By Stephanie Williams
It only takes 25 minutes on a ferry from Townsville to arrive in paradise. Magnetic Island's relaxed tropical lifestyle, quiet, secluded beaches, rugged nature, abundant wildlife and easy access to the Great Barrier Reef make it a wonderful place to relax and unwind.
Magnetic Island sits within the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, but the landscape here is different to the usual tropical rainforest found on many of the Great Barrier Reef islands. About 275 million years ago nature's forces created an extraordinary landscape of rocky terrain and giant boulders. Magnetic Island has less rainfall than the Wet Tropics to the north and the Whitsunday Islands to the south. Its climate is typical of the dry tropics and it is covered with eucalypt woodlands.
The traditional owners of Magnetic Island, the Wulgurukaba Aboriginal people, have inhabited the island for thousands of years. They call the island Yunbenun. Shell middens, stone tools and art sites are physical reminders of their strong connection with the island. Magnetic Island was named by James Cook in 1770 when the island appeared to affect the magnetic compass on his ship.
The main areas of Magnetic Island are Horseshoe Bay, Arcadia Bay, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay and West Point.
HOW TO GET THERE
The 25 minute passenger ferry to Magnetic Island from Townsville departs regularly throughout the day. There's also a regular car ferry.
- Follow the 1.2 kilometre (0.75 mile) Hawkings Track for views across the island
- Relax on one of the 23 beaches on Magnetic Island
- Dive the SS Yongala wreck or follow a Magnetic Island Snorkel Trail