August 8, 2011
Waking up in a platform tent on Magnetic Island is a refreshing, invigorating experience.
We began our day on this beautiful island, off Townsville in Queensland, with a delicious, healthy breakfast, provided by the superb staff of Bungalow Bay Koala Village. Grilled fish, French toast, fresh yogurt, champagne with guava juice–shall I continue?
After our meal, we visited the animals in their homes, accompanied by Tony, a knowledgable staff member who has been with the operation since its opening.
We were lucky to see a beautiful 18-month-old koala, Lola, in a highly active state. We were also fortunate to see a mother koala with her joey, a special experience that not many witness.
Besides the koalas, we were also able to see–and touch–a number of other creatures, including a blue-tongued lizard, a, black cockatoo, a native species of snake, alligators, and crocodiles (which are distinguishable). We also caught sight of a wild koala, a tarantula (in captivity), and some stunning butterflies.
Near the end of our visit, Tony said something very insightful and important: “Save the environment, not just the animals.” This is a different philosophy than most of what we have heard about ‘save the whales’ or ‘help the koalas,’ but it is a more inclusive mindset. Saving the environment in which these incredible animals live is more sustainable for us all.
The rest of the day was ours, to explore the hiking, beaches, town, restaurants, and watch the sunset over the bay.
- koala sanctuary
Magnetic Island was named by the ever-observant Captain Cook way back in 1770, who noticed that the ship’s compass went askew when passing through the area. Today, it is a popular destination for locals of the Townsville/Cleveland Bay Area of Queensland (we’ll see if it has any resemblance to that other Cleveland). Magnetic island is a sanctuary for travelers and animals alike. The 2/3 of the island protected as a National Park is home to Australia’s largest koala colony.
The structures and facilities of Bungalow Bay are more harmonious with the environment.
Reading about this portion of our trip, including our accommodations at the Bungalow Bay, Koala Village ‘YHA’ (Youth Hostel Association), this could end up being one of my favorite destinations. It’s always cool to see animals living in their home environments, living as they did before human impact.
Koala Village provides more than tours and education to visitors about this unique species; they also support ill, injured, and orphaned animals through rehabilitation efforts. Our patronage there will help to cover the wildlife care costs of protecting the koalas and other species.
With a resident population of only 2,500, this area is able to emphasize environmental responsibility (and sustainability?) It will be important to consider the impact of our visit there, making sure we respect the people and animals who call it home. And, perhaps we could be inspired. Could Mackinac Island adopt a more environmentally-conscious attitude? What about Put-in-Bay (near Sandusky, OH)? Hilton Head, SC?
Is this a model for sustainable hospitality and tourism?
The brief glimpse I have had of this island so far from the websites showed a spectacular natural setting, one that will surely inspire good times and some awesome photography. I am eager to experience it for myself, and see if I will do as the website claims: “If you come only for a day, then you will probably be planning your next holiday here.”