It’s November 15, and I’ve only got 13 more days of traveling alone up the East Coast. What once seemed like a never-ending journey has now been reduced to a two week vacation. Sitting here in front of my computer, I realize I have yet to write down all my memories — Fraser Island, sailing the Whitsundays, rainy Hervey Bay, the cattle station at Kroombit — and now that’s all they are, memories.
But of course, I’ll start from the top.
Magnetic Island is so-called because when the English explorer Captain Cook ran into it, he swore the magnetic pull of the island messed with his compass. How Lost is that for you? They’ve since proved he was wrong, but still…Magnetic Island in the South Pacific off the coast of Australia with a tropical climate and lush rainforest? Um, Sawyer, are you here? I actually asked the Oz driver if he’d seen any polar bears and he looked at me like I’d lost my mind, understandably. If it weren’t for all the backpackers and, uh, civilization, I’d swear Kate and Jack were fighting the Others around the corner.
In any case, the island is small and shaped a bit like an upside down triangle. There are tons of little bays and inlets, all with their own secluded beaches. I’m currently in Nelly Bay, staying at Base Backpackers on the beach. When I wake up in the morning and open the door I can hear the waves crashing 20 feet away. This, luckily, helps alleviate the anger I feel from getting woken up by the other 7 people moving around in the room.
The weather’s been “eh;” there’s actually a cyclone about to hit Cairns and rip down the coast, but today is flawless. I’m starting my scuba diving certification course later, and I’m hoping we’ll actually be able to get out on the water in the next two days. We shall see.
One of my favorite things about Magnetic Island is the preferred mode of transportation. Everyone drives around in these teeny little cars called “mokes,”which are actually just open-topped adult Powerwheels. Remember Powerwheels? The red jeep and the pink Barbie car? Well, blow them up, throw in four adult seats and a manual transmission and you’ve got yourself a moke. We rented two pink Barbies and a red one yesterday to zip around the island in style. Others rent scooters and electric bikes (for the hills), but we managed to get 11 people together and rent the mokes. I attempted — yet again — to drive, but did so unsuccessfully. The minute I tried to drive off the lot, the people knew I couldn’t drive manual. We had someone else drive, as usual. Hey, at least I’m trying!
We drove up to a few of the bays — Horseshoe Bay, Geoffrey Bay, Picnic Bay — then got out to explore the Forts Walk. In the 1940s during WWII, Australia was a major target for the Japanese. Townsville, the major city on the mainland across from Magnetic Island, was a vulnerable target. So the army, with the U.S.’s help, built a fort on the island. Nowadays you can go up there and sit at the lookout points. You really can see every single ship coming within miles of Townsville. Fortunately a shot was never fired in “anger,” only “mild surprise” when a U.S. Navy ship entered the harbor unannounced.
After the walk, which took about 2 hours (oh yeah, we saw wild koalas!), we went to bird feeding at a wildlife reserve. About 50 parrots descended down on the 20 or so-odd people gathered for the feeding. Video TK J Absolutely hilarious. Post-parrots, we drove down to Alma Bay to see the indigenous rock wallabies. They’ve been hand-fed for about 40 years now, so at about 5 p.m. they all come out to get their dinner. I fed a few, we took a few pictures. Believe it or not, I’m almost satisfied with my koala and kangaroo interaction here! Still, seeing a little rock wallaby with a joey hanging out of her pouch does not get old.
Other than that, there’s not much to do on Magnetic Island. It feels like the sort of place couples spend thousands of dollars to go and be completely undisturbed. There are tons of weddings held here, and I’m sure honeymoons galore. It’s one of those “lay-out, swim, eat, drink” places, and not much else. Not surprisingly, the lack of “nightlife” has put off many a backpacker. I’m quite enjoying the serenity. It’s a nice change from the frenetic, alcoholic-binging pace of other places like Airlie Beach.
Ok, off to do my dive course, but will try and do more catching up later!