August 8 – Magnetic Island and Koalas

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.

Alexis and this snake were just hanging around

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.

Lola in her island home

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.

Karri with a blue-tongue lizard
A real live alligator

This snake patiently allowed everyone to wear it on their shoulders

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.

Chillin' it on the beach

The rest of the day was ours, to explore the hiking, beaches, town, restaurants, and watch the sunset over the bay.

A beautiful sunset over Horseshoe Bay

=============== Predeparture ===============
Magnetic Island
  • koala sanctuary
  • hiking
  • beaches

Located off the coast of Townsville, Australia, Magnetic Island offers the best of what people come to the South Pacific for: beaches, wildlife, and exploration.

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.”



6 responses to “August 8 – Magnetic Island and Koalas

  1. P.S. Photos to come–I seem to be unable to find the USB port on this computer. And, I uploaded the incorrect files before. Also, the desk is closed, so I have to work with the 14 minutes of internet time remaining. No worries!

  2. Today was one of my favorite days of the trip! We got to interact with animals that we wouldn’t be able too otherwise. Who else gets to hold a salt water croc named Barbie? And literally being right in front of the Koala and her joey was so amazing! Some of us even overcame our fears by holding a snake named Gucci…maybe not for a long period of time but at least they tried. The rest of the day was equally as fun, just enjoying the beauty of the island! Days like today really make me see the beauty in the world! If everyone would just take time to enjoy it i’m sure they would be more motivated to conserve it. So although you may not be on the beautiful Magnetic Island of Australia, take some time out to appreciate your surroundings. You would be amazed at what is out there!

    • Magnetic Island or “Maggie” as the locals refer to it was AMAZING!!! This was definitely one of my favorite days of the trip for several reasons. Our day began with a phenomenal breakfast which was seemingly never ending. They greated us with guava juice and champagne along with a food spread A-Z. After an amazing and filling breakfast the ranger gave us a hands on experience with the animals in the reserve. We did everything, from feeding a bird (mouth-to-mouth) all the way to holding a salt water Croc!!! Our ranger was lighthearted and friendly, trying to startle the group with fake tarantulas when we least expected it. After the group was turned loose a couple of us rented a moke’ for the day (pretty much a little 80 horsepower buggy). The experience of driving on the other side of the road was a thrill in and of itself!!! Once we had the moke’ we had freedom! We explored the island high to low, hiking trails and walking beaches all day in the sun. After seeing a bay during a trip to a lookout we decided it looked appealing enough to take a swim. After our swim we hit the trails with muster!! Three of us hiked a series of Three bays on the east side of the island. We couldn’t of timed it any better, seeing as how we saw three sunsets, one at each of the bays. For the final sunset we hiked off the beaten path & did some hardcore trailblazing. We hiked to a mountain which provided us with the best sunset I’ve seen my whole life. Quickly tramping out of the bush and hopping in the Moke, we had arrived just in time for an Italian dinner & some cold brews. Dinner was awesome, but the sadness had set in it was our last day on Maggie!! After dinner and a few brews I hit the bungalow to crank out my 5th anayltical writing. All in all it was an excellent day and an experience I will never forget!!!

  3. That was very well said……..congratulations on learning such important lessons of life…….Proud of you, miss you too…….Mom

  4. Thinking about taylo787’s comment, Magnetic Island really is a great example of sustainability in travel and tourism. We spent an entire day getting around by foot, or small vehicle. We spent time outside, in the fresh air and sunshine, interacting with animals in their natural habitats. We dined and shopped at local businesses, and patronized a small, eco-friendly resort. It was such an invigorating day for everyone, and it goes to show that we don’t need to spend a fortune, or use great amounts of resources, to have a great time.

  5. It’s awesome to see so many fun pictures! I can see what a blast you all had visiting the animals — and what a gorgeous sunset!

    I can see that you have all had an extremely fulfilling trip!

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