UPDATED FEB 2018. When I think of adorable furry creatures on Magnetic Island in North Queensland, I immediately think Koalas! But while it is true they can be found here, both in the wild and in captivity, they do tend to sleep unapproachably in their gum trees. Then I remember our stays at many Magnetic Island holiday houses that back on to the big granite rocks and natural bushland the island is famous for. Sitting in the cool of the afternoon families of cute little rock wallabies would tentatively hop out onto the rocks looking for food.
Rock Wallabies Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island rock wallabies or more specifically – Allied Rock Wallabies (Petrogale assimilis). Distinguished by a pale cheek stripe and hip stripe. As well as Magnetic Island they live on Palm Island. They also live on the mainland between Townsville and the Burdekin River but I have never seen them on the mainland.
If you rent a holiday home on the island, chances are you too will have some of these cheeky late afternoon visitors. But even if you are just on a Magnetic Island day trip, you can still see and feed wild rock wallabies.
Where to find rock wallabies on Magnetic Island.
To find these timid macropods, turn right onto Sooning Street as you leave the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal and head up and over the headland onto Marine Parade in Geoffrey Bay. Follow Marine Parade to the far end of Geoffrey Bay, then turn right onto the old Arcadia Jetty Road. The narrow road hugs the ocean with passing bays should you meet on-coming traffic.
If you are on a Magnetic Island bus, just ask the driver to let you off at the Arcadia Hotel.
When you see this sign on the left, turn right into the old jetty road.
Old Arcadia Jetty Road
The road hugs the waters of Geoffrey Bay.
Park at the jetty (before you reach the rock arch over the roadway).
The road deteriorates through the arch – suitable for walking only.
The shelter on the left, originally used by ferry passengers, is now frequented by rock wallabies.They are accustomed to being fed in this area, with the most wallabies being found after 4.30 p.m.
The wallabies live on the rocky granite headland and if it seems there are none around, just loiter near the rocks and their curiosity will get the better of them.
Feeding rock wallabies is a fun family thing to do on Magnetic Island.
What does a Rock Wallaby Eat?
In the wild, without tourist handouts, they mainly eat new grass after rain and forage for small herbs. As well they find other nutritious items like native fruit, seeds and flowers and non-vegan foods like insect larvae.
If you do decide to feed the wallabies – and they are difficult to resist – it’s important to know what not to feed them.
DO NOT FEED THEM bread, lettuce, cabbage, rhubarb, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, potatoes.
DO FEED THEM Wallaby pellets (can be purchased at island stores including Arcadia Newsagent at 4/7 Marine Parade) carrots, sweet potatoes, apples, paw paw, rockmelon.
Pursuing wallabies is not recommended, but they accept being hand fed and will come very close of their own accord.
Can you spot the real Wallaby.
Magnetic Island is on our list of fun things to do in Townsville.
How to get to Magnetic Island
Townsville to Magnetic Island is a distance of 8km. Unless you have your own boat, you will need to take the Magnetic Island Ferry (SeaLink Magnetic Island) or the Magnetic Island Car Ferry (Fantasea Magnetic Island).
Sealink Passenger Ferries depart frequently from Sir Leslie Thiess Drive on the Townsville Breakwater opposite the Pier Restaurant. Adult return fair $33 as at February 2018.
Fantasea Vehicle Ferry departs from Ross Street in South Townsville on the opposite side of the creek to the passenger ferry. $196 for a regular vehicle, including up to six passengers (whatever the legal passenger load of the vehicle is). This can be a very affordable option. Passengers without a vehicle can walk on and pay $27 return – bicycles are free. Before purchasing your tickets look around the terminal for tourist brochures which may have discount vouchers in them.
Buses meet the Ferries on arrival at Nelly Bay – it’s cheaper to buy Island bus tickets at the ferry terminal in Townsville when you purchase your ferry ticket. Also check out the Fantasea website for cost savings on Island bus tickets.
Is Car and scooter Hire is available? Yes. Magnetic Island 4 x 4 is close to the Nelly Bay Boat Terminal, Tropical Topless Car Rentals is also nearby and Arcadia Beach Guest House and Car Hire is in Geoffrey Bay.
Is there a public bus service? Yes there is a Magnetic Island bus service that meets each boat.
What is Gabul Walkway? The most easily accessible of Magnetic Island walks, it runs between Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal and Geoffrey Bay, Arcadia
Accommodation Magnetic Island? Yes there is plenty and some accommodation choices in Nelly Bay are within walking distance of the ferry terminal. There is a vast array of holiday units and houses available for rent on the island including two major backpacker options (Base Hostel Magnetic Island in Nelly Bay and Bungalow Bay Magnetic Island located in Horseshoe Bay). There are also Airbnb options.
Camping Magnetic Island? Is available at Bungalow Bay Resort.
Where is Magnetic Island YHA? At Bungalow Bay, 40 Horseshoe Bay Road.
Is Magnetic Island weather agreeable all year round? Yes it is, but Winter is the best time to visit Magnetic Island. The days are sunny, warm and dry and there are no marine stingers.
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