one of the most popular walking tracks on the island will lead you to this protected historical site.

magnetic island

Location

Magnetic Island is situated 8 kilometres (5 miles) offshore from the city of Townsville, which is approximately half way between Cairns and Mackay. Magnetic Island is only a 25 minute Sealink passenger ferry or a 45 minute Fantasea Cruising Magnetic vehicle ferry from Townsville making it an ideal destination for a weekend escape or family holiday.

magnetic island

Things to do:

Here’s a small selection of what you can do on Magnetic Island. For more ideas visit whatsonmagneticisland.com.au and download the list of  ‘Top Things To Do’.

Shipwreck trail of Magnetic Island
There are over 20 known shipwrecks around the island, which have been integrated into a shipwreck trail that circles the island. Signs around the bays tell the stories of many shipwrecks around Magnetic Island. Some of these wrecks are located in the intertidal zone suitable for snorkelling (George Rennie 1902, Hawking Point), some have created artificial islands (SS City of Adelaide, Cockle Point), and some are completely submerged but are difficult to access via beach entry for diving (Platypus 1932, Arthur Bay). The SS Moltke 1870 (Geoffrey Bay) has earned the title of most-dived wreck both due to its accessibility and interesting history.

Snorkel Trails
Magnetic Island has some of the most accessible coral reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. You can explore many of the fringing reefs from the shore. Popular areas for snorkelling include Nelly Bay, Florence Bay, Alma Bay, and Geoffrey Bay. There are also two dedicated snorkel trails that provide easy access from the beach, offering a great experience for beginners. The trails are marked by surface floats, and snorkellers can pick up a self-guided swim card (A5 size laminated) from a number of locations on the island that provide specific information about the trails. Fourteen 100kg giant clams line the ocean floor of the Geoffrey Bay and Nelly Bay self-guided snorkel trails, providing a special delight for snorkellers. The Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay Trails are both easily accessible, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. Equipment rental is readily available, and water temperature is a plesant 20°C throughout the year, making for perfect accessible snorkelling all year round.

Forts Walk
One of the most popular tracks on the island, the Forts Walk, leads to a defense base built to protect Townsville during World War II. This historical site comprises of WWII fortifications and infrastructure including two gun emplacements, an observation tower and a command post that boasts panoramic views over the island and Coral Sea. Lookouts along the way provide excellent views to the Palm Island Group in the north and Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south. This 4km (1.5hrs) return walk starts on Horseshoe Bay Road at the turn-off to Radical Bay, the track ascends, sometimes steeply, to follow a ridge behind the bays before arriving at the ruins of the Forts complex operated during World War II. Magnetic Island's WWII forts are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, and are among the best examples of such forts on Queensland's east coast. This walk is also popular for spotting Koalas in their natural environment, as Magnetic Island is home to the largest free-roaming colony in the world.

forts walk

Bungalow Bay Koala Village
Bungalow Bay Koala Village is the only resort in Australia that can boast its own boutique wildlife park on site. In-house guests, day visitors and island residents have the opportunity to learn all about the habitats and unique Aussie animals of Magnetic Island, with 3 daily wildlife presentations held at 10am, 12 noon and 2:30pm. Hold a crocodile, koala and snake, then head off on a guided bush walk in the surrounding habitats of the wetlands, pandanus and melaleuca forest. Proceeds from koala holding support all of the wildlife care on Magnetic Island, for sick, injured and orphaned native animals. You might also want to try their ‘Champagne Breakfast with the Koalas’ which is a delicious way to start your day.

Scuba Diving
Magnetic Island has a wealth of interesting dive sites, whether diving from the shore or a boat. The waters around Magnetic Island are warm (winter average 23C - summer average 28C) and relatively shallow; perfect for novices and relaxed pleasurable diving. Pleasure Divers is the only PADI center on Magnetic Island. They offer everything from guided snorkeling and diving the bays, through to becoming a PADI Dive Instructor. With local knowledge and experience they can introduce you to diving and snorkeling the beautiful surroundings of Magnetic Island. Dive Courses start every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dive sites include Alma Bay, the Moltke wreck, Florence, Arthur and Geoffrey Bays, that will keep even the most sceptic scuba diver interested for the entire length of stay on Magnetic Island.

The SS Yongala lies in 28 metres of water, ESE of Magnetic Island, and is described as an "Oasis in the desert". Around 110 metres long and surrounded by kilometres of sand, marine life flock to this site making this shipwreck one of the most diverse dive sites in Australia. It has everything from nudibranchs and sea snakes to turtles, bull rays and the Giant Queensland Grouper. To dive the SS Yongala you must be certified as a PADI Open Water diver or equivalent, with a minimum of 6 logged dives.

magnetic island

Beaches:
There are four main bays and beaches that are all easily accessible and suitable for the whole family.

Nelly Bay
Nelly Bay is Magnetic Island's main residential bay and the first point of access to the island, as both the passenger and car ferries terminate here. Nelly Bay Beach is calm and sheltered, ideal for a casual afternoon stroll with a backdrop of Magnetic Harbour and the fabulous new marina facility. The Nelly Bay Snorkel Trail starts approximately 100m off the beach and showcases a great selection of corals including Lettuce Coral, Cauliflower Coral, Boulder Coral and Staghorn Coral. There are five surface floats that outline the trail, providing flotation for snorkelers to rest. This snorkel trail off the beach is a great swim for beginners. Nelly Bay is an ideal base to explore Magnetic Island from, with the convenience of transport facilities, shops and amenities right on your doorstep. Most accommodation on Magnetic Island is located around the Harbour.

Picnic Bay
Picnic Bay is located at the southern end of Magnetic Island, offering views back to Townsville from the headlands. This quiet end of Magnetic Island was once the arrival point for passenger ferries, the old jetty is now used for fishing, strolling, and picnicking. The beach here is patrolled by lifesavers from September to May; there is a netted swimming enclosure for use during summer months. The open-air Picnic Bay Mall holds restaurants and a collection of local shops, most of which are open Monday through Saturday. Shaded garden areas within the Mall offer a place to sit and relax, whilst children can make use of two play areas. Picnic Bay is also home to Magnetic Island’s 9-hole golf course. Accommodation in Picnic Bay includes hostels and hotels, and you can easily hire bikes, cars, and scooters from Picnic Bay to explore the island. This is the perfect location to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and simply unwind, rest and relax.

Alma Bay
Alma Bay is a family favourite with parkland, picnic tables, playground, popular swimming, a great pub and dive shop. It provides a perfect spot for a day at the beach. Home of the Arcadian Life Saving Club, the beach is patrolled by Surf Life Savers and features a stinger net during the summer months. Public amenities also include gas barbeques, changing areas and toilets. This protected beach with shaded rolling green lawns is home to the Australian Chamber Music Festival recitals, ANZAC Rememberance Day Ceremonies and the Biggest Morning Tea Charity events.

Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay is situated on the north side of the island with views to Palm Island and beyond. The largest bay on the island, it is considered the 'watersports capital and entertainment hub'. Popular pastimes include sea kayaking, waterskiing, snorkeling, paragliding, catamaran sailing, scuba diving, and fishing. You will find a great selection of restaurants and bars that line the esplanade, with gorgeous views of the bay and many yachts which come to moore there. To the western side of the bay the beach sweeps around and provides the perfect escape for a stroll, swim or horseback ride.

Magnetic Island National Park:
Just over half of the island (2,790 ha) is protected as Magnetic Island National Park which covers most of the interior and towards the north-west of the island. The protection provides a safe habitat for the island’s plants and animals. The island is covered with open eucalypt woodland of bloodwoods, stringy barks and grey ironbarks. Hoop pines wedged amongst the boulders are a distinctive feature; meanwhile Native kapok can be found on the lower slopes, which was commonly used by the Aboriginal people and early settlers for bedding. Being in the tropics, many visitors would expect to see rainforest, but Magnetic Island, having considerably less rainfall than the wet tropics slightly further north and the Whitsundays slightly further south, is typical of the dry tropics. The national park can be accessed via a network of walking tracks from various parts of the island.

magnetic island walk

Walking Tracks:
Magnetic Island features an extensive 25km network of walking trails making it one of the best ways to thoroughly explore the Island, enjoy some amazing scenery and appreciate the diversity of vegetation from one side of the island to the other.

Hawkings Point track—1.2 km return (1 hr) Grade: Easy
One of the easiest and shortest walks with an exceptional view. From Picnic Bay, a track winds to the top of a large boulder, affording a spectacular panorama over the island past Rocky Bay to Nelly and Geoffrey Bays and back towards Townsville.

Picnic Bay to West Point—16 km return (5 hrs) Grade: Easy
This walk follows an unsealed road that links the bays on the western side of the island. The track passes a tidal wetland, mangroves, paperbark swamps and savanna grasslands. The flora and fauna are totally different in this area to the eastern side of the Island, making the journey particularly rewarding.

Nelly Bay to Arcadia—5 km one way (2.5 hrs) Grade: Moderate
This walk passes through a vine-thicket pocket, climbs gradually to the saddle between Nelly and Horseshoe bays and then follows a ridge with views over Horseshoe Bay. The track then branches, with one track leading to Arcadia Bay and the other to Horseshoe Bay Road, where you can continue on to other tracks.

Forts walk—4 km return (1.5 hrs) Grade: Moderate
One of the most popular tracks on the island, the Forts walk leads to historic WWII fortifications and infrastructure. Lookouts along the way afford excellent views to the Palm Island Group in the north and Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south. Koalas are often seen in trees along the track. The walk culminates in 360 degree views from the top of the fortifications. Magnetic Island's WWII forts are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and are among the best examples of such forts on the Queensland's east coast.

Tracks to Arthur, Florence and Radical bays Grade: Easy
From the Forts car park on the Horseshoe Bay Road, an easy track leads down to these undeveloped bays which provide excellent swimming and snorkelling.

Arthur Bay walk - 1.4km return (30 minutes)
Florence Bay walk - 3.6km return (1 hour)
Radical Bay walk - 6km return (2 hours)

Horseshoe Bay Lagoon—200 m return (15 mins) Grade: Easy
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon is a popular area for birdwatching. The track begins on Horseshoe Bay Road, about 200 m from the beach, and leads to a lagoon where a number of waterbirds can be seen. Magpie geese nest in the bulkuru sedges, and the melaceuca woodland is ideal habitat for a number of woodland species.

Horseshoe Bay to Balding and Radical Bay — 2.5/3.4 km return (1 hr/1.5 hr) Grade: Moderate
From the eastern end of Horseshoe Bay beach, the track climbs through a steep gully of closed forest to a ridge with open eucalypt woodland. One branch of the track leads down to secluded Balding Bay and the other continues on to Radical Bay. Both bays offer excellent swimming opportunities.

Wildlife
Magnetic Island is a haven for wildlife. There is an abundant variety including Koalas, Cockatoos, Lorikeets, Curlews, Eagles and Rock Wallabies. Over 180 species of birds have been recorded on Magnetic Island. Some birds live permanently on the island, whilst others are migratory visitors. Common birds yous may hear and see include rainbow lorikeets, pied currawongs, helmeted friarbirds, laughing and blue-winged kookaburras, orange-footed scrubfowl, sulphur-crested cockatoos, olive-backed sunbirds, figbirds and spangled drongos. The rocky terrain and dense vegetation of Magnetic Island is home to allied rock-wallabies. Look out for them in the early morning or late afternoon on rocks near the edge of settlements, such as the Geoffrey Bay jetty. Common brushtail possums are very active at night, feeding on flowers, fruit and leaves. During the day they hide in hollow branches or fallen logs. Large marine animals that may be seen around the island include sea turtles and dugongs. They feed in the extensive seagrass meadows surrounding the island. Sea turtles also nest on the island's beaches during the summer months.

Koalas were introduced to the island in the 1930s to protect them from perceived threats on the mainland. As of 2013, there are over 800 koalas estimated to be present on the island; this population represents the northern limit of their geographic range. Koalas can be seen in trees around the island, particularly along the Forts walk and the Radical Bay to Horseshoe Bay walk. The size of Magnetic Island and population of koalas almost guarantees the opportunity to see Koalas in the wild.

rock wallabies

Accommodation:

For a small island, accommodation on Maggie is plentiful. Offering a great range of modern hotels and apartments, self-contained holiday homes, guesthouses, motel-style units and townhouses to suit all budgets and requirements. Accommodation is located throughout each of the Island's residential bays. If you're after more of a rustic experience, then you will find two quality backpacker resorts and camping facilities nestled amongst the eucalypts, or right on the beachfront, Base Backpackers and Bungalow Bay. No matter where you choose to stay, the Island offers you idyllic sandy beaches within strolling distance of any location.

 

Dining: With over 20 restaurants you can savour many delicious cuisines on Magnetic Island. Each of the main beaches is in close proximity to a great range of retsaurants and hotels. Freshly caught seafood is the highlight of many menus, but Mexican, Thai, Indonesian, Italian, and hearty pub food can also be easily found. For the best views in town there is nothing better than just sitting on the old jetty looking back over the water at the sparkling lights of Townsville, whilst eating a take-away feast of fresh prawns, succulent reef fish and chips. Or why not create a picnic and take it to your favourite spot on Magnetic Island.

 

Shopping:
You will find all the modern services and conveniences of an island community on Magnetic Island. There are shops located in all of the four residential bays including supermarkets, newsagents, boutiques, hardware stores, vehicle hire, bakery, chemist, photo shop, hairdressing salons, and liquor stores, along with the local credit union, post office, real estate agencies, service stations and trades related businesses. Picnic Bay and Horseshoe Bay are probably your best places to shop. The town of Picnic Bay features an open-air shopping complex, The Picnic Bay Mall, which contains Mama Roma Italian Restaurant, and the Picnic Bay Hotel, which has a bar menu, a restaurant, TAB, bottle shop and pool tables.. At Horseshoe Bay you’ll discover a couple of casual restaurants, a tavern and bottleshop overlooking the ocean, fish and chip shop, general convenience store, resort wear beach shop, and a couple of lunch style takeaway businesses.


Markets:

HORSESHOE BAY MARKETS
On the second and the last Sunday of each month the Horseshoe Bay markets come alive on the grassy foreshore from 9am until 2pm. Here you will find fresh produce, jewellery, clothing, art, food, and discover an assortment of treasures all available at the Horseshoe Bay markets. It's a wonderful way to casually spend a Sunday morning and catch up with locals.

FRIDAY NIGHT RSL MARKETS - Every Friday night except Good Friday
Another great regular on the island is the Friday night markets at the RSL Hall in Arcadia. Grab a fantastic meal, a drink from the licensed bar. Markets operate from 5.30pm to 8.00pm.

magnetic island markets


Island Events:

Here is a short list of Magnetic Island events. For the full list and the latest event dates and details, visit the Annual Calendar at whatsonmagneticisland.com.au


Magnetic Island Adventurethon Festival -    Late March/early April
Adventurethon is a multisport challenge incorporating paddling, mountain biking and off road running, similar to a triathlon in format but each Adventurethon race is off road, frequenting areas like national parklands, shorelines and hiking trails with spectacular scenery. Adventurethon’s weekend events challenge all fitness and skill levels and most can be tackled individually or as a team.​


Magnetic Island to Townsville 8km Open Water Swim - July
The Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim starts at waters edge, in front of the Picnic Bay SLSC, Magnetic Island and finishes at water's edge, in front of the SLSC Clubhouse on the Strand Beach adjacent to the Strand Park jetty in Townsville.

Magnetic Island Wine and Seafood Festival - August/September
The Magnetic Island Wine Expo features over 12 wine merchants and the opportunity to sample over 50 wines with live music plus lucky draws all afternoon!

Magnetic Island Race Week -   Late August/early September
This six day regatta attracts more than 60 yachts to compete on the waters of Magnetic Island over six racing divisions. An amazing week of sailing and celebrations; the lively shore side events, markets, live music and other entertainment are popular for competitors and spectators alike.

Great Tropical Jazz Party - 23 to 25 August
The Great Tropical Jazz Party is the signature music and entertainment event on Magnetic Island, attracting visitors and jazz aficionados from all over the world.

Great Barrier Reef Film Festival - September
It's a fun-filled weekend of film at the GBR Film Festival. The festival presents a range of feature, short films, documentaries and film industry talks, plus an interactive movie experience where you can dress up and have some fun! GBRFF also offers kids and audiences a great way of enjoying film and related media through a variety of experiences and workshops including FREE kids film workshops. Visit gbrff.com.au for the latest information.

 

Magnetic Island Beer Can Regatta - Sep/ October
Make a date in your diary and start building your boat for the first Magnetic Island Beer Can Regatta. A great day for the family, there will be beach events, tug of war competitions for all ages and of course various beer can boat events. The day will culminate in a Battle of Maggie where participants will battle it out with flour bombs, water bombs and other non-life damaging ammunition with the winner receiving a trophy. Entrance is by a gold coin donation with proceeds to projects supported by Rotary.

 

Climate
The area in which Magnetic Island and Townsville are located, (between Ayr and just south of Tully) is known as the Dry Tropics. They are considered to have one of the most pleasant topical climates in Australia, with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. The Island's yearly average maximum temperature is 29 degrees and the minimum a comfortable 20 degrees. The wet season (summer) is generally short from November to March with the day temperatures above 30° C and moderate to high humidity. The dry season (winter) is much longer from April to October with the day temperatures averaging 26° C and low humidity. The best time of the year to visit Magnetic Island is during the winter months when the days are comfortably warm, clear and fine. Southerners tend to migrate up the coast during this time, to escape the winter blues and enjoy the tropical sunshine.
 

magnetic island


Getting There:

The island is accessible from Townsville Breakwater to Nelly Bay Harbour via a high-speed catamaran or car ferry service. SeaLink provides the quickest transfer between Townsville and Magnetic Island, conducting up to 18 daily return services. It takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the Nelly Bay Terminal on Magnetic Island. Passengers are recommended to be at the terminal 20 minutes prior to departure to allow sufficient time to purchase tickets. Boarding commences 10 - 15 minutes prior to departure. Fantasea Cruisses operate both passenger and car ferry services approximately every 2 hours for a 40 minute trip to the island. Vehicle bookings are essential, and can include the cost of up to 6 passengers travelling. Having your vehicle on the island provides convenience, as you can explore and do what you want at your own leisurely pace in the comfort of your own vehicle. Passenger and car ferries services operate daily to Magnetic Island, 7 days a week.

Direct flights to Townsville are available from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Darwin and Cairns. Taxis are available at the front of the airport for transfers direct to the Breakwater Ferry Terminal. It takes 10-15 minutes to reach the Breakwater Terminal.

magnetic island

Getting Around:
There are many and varied ways to explore Magnetic Island depending how active you want to be:

Bus
Magnetic Island Sunbus travels between Picnic Bay and Horseshoe Bay at least 14 times per day, meeting all ferries and stopping at, or near, all accommodation. Once you arrive on the island there is a bus stop right at the front of the terminal. Unlimited day and multi-day passes are available, or you can just buy a ticket each time you use the bus.

Car Hire
Drive and explore every inch of Magnetic Island in a topless convertible or classic Mini Moke. Magnetic Island has a huge population of topless convertible cars that can seat 4 people comfortably with the option of a sun canopy. With free pick up from the ferry, it makes for a fun way to explore the island.

magnetic island

Scooter Hire
Scooter Hire is a popular option for those looking for a sense of adventure and exploration. Beginners are welcome, minimum age 18 years.

Bicycle Hire
Magnetic Island is ideal for cycling. Most accommodation places rent bikes. Ideally a good level of fitness is required as there are some steep hills. But with the afternoon breezes in your face, spectacular scenery and sense of freedom, the extra push makes it all the worthwhile.

Walking
Magnetic Island features an extensive 25km network of walking trails, making it one of the best ways to thoroughly explore the nature of the Island. It is about 12 kilometres from one end of the island to the other by walking along the road. There are six main walking tracks that range from 30 minutes to two and a half hours to complete, with wonderful sights to be seen no matter which track you use.

Taxi service, guided tours, jet ski, sea kayaking and horseriding are some other ideas of getting out and exploring this beautiful island. Most transport services are available for collection near the ferry terminal. Tour operators also meet with corresponding ferries here. The local bus services and taxi rank are conveniently located just outside.