Tuesday, 6 June 2017


Happy pup at Horseshoe Bay. Lots of dogs on Maggie.

I turned 70 yesterday, so to celebrate, my bride and I flew up to Townsville and caught the Sealink Cat across to Magnetic Island.

This place has a special place in my heart. We lived in Townsville on and off for years in the eighties, and two of our kids were born there.

We holidayed there when the kids were small, and I sent groups of school children across on camps from time to time. I remember setting up an emergency evacuation procedure for some of the kids with dodgy health conditions. Helicopter evacuation was the only option.

Fortunately we never needed to use it.

The Sea Cat that got us there - taken through glass.


We stayed at Peppers Blue on Blue. It was a very pleasant place, but I have no idea who named it. The inventor of a sobriquet like that should forever remain anonymous. The resort is built on the littoral on Nelly Bay, and there is a very swish marina attached. There were some interesting pieces of maritime kit moored there.
Lots of expensive hardware.

 I found myself wondering what was the point of keeping all this expensive hardware moored. Surely it should have been cruising. But then, there are people who keep beautiful classic cars in museums and look at them, rather than drive them. Strange.

We hired a strange little jigger with the title "Rebel". It was actually a cut down Daihatsu Cuore with a Targa top (without the top, if you get my drift). It was a lot of fun, but the seatbelts were decorative rather than functional.

Once we removed ourselves from the posh accommodation, the charm of Magnetic Island emerged. It remains a unique environment, a combination of laid back charm and millennium chic. There were lots of dogs, all well-behaved and content. Their owners were the same.

Maggie dog. Her name is Tuesday.
The place has an interesting history.

Long before Magnetic Island had its current name, it was known as Yunbenun. It was called that by the Wulgarukaba people who lived on the island for thousands of years before European settlement. One of their popular camping spots was Cockle Bay near the island's southern tip.

Maggie from the air.

It was named Magnetic Island by Cook in 1770 when he believed the magnetic compass on his ship the Endeavour was affected by the island.

During the 1800s the island became a popular picnic area and by the late 1890s the first resort was established in Picnic Bay.

Magnetic Island became an important defensive position during World War 2, because it was close to Townsville, which was an important military base.  Its views over Cleveland Bay were valuable, as the bay was a significant anchorage and assembly point for large fleets and convoys operating in the south Pacific.
Horseshoe bay mooring.

During the war, Magnetic Battery, an artillery battery and observation post, was built in the hinterland of Florence, Horseshoe and Arthur Bays. Picnic Bay also became a popular defence force rest and relaxation camp following the commandeering of a resort in the bay in 1939.

The remains of this battery are fascinating. The whole Eastern side of the island reminded me of the Long Hais in South Vietnam. The rocks, the heights, and the proximity of sparkling water are all present.
Our trusty steed.

It's a great place for a short break. Unless you simply want to do the beachcomber thing and chill out for a long time, you can see everything on the island in a day or two.

There is an amazing variety of accommodation, from basic to posh.

Check it out, gentle reader - preferably during winter.

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