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Magnetic Island #1

Magnetic Island

22nd-24th June 2012

Weather: Rain, cloud, sunshine, drizzle, cloud

Temp: 20-25 C

I arrived on a dripping wet Magnetic Island, after a very soggy day in Townsville. I slid off the ferry and onto the bus, paid my $1.70 and plastered a smile on my face determined not to let the weather have a negative effect on my holiday.

I checked into Base Backpackers, the only backpackers directly on the beach in Australia. (This is their claim, so forgive me if I am wrong). I last stayed here on my trip up the east coast in 2004 and being 20, I doubt pissed-up backpackers and excessive noise bothered me in the way it does now, but I chose to ignore those sentiments for the next 36 hours and join in. Everyone in the bar was indeed, drunk. It had been raining all day, and in compensation for this, the bar manager had thoughtfully been putting on drinks specials and extended happy hours since 10am. My free glass of bubbly went down rather well, as did the next few, leading me to continue buying more and so quickly catch up with my new travel friends and join in on the puddle dancing madness of backpacker drinking.

The next day, I was rudely awoken at 7am to loud music blasting out from the bar. I thought my watch must have stopped and that it was later (my $5 watch has been playing that game of stopping recently, causing me to have a few near misses this trip!). Nope, it really was 7am and after plying us all with drinks all night long, the bar staff were up and about and letting everyone know about it. I consoled myself with an egg and bacon role (hangover) and sat watching the sea, in the sunshine wondering how to spend this rare blast of sun, knowing that the rain would soon be back.

Unable to make clear decisions after so many litres of alcohol I thought it was a good idea to go for a hike. I have fallen victim to this before, you may remember a lot of my walks in Slovakia were due to a guilt-ridden hangover that I thought would be eradicated with exercise.

I took the bus, which was fun in itself for $7. It meandered through the villages of Magnetic Island, providing time to gape at people’s front gardens, swimming pools and neighbouring coves to dream of a possible life here on the Island that Captain Cook’s compass got confused about.

I got off the bus and decided to take the Fort walk. Apparently you can see wild koalas, wallabies and snakes. I didn’t meet any of those locals, but I did enjoy the very rewarding views once reaching the sweaty summit. The remains of the forts and battle type things were there and most were possible to explore or climb around. This, I wasn’t too keen on, as I was very aware of what might have been lurking inside. On the Ascent I must have oozed out at least a bottle of bubbles, so on the descent I felt somewhat dizzier and more sober.

At the bottom, I sat I the sun waiting for the bus to take me to the Koala Sanctuary.

townsville

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So, my first impressions of Townsville, apparently a capital city, were that it was full of overweight men and crap restaurants. After that, all I could think about was rain and a bit more rain and some more crap restaurants.

It wasn’t all bad. I had a wonderful night’s sleep in a double room in a squeaky clean hostel, which I would recommend. After a 6 hour journey in the ute from the farm to civilisation, I was looking forward to my week of well deserved adventure. When the rain came in and the clouds dropped making nothing off the coast visible, you can perhaps imagine my disappointment…

I went to the Reef HQ aquarium. It’s recommended in the Lonely Planet and with the help of my student discount and my glasses I had a good look around. I went to the Turtle Hospital and learnt that one of the biggest threats to turtles is that they swallow plastic bags thinking they are jelly fish. Their insides get clogged up, they can’t poo, so they fill up with gas and float to the surface. Poor things.

I also took to time to read all the info and check out all of the images of all of the things in the ocean here that will kill me, or would like to. Very useful information.

After that I had a soggy walk along the esplanade. A 2.2km stretch of beach with information stations about skin cancer and deadly jellyfish. Really all very positive messages. I also tried in vain to find restaurants that the Lonely Planet recommended me, figuring the least I could do in such crap weather was enjoy a decent lunch. That was all in vain though as at least 3 of them had long gone ( my edition was only printed about 8 months ago) and the one i chose was crap.

I can’t say I would rush back to Townsville, and really would urge people to just jump straight on the ferry, heading over to Magnetic Island ( post to come) if the weather is good or up the coast if it’s not!