Leah Explores … Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island, or Maggie as the locals call it, is a small island located just off the coast of Townsville, and just a short 25minute ferry ride away! The majority of the island is national park, but it’s one of the few places that you can see Koala’s in the wild.

Stay:
I stayed at the Base hostel which had a two night deal which included, return ferry fare, welcome drink, a dinner and a breakfast. I really liked this hostel, the rooms were all A frame cabins, which definitely helped with the overall aesthetic, not that it really needed any help there! The hostel was right on the beach, there was a pool, and the bar and kitchen was pretty decent too! There were plenty of b&b’s, Airbnb’s and hotels on the island as well if you didn’t fancy the hostel life. I would also recommend the YHA Bungalow Bay, which I went to when I went to see the koala’s and it looked really nice there too

Do:
Hire a 4×4 or Barbie car
We had the option to rent the car for 24hours or six hours. We opted for six hours as we were leaving the next day, and it was more than enough. It was so nice to have the freedom to go and explore, especially as Magnetic Island isn’t bustling with tour busses. Even better was that our 4×4 was a banged up little Suzuki ready for off roading, it was so nice to drive something a little banged up instead of a brand new car for a change.

IMG_7560Rock Wallabies
Without a doubt one of my absolute highlights of Magnetic Island. From dusk onwards in the Arcadia area of the island the rock wallabies come out from the rocks and are totally cool with all the tourists there. The wallabies are nocturnal so the later you go the more there are. We went around 5pm and there was a decent amount. Take some veggies to feed them and they will come and eat right out of your hands.
YHA Bungalow Bay Koala Village
Ever since my first enchanter up in Kuranda I will take any opportunity I can get to hug a koala, hence my trip to the Koala Village. There are three tours a day which last for two hours and are led by an expert, and includes holding a small turtle and lots of information It costs $29 for the tour, and then an extra $18 if you want to hold the koala and have a photo. What was great was that they let you take photos on your phone too, so you had digital copies straight away. I also got to stroke a wombat and take a selfie with a koala called Hagrid. You can also if you’d like have breakfast with the koala’s here, check their website for more details.

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Hike to Hawkings Point
We did this the first night we arrived in time for sunset, and it was beautiful. After a bit (a lot!) of confusion about where the trail actually was we found it and trekked up to the top. Take plenty of water, if you do this. This was the first time I’d done any sort of hike in this level of heat and humidity and it took it out of me more than usual. The views from the top are insane, especially just as the sun slips below the horizon.

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Enjoy the coast
I didn’t do it, but there were plenty of places on the island where you could snorkel or scuba around the island. As well as that there were so many beautiful beaches you’d be hard pushed to not find one that suited you. Drive around and find a secluded spot for a spot of relaxation.

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Magnetic Island definitely wasn’t on my radar of places to go in Australia, until I got here and started talking to other travellers who had already been there. I absolutely loved my time there, especially as for the majority of it, I had such little phone reception that my phone was permanently on “SOS only” which was a nice change to completely switch off. I highly recommend a trip to Magnetic Island if you’re in the area, even if it is just for a day, it’s definitely a place I would like to go back to. 

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Thoughts on being a backpacker at 30!

As I type this, I am still 29, just about, although I am such a procrastinator that this most likely won’t get published until I hit the big 3-0. So far I have been backpacking Australia for just over six weeks, and I’ve definitely noticed that my attitude is somewhat different to other travellers I am meeting who are (for the most part) younger than I am.

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Food and Drink:
For starters I don’t have the same desire to go out and get drunk most nights, don’t get me wrong, I like going out for a drink, but not every single night. I’d rather have a fancy cocktail from time to time than cheap larger and goon every night. I did that at uni, and feel like I’ve got it out of my system. It also takes me a hell of a lot longer to bounce back from a night of heavy drinking than it used to, and to be honest I’m more concerned with putting my money into something that I’m going to remember.
   Which brings me onto food. I am definitely more inclined to spend my money taking myself out for a nice meal each day than a night on the tiles. For me one of my favourite parts of exploring somewhere new is finding delicious food, cute restaurants and coffee shops. Yes you can look back on a night out (if you can remember it) but some of the best meals I’ve eaten have happened when I’ve been travelling (I’m looking at you Coachella snow crab fries and brunch at The Parker in Palm Springs.)

 Experiences:
After travelling by myself and with others for years, I’ve nailed down what I enjoy doing, and I don’t have as much time for all the tourist traps. This comes from knowing what I do and don’t like, and for me, I’d much rather sit on the beach or in a coffee shop reading than going to a zoo or a theme park. There are definitely times and places for both. That doesn’t mean I am completely averse to all tourist destinations, and some you have absolutely got to do. There is normally a reason they are popular, and a lot of the time they are enjoyable but a lot of the time I also find them a bit of a waste of money. It’s definitely something I tend to weigh the pro’s and con’s of before going for it.
I also know that whilst it is sometimes essential, I don’t always like to be constantly on the go. I quite often need a day to settle into a new place, also a lot of the time I find that my bus won’t get me somewhere until the afternoon, and knowing my self, I know that the rest of that day is probably going to be a write off. That way, by giving myself the extra day, I feel a lot less stressed out and rushed when exploring somewhere new. 

Treat Yo’Self:
I’m much more likely to throw money at a situation and have a “treat yo’self” moment. Be this a meal, an attraction, or an experience. Knowing what I want from travel means that I can normally pretty accurately know if I will like a place and if it’s worth my money, therefore I am less likely to feel that I am constantly wasting money. As well as this, 
I can only ‘slum it’ for so long, she says from a 5* hotel bed 😉 but seriously, I am so much more likely to check into a “nice hostel” as opposed to a cheap one. I also now know that if it is more than a 5-10minute walk from the bus station and there is no hostel shuttle, I am not willing to lug all my stuff there in the heat, and I will happily pay for a cab/uber/bus to get me there.

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Me Time:
I’m so completely happy in my own company that I am much less likely to make an effort to socialise. I’m aware that sounds very anti-social, and one of the best parts about travelling is definitely the people you meet along the way. I just think that for me, I don’t need to make a new best friend in every new destination I go to. I’m enjoying having all this uninterrupted “me time”. I have no responsibilities at the moment and I am bloody loving it. For the past two years I was working two jobs, one full and one part time, and it was exhausting. Most weeks I would be working 7 days, as well as making time to socialise and have a life outside of work. So for me to not be working at the moment is a complete luxury.
   I also know how to make myself feel like me again. Travelling can take its toll on you mentally and physically. Some days I just need to take a day off from it and feel like me again. For me this is things like going and sitting in a coffee shop, going to the cinema, walking around a book shop and wandering around shops. All of these are things that I do in my everyday life and doing them when I’m a few thousand miles away from home just make things feel “normal’ again.
   Finally, I’m much more present. I’ll “do it for the ‘gram” as much as the next person, but at the same time I am very happy to switch off from technology and social media a bit. There are a few places I’ve been where my phone has been on SOS only, and it’s been so nice. I’m not constantly Snapchatting every second of my day, and I’m way too lazy to be constantly taking the perfect Instagram shot, which in turn means I’m much more present in the moments that are happening around me.

The beauty of traveling is that you can make the experiences whatever you want them to be, and to suit your personality, which is why you can enjoy travel at any age. So go forth, and explore!