The Big Trip: Magnetic Island’s Best Bus Tour

As you will know from our previous post and from our latest video, we visited Townsville as it’s the gateway to Magnetic Island.

As it’s an island, the name is a massive giveaway, you need to get the ferry there.  We were lucky enough to book discounted tickets through Bookme.com.au.  For those of you that are thinking of travelling to Australia, New Zealand or Fiji, be sure to bookmark this page as it offers a whole host of different discounted activities.  Just make sure that you check ahead of time as most of the activities will need to be booked in advance to ensure you can get the discount.

The SeaLink ferry leaves at regular intervals and the journey time is less than half an hour so it’s not too much torture for those that hate public transport or don’t have the best sea legs.

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The 20 square mile (52 sq-km) island is a popular tourist destination due to it’s large national park, full of native flora and fauna, and World War II forts as well as plentiful hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities.  Due to it’s size you can easily hire your own car or scooter or little beach buggy and take yourself around but we chose to take a guided tour. 

We went with Magnetic Island Best Bus Tour, not only because it was the most cost effective but also because they have some great reviews on TripAdvisor.  This tour also allowed us to be able to get back to Townsville, grab our stuff from our hostel and get back to the bus stop with time to spare before our bus north.

We were greeted by our driver Col at the ferry terminal in Nelly Bay and got to meet our fellow tourists.  Fortunately for us there was only another couple on the tour so it meant that it felt more like a private guided tour than anything else.

Our first stop was a view down onto Rocky Bay and an introduction to the kinds of animals and birds we might be able to see during our tour.  Unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity to walk down to the secluded beach but the view from the coast road was stunning.

Our next stop was in Picnic Bay, which used to be where the main ferry port was located.  There is also an enormous Bengal Fig which was quite spectacular to see.

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After this we visited the Magnetic Island Museum and learnt about the Butlers, the first European settlers on the island.  The museum is small but crammed full of various historical artefacts as well as local arts and crafts items.

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Next up we stopped by Geoffrey Bay before heading out to Bremner Point.  Here we were able to hand feed some adorable rock wallaby as well as some beautiful fish including some Humphead Wrasse like Priscilla, the fish with a big personality that we saw in the Whitsundays.

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On route to Horseshoe Bay our driver spied some koala just chilling out in the trees.  We were so lucky to not only be able to see these lovable furry critters up close but to be able to see the little baby was absolutely amazing.

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We saw a small kangaroo chilling by the road with it’s baby as well, you can see it diving into the bush in our video.  Up until this point the only kangaroos we’d seen were ones that had been hit by cars and left on the side of the road. Our final stop before lunch was in The Butterfly Forest to see the thousands of migratory Blue Tiger Butterflies.  It was a really magical experience to walk through the bush and see thousands of shimmering blue wings dancing in the sunshine.

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We stopped for lunch in Horseshoe Bay grabbing an enormous portion of chips to share on the beach.  Despite being quite busy it was still relatively quiet and was great for some people watching for a change. Our penultimate stop was at Alma Bay which is a popular swimming location.

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Our final stop before heading back to the ferry was at the AquaSearch Aquarium to see the Giant Clam and a variety of marine fish.  It was amazing to find out the clam was over 20 years old and it was fascinating to hear about Dr Braley’s conservation work.

Overall we had a wonderful day and found the tour worthwhile.  It was interesting to hear about the history of the island as well as local bits of information and we felt very fortunate that we were able to see all of the wonderful wildlife.  We definitely got our money’s worth and made the most of our time on the island compared to if we had done a self-guided tour.

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