Wondering about where to see Koalas on Magnetic Island? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered in this quick wildlife guide to spotting koalas on the Magnetic Island’s 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.
In this guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about The Forts Track. I’ll also include some photos that I managed to snap of the koalas during my visit.
- First: How to Get to Magnetic Island
- How to get to the Forts Track
- The Forts Track – Hiking Guide
- Spotting Koalas on Magnetic Island’s Forts Track
- Best Views on The Forts Track
- When to Visit Magnetic Island
- More Maggie & Queensland Travel Guides
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
First: How to Get to Magnetic Island
Getting to Magnetic Island is as easy as a 40-minute ferry ride from Townsville.
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 of the return trip to Magnetic Island on SeaLink is $39 per adult with several concession options also available.
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 $7.40, 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.
The Forts Track - Hiking Guide
The Forts Walk is only a short 4 km trail which makes for a quick 1.5-hour return trip.
The trails are wide and historical points of interests are marked clearly by several signposts along the track.
There are 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.
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.
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.
Related:Visit Alma Bay 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.
Best Views on The Forts Track
There are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy panoramic island views.
Viewpoints to the north and west grants views all the way to the Palm Island group, while there are also plenty of views of the north-eastern 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.
Related:Best Sunset Views on Maggie
Where to Stay on Magnetic Island
Below I've summarised the three best places to stay on Magnetic Island for various budgets. The links go to Booking.com, which is what I personally always use to book the best deals on accommodation.
- Stay at the Koala Sanctuary: Bungalow Bay Koala Village - This hostel is one of the best-rated budget accommodation options on Magnetic Island. It has a good chill-out area, pool and of course, the on-site koalas.
- Best Hostel With a View: Base Backpackers - Base Backpackers is a name synonymous with budget travel in Australia. This hostel has shared rooms for under $35 a night. Rooms are actually small cottages and overlook the reef right on the water's edge in Nelly Bay.
- Best Guest House for Couples: CStay in Picnic Bay - One of the best value accommodation options for couples is Cstays in Picnic Bay. There are several twin rooms for less than $65 per night.
When to Visit Magnetic Island
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.
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.
However, it's possible to make the trip to Magnetic Island at any time of the year. In saying that, it's advised to wear a stinger suit if swimming, freediving or snorkeling.
If it's koalas you're looking for on Magnetic Island, don't worry, they'll be there all year!
More Maggie & Queensland Travel Guides
Enjoy this quick guide to finding Magnetic Island koalas on the Forts Track? Before you head out, make sure to check out some of my many other travel guides for more inspiration for things to do on Maggie and beyond!