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Discover Magnetic island – Australia’s cheapest island getaway

Magnetic Island Base
Tom Cooney

Tom Cooney
Manager - Base Magnetic island and Airlie Beach

You’ve been on Magnetic island for a few years now, what drew you there in the first place?

I was lucky to have spied photos of the magnetic island full moon parties when I was working for the business down in St Kilda. I had contact with the man that Maggie really owes it success to - Mr Will Gregg. He told me a spot was opening up in paradise, so I jumped at the opportunity. I flew up for a trial weekend while one of the full moon parties was happening and haven't looked back since. 

Living on Magnetic island is there an element of disconnection from the mainland?

Most certainly, Island life is genuine thing. It takes a few days of not having access to everything we have available on the mainland for some to get into it. For others a bit longer, but once that fear of disconnection subsides you really come to terms with the incredible lifestyle. Living each day surrounded by amazing people and unbelievable landscape.

What would you say is the most common type of traveller that visits Magnetic island?

We get a nice mix on Maggie Island (that's what us locals call it). The island is home to North Australia's largest wild koala population along with a raft of other marine and terrestrial wildlife. All the animals have been exposed to humans in a very gradual and non abrasive manner which gives any traveller the opportunity to experience Australia's fauna in it's natural environment, that's really special. 

Also given our beach side bar location, we also get people that are fortunately still driving the goon train up the East Coast(backpackers). We're lucky across the island and particularly at base to offer a socially interactive atmosphere, it doesn't matter if you're coming solo or with a crew we'll integrate everyone into our activities.

How many days does a person need to explore Magnetic island?

I've been lucky enough to live on the island for 6 years this June and there's still plenty I haven't seen. You can definitely scratch the surface on a 2 day or 3 day trip but there will be plenty of stones left unturned for your next trip. Maggie plays host to over 320 days of sunshine making it the sunniest suburb on the East Coast of Australia, so there's really no bad time to visit. If you are lucky to hit the island during 45 days of rain the waterfalls are spectacular.

You can definitely scratch the surface on a 2 day or 3 day trip but there will be plenty of stones left unturned for next time

Base Magnetic island
Base, Magnetic island aerial view

Do people need a car to explore Magnetic island?

Getting around the island is super easy, there's only one main road and it stretches for 13km along the south and eastern sides of the island. The rest of the island is almost inaccessible unless you've got a boat, or fancy a pretty rugged hike. So there are a couple of extremely beautiful places you can get to with a 4 wheel drive or scooter. These are all also accessible by foot if you happen to decide to get around the island using the public bus system (it's only $7.40 for an all day pass).

I’m a first time visitor, what’s your advice on where to go and what to see?

Definitely take a walk up the Forts track, these are old World War 2 fortifications that provide phenomenal vista of the bays below and back to the mainland. This is also one of the easiest places to spy wild Koalas. If you're here in season check out the wetlands in Horseshoe Bay, there's a butterfly forest that just comes alive in Winter. Get to Radical Bay, this is one of the most beautiful of the 26 bays on the island, it's an off the beaten track isolated piece of paradise. Join us back at the bar for a sunset walk up to Hawking’s Point then back down to the bar for dinner in the most ridiculous setting you can imagine.

How is Magnetic island Fairing after Cyclone Debbie?

Unlike our brethren down south Magnetic Island fortunately got away unscathed during Cyclone Debbie. Whilst the staff all enjoyed a few days off with the ferry services cancelled, the island only copped a few drops of rain and then it was back to normal operations.

What makes Magnetic island so special?

Magnetic Island is unlike anywhere I've been on my travels, the close community that comes in regional Australia is really amplified when you have that disconnect from mainland Australia. The people are a key part to what makes Maggie so special. I've always had the thought process that no one wants to do anything stupid while they're overseas and I think that rings true on Maggie. As soon as people step foot off their ferry they just seem to go into a much happier mood. For the travellers that get the opportunity to come stay and play with us, I think the opportunity to take a holiday from their holiday is one the key aspects to Maggie's success. Once you check in it's zone out time, you don't need to do anything. We've got an onsite restaurant bar, beachside pool, on site dive shop. We also offer stand up paddle boards, jet ski's on the weekend and can give you advice on any of the fantastic things to check out around the island. We really want all our guests to check out mentally when they get here and let us do all the work.

Base Magnetic island’s always been popular for it’s Full Moon Party’s, I hear you’ve changed things up this year?

Unfortunately, we had to analyse what was happening with the Full Moon party in regards to some new liquor licensing legislation that was recently passed. Our team has come up with an offering that we think is even better than it was. We've collaborated with Spring Break Whitsundays and Very Casual Events, to bring to life a full weekend Music, Food and Lifestyle festival that gives us the opportunity to market out all of the island’s natural assets as well as providing world class entertainment in arguably Australia's best venue.

Base Magnetic island
Base, Magnetic island aerial view
Base Magnetic
Chilling by the pool
Open Water Dive Course Magnetic Island
Learning to Dive on Magnetic island
Base Magnetic island
Full moon party on Magnetic island
Base Magnetic Island Full Moon Party
Rocking out on Magentic island
koala cuddle bungalow bay
Cuddling a Koala at Bungalow Bay, Magnetic island
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