See what I did there.
After finally seeing the sun come out late afternoon the previous day we were finally treated to what the Whitsundays looked like under a blue sky. The next morning was stunning. Not a cloud to spoil the view (and no it wasn’t raining in my heart)
I sneaked out for a very brisk walk up the local hill, Mount Rooper under the pretence of finding some breakfast for the family. The views were now breathtaking.
If only we had more time. Our next stop was Magnetic Island a 3 hour drive and ferry ride away. We pondered staying in Airlie Beach for the day but really you need to be out on a boat to see the Whitsundays at their best so we packed up and headed out. It was a glorious, hot and sunny day and the drive north was stunning. We arrived in Townsville, one of Queensland’s bigger towns and caught our 30 minute ferry over to the island that sits just off the coast
Magnetic Island or “Maggie” as the locals call it was one of the few places I’d not heard of when I started planning the trip. We only decided to stay as it was a handy stop off on the road north. I’m so glad we did
The apartment rental agency gave us a lift to Horseshoe Bay, our home for the next few days. The Apartment was just stunning, huge, spacious and luxurious. It overlooked the Bay from a huge balcony and I instantly fell in love with the place (Apartment review here).
We had time to spend a couple of hours on the beach and took a swim in the warm waters – not as clear as further out on the reef but shallow and calm and perfect for the kids.
As we watched the sun go down we were joined by a turtle swimming just a few yards off the beach. We even caught a glimpse of a whale breaching far out in the bay. I’d been told Horseshoe Bay was the place to go for sunsets and it didn’t disappoint. Watching the sun set with the boats silhouetted in the foreground was just magnificent. What a find this place was. After a picnic tea on the balcony we turned in, very happy indeed in our new temporary home and pleased we’d decided to take in a stay on Maggie
As was my routine I was up early the next day and took a stroll on the beach before anyone else was up. As always I was joined by the usual dawn chorus of birds, primarily the ever noisy Lorikeets and the more tuneful Honeyeaters. This time I was joined by a Kookaburra but he must have got ourtof bed the wrong side as he didn’t laugh although he did pose for some pictures
We spent the morning just lazing on the beach out by the rocks at the far end of the bay. We had planned a swim but the tide was out and Horseshoe Bay is extremely shallow so we just pithered and pottered and enjoyed the best weather of the trip. We did manage a brief swim out front of the apartment before lunch but even at a couple of hundred metres out it was only waist deep.
In the afternoon we took a walk across the headland to see some of Maggies other more remote beaches of which the island has plenty.
After a short and rather hot walk through the bush we broke through the palm trees to Radical Bay and what a stunner it was.
Straight in for a swim to cool down in the tropical waters. I could have floated there all day but then I started to tingle all over and it was clear there was something in the water with us. It was like the feeling of prickly heat and a little uncomfortable and after a few minutes of scratching we got out. Something microscopic in the water was giving us a little nip or nips. Later research confirmed something called sea-lice, tiny jellyfish that can be something of an irritation but nothing too bad. We recovered by lazing on the sand and sitting on the rocks at either end of the beach watching the fish and the boats and just enjoying more sunshine and warmth after the grey skies of the Wetsundays
Maggie has loads of these pocket beaches between granite headlands and our walk around the coast (a bit of rollercoaster of ups and downs in the heat) took us to Florence Bay, itself a real stunner and like Radical Bay, practically deserted
We didn’t linger as we had one more walk to do, and one that Maggie is renowned for. After another punishingly steep hill we passed Arthur Bay – more of that little cracker in the next post.
We were heading for the forts walk, one of the islands main attractions. It’s home to a collection of WW2 ruins, lookouts and gun batteries scattered throughout the forest and they are fascinating insight into history. Nestled amongst the bush and Eucalypt trees the walk is well worth it just for the views and the history. However this was not what we had come to see. Our eyes were facing up to the tree tops trying to spot one the islands reclusive inhabitants. We looked everywhere and were getting neck-ache and a little downhearted that our luck was out as the day was fading away. Then we got a quiet shout from and man over to our left and went over to see. There just above us in the trees was what we had come to see.
A mother and her baby! We were truly blessed. We must have watched them for well over an hour transfixed. A rare treat to see such an iconic and such a threatened creature in its natural habitat and so close.
After a few minutes they started to put on a show for us. Slowly climbing the tree, baby clinging on at first and then separately. Watching the mother expertly climb the thinnest of branches and then gather the leaves was just amazing I took hundreds of photos fearing that I might not have got a decent shot and so pleased that I’d invested in a proper telephoto lens although they were only 15 feet above us.
Koalas are under serious threat in Australia, mainly due to loss of habitat. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of varieties of Eucalypts in Australia, Koalas can live on just five. As man continues to expand so the number of those specific trees is reduced and along with it the Koalas. As food becomes scarce many Koalas become weak and fall prey to a range of diseases that normally they can withstand. It’s diet is also the reason Koalas have their reputation for being limited of movement. Rather than being just lazy, they are just conserving energy as the leaves give them so little nutrition. It’s tough being a Koala
As darkness approached we had to tear ourselves away. As we did a male Koala gave a throaty roar from a few trees away. I never knew they roared (they aren’t bears of course!). Did you also know that Koalas are the only one of 3 species (man and chimps are the others) that have unique fingerprints, very much like ours. What an amazing creature and we felt privileged to have seen them. Who knows what their future holds
We swiftly made our way to the summit and climbed the lookout point. The ruins on the summit are extensive and there would be whole heap of fun to be had exploring. For us it was a very swift and breathless climb to the highest tower. We’d just missed the sunset but the views were still spectacular, albeit, well, dark really
As a final treat on the way down I noticed some movement by the side of path and saw an Echidna, a sort of Australian hedgehog. One of a rather odd group of Australian animals called Monotremes (“one hole”) on account of the fact they only have – well – one hole called a cloaca to lay eggs and, you get the idea. It was too dark to take a photo so we just stood and watched as the little pin cushion waddled off into the bush.
We caught a late bus home and finished off an exceptionally fine day in the best way possible. Cold beers and burgers in the Marlin Bar, handily placed next door to the apartment. A proper Aussie bar and I loved it and in fact, quite disturbingly, so did the kids. I’ll restrict them to just the 4 pints next time