Listen to the audio postcard - click here
From Moreton Bay near Brisbane north along the East Coast of Australia there are numerous islands such as North and South Stradbrooke, the Whitsundays, Fraser, Hinchinbrook, Great Keppel and Dunk amongst many others. They are all beautiful. One of the most accessible is Magnetic Island, a short 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville in North Queensland.
Our son Chris visited from Wellington and we took time out to revisit 'Maggie' as it's known locally. Maggie was the first place we visited in Australia 12 years ago – it was lovely and low key then, and whilst there's been some development it's still lovely and low key with most of it protected by marine reserves and national park status. The marine reserves protect sea grass beds and also fringing reefs, whilst the coastline and interior is hilly, bush clad and rocky. It just has a lovely laid back island feel.
On bush walks we had very close encounters with rock wallabies and we stumbled upon an Australian icon a koala, inevitably fast asleep in the crook of a gum tree. Seeing the koala had the inevitable response of making us and a couple of German visitors ooh and ah, even though it did not move.
The best adventure though was when we hired a Jeep for the day to get to some of the more inaccessible beaches, the loveliest being Radical Bay.
The track down to it was a bit rutted to say the least, but worth it not least for the groans made by the passengers as we hit a rut!! Wendy's always good for a sound effect. On the audio postcard you can also hear another sound effect from Radical Bay.. Under a coconut palm, on the beach someone had set up a piano that was slowly disintegrating into the environment – the keys were dead but the strings could still be plucked – so obscure and absurd but a great photo opportunity.
There is a fascinating walk through the bush to 'the Fort', the remains of a second world war gun emplacement and observation towers. There was a whole community living here and it must of been quite remote then. There was not much IT in those days when Morse code was still used to protect the entrance to Townsville from the Japanese fleet that was heading this way. It was checked further north east in the Coral Sea. For me there is a personal connection as dad was a sailor on HMAS Quiberon that was attached to the British Pacific Fleet at the time of the Japanese surrender.
How times have changed, and to illustrate just how far I recorded the welcome message from the electronic toilet at Picnic Bay! To the electronic music of 'what the world needs now is love sweet love' you are informed that the maximum use time is ten minutes before the door will automatically open.
Listen to the recording click here
Koala on Magnetic Island
An adult koala eats between 200 to 500 grams of leaves each day mainly eucalyptus (gum leaves). Koalas sleep or rest for up to 22 hours each day because their bodies need a lot of energy to digest the gum leaves and when they are sleeping they save energy. Very few animals can survive on a diet of gum leaves. They are very fibrous and low in nutrition, and this is why they take a lot of energy to digest.