When I consider that it wasn’t until the age of 20 that I was able to enjoy my first flight on an aeroplane, it must be said that the joys of seeing somewhere new (even in ones own country) still very much remains.
A wedding in late 2009 presented me with my first visit to Townsville (Sarah had been several times) on Queensland’s north-east coast. Whilst the wedding was interesting to say the least, it allowed us a spare day afterwards in which we chose to take a ferry out to Magnetic Island.
About 8km’s off the coast of mainland Australia, this place has about 2000 permanent residents, a National Park (54% of the island) and bird sanctuary and served a strategic purpose during World War II.
After briefly exploring the rocky shore on arrival, we hired a Mini Moke and did our own small tour of the island.
We took time out for lunch at the picturesque Horseshoe Bay where we were also able to indulge in a bit of relaxation on the foreshore.
Although officially within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage site, Magnetic Island is a tourist mecca, so concerns about what impact any further development may have on the reef proper do seem to carry some weight (there is great interest in building bigger resorts on the island).
From there it was on to the rocky granite heights of the island where I was able to indulge in a bit of military history.
During the Second World War, Townsville was an important military location for Australian and US forces (General Macarthur even had his headquarters there for some time), so the elevated regions of Magnetic Island served as great lookout posts as well as a good site for both naval and anti-aircraft defensive batteries.
Taking the ‘Fort Walk’ gave us spectacular views, and the chance to see the old fortifications up close for ourselves. As part of its service, it also housed signals tower, enabling it to relay information from the Coral Sea and further afield in the Pacific theatre of the war.
It was a beautiful place to spend a day, and although I complain about its touristy nature, it really wasn’t that bad.
If for no other reason, come for the views!