In April, my friend Lena and I, (yes, Lena and Lana) spent a long weekend on Magnetic ("Maggie") Island off the coast of Townsville in Queensland. We were looking for a cheap weekend getaway, and a family friend had recommended Magnetic Island. To get to Magnetic Island, you fly into Townsville and then take a 20 minute SeaLink Queensland ferry across. Flights to Townsville are super cheap, so it was a go!
Our flight left on a Thursday afternoon at 4pm, so we left work, hopped on the plane, and landed in Townsville at about 9pm. We took a quick Uber to the ferry terminal, and had a short wait at the terminal. The ferries run quite late-- the last departure from Townsville is 11:30pm. We ended up booking a package with the hostel which included our ferry tickets, but the ferry costs $33 for an adult roundtrip.
When we arrived to Maggie Island, we hopped on a bus that took us around to Horseshoe Bay, and to our Hostel: Bungalow Bay Koala Village. Although Bungalow Bay is only a 5 minute walk from Horseshoe Bay with a few cafes and restaurants, it was late and we weren't familiar with the area so we just had some nachos at the bar before going to bed early.
Bungalow Bay is a budget accommodation adjacent to a koala (and other small animal) park. We ended up booking a package with them that included accommodation, breakfast with the koalas, 1 full day hire of snorkel gear, and food for the rock wallabies!
We decided to stay in a private bungalow, which was small but had everything we needed with 2 bunk beds and a small fridge. The bathroom was a short walk up the footpath, and the room had a fan but no A/C.
The next morning, we were up bright and early for our breakfast with the koalas! We met the guide and a few other guests at reception, and walked about 2 minutes to get to the park. We met some reptiles first, before sitting down to a delicious breakfast.
As we were finishing up breakfast, they opened one koala enclosure which we were welcome to go in and pet the koala. Koalas are so sleepy but so sweet! We also got to have a (very quick) cuddle with a young female koala. The wildlife tourism industry is extremely regulated when it comes to handling koalas, and they're only allowed to be in human hands for 30 min total or something each day. I don't know much about it, but that sounds like a positive regulation for the koalas (if it is followed!)
After some planning and lunch at what became our favorite café, The Early Bird, we walked out to Arthur Bay before going on a big hike up to "The Forts".
On the Forts hike, I saw my 1st, (and 2nd, and 3rd!) koala in the wild! It was magical. It was a beautiful, scenic hike, with a cool view of the island from the top.
We ended the night at Noodies on the Beach in Horseshoe Bay for Mexican food and drinks. You get a sombrero with each jugs and we went through 2 jugs of strawberry margaritas. They were refreshing and we had fun!
On day 2, we took the bus back to Nelly Bay (near the ferry terminal) to rent a little Barbie car from Tropical Topless Car Rentals for the day. We waited an extra 20 minutes for a pink one! No shame. It was manual transmission so that was exciting and we spent the day zipping around checking out all of the different bays and beaches on the island. It was about $100 to rent the car for the day.
We picked up our snorkel gear and wallaby pellets from the hostel, so we didn't have to carry it around on a day we didn't have a car. Unfortunately, it had been quite stormy on the days before we arrived (we were lucky!) but the water visibility was terrible. While we snorkeled, we could tell that it could be really good, so it was just bad luck. I was glad I hadn't booked a dive in advance! We still had a really nice time at the beach, reading in the sun.
The wallaby pellets from the hostel were also a bust. They give them to you to feed the tiny rock wallabies that live near Geoffrey Bay, but the wallabies are way more interested in carrots and apples that other tourists bring!
That night, after dropping off the car in Nelly Bay, we went to dinner at Boardwalk Restaurant and Bar. It was good, and Lena is still talking about a chocolate and peanut butter dessert that we split!
On the afternoon of our 3rd day, we went on a trail ride with Horseshoe Bay Ranch which was also walking distance from our hostel. I hadn't been on a horse in years but it was really fun! We walked/trotted to the beach, where we got off, put on stinger suits, and rode the horses bareback into the ocean. It was a pretty unique experience. We saw a koala on tree near the trail as well!
That night, we ate at Barefoot Art and Wine in Horseshoe Bay. That restaurant definitely had the best atmosphere, with a cute courtyard. The rest of our time was spent laying on the beach, and drinking lots of smoothies. It was a fantastic, relaxing yet active, wildlife-filled holiday.
We took the ferry back to Townsville on Monday morning, and our flight wasn't until that evening so we spent some time walking around Townsville. There isn't much to do in the Townsville "CBD," so next time I would either stay on the island for longer, or just find a nice café on The Strand in Townsville to park myself for the afternoon!
Do you have any stories to share from Queensland, Australia?