1. Travel

Magnetic Island

By

Drawing Visitors to Its Varied Attractions
Horse riding on the beach at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

Horse riding on the beach at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

© Tourism Queensland

Off the north Queensland coast northeast of the city of Townsville, Magnetic Island is one of the nearer holiday islands fringing the Great Barrier Reef.

It is in fact just eight kilometres from Townsville, and ferries regularly ply between Townsville and Nelly Bay on the southeastern end of the island which is a 30-minute journey covering 11.5 kilometres.

So close is Magnetic Island to Townsville it is virtually a suburb of the city with more than 2000 permanent residents.

On the island, bicycles, motorbikes and small cars are available for hire, and yes, there's a local bus service.

National park

Magnetic Island National Park covers more than half of the island with a number of walking tracks — such as to and from Sphinx Lookout at Whitfield Cove and the searchlight tower at the southern end of Florence Bay, both on the eastern side of the island, and various other walks from diffferent parts of the island.

Walks through the bush afford ample opportunites for wildlife watching and photography.

Rainbow lorikeets, currawongs, friarbirds, and kookaburras are among the island's birds, and koalas, possums and flying foxes are some of the wildlife to be sighted. On the beaches and in the water may be seen sea turtles and dugongs.

Eucalypt woodlands, hoop pines, native kapoks and vine thickets comprise much of the island vegetation.

Reefs and beaches

The island has fringing reefs and areas of white-sand beaches.

Among the many activities available are swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving, boating and sailing, and horseback riding.

Why Magnetic Island?

The island was named by Captain James Cook during his 1770 voyage on the Endeavour when he believed the island's land mass was affecting his compass. Captain Cook's observation was later found to be incorrect.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.