I am going to state at the top that Magnetic Island (or “Maggie” as the locals call it) was probably the biggest disappointment in all of Australia for me. Right off the bat, the boat pulls in to the island and there are loads of half build expensive looking condos. I think, this place looks expensive, why is it known as such a “backpackers destination”? There are two buses to greet the boat each headed to each end of the island and I figure out which bus I am supposed to be on. We wind in and out of various bays and the driver kindly yells out the hostels at each stop. I am on the Base hostel route and most of the kids gets off there and I keep going until we get to Travellers Hideaway. The place is pretty much deserted but I find the guy who works there and check in. The room is clean, comfortable and cold! The air conditioning in the humid weather is working fully! The place is a little jail-like as the walls are painted cinder blocks, but at least it keeps the place cool. I wonder around Picnic Bay in about 5 minutes before I realize that that is it. There is nothing much there. Some now-closed stores and like two resurants. The only proper supermarket on the island is back in town where the boat drops you off. So I walk into town and pick up some food for the week, but suck up the $2 and take the bus back as it’s hot and I have a load of food. Prices were also a bit more expensive then on the mainland (but still not as nuts as Cape Trib).
There really isn’t much to do on Maggie but hang out. Apparently it’s really cheap to get SCUBA certified there, because the water is kind of crap, but I wasn’t going to spend money on crap SCUBA. The Base Hostels have something called a Full Moon Party every month, but I never heard good things about it and I am not a party person either. The Koala Bungalow hostel looked kind of awesome, but expensive for me. I went on a walk around the old Magnetic Island Fort area as I was told you could see a lot of koala’s in the wild. I think I saw like 2 and they were far off the path, so pretty disappointing. My guide book was grossly out of date. The town that I was staying in apparently used to be the main port of the island and used to be more hopping, but since the ship dock moved from Picnic to Nelly Bay, Picnic has pretty much died. What does that say for the island?
My favorite activity I did was go on the half day tour of the island. The guide was very informative and it included a tea break at the nicest hotel on the island which was a nice treat from the shitholes I was used to. The guide was also a bus driver on the island and it was nice to have some form of familiarity on my time there. I got to be familiar with all the other bus drivers too and it was nice to say hi to people almost every day.
Moral: I guess I didn’t do my research properly because Maggie was probably my least favorite stop on the tour. It was just a big disappointment all around. After my visit I actually went back to the most recent Rough Guides guidebook to read up on it and if I had the current edition, I probably would have taken a pass. Oh well, you live and learn.