My first visit to Queensland
When my work contract was up for renewal I left a gap week and booked a week of vacation at very short notice. I wanted to go somewhere I hadn't been before, ideally a tropical island. I narrowed it down to Hamilton Island or Magnetic Island, and ultimately chose Magnetic Island for its bushwalking opportunities.
My flight route from Melbourne to Townsville included a stopover in Brisbane. When I sat at Brisbane airport and saw all the people who went on flights to Hamilton Island, I had a feeling I made the right decision to instead go to Magnetic Island.
At Townsville airport I took a shuttle bus to the ferry terminal at the other end of town and then waited for the next ferry to the island. Unlike Hamilton Island you can't fly straight to Magnetic Island and have to take the ferry. For me that's a good thing though, not only because I enjoy boat trips, but also because it scares off cheap lazy convenience tourists.
I liked the idea of traveling at short notice, without much preparation. I didn't even bring a travel guide book. When I arrived on the island I was positively surprised to find it almost deserted — March is outside the main season, so hardly any tourists were there. Only a handful of people were staying at my hotel — in fact it was so empty that they upgraded me from a single room to a double apartment with kitchen and spa at no additional cost.
Traveling outside the season also had a few disadvantages though: all the beaches were closed due to box jellyfish, so I spent a lot of time swimming in the (enormous) hotel pool. Also, I didn't get the chance to go on a fishing trip — something I had been looking forward to — since none of the local fishing boats were operating.
In the end I had a very quiet week, started every day with a swim in the pool, had extensive breakfast, spent a lot of time walking to nearly every corner of the island, walking along the beaches, and taking a lot of photos. I really loved Magnetic Island, but I'm not sure if I would still love it during the main tourist season.
It's easy to get around by bus, there are a few nice tracks for bushwalking, plenty of birds, some rock wallabies and even koalas (although I didn't see any).
Towards the end of the week there were warnings of a cyclone approaching Queensland, so I had to check with the ferry operators daily to make sure I would still get off the island before they shut down ferry services. It all went well, only my flight back from Townsville was pretty rough. I had a great week and hope to be back one day.
More photos in the album Magnetic Island.