Magnetic Island: lovely layover!

While on the boat in the Whitsundays, I'd heard that Magnetic Island was a nice place to stop, and it turned out that the bus + flight was the cheapest way to get to Cairns. So as soon as I got off the boat I got it all booked, and the next morning I struggled over to the bus stop to catch the 7am bus. Oof. The bus was nice, however, and it was a quick 4-hour ish drive up to Townsville. The ride itself was fairly nondescript to be honest, but I napped & read, and it went by quickly.

Once in Townsville, which looked like a much cuter place than I'd have expected, I just needed to jump on the ferry over to the island, along with a few buddies from the mighty Boomerang. Easy enough, and after a lovely half-hour ride across a sunny, blue bay, I arrived on Magnetic Island. From there, you have really only three options: stay at the port, go to the left/sw corner of the island which is all mangroves, or go right/north towards horseshoe bay. Luckily, my hostel was over at horseshoe bay, so off I went on that little bus, with the friendliest & most helpful driver ever. I arrived to the adorable Bungalow Bay resort, home to a Koala & other animal sanctuary. They had a lovely pool & bar, but no real food, so I headed the 500 or so meters down to the beach to see what was what. Well, it turns out not much! As it was still stinger season, about half of the villages' restaurants were closed, and the beach was fairly deserted, except for the relatively safe fenced-in stinger-free zone. It was gorgeous though, and if it hadn't been so hot & humid, I may have settled in for an afternoon on the beach. It was crazy hot though, so I just grabbed a small lunch, and then headed back to the hostel to chill by the pool in the shade. I really am not sure what the temp was, but I finally got to understand that NE Queensland is truly the tropics. Sheesh. I thought I'd barely make the non-shady walk back, even though it was max 10 mins total!

After a relaxing afternoon, I met up with some buddies from a previous hostel (and current roommates) for quiz night in the bar on-site. We didn't quite win, but had a good time chatting & such. The next morning I was signed up for the Koala breakfast, so after a quick chat with my mom, I headed over to the animal sanctuary & enjoyed a lovely buffet with lamb, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Of course, then they started bringing out animals! Namely, a juvenile crocodile, a python, and the two resident cockatoos, one black, one white. Then we got to head over to meet Pebbles, a young Koala. She was adorable!! But all too soon, it was time to end breakfast, and start the proper "tour", where we would meet all the animals. On the tour, we got to even hold everything, including the croc, snake, AND a koala. We also got to hold & feed the cockatoos (I passed), lizards, a turtle, and we got to see an echidna, a strange but cute native Aussie species. Oh, and we sorta saw a wombat, but he was basically sleeping in his air-con shed, b/c they don't like the heat. But really, the highlight of this was getting to hold a koala, of course. We got to hold Mathilda, and even though she'd cut the handler's neck on the way out, she was a cute, sweet little angel for us. You want to be able to cuddle them, but really you just have to stay super still & pose for photos. But still: soo cute & fluffy!!! I was so overcome with positive feelings, I even submitted to holding the python for a few seconds. Still think snakes are just too creepy for words.

In any case, once my cool little animal tour was done, it was time to bus/ferry/taxi/and fly my way up to Cairns! Magnetic island was a cute little stop, even though I did't do too much. It turns out that there is actually a wonderful dive site of a shipwreck right nearby, but I was saving the diving for the reef proper, which was coming up next!

Attached are a few shots for ya- enjoy!