Monday, October 3, 2016

The Wonders of Magnetic Island

You know you have found a good anchorage when you
see a fishing fleet getting some shut eye before going back
out to fish all night. They know where to drop the hook!
From Bona Bay on Gloucester Island, we did an overnight sail to Magnetic Island which is just off the shore at Townsville. Magnetic Island is known for its  rocky walking trails, gum trees full of wild koalas (not bears!), rock wallabies and a holiday atmosphere. Add to this many bays and white sandy beaches! There is only one road that runs from bay to bay and the ferry to Townsville with a reasonable bus service.

Arriving before noon allowed us to take in the sights, tour the town at Horseshoe Bay and visit the Koala preserve. Sheila also went to the south side of the island to see the Rock Wallabies on the beach. And she tried to find koalas in the wild but had no luck.

Dennis and I rested our not so happy hiking hips and waited for the tour of the koala sanctuary. We found giant bean bags to crash upon and took advantage of the cool shade and breeze. Sheila made it back in time to join the tour.

In fact, she was on a mission to hold a koala and have her picture taken with it. Mission Accomplished. We did the tour at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village . There were a number of koalas and at the tour's end, those who paid $18 could hold one and have their picture taken.

The first part of the tour was meeting other native animals and getting up close and personal with them.   
I can't believe I actually did that!
Not being a lover of birds, I was a little unsure of the first activity for the crowd. We held our arm out and a Black Parrot stepped from the trainer's arm to ours. Then you place a sunflower seed between your lips and the parrot "kisses" you as he takes the seed from your mouth. The bird shucks the seed, drops the casing and eats the seed. All while looking at you as if to say NEXT? Yikes! I did it and it was okay. Just okay.

After a few more bird encounters, the naturalist moved on to the reptiles. No way for me! First came a couple of lizards that were passed around the circle. Thanks, but no thanks!

Then she brought out a boa constrictor and place it around each person's neck and shoulders. Absolutely not! Thank you very much! And the last animal was a baby crocodile. It was only 12 inches long. Like the rest of the critters, I touched but chose not to hold. I was the photographer for Dennis and Sheila.

The presentation was interesting and very informative. Fortunately, we have yet to see a crocodile in the wild except on tours. They have warned us not to go into the rivers or swim near a river especially early morning or evenings. Crocs don't bite like sharks; they just grab you and roll you under water until you drown! And they move fast on land and in the water.

This explains why the locals have aluminum dinghies and not inflatable ones. The saltwater crocs inhabit the coast and coastal islands of Queensland and the Northern Territory. That is the rest of our trip in Australia.

Then they let you walk around and see the koalas in their tree habitats. These cuties have all been rescued and not taken from the wild. They are carefully handled and are quite cute. I was surprised to find that their fur felt more like lamb's wool and was not silky and shining as it appears from a distance. 

Sheila wanted to go to the south end of the island to see the Rock Wallabies on the beach. They are so used to humans that they will eat out of your hand. She took off on the bus and we walked back to town.

After the show, we enjoyed a nice seafood platter in an open air restaurant and passed the time while Sheila was exploring. We were back on the boat by 9 PM and ready to raise anchor early the next morning to continue toward Darwin.

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