Magnetic Island Visitor Information

About Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island situated in Cleveland Bay, is just 8 kilometers offshore from the city of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It is a 52 km² mountainous island which has effectively become a suburb of Townsville having well over 2000 permanent residents. It is accessible from Townsville by ferry. Ferries arrive at Nelly Bay. There is a large 27 km² national park and bird sanctuary and excellent walking tracks can be taken between the populated bays and to a number of tourist destinations such as the World War II Forts.

All transport services to Magnetic Island depart from Townsville. Access is by passenger ferry, car/passenger ferry, or water taxi. The passenger ferry makes up to 14 return trips daily and the car/passenger ferry up to 6 return trips daily, arriving at Nelly Bay.

The Island is a haven for wildlife and is 54% National Park which is mostly located on the steep hilly interior and rugged north western side.

One of the most distinctive features of Magnetic Island is the native Bush Stone-curlews - a bird with a piercing cry which has awakened many a visitor in the night when they are most active.

Koalas are relatively common on the Island and can easily be found on the famous Forts Walk.

The name of the island came about because of the apparent "magnetic" effect it had on the ship's compass of Captain Cook as he passed the island when sailing up the east coast of Australia in 1770. People have since explored the general area of Magnetic Island with various instruments to discover if it was magnetic like Cook experienced, but nothing has been discovered.


Picnic Bay

Refers to both a bay in the south of Magnetic Island (offshore from Townsville in Queensland, Australia) and the island's main town. Until recently, the bay was the landing site for ferry services from the mainland, but ferries now arrive at a new terminal at nearby Nelly Bay. The town of Picnic Bay features an open-air shopping complex, The Picnic Bay Mall, and a patrolled beach along the waterfront. The town also hosts the Magnetic Island Golf Course and the Magnetic Island Police Station.

Nelly Bay

Is a village of Magnetic Island, and a suburb of the City of Townsville, Australia. Nelly Bay is considered the main Bay and Village of Magnetic Island as the village consists of the Magnetic Harbour precinct which accommodates the Island's new Ferry and Barge Terminal, meaning people travelling from Townsville on the ferry or barge will arrive at Nelly Bay.


Is more residential focused with around 97% of the dwellings being Housing or unit type dwellings. Arcadia is also home to Alma Bay and Geoffrey Bay, which are the Island's most well known beaches. It is also home to Centaur Guest House a World War 2 house built in memory of the hospital ship Centaur. It is also home to the famous Turnbull mansion which was built in the early 1900's.

Horseshoe Bay

Is considered the tourist strip of the island. As at September 2006 Horseshoe Bay was undergoing a string of housing development behind the existing residential area to the southern part of the bay. It is also a major accommodation and recreation point of Magnetic Island.

Magnetic Island - Alma Bay Magnetic Island - Horseshoe Bay Magnetic Island - Mini Moke Magnetic Island - Picnic Bay