Magnetic Island, near Townsville, Queensland

Magnetic Island lies right offshore Townsville in Cleveland Bay, Queensland. The mountainous island totals 52 square kilometers, and has become a veritable suburb of Townsville, with over 2,000 permanent residents.

Magnetic Island has some of the nicest weather in the Tropics along the North Queensland coast, making it a delightful destination for tourists. Located in a rain shadow, Magnetic Island boats over 320 days of sunshine a year, which is atypical for the region.

The island is known for its annual jazz festival, which attracts jazz loves from both within and without Australia. The event is held in August, and has been running for fourteen years.


Magnetic Island was named by Captain Cook during his expedition in 1770. When his ship passed the island, the ship’s compass was apparently affected by a mysterious magnetic field emanating from the island, hence the name. Since that time many have explored the island looking for the source of the magnetic effect, but to no avail.

Natural environment

Magnetic Island comprises rocky headlands, inland mountains, 23 beaches and bays interspersed with dramatic Hoop pine, eucalyptus, and vine forests.

Over half the island (27 square kilometers) is protected as a National Park. The Park, located inland and on the northwest coast, is a well-known bird sanctuary. The island is mountainous – with the island’s highest point, Mt Cook, rising 497 meters above sea level.

Magnetic Island is known for its native bush stone curlew – a bird with an extremely loud call. Other animals calling Magnetic Island home are koalas (the largest population of koalas in northern Australia), possums, wallabies, and over 100 bird species.

Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)

Magnetic has a nice variety of activities to satisfy holidaymakers.

  • Walking: The island has a great number of walking tracks totaling 25 kilometers of tracks within the National Park and also connecting the towns with different tourist destinations – such as World War II forts on the Forts Walk.
  • Fishing: Magnetic Island is famous for its fishing opportunities.  The island is surrounded by a great many types of desirable catch, including: Mackerel, Tuna, Red Emperor, Wahoo, Blue and Black Marlin, Sea Perch, Coral Trout, Sailfish, Dogtooth Tuna, Giant Trevally, and Mahi Mahi.
  • Water sports: swimming, snorkeling, diving (reef and wreck dives available – such as the “Moltke” dive to see the old cargo boat), sea kayaking tours to see dolphins, sea turtles, and sea eagles, jet skiing, water skiing, or hiring a yacht to sail around the islands
  • Land sports: horseback riding at Horseshoe Bay, golf, tennis, discovering the island by car, motorcycle, 4WD, or bicycle


Magnetic Island is a well-established tourist destination offering a variety of accommodation options to suite different interests and budgets, including:

  • Arcadia Beach Guest House (Arcardia): 20 minutes by ferry from the mainland, the guest house overlooks the beach and Geoffrey Bay
  • Beachside Magnetic Harbour Apartments (Nelly Bay): located right on the marina, guests enjoy the central location as well as the pool
  • Bright Point Deluxe (Nelly Bay): Bright Point Deluxe comprises just two luxurious ocean-facing apartments within a larger complex
  • Bungalow Bay Koala Village (within the National Park): this village is made up of architecturally-designed A-frame bungalows positioned within the secluded National Park
  • Nahmahlu: this luxury lodge is located in a private and remote part of the island, and it caters to larger families or groups by featuring six-bedroom accommodations.

Getting There

Townsville is the gateway to Magnetic Island, which lies just eight kilometers off the coast.

By air…

Regular flights to Townsville are available from Australia’s major capital cities.  Both passenger and vehicle ferries link Magnetic Island to the mainland.

By sea…

Magnetic Island is easily accessible by Sunferries ferry, from Townsville to Nelly Bay on the island, which takes just 25 minutes.

Related posts:

  1. Billabong Sanctuary, Townsville
  2. Great Palm Island, Queensland
  3. Reef HQ Aquarium, Townsville

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