Maggie is a funny little island off Townsville, covered in pine & eucalyptus forest, edged by rocky cliffs and quiet beaches. It doesn’t take long to get around, or to see everything you want to see, so the best thing to do is to hire a car. A one day hire is usually enough for most people, but pay a little extra for the full 24hours and you’ll have time for sunset too.
We started with Forts walk, a 4km woodland walk to an old WWII fort on top of a hill. The small posts let you climb up (and out) to see 360 views of the island, right down to the water and it’s numerous coves. The best part though, is koala bear spotting. There are only a few kinds of eucalyptus that koalas can eat, and Maggie is full of them. We saw four sleepy fellas, tucked up in their branches, snoozing in the sun.
From there, we hoped back in the car just in time for another downpour. I’d naïvely assumed that Australia would be hot in summer, you know, summer equals sun… but no. I found out on magnetic island that I was very wrong. At least we didn’t have a barbie car.*
The bays of Maggie are lovely. The biggest and busiest, Horseshoe Bay, is nothing to write home about, but Radical Bay, Arthur’s lookout, Florence Bay, Repulse Bay and Balding Bay are more than worth it. It’s a half an hour walk to Balding Bay, through the forest and over the hill but that’s what makes it what it is. It’s just so beautiful, not because the sand is soft, pure and white, not because the sea is calm and glittering, but because it’s deserted. It’s edged by huge dramatic boulders and backed by dense forest. We climbed the rocks, like giant marbles shaken and rolled, and felt like children again. Of all the best beaches in Australia, Balding Bay is top of the pile for feel good factor.
Not up for the walk? Head to Geoffrey Bay where the boulders are full of wallabies! Bring some carrots, fruit or seeds, edge in slowly and wait for them to come to you. This is one of the few times in Australia where you can get close to wild animals and not end up in A&E.** The wallabies are shy, and live a quiet life of magnetic island. Be careful not to scare them, and double check that what they’re munching is within the regulations.
Got the car for the evening? Remember that sunset I mentioned? Drive down past the southern tip of the island and across to West Point. There you’ll find a long flat wide beach that looks out over to the mainland and Townsville. We caught the sun just before it disappeared, and even saw some turtles in the fading light.
*Yes, you can hire a life size, fully functional Barbie car. Beware of bad weather and road restrictions.
**This is a small lie. There’s a (very close and personal) wildlife centre just off Horseshoe Bay. See Australia’s famous fauna, including snakes, baby alligators, Macaws and of course koalas.