With both of us barely surviving the Whitsundays we were apprehensive about our next destination Townsville and Magnetic Island. We had a couple of days to get used to dry land and were very happy as the bus drove through town and we could see all the signs of civilization (Subway, McDonalds and Hungry Jacks to name a few) and a beautiful shopping, outdoor recreation, and scenic walking area called the Strand. Our hostel was a little ways away from the Strand but in another district with great restaurants and night life on Palmer Street.
The climate had become more and more tropical as we moved up the coast and the daily high was about 30 - 35 degrees Celsius. To fight the heat we stopped in the Townsville Brewery (Townsville Brewing CO) and tried some of the local beers. It was tasty but nothing special. We walked along the Strand and enjoyed the scenery and laid back atmosphere.
From Townsville we took an 8km ferry to Magnetic Island affectionately called “Maggie” by the locals. I think is was named Magnetic Island after the mineral properties of the Island affected Captain Cooks compass… don’t quote me on this though, Captain Cook never spoke to me about it directly. On Maggie we stayed at another X Base Hostel that was advertised as the only beach side hostel resort and we were really happy with the location and amenities. Our room was little and located on the back end of the night managers’ cabin, but we were only there 2 nights. There was a cute possum that was living nearby and amused us with its night time stumbling. This is the only place that I have come across any bed bugs as I had a couple nibbles on my ankles by one of the rogue monsters. The hostel had a great cook for breakfast and she would serve up bacon, eggs, toast and instant coffee for the reasonable price of $8. The bar in the evening was manned by a fellow Calgarian that hailed from Sundance. They had great drink specials and it was fun to relax in the evenings listening to the waves roll in.
Jess REALLY wanted to hire the Barbie car, but there was no way I was driving that.
The second day on the island we picked up some snorkel gear that was included in our deal as well as rented a Mini-Moke. Mokes are a little buggy car that was originally intended for military use but never made any headway because of the piddley engine and earth hugging ground clearance. They do have a cult following as beach cruisers and Magnetic Island has a fleet of them to keep backpackers entertained as they rocket around the island.
We drove partway across the island and did a hike up to some of the WWII gun turrets and admired some of the views. After the hike we had lunch on the far side of the island then stopped off to view the islands tiniest attractions, the Rock Wallabies. They are miniature cousins to Kangaroos and were hilarious as the bounced around eating and fighting. We even got to see some Joey’s coming up for air from their homes in mums pouch. We did snorkel a little but the water was still stirred up from the bad weather that attacked us further south.
The car was so fun that I even talked Jess into driving for a bit. From the fear in my eyes in the photo you can tell I’m terrified but proud she was such a great student.
Upon our return to Townsville we decided to hike Castle Hill which is a few meters short of being classified as a mountain. It overlooks the city and we worked up a sweat getting to the top. They thankfully had mist stations to cool you off as you looked down on to the town.
After the hike we decided to spoil ourselves and went to Ribs and Rumps for some meat. We ended up sharing a meal because it was so huge there was no way we could each eat one.
Townsville and Magnetic Island had everything we were looking for and kick started some more fun times as we got closer and closer to finishing our trip.