Take in panoramic views, spot koalas in eucalyptus trees, clamber over granite boulders and stroll along a golden-sand beach in this idyllic nature reserve.
Put on your walking shoes and head off to explore some of the 15 miles (24 kilometers) of walking tracks that meander through Magnetic Island National Park.
Taking up just over half of the 12,627 acres (5,110 hectares) that comprise Magnetic Island, the national park’s landscapes range from a fringing reef, sandy beaches and mangroves to boulder-strewn slopes, eucalyptus forest and vine-dense gullies. Over 180 different species of birds can be seen in the national park.
Set out on the Forts Walk, a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) hike that leads you to the top of Mt Cook at 1,630 feet (497 meters). As you go, keep watch for the well-camouflaged koalas, which can often be spotted dozing between the gray branches of a eucalyptus tree. Explore abandoned World War II forts and take in the 360-degree views over the ocean.
Admire the massive granite boulders that dot the island. The island’s geological history began 275 million years ago with molten granite being forced to the surface from volcanic activity. The millions of years of erosion have stripped away the volcanic layer to leave smooth granite domes and boulders. Watch the rock wallabies hop effortlessly among the boulders on the hillside, seemingly defying gravity.
Stick your toes in the fine sand of one of the many beaches that run along the park's edge and cool off in the ocean. Snorkel slowly over the fringing reef as the fish dart in and out of hidden nooks among the coral. In the deeper waters you may even see a turtle swim by. Follow the tracks that connect the beaches to see the large hoop pines that grow on the rocky headlands.
The national park can be reached as a daytrip from Townsville by taking the ferry across. A wide range of accommodations options is available all over the island, if you’d like to experience the night-time activity of the park’s inhabitants as well. Brushtail possums move between the trees on their nocturnal foraging trips. As you walk, you may hear the haunting call of the curlew and the southern boobook owl’s distinctive hoot.