Saturday, 27 June 2015
After my whirlwind introduction to Australia in Cairns it was time for me to see what the east coast has to offer and the first stop was at Magnetic Island, or Maggie as it's so affectionately called by locals. With a population of only 2,500 people there is plenty of room for nature to blossom; almost half of the island is National Park making it a haven for wildlife like wallabies, possums and koalas.
Even though the island is small it is common to hire a 4x4 to explore, so $25 later we were on the road cruising in the brilliant sunshine. Magnetic has a sanctuary for rescued animals which we visited first; it is possible to pay to hold a koala and have a photo with it meaning it is quite the attraction for tourists! Aside from the koalas, we saw a whole host of mainly native animals including salt-water caiman, possums, snakes and turtles. As this is a place for rehoming animals following injury, loss of habitat and abandonment , it is possible to hold them as they are used to human contact which was a great experience... if not slightly nerve-racking when the snake was placed on my shoulders!
During breeding season a section of the forest turns into a butterfly playground as hundreds of thousands of Blue Tiger butterflies flit through the foliage, sometimes making trees look abundant in leaves as they perch on the branches. It was a really special moment in the quiet forest with all these beautifully decorated butterflies flying all around.
For many reasons Magnetic Islands most popular walk is the Forts Walk. The 90 minute round trip cuts through Northern Australia's largest koala population and once at the top, 360 views of coast and Coral Sea are the reward and as the name suggests the walk leads to historic WWII infrastructures.