Since there were so many activities for us to choose from and we only had 1 day left at Magnetic, we decided to go for the most practical and affordable activity! So, instead of hiring Magnetic Island’s signature Mokes …
… and Topless cars, …
… we chose to tour the island by bus …
… with Magnetic Island Sunbus.
Departing daily at 9.15am and 1.15pm, the three hour scenic tour provides an insight into the history, flora and fauna of the island as well as an unlimited local bus pass for the day.
With this scenic tour, we were given a quick orientation of the main towns of Magnetic Island, and here are some of the highlights of the tour:
1. Aboriginal Burial Site - Without the tour guide pointing this out, we probably wouldn’t know that it is one of the sacred sites on the island.
2. A $1.2 million house for sale at Nelly Bay beach.
3. Nelly Bay Habitat Reserve - Established in 1996, the habitat reserve was developed to provide a protected area for the native vegetation communities, native Pied Imperial Pigeons and Bush Stone Curlews that inhabit the area. With informative signboards all around the place, it is also a place to educate the community through a living museum.
4. Magnetic Island’s “Devil’s Marbles” - Granite boulders stacked on top of each other are a common sight on Magnetic Island. Although no one has really named them, we decided to call them Magnetic Island’s Devil’s Marbles.
5. Picnic Bay - Referring to both a bay, as well as a main town on Magnetic Island, Picnic Bay was the very first landing site, boasting the first ferry terminal (in operation up until 2003 before being moved to Nelly Bay), first European settlement, and the first hotel on the island.
6. Bird sightings at residential area in Picnic Bay - When we were told that we will try to sight some birds in the area, we really didn’t know what to expect since it was just an open space, until we really saw them out in the public.
Bush Stone Curlews
Rainbow Bee Eaters
7. The yummy morning tea by the pool at the All Seasons Magnetic Island hotel.
8. Rock wallabies feeding at Arcadia - Arcadia is the smallest of the four main bays around Magnetic Island. The old barge jetty, which is situated on the left side, is a great spot for feeding rock wallabies.
Old barge at Arcadia
Rock wallabies feeding, even though there is a sign saying no feeding!!
The kissing rock at Arcadia
9. Radical Bay - Since the access road is heavily weathered and is difficult for standard vehicles to reach the bay, it is considered one of the hidden gems of the island, a perfect spot for a quiet picnic or a swim.
10. Arthur Bay lookout - Arthur Bay is also another hidden gem on the island as the only way to get there is by foot through a stream. Having such limited access makes Arthur Bay peaceful and sometimes even deserted. Perfect for those who want to get away from it all and relax. Here, we also spotted another of Magnetic Island’s “Devil’s Marbles”.
11. New residential development areas of Horseshoe Bay - Wherever we went, in addition to the traditional-styled houses, it was also quite common to see pieces of land for sale.
Lots of empty lands for sale
Some even turned those lands into a sandalwood plantation
12. Horseshoe Bay - The largest bay on Magnetic Island, the bay is ideal for water sports and is also a departure point for most of the water activities on the island. The beachfront is considered a tourist strip, with a substantial array of restaurants, cafes and bars.
Horseshoe Bay beach
Casuarina trees by the beach
Horseshoe Bay beachfront
As our tour ended at Horseshoe Bay, we decided to get off here for lunch, instead of following the tour guide back to Nelly Bay. After strolling around the beachfront checking out restaurants, we decided to give Barefoot restaurant a try.
Featuring an art gallery and an open air bar, …
… this multi-award winning restaurant …
… offers visitors a relaxed and mouth-watering dining experience.
Here, we tried their Lemongrass and Chilli Chicken with Bryani Rice …
… and their Greenslip Mussels Cooked in White Wine and Garlic served with Crusty Bread.
We also ordered their Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis for dessert.
With a full tummy, we decided to test our eye sight at the famous Forts Walk.
One of the most famous and popular walking tracks on Magnetic Island, …
… this track follows a ridge behind the bays …
… before arriving at the ruins of the Forts complex operated during World War II.
And the challenge, was of course to spot koalas along the walk!!
Managed to spot three koalas in total
There is also another Arthur Bay Lookout along the walk, but with a different perspective of the bay.
After the 90-minute calorie burn-out, we headed back into Picnic Bay to check out the old jetty …
… and the beach.
Picnic Bay beach
Townsville in the background
Unfortunately, Picnic Bay looked to me as though it is a dead town, because even with a mall, no shops were opened, not even restaurants.
Hence, we decided to end our active and eventful day with a dinner at the Boardwalk Restaurant and Bar back in Nelly Bay.
This time, we decided to try their mango and macadamia stuffed chicken breast with mushroom and spinach risotto, cherry tomato and herb pan jus …
… and pan fried market fish and sauteed prawns on creamy mash, witted greens with lime hollandaise and salsa verde, …
… before starting to pack up for our early departure the following day.