Have you heard of Magnetic Island?

Aug 10, 2014

When planning our winter school family vacation for Tweeny, the husband and I, there were three strict criteria, first it must be in Australia, second it must be warm (no snow bunnies in our house) and the third was it must have a beach nearby and I wanted all of this within a reasonable budget. In my search, I stumbled across some accommodation options in Magnetic Island. Where is Magnetic Island? I had never previously heard of the place. A few Google clicks later and I was sold on the destination!

Magnetic Island or ‘Maggie’, as she’s affectionately called by those in the know (it took me two days of being on the island to get in the “know”) is a real tropical island off the coast of Townsville in Far North Queensland with the only way on and off the Island by ferry.

Maggie has about 320 sunny days a year with an average winter (June, July, and August) maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Score! So far Maggie had met all my family winter holiday criteria. Within Australia, tick – 3 hour direct flight from Sydney to Townsville. Warm weather, tick! Beach, nearby, tick, tick, tick! So our family long weekend was set into motion.

Getting to Magnetic Island
The closest airport to the Island is in Townsville. We had an easy direct 3 hour flight across from Sydney and then transferred by taxi the short distance to the Ferry Terminal (On the way I kind of fell in love with Townsville). The Sealink ferry transports commuters every hour by high speed ferry to the island within twenty minutes. There is an alternate ferry service if you have a car with you - Fantsea ferry.

We purchased our return family tickets for $74 and jumped aboard the SeaLink, after stowing our luggage in the designated area on deck we headed to the upper deck to soak in some sun. With windswept hair and the afternoon sun beating down on us, the ferry ride across slowly built upon our excitement and anticipation as we saw the rocky granite headlands and lush hoop greenery slowly come into focus and reveal itself the closer we got to the Island.
Sealink Ferry Terminal located at Breakwater Terminal, Sir Leslie Thiess Drive, Townsville

Staying on Maggie

The four main settlements on Maggie with concentrations of accommodation, convenience stores and restaurant options are Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Arcadia and Horseshoe Bay all are linked by a bus service that loops the Island every hour.

The ferry terminal is at Nelly Bay, from where we boarded the bus to make the 10 minute journey to our accommodation – a 2 bedroom apartment.

Buying Supplies

After we had checked out our accommodation, we went in search of supplies, as we were planning on making use of the apartment’s kitchen by eating breakfasts at home.

There is a lack of commercialism about Magnetic Island and that is definitely part of its rustic, unblemished charm. Maggie is not the type of place you come to if you are in search of shopping malls or fancy stores, it is about simplicity and enjoying the simple pleasures of sun, sea and sand. The availability of products on the island reflects that simplicity; while we found all that we needed for our short break, I would recommend packing any out of the ordinary items or anything luxurious you might require with you. The options are narrow on Maggie, with two petrol stations, four small grocery stores, four bottle shops, one pharmacy, one newsagent and one bakery.

With supplies in hand we were ready and eager to explore all of Maggie’s delights over the coming days. There were children’s playgrounds dotted all across the island and plenty of green and sandy options to explore and enjoy.