Australia: Magnetic Island QLD

If you want to sample the simple life and get away from it all, head on over to Magnetic Island where time really does seem to stand still. Just 8 kms and 20 mins by ferry from Townsville, ‘Maggie’ slays it by delivering an utterly uncomplicated holiday.

Smooth sailing on Sealink’s ferry

Content to fly under the tourist radar, Maggie delights with beautiful beaches (feature photo is Rocky Bay), excellent hikes, beach view pubs and a smattering of decent cafes and restaurants.

I loved our week on this North Queensland island that is 70% national park, has 23 bays and beaches, 24 kms of hiking tracks, 800 koalas, a myriad of wallabies, butterflies, kookaburras, curlews and views so stunning you can never take a bad photo.

Walking Nelly Bay to Alma Bay. Magnetic Island has 40 kms of coastline.
Some keys work, some don’t, but this piano at Geoffrey Bay can still deliver a tune
Alma Bay – Memories of Maggie Island childhood holidays stick like glue.
So pleased to see the Bikini Tree is still front and centre at Arcadia Hotel.
Horseshoe Bay – families love it here
Spied this cutie perched high in a gum tree at Horseshoe Bay
Somewhere in amongst these rocks, lies the hiking path from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay
Balding Bay
A short hike from Balding Bay is Radical Bay – voted travellers’ favourite beach. We were lucky to visit before the start of stinger season which begins Nov 1. Deadly box jellyfish and irukanji frequent the warm waters until May. Stinger suits are the way to go.
Florence Bay – water is crystal clear and stingrays rest lazily.
The Forts Hike is a 4km circuit to observation towers, takes 2 hrs  and spells out Townsville’s WWII role in defending itself from possible Japanese attacks. At the time, 50,000 US and Australian troops were stationed in Townsville. This pic is of gun emplacements for French 155 mm M3 guns on Panama carriage mounts.
Views over Arthur Bay from the first Observation Tower
Views over Horseshoe Bay from the second Observation Tower
Curtain figs at Nelly Bay
Picnic Bay- nice swimming spot. Picnic Bay Hotel across the road- nice drinking spot
This is how I remember driving around Maggie in the 70s.
2020 mode of transport. If you don’t want to hire a car, consider the bus. It’s efficient and good value – day passes are $8.
Rock wallabies at the ferry harbour
Good coffee at Nelly Bay
We stayed at Peppers Nelly Bay, handy to the ferry and bus, 2 kms to Alma Bay and 3 kms to Picnic Bay. A couple of nice cafes and restaurants are in walking distance. There are also loads of holiday homes to rent. Check out and

In 1770, Captain Cook gave the island its name after the compass in his ship ‘Endeavour’ went awry. He was convinced a magnetic field existed. A magnet, Maggie definitely is. Its beaches, hikes and easy going lifestyle are enough to attract us to repeat the experience.

Note: We flew into Townsville airport on a Jetstar flight from Brisbane. Flight time is 1 hr 50 mins. Taxis and shuttle buses transfer passengers to the ferry terminal where you can buy tickets for the next ferry.

5 thoughts on “Australia: Magnetic Island QLD

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