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Chasing Rainbows & Magnetic Attraction

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 7 July 2013 | Views [1144]

I imagine Magnetic Island to be fairly small and so am quite surprised to find that there are around 3,000 inhabitants, numerous bays to explore with a vast range of accommodation on offer. Booking.com once again steps in and we have found a guest house that offers static tent accommodation. Glamping, after months of dorms, sounds like an exciting alternative. Arriving on this beautiful tropical island, we are met by Tim in the Arcadia Beach Guest House courtesy vehicle, a 1970’s Silver Shadow Rolls Royce. Instantly you know you are heading for something a little different. I submit and reset my body clock to island time as one night stretches to three, further still to five and suddenly I am wistfully looking at property for sale here.

Rainbow Beach facilitates trips to Fraser Island, Airlie Beach to the stunning Whitsundays, but Magnetic Island is somewhere to stay – and plenty do. There are many stories of visitors who come back permanently. Townsville on the mainland is a commuter-friendly distance and there are those that do so on a daily basis.

The bus struggles uphill as it heads to the north of the island. We get off and hike up to The Forts for a great view of several bays and hopeful of seeing koalas in their natural habitat. At Horseshoe Bay we have lunch, leaving ourselves just enough time for a quick dip to cool off before heading to the koala sanctuary at Bungalow Bay. Finally, koalas! Back to Horseshoe Bay we go in search of my newly acquired addiction – iced coffee.

On a whim we decide to do the moderate hike over to Radical Bay and catch the sunset there. We arrive to find ourselves on an utterly deserted beach. Normally a good thing, but the sun is going down and we are in the middle of nowhere with only our feet to get us somewhere safe before night descends. We decide to chance it and take the easy, although longer route, to Florence Bay and onto Arthur Bay where we hope to find the bus stop. Sunset happens pretty quickly here and we are part jogging the 2.6kms whilst around us unidentifiable noises emerge from the bush. It is a massive relief when the bus stop appears silhouetted against the last glow in the sky and minutes later the bus itself arrives.

From feeding wild rock wallabies, hiking across several of the island’s paths, watching an incredible sunset from West Point, visiting sandy beaches on hidden coves, meeting friendly locals and watching butterflies in the butterfly forest to indulging in water sports, there is plenty to hold my attention. To deal with the hilly island roads “Topless” ‘Barbie’ cars, jeeps and scooters add to the holiday feel as foreigners and Australians alike enjoy the relaxed pace of life.

Captain Cook’s claim of compass distortion was later disproved, but without doubt, there is some magnetic force at work here. Perhaps the remote and stunning coastline, the promise of 300 days of sunshine, the friendly and laid-back inhabitants or some other mysterious factor that makes me, along with so many others, want to tear up my return ferry ticket.

The guest house has been a wonderful find. Accommodation ranges from small dorms, to static tents and self-contained apartments. Tim and Celeste who have recently taken over its management have been welcoming, informative and understanding of my ever changing departure date. There is a decidedly eco-friendly feel that reaches beyond the solar powered energy which powers the island. From car hire, to snorkelling gear and trips around the island, they can arrange everything in-house. I am curious to know how one could land such an idyllic job – in this case from an advert on Gumtree, no less!

An old friend observes that I seem to fall in love with each place I visit. On reflection I suppose that I do in so far as I am usually able to find the positives somewhere but perhaps never quite staying long enough to discover the challenges of day to day living. Given the nature of my trip, I conclude that I am on the right track. Travelling without fixed expectation allows each place to leave its mark from the discoveries and unique experiences it offers. Keeping a blog gives me the opportunity to reflect on these as I write and then move on to the next chapter, giving it my full attention.

I have decided to pass on the upcoming annual 8km swim from Magnetic Island to Townsville. My decision is largely based on having to share the water with local sharks, although they will be enticed into staying on the western side of the island. Instead I venture to Townsville for the monthly Friday night market. With the car racing also on, its really busy and I realise how unused to being out at night in crowds of people I have become!

The final part of my Australian adventure, Cairns and Port Douglas, await ahead of my flight back to Brisbane next week.

Tags: australia, fraser island, glamping, koalas, magnetic island, rainbow beach, sharks, townsville, wallabies


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