After four perfect, sunny and very hot days in Townsville, with blue skies and not a cloud to be seen, we awoke at 5:30am this morning (after dreams all night of missing our alarm) to catch the 7:05 SunFerries boat to Magnetic Island. Stepping outside at 6am and the sky was just light enough to show once again no clouds. It appeared we were in for a perfect day.
Car parking at the ferry terminal was a synch – and for $5 for 24 hours, there’s no way you would get that value in any other major city! With two minutes to go before departure time, there was a ‘first and final’ call for boarding, and we were off. The ride over was smooth, and took around 20 minutes. We were surprised how few people were on the boat when we first boarded, and even more surprised when we arrived at the Island’s marina at how quiet and still everything was. Once a boatload of visitors boarded the ferry for the return trip, everything became still. There are some cafes on the water, but being a public holiday, only one appeared open, which was the one attached to the Peppers Resort. Very nice, but we didn’t wait around to find out the price.
After some confusion about where we were to collect the motorbike from that we had booked on Sunday (and who we had in fact booked it through), a search of our phone history (thank goodness for call log histories) gave us the answer, and a 20-minute walk later we arrived at RoadRunner Scooters. The walk itself was not hard, and it did give us a look at the island with some surprises. We couldn’t believe how quiet the entire island was – hardly any cars, no hoards of tourists as we had expected, and there were countless residences – not holiday units or tourist villages. The walk to RoadRunners was a few blocks back from the ocean, which didn’t give the feel of being a tourist business, but their vehicles were all in excellent condition (and far more than we had expected) and the service great, so we were off soon enough. We had decided against a scooter and opted instead for a Honda XL 250 at a cost of $60 for 9-5 hire. This bike is similar to what we are thinking of purchasing for the rest of our travels.
This was my first ride on a bike, and I must admit I was initially quite uneasy. Wearing denim shorts (and short ones at that) and thongs didn’t leave much between my skin and the road, but once you get used to the feel of being on a bike – and realise that not every bike rider has to crash! – it was quite enjoyable. I was surprised how much less you feel the bumps in the road compared to a car, or just compared to what you would expect on a bike. It handled the dirt track down to Westpoint Beach well, which is on one tip of the island and very secluded. A few self-sufficient houses, and one or two other cars were all we saw on that trip.
The bike took us back the other way out to Horseshoe Bay, where we had lunch and saw some of the pictures from Cyclone Yasi. Each of the small towns (if they are big enough to be called that) are well and truly up and running, and apart from a general quiet feeling on the island, businesses are back to normal and ready for the tourists to come.
Unfortunately, following the perfect weather of the past few days, the clouds came in by late morning, and come 12pm the spitting started. We decided we had seen everything there was to see on the island by that time, so boarded the 12:15 ferry back to Townsville.
The island overall, while having some nice scenery and plenty of beach coves, certainly wasn’t what we were expecting. There are a lot of new units for rent and certainly some tourist activities, but it does give the appearance of being more of a residential island that is now trying to cater to the tourists, but hasn’t quite reached that point successfully yet. Perhaps down the track it will, but in the meantime, a day trip suited us just fine.