Magnetic Island, or Yunbenun as it is known by the Traditional Owners (the Wulgurukaba), is located 8km north-east, or a 25 min passenger ferry ride, from Townsville (or 45 min by car barge). Falling within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area it is a key destination for local, domestic and international tourists in the Townsville North Queensland region.

Nearly seventy percent of Magnetic Island is a National Park that is edged by 23 pristine bays with soft sandy beaches, which are nestled between rocky granite headlands. There are snorkel trails in both Nelly and Geoffrey Bays to take advantage of the coral reefs, shipwrecks, and marine environment, while the walking trails take you on an adventure with local wildlife through their natural habitat of hoop pine forests, grasslands, and eucalyptus woodlands.

The island has a permanent residential population of 2,500+ who are predominantly located in the main bays of Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Arcadia and Horseshoe Bay. The island community has a surprising number of clubs, activities, workshops and gatherings which you are also welcome to join in on.


Koalas were listed as ‘vulnerable’ in Queensland by the Commonwealth Government in 2012 with concerns about the decrease in the national population. Koalas, as an iconic part of Australian fauna, are a priority for both national and international travellers, however, the experience is often limited to koalas in captivity.

Magnetic Island is well known for having a significant population of wild koalas. Until recently the size of the population on Magnetic Island had not been documented, however, a recent study by James Cook University found that there is a baseline population of around 825 koalas.

The size of Magnetic Island means that the density of koalas on Magnetic Island provides tourists the opportunity to see koalas in the wild. The Forts walk is frequently taken by tourists looking to sight koalas during their stay.

Shipwrecks and Marine

Magnetic Island is one of few islands on the Great Barrier Reef with permanent residents and a short commute to the mainland. The diversity in the flora, fauna and marine environment on Magnetic Island has been the focus of numerous honours, masters and doctoral research projects. The discoveries on Magnetic Island have been instrumental in the understanding of the scientific community on marine environments.

On the west of Magnetic Island there are mangroves and mudflats, while the north and east faces of Magnetic Island are host to idyllic beaches, unique reefs, and intriguing seagrass beds. With shipwrecks scattered around Magnetic Island and snorkel trails, visitors often take advantage of being able to see marine animals and plants.

Military History

Townsville is one of few regional cities to host two operational military bases, RAAF Townsville and Lavarack Barracks, which is the largest army bases in Australia. The North Queensland Region has a depth of military history and Magnetic Island is uniquely placed to educate people on the events of World War II with the best preserve d and most accessible fortifications on an island in Queensland.

During World War II the Townsville Region hosted over 50,000 American and Australian Troops. Magnetic Island played a key part in the defensive strategy and recuperation of service men and women during this period.

Constructed in 1942 to 1943 to overlook Cleveland Bay, Magnetic Island has a Range Finder, Command Post, Observation Post, two Gun Emplacements an Ammunition Store, and remnants of permanent living quarters that were used during World War II. These facilities form part of the Forts walk and are maintained by Queensland Parks and Wildlife. The Forts ruins are protected under the Queensland Heritage Act 1992.

(Content courtesy of Townsville Enterprise Limited)

Would you like to know more about Magnetic Island?

For more detailed information on Magnetic Island visit our local community event and info site at: