Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Magnetic Island National Park

What's special?

Rocky granite headlands dotted with towering hoop pines and sandy bays contribute to the picturesque scenery of beautiful Magnetic Island off Townsville. Just over half this large continental island is protected in Magnetic Island National Park. The island was named by Cook during his 1770 voyage when he believed the island’s landmass was affecting his compass.

Open eucalypt woodland of bloodwoods, stringybarks and grey ironbarks cover most of the island. Hoop pine rainforest dots the headlands and small pockets of rainforest grow in sheltered valleys. The littoral rainforest at Nelly Bay is the most accessible rainforest on the island. Mangroves grow on the sheltered side of the island between West Point and Cockle Bay.

The Wulgurukaba people, the “canoe people”, lived on the island and nearby mainland for thousands of years. Shell middens, stone tools and art sites are physical reminders of their strong connection with the island.

The island’s interesting past has included hoop pine logging, a quarantine station for the port of Townsville, early tourism in the 19th century and coastal defences during World War II. The island’s forts are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register.

Magnetic Island is surrounded by marine park waters and fringing reefs.

Exploring Magnetic Island

Walk to a secluded sandy bay for a swim or snorkel. Take a picnic lunch. Observe fishing and collecting restrictions in the surrounding marine park waters. Beware of marine stingers between October and May.

Go wildlife watching. Look for allied rock-wallabies on steep slopes early morning or late afternoon. See koalas along the walk to the forts. Look for peaceful doves and yellow-bellied sunbirds in the forest and woodlands and swamphens, Pacific black ducks and Australian grebes around the wetlands. Listen to the mournful cry of the bush stone-curlew late afternoon.

Enjoy spectacular views from the gun emplacements and observation and command posts built as part of the coastal defences during World War II. Explore the mangroves at Cockle Bay along the Picnic Bay to West Point track.

Camping is not allowed but there is plenty of private accommodation on the island.


A network of walking tracks provides easy access to the most picturesque spots around the island. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Take drinking water. Be careful exploring around cliff edges and the defence ruins.

Getting there

Magnetic Island lies 8km north-east of Townsville and can be reached by fast ferry services and vehicle barge from Townsville. The passenger ferry takes about half an hour. Bicycles, motor bikes and mini vehicles can be hired on the island.

Sources & Further reading


Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading