A 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island is a laid-back paradise of tranquil beaches, kilometres of bushland hikes and an abundance of wildlife. ‘Maggie’ or Yunbenun to the Wulgurukaba traditional owners, has a storied history as a World War II fortification. For generations the island has been an inexpensive holiday retreat.
On Magnetic there are no five-star resorts, no pretensions and no stress — just dramatic scenery and white-sand beaches lapped by the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
To help plan your visit, here are a few tips for the ultimate Maggie experience.
Hiking If you’re up for a hiking adventure be sure to put the Fort Walk on your list. With a trifecta of incentives: koalas, WWII relics and dazzling views, the 4km-return trail spans a ridge which is home to one of Queensland’s largest koala populations. Let the kids roam free on the old gun emplacements, see the ammunitions store and artillery command post, and climb to the top of the signal station, swept high above two sheltered coves.
Dining There are a string of cafés and restaurants on the island. For a bit of fun with your food, check out the pirate-themed Scallywags Café. Unique and eclectic, with a focus on fresh healthy food and remarkable organic coffee, it’s a pop-up café that operates seasonally between Easter and Christmas. Alternatively, for a slice of Vegas in the tropics, head to the iconic theatrical experience provided by the Stage Door on Friday or Saturday nights. Renowned “Boy from Oz”, Kevin Wright wows audiences with live singing, hilarious comedy, dazzling costumes and tongue in cheek impersonations.
Water Tours For an afternoon to remember, jump on one of the local sailing vessels to see jaw-dropping views and a phenomenal sunset. If waterborne adventure is more your style, check out a jet ski tour. It is not uncommon to spot turtles, rays, dugongs and dolphins while you’re cruising to secluded beaches to swim and snorkel.
Accommodation We suggest spending at least 5 nights on Magnetic Island. Check out the Best Of Magnetic Island for a wide range of accommodation options for couples, families and groups.
The Drive The drive up to North Queensland takes you past sugar cane country and the ‘wet tropics’. It’s 1,350km to Townville from Brisbane, and will take approximately 15 hours. If you plan to break up the drive by exploring the amazing destinations along the way, here are the times and distance between each:
Brisbane to Noosa Heads: 148km | 2 hrs
Noosa Heads to Tin Can Bay: 81km | 1 hr
Tin Can Bay to Hervey Bay: 102km | 1 hr 13 min
Hervey Bay to Bundaberg: 110km | 1 hr 21 min
Bundaberg to Agnes Waters: 122km | 1 hr 26 min
Agnes Waters to Rockhampton: 225km | 2 hr 40 min
Rockhampton to Yeppoon: 40km | 35 min
Yeppoon to Mackay: 353km | 4 hr
Mackay to Airlie Beach: 150km | 1 hr 50 min
Airlie Beach to Bowen: 79km | 1 hr
Bowen to Townsville: 203 km | 2 hr 30 min
With clear skies, fresh air and plenty of amazing photo opportunities, this is the perfect road trip destination to leave your worries behind and ultimately switch to island time!