The irresistible power of attraction of the Magnetic Island

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The irresistible power of attraction of the Magnetic Island

We arrived in front of the Great Barrier Reef, exploring the east coast of Australia, and came across a small island located a very short distance from the coast, sensing at first sight a small piece of paradise.

The locals they affectionately call her “Maggie” but the nickname “Magnetic Island” catches our attention. We cannot resist discovering the reason for such a curious name and we wonder if it has something to do with the strong attraction that this beautiful piece of land nestled in front of the city of Townsville arouses in us.

Yunbenun and Captain Cook

The aborigines of the Wulgurukaba people called Yunbenun, in their Wulguru language, the island located in the interior of Cleveland Bay, on the Australian east coast, which today is commonly known as “Magnetic Island”.

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Just a ferry ride from the city of Townsville, in the state of Queensland, it is an emerged land just eight kilometers from the continent. The little more than fifty square kilometers of surface that it presents have become over time a very attractive territory for anyone who wants to visit a place that is not very well known, easily accessible and really beautiful.

Its very name is a tourist attraction associated with the history of the great explorations. Indeed, he was the well-known Captain James Cook – a lieutenant at the time he first sailed into Cleveland Bay. aboard HM Bark Endeavorbaptized in this way by the same – who gave this name to the island in 1770 after a strange event while approaching it.

Apparently, a strange magnetic force, which seemed to come from the island, distorted the correct operation of the compass. A fact that has been subsequently studied without success passing to posterity as a mysterious event that, in any case, has bequeathed us a very striking place name.

The old inhabitants who inhabited this enclave before the arrival of the British Royal Navy settled along an entire strip that covered from Westpoint to Cockle Bay, the latter being the usual anchorage that would later be used by Europeans.

The cave paintings found in some caves come from that aboriginal era, although today they have been relegated to the background of tourism in favor of the numerous bays and beaches and the beautiful natural landscapes of the Magnetic Island National Parkwhich occupies two thirds of the total area.

A paradise to discover

The small population present in Yunbenun is not yet intimidated by the presence of tourists on their island, except perhaps in the entire area corresponding to Horseshoe Bay. Whoever disembarks at the port of Nelly Bay will find a mountainous and peaceful place where they can camp freely with the frequent sensation of being in a still little-exploited paradise.

Famous for its widely sunny climate throughout the year, its enormous number of bays and beaches in relation to its size – there are up to twenty-three – or for hosting the largest colony of koalas in northern Australia, Magnetic Island remains an exuberant piece of reliefs steep, granite promontories and thick pine and eucalyptus forests, despite the fact that since the end of the 19th century the first attempts were made to turn it into a tourist destination.

Gone are the beginnings of promoters such as Robert Hayles around the Picnic Bay complex and the first regular ferry service in 1901, or the island’s past as a strategic defensive point in the South Pacific during World War II, of which the remains still survive. remains of some forts.

Currently, the Magnetic Island is an attractive redoubt where the more than twenty-five kilometers of trails that run through it lead us on numerous occasions to completely empty places due to the effort required to reach them. In this way we will discover intact sandbanks such as Balding Bay or Radical Baycompletely away from the hustle and bustle despite being a stone’s throw from the most popular spot on the island, Horseshoe Bay.

While social life unfolds in any of the five existing settlements throughout its surface, natural life occupies the space of a large part of it, giving us a not inconsiderable wealth.

For its part, there are also points that have become essential for tourism, such as West Point – an excellent place to admire the sunsets – or the wreck of the SS City of Adelaide, in Cockle Bay, which put the finishing touch to our experience in the attractive Magnetic Island.

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