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Spotting Koalas on The Forts Track, Magnetic Island

Spotting Koalas on The Forts Track, Magnetic Island

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Wondering where to see Koalas on Magnetic Island? Make sure to hike the Forts Track!

The Forts Track is a short hike to abandoned war fortifications where hikers can enjoy epic island views and spot some lazy Koalas on Magnetic Island.

This short 4 km trail makes for a quick 1.5-hour return trip and also offers great views of the surrounding bays, as well as some old World War II fortifications.

In this guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about The Forts Track. I’ll also include some photos of the koalas during my visit.

How to Get to Magnetic Island

Getting to Magnetic Island is as easy as a 20-minute ferry ride from the coast of Townsville, operating daily.

The best ferry company is SeaLink, which has ferries operating roughly every hour from Townsville to Nelly Bay ferry terminal on Magnetic Island.

The cheapest SeaLink ticket can be booked online in advance on GetYourGuide, which gives you a scannable QR code to use on your phone when you board. The cost for the return trip to Magnetic Island on SeaLink is $40.50 per adult with some concession options available.

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Magnetic island sunset

How to get to the Forts Track

The Forts Track starts on Horseshoe Bay Road, roughly a 10-minute drive or bus ride from the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal. If you tell the driver that you want to hop off at the Forts, he'll stop there for you.

If you're getting a bus, I'd recommend buying a day pass, which costs $7.60, and allows as many bus trips as you'd like for the day. This is the same price as two tickets, so if you're planning on getting a return bus, you may as well get the day pass.

Forts walk koalas on magnetic island

My Experience Hiking the Forts Track

The Forts Track is an easy walk, following a clear, level path through the gum trees.

The trails are wide and historical points of interest are marked clearly by several signposts along the track.

Additionally, I found plenty of opportunities to stop and soak in some Magnetic Island viewpoints, especially from the highest fort. There are also loads of Koalas living in the dry sclerophyll forest surrounding the Forts Track.

Forts walk koalas on magnetic island

Seeing the Fortifications and Ammunition Bunkers

Hikers can veer off the main path to several WWII landmarks, including encampments, bunkers and radar fortifications.

These fortifications played an important role in defending Townsville from Japanese vessels, at a time when Japan was a formidable force in the Pacific.

Queensland Parks have done a great job preserving the historic site, even constructing a ladder to reach the top fortifications.

Koalas on magnetic island 2 of 13 scaled
Forts walk koalas on magnetic island gun fortifications world war 2

Spotting Koalas on Magnetic Island's Forts Track

If you're traveling in Australia and you're yet to see a wild Koala, then Magnetic Island is the place to spot one.

There are hundreds of wild koalas on Magnetic Island. While hiking, always keep an eye up in the tree line. Koalas are surprisingly difficult to spot, however, some tend to chill in the lower branches, making them a little easier to find.

I can't tell you exactly where they will be, since the Koalas on Magnetic Island like to roam from tree to tree. However, if you keep your eye up on the branches near the start of the Forts Track, I'm sure you'll spot at least one.

Forts walk koalas on magnetic island

Protecting Koalas on Magnetic Island

Like many of Australia's marsupials, koalas have evolved without a distinct predator. They quite frequently linger around in low branches and even walk around on the ground to get from tree to tree.

This makes them an easy target for wild dogs and cats, which were introduced very drastically in an ecological sense.

However, since the majority of the island is classified as a National Park, there are tight restrictions on domestic animals and pets. This allows koala numbers to remain quite strong on Magnetic Island.

Forts walk koalas on magnetic island
Forts walk koalas on magnetic island

Best Views on The Forts Track

There are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy panoramic island views.

Viewpoints to the north and west grant views all the way to the Palm Island group, while there are also plenty of views of the northeastern Magnetic Island bays.

The best 360 viewpoint on Magnetic Island is the top fort on the Forts Walk. There are plenty of signposts and trailheads pointing to the top fortification, making it very difficult to miss.

Once there, climb up the steel ladder to gain roof access and enjoy the view.

Anchor bay viewpoint from the forts walk magnetic island

Review: Is the Forts Track Worth It?

Absolutely, I'd say the Forts Track is definitely worth the trip! From my own hike there, I found it to be a wonderful blend of history, nature, and wildlife. This turned out to be one of my favourite spots to watch the sunset on Magnetic Island (check out the high fort).

The easy walk through the gum trees, coupled with the occasional koala sighting, makes it an iconic bushwalk on Maggie. The WWII fortifications add a layer of historical intrigue as well if you're into that.

Climbing to the top fortification to soak in those sweeping island views was the highlight for me. If you find yourself on Magnetic Island, I wholeheartedly recommend taking the time to explore this track.

Forts walk koalas on magnetic island

Where to Stay on Magnetic Island

Koala mum and baby in kuranda, australia

1. Selina Magnetic Island Top-Pick

This is one of the best-rated accommodation options on Magnetic Island. It has a good chill-out area, pool, yoga an option to sleep on a converted bus, and on-site koala tours.

Nomads magnetic island accommodation on the beach

2. Nomads Magnetic Island

This hostel offers shared rooms and private rooms. Rooms are small cottages that overlook the reef right on the water's edge in Nelly Bay.

Double bedroom at cstay in picnic bay on magnetic island, australia

3. CStay

One of the best value accommodation options for couples is CStay in Picnic Bay. There are several twin rooms available with an outdoor pool. It is located close to public transport and walking distance to many restaurants.

Forts walk koalas on magnetic island

When to Visit The Forts Track

Magnetic Island sees up to 300,000 people visit each year. The best time to visit the island is in July, when the weather is calmest and the water is free of marine stingers. This is also a great time to hike the Forts Track.

Magnetic Island enjoys a tropical climate, with distinct dry and wet seasons. July is the best month to visit, since the wind has calmed down and there is little rain. Expect normal day temperatures of around 25-27 degrees.

If it's koalas you're looking for on Magnetic Island, don't worry, they'll be there all year!

Koalas on magnetic island 10 of 13 scaled
Koalas on magnetic island 6 of 13 scaled

Before you head out, make sure to check out some of my many other travel guides for more inspiration on Maggie!

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.