Complete one day guide to Magnetic Island

With secluded bays, panoramic views and just a short ferry ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island is the perfect day trip from main land Australia.

The island’s large population of koalas have the pace of life right here. 


Here’s my one day itinerary to tick off all that Maggy has to offer:

Forts Walk

Before it gets too hot take an early morning hike along one of the most popular walking trails on the island. 

The 4km round trip eases up hill to what remains of a military observation camp here during WWII.

At the top you can take the slightly steeper incline up the steps to one of the two forts for a 360 degree panoramic view of the island. 

While attacks from the Japanese were heavily experienced in the Northern Territory, Townsville’s east coast location was important for fleets operating in the South Pacific. The island offered excellent vantage points for enemy activity. 

There’s a short walk, with view point, memorial and a wealth of information also found on the northern end of Townsville’s esplanade. 

Spot koalas

The Forts walk is also popular for spotting some of the island’s large population of Koalas. 

Take your time walking and look up, you will spot one soon enough!

Picnic on the boulders

More than half of the island is national park, scattered in precariously balancing boulders, some the size of a small house.

Formed more than 200 million years ago when molten rock came to the surface, over time weathering has left behind these huge domes.

Coffee or gelato on the shore

Horseshoe Bay has all a seaside town should, whether you want a coffee outside a cafe or a stroll on the shore with gelato.

There’s also a pub for an afternoon pint or bite to eat.

Cool off with a snorkel

There’s a number of recommended snorkel spots with resting points to follow. 

Popular are Geoffrey Bay and Nelly Bay.

Spot a shipwreck

Catch the bus to the end of the line and walk another bay on, you will reach Cockle Bay.

Look out to sea and you’ll find SS City of Adelaide.

Watch the sunset with Rock Wallabies. 

These tiny wallabies live among the rocks in Arcadia.

They start to appear from around 4pm, though their confidence grows rapid with the darkness.

You can lure them out with silence, a calm presence and some but if you wait until after dark and sit on the rocks they will pretty much walk right over, ever inquisitive. 

How to get around Magnetic Island?

Isn’t Magnetic Island famous for it’s colourful, usually pink, convertible barbie cars availble to hire when you step off the boat?

Besides being great fun, they cut into the budget.

A cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to move around is on the Sunbus.

Services are pretty regular and an all day ticket is around $7.

It is possible to cover the Island on foot, with many hiking trails connecting up the single main road across the island.  Of course if you do have just the one day, it’s best to mix up walking with the bus.

How to get to Magnetic Island?

The Sealink Ferry from Townsville to Maggy and back takes around half an hour and runs from dawn until midnight – perfect for making a full day of your visit.

Just turn up at the terminal to buy a ticket – it’s around $33 return per person.

With Magnetic Island ticked off there is no need to rush off…

Stop off in Townsville

Most people forget to soak up the community of Townsville, seeing it just as a gateway to Magnetic Island.

Take a walk along the esplanade and make the most of the lifeguarded, safe swimming spots on the beach, the free lagoon, BBQs and gyms.

I recommend locally owned Juliette’s for an ice cream – the list of flavours are endless.

Finally, not to be missed is the view from Castle Hill.

This huge granite mound sits, 286 metres up, inconveniently bang in the middle of Townsville.

You really cannot miss it – literally.

Barren, dry and, well, brown… but don’t judge it until you’ve climbed it.

Locals are fond of Castle Hill and many walk, jog and run it each weekend.

The view from the top is 360 degrees, panoramic, of the entire city and Magnetic Island.

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