The East Coast: Magnetic Island

A few small surprises resulted in this being the “best worst day ever”


Upon returning to Airlie Beach after the Whitsunday Islands, we straggled around town to do some laundry and still had a three-hour drive north to Townsville for the night. We arrived and basically collapsed in a heap on the doorstep: exhausted, sun-stroked, riddled with sandfly bites.

After spending one glorious night in a real bed with a real shower and real air conditioning, it was time to get back on the road and return to the tent.

Despite our lovely host doing everything they could for our comfort, there was nothing to alleviate the sandfly bites.

Sandflies have got to be the direct spawn of Hell. I have never experienced such a maddeningly itchy sensation, that continues even if the bites aren’t agitated. The flies are so small they can go through your clothes without you feeling them, and take a few days for the bites to show.

They start off as tiny little red dots, you may think you’re breaking out in hives. Next the bites raise up like a hundred little mosquito bites and the itching begins. I can usually ignore mosquito bites and have them go away in a few days, not so much with these. The itch is ever-persistent. I even woke myself up scratching them in my sleep. After you subconsciously scratch them a few times they will turn into fiery itchy little scabs and basically all you can do is sit on your hands and try not to cry.

This is how we started our day in Townsville, it should have been the worst day ever.

We drove around the CBD for a while, desperately trying to find a chemist (preferably of the discount variety). Once inside we asked a pharmacist what we could apply or take to stop the itching. She recommended an antihistamine and a few topical treatments. We bought them all.

A pair of nuts we must have looked like standing on the sidewalk in downtown Townsville (say that five times fast), applying spray and ointments to basically every inch of ourselves. After we were finally soothed we felt like we had earned breakfast.

There was a place called The Balcony that looked promising  – and oh it most definitely was. They had a ‘bacon chop’, need I say more? It was basically a little bacon steak, and one of the best things I’ve ever had for breakfast. Even if we had done nothing else that day, it still would have been the best day ever.

Our decision to go to Magnetic Island was half-planned, half-spontaneous. The ferry was cheap, so we thought, why not?

Upon arrival, we wandered around the little bus stop, trying to find a map of the island to plan where to go. Just as we figured out which bus stop to go to, it was pulling away. With the budget being too tight to rent one of the adorable beach jeeps, we set out walking. One of the kind ladies at the island’s grocery store called us possibly the only cab on the island, and we took off, white-knuckling the seats until we got to the other side of the island.



I had read that at one of the hostels on Maggie you could feed wild rainbow lorikeets. It was an absolute must-do for me. If you’re ever on Magnetic Island, definitely swing by Bungalow Bay Koala Village around 4pm. You will not be disappointed.




Best day ever.


I had also heard from a friend that there were some friendly rock wallabies hanging living near one of the beaches. We went walking in that general direction when another best day ever event happened – we saw an echidna!


This little dude trundled right past us without a care in the world, I have never been so excited to see a wild animal in my life (except maybe that time we saw a koala).

Best day ever.



Finally we made it to the rock wallaby colony and made some new friends. As much as I’m always conflicted about interacting directly with wildlife, we followed the guidelines and only had apple and carrots for them to snack on.






Best day ever.





It was entirely my fault we missed our planned ferry off the island; I was much to excited by the wallabies. Once again we had a long night drive ahead of us – 4 hours north to Cairns where we had booked into a caravan park for a week.

Towards the final hour of the drive, on a long straight stretch of road with nothing around but sugar cane fields, we had to stop. Steam was streaming out from the hood of the poor little Corolla.

A while back we had heard something plastic-sounding roll around under the car, and assumed we had driven over a water bottle cap. Turns out, the cap to the radiator had blown off and little Corolla was overheating.

As we waited for the car to coo down, I sat and looked out at the field. A shooting star soared over the sugar cane, lighting up the whole sky as it went across followed by a huge red tail. It was the kind of thing people don’t really believe, but I will never forget.

Best day ever.

After a few more breaks to refill the water in the radiator, we made it to Cairns at about 1:30am. The owners of the caravan park had left our reservation information taped to the gate.

We finally set up the tent for the last time.

Best day ever.




Add yours →

  1. Truly! Amazing photographs and a nice post.


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