We arrived late into Townsville on Easter Saturday, and thankfully the hostel we’d booked wasn’t far away from where the Greyhound drop-off point was.
The next morning the three of us took the ferry to Magnetic Island with Charlotte and Sophie. Both the ferry and night at the hostel were all included as part of our Oz Experience package which was handy. Once on the island after the short boat journey, we caught a bus from the ferry terminal to Base hostel which had a beautiful beach view. We left our bags in the luggage room as our rooms weren’t ready yet, then we got the bus back over to the other side of the island to see the weekend market – which was not exactly what we were expecting. I think it’s fair to say after the incredible markets in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam we were slightly disappointed by this particular market! Nothing can live up to that standard. There were arts and crafts on sale as well as some odd bric-a-brac, and people giving massages on the beach. It didn’t take us long to walk through and continue along the waterfront to take in the beach views. As it was Easter Bank Holiday the island was teeming with families on holiday but it didn’t feel overcrowded.
After our beach walk we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in a cafe called The Early Bird (not the same as the one in Cardiff!) and we had some really nice food with a sea view – I had Mexican pulled pork and a green smoothie that tasted mostly of pears, yum. Sophie and Charlotte are vegan too so it was lucky we found somewhere that they could easily find something to eat. Considering we had mainly been living off homemade sandwiches and cooking for ourselves to save money, it was really nice to indulge in some proper food made by someone else.
After deciding to buy an ice cream for dessert (a delicious honeycomb Magnum) next we headed to another part of the island on the bus to go and feed the rock wallabies. They are as they sound – wallabies that live in the rocks! Admittedly they were quite hard to find, especially as they’d probably had a lot of visitors that day, but eventually after patiently waiting, a couple came out of hiding and we even got to feed one with wallaby food we’d bought between us.
It was getting late in the day so it was the perfect time to head for the most popular walk on the island, the ‘fort walk’, as dusk is the best time to spot the wild koalas. We were concentrating so hard on trying to see the koalas and thankfully it finally paid off and we actually saw a few, including a baby one! It also helped that people had made arrows with sticks where they had seen a koala, and considering these animals don’t tend to move very far or very fast, there was usually still a creature to spot in the tree above.
After reaching the fort at the track’s summit and admiring the view, we managed to walk back to the road in relative lightness as the sun was going down. By the time we reached the bus stop however, it was dark. Unfortunately, we had only just missed the bus by a few minutes and had to wait almost an hour for the next one. The roads were country lanes so it wouldn’t be a good idea to walk at night, particularly as it would be a long journey across the island with no lights. When the bus finally arrived and we got back to the the hostel we made a beeline straight for the kitchen to make the pasta and sauce (aka meal of kings) we had brought with us. It was lucky we had brought food with us as we would have been pretty stuck without it as the supermarket was shut and near the ferry terminal, not near the hostel. For the rest of the evening we just hung out chatting on a picnic bench outside the kitchen and agreed to reconvene early the next morning to make the most of the day and go on a hike.
Having asked the hostel receptionist about walks around the island, we set off on the bus first of all to the supermarket to get picnic supplies for lunch, before walking to the start of the track we had planned to follow. By this point it was already pretty hot and humid, making the hilly track a lot more challenging, particularly for myself and Rhianna as we do not cope well in the heat!
The views around the island make it worth it though – this was the view from our lunch spot. Not bad at all!
After our picnic with a view, we continued down the hill to the end of the trail and caught the bus back to the hostel, picked up our bags and caught the ferry back to the mainland. Sophie and Charlotte had a bus to Queensland that afternoon so headed back earlier than us. When we got back to Townsville it was dinner time but as it was Easter Monday and therefore a bank holiday, nothing was open! Even restaurants! So we looked up the nearest Dominoes and walked out of town on the hunt for $5 pizza (Don’t know why we don’t have the same deal/topping options over here!). We didn’t want it to get cold walking back to the hostel so we sat on the stools in Dominoes and shamelessly ate our pizzas. So worth it. When we had demolished our food we headed back to our hostel. It was one of the very few hostels that had free WiFi with no time restrictions so we had an internet session and chilled out watching telly.
Not a bad way to spend the Easter holidays!