Magnetic Island on a Scale of Barbie Car to 4×4

Hey team! Guess what! Remember how easy it was to find friends to rent a car with in Cairns? Whelp, it’s just as simple on Magnetic Island as well. This is due to a few things…1. It’s a tiny island and relatively easy to get around in a rental. 2. It’s decently cheap if you fill the car you’re renting. 3. Barbie Cars. 4. 4×4’s for sunset.

So, number 1. The island is tiny! There is actually a bus you can take around the island which gets you just about anywhere you’d need to be, but it’s kind of expensive and isn’t the most convenient public transport I’ve taken. Don’t get me wrong, super great when you’re trying to get from the ferry terminal to your accommodation (*cough*Base*cough*), but otherwise it takes a little bit to get from one side of the island to the other if you’re on the bus. On the other hand, if you’re in your own rental, it’s pretty tough to get lost, and it’s decently fast to get from point A to point B when you’re not making all of the stops that the bus does. Not to mention, the bus seems to barely make it up some of those hills which is less than comforting. Also you can’t get out to West Point unless you have a 4×4, which is the “top spot” to watch the sunset

More on that later though.

Okay! Already on to number 2 look at us fly! It’s not super expensive if you’ve got a little crew of people! In the 4×4’s you can typically get five people and the Barbie cars can do four. Both usually run around $80-$90 per day plus petrol. I know that sounds like a lot, but for the island, and split up between you all, it’s not actually terrible. Now, I know we’ve gone over this, but all you need to do is wander around your hostel and politely ask your fellow backpackers if they’d like to rent a car with you. You honestly don’t need more than one day with the rentals, like I said….tiny island. You can actually get to everywhere you need to go on the busses, but it’s not as fun as rollin around the island with a few pals from the hostel.

Okayyyyy, number 3, Barbie Cars.

These are ridiculous little pink topless cars that can’t go very fast and can’t go on any somewhat bumpy roads, but man are they entertaining. I actually didn’t rent one, my group wanted to, but we had five people and therefore couldn’t fit into a Barbie car, and the day before, when we had seven people to make it more worth it, they didn’t have any Barbie cars available. (Also I can do math, I’m talking about us getting two cars, okay if you didn’t get that you’re the stupid one not me). Bummer. That didn’t stop us from hopping into an unattended car and taking photos of course though. That’s just about all these cars are good for anyway. Seriously, they can’t go on the 4×4 roads, or rather….shouldn’t go on the 4×4 roads, and they don’t go super fast, and they can’t go down to the good, secluded beaches. So just save your time and spend your money elsewhere and just hop into a parked car and take your photos.

Unless you want the classic topless photo, that could be a little more awkward in someone else’s rental in a random car park. But hey, to each their own.

Anyway, onto the important information, 4×4’s! So there’s a few companies you can get your “off-road vehicles” from, and I hate to do this to the one we got ours from because they were truly lovely, but I have to recommend a different company. Actually, I lied, I will still recommend the company we went with because it’s bloody hot on Magnetic Island and the company we rented through had enclosed cars with working A/C. Glorious, especially after hiking up the forts or standing outside for more than three minutes. Also, you can fit six people into the car instead of just five! We had made an extra friend who wanted to watch the sunset with us so….we found him a place to sit.

Fun anecdotal inside jokes such as “someone should let Bruno out of the trunk” have followed ever since. PSA: this was super illegal….so, yeah drive carefully and try to not hit too many bumps on that 4×4 road if you end up shoving someone into the boot of the car. Also don’t tell on me okay thanks. Anyway, the company was Tropical Palms Resort and 4WD Hire, and like I said, they were absolutely lovely. They picked us up and dropped us off at our hostel, they helped us with getting the right insurance for the 24 hours we were going to have the car, and yeah, they were just really lovely people to be dealing with. Seemed like a small, family owned place, so, if you want air con, or just don’t care too much about the specific type of 4×4 you get, go support this business! They’re great.

Otherwise, if you want the more rugged, topless 4×4, go with Arcadia Beach Guest House and Car Hire. The only real problem we had with our rental is that we wanted to get down to a few bays on the north-western end of the island, and we weren’t allowed to go down the only road that accessed those bays in our specific rental. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea, all I know is that in our rental we weren’t allowed to use that one road, and these other rentals were allowed to. Also we had really been hoping for the topless 4×4 because we are young and carefree and wanted a topless car that really showed that. And we’d do anything for the Gram.

Look how happy we were! (Side note: this was with a different group of people from the hostel on my last night. They were going to the sunset again and I decided to join to see if I could get a better sunset than the night before.)

Anyway back to the road we weren’t allowed on. We parked up at the forts parking area and walked all the way to the first of four bays – Arthur Bay.

It was about a 15 minute walk, which was fine there, because it was all downhill and we were fresh and exuberant on the day. However, going back was literal torture, we were tired from laying in the sun and swimming, and it was hot as hell, and, obviously, if you can deduce information well enough, it was all uphill back. Torture.

*Road From Hell

There’s three more bays further along that get better and better apparently, which we were unwilling to walk to in the heat. Honestly, the road itself is actually not bad at all and we would have had no trouble just driving the car down, but we like to follow rules so we didn’t.

That being said though, there’s really only two places you can’t get to unless you have a rental, so if you’re not old enough or just don’t feel like paying for a rental, it’s not actually that big of a deal. One, is those bays. Honestly, you can just walk, I’m just being whiny cause I was hungover so it felt like the end of the world. It was absolutely gorgeous though.

There was hardly anyone at the first one and I’m sure as you go further in to the other bays it gets even more and more secluded.

The water felt great, and there were cool boulders to climb around on.

The shade was hit and miss, it looked like the trees were decent, but the sun made it through the leaves pretty well. Just lather up in the sunscreen though, especially if you intend on taking a nice long hangover nap, and you’ll be good.

Otherwise, if you want to make it to West Point Beach for sunset, it is deffo impossible to get to unless you have a car or manage to hop into someone else’s. The first night we tried for the sunset we all ended up having more fun searching for shells and taking group photos rather than watching the sunset.

It was a little mediocre so we enjoyed our friendship more anyway.

The second night I went it was even more mediocre, but we had a great time enjoying friendship again.

Moral of the story: sunset is beautiful anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere for the most part, and nothing beats just hangin with some awesome people instead. It’s the company you keep that makes life beautiful, aye?

And on that incredibly cheesy note, my brain doesn’t feel like writing anymore. I’m slowly easing myself back in after taking a much needed break during the holidays. Also trying for less horrendously long blog posts so hopefully the next one will be up in an actual week. Also depending on my wifi as usual though, but sometimes I’m just being bloody lazy.

End.

Billabong Sanctuary: The Oasis

Okay so lets talk about Townsville. It sucks and it’s boring and there’s one semi nice thing to do which is hike Castle Hill and it’s not fun (we all know how I feel about exerting myself on holiday).

Okay, we’re done talking about Townsville and now we can move on to the Billabong Sanctuary. I would say this is the only good thing about Townsville, but it’s not even in Townsville, it’s just outside of Townsville. Thank god, because this amazing place doesn’t deserve to have its good name marred by being a part of such a shitty place. Yes, I hate Townsville, it’s boring, small, the manager at my hostel was rude as, and the only good thing I did was go to the sanctuary, so go there. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk. (I feel like that was a little aggressive, butttttt yeah sorry I guess)

I do have more to say. Not about Townsville, that’s all I’ve got, but the sanctuary? Oh lawd, that was flipping awesome. So I kind of did this the expensive way because I didn’t want to be limited to a specific time, hindsight, it would have been literally so okay if I had just been budget friendly. So there’s a bus transfer that is available from any accommodation in Townsville. The bus picks up starting at 8:45 and returns at 3:15; it costs $60 for adults, $43 for kids, and $55 for backpackers (if you show proof of your hostel) and students. So, there were two main reasons I didn’t take this rockin deal, seeing as how the cost included entry to the sanctuary which was $37 for adults ($33.50 for backpackers), meaning the transfer was around $22. So a taxi is around $60 one way for a 4-passenger car, and an Uber cost $40 one way. Okay, so reason number one was that I needed to book the transfer the day before by 4 pm. I was holding out hope that I’d meet a few other backpackers that might want to go with me and by the time I finally decided that I should go either way, it was too late. The other reason was that there was a particular ‘interactive experience’ I was not planning on missing, which occurred just before the bus was scheduled to head back to town. So, being the OCD person that I am, even though I emailed the sanctuary asking if I’d be able to still participate and they said yes, I decided that was cutting it too close and I didn’t want to do so. Luckily for me, I met a nice Canadian girl who wanted to go to the sanctuary as well, so we split the cost of an Uber. We both forgot to get a card from the hostel though in order to capitalize on the cheaper price, so we had to pay full price. Bummer. When we were paying the lady at the front asked if we wanted to buy some kangaroo food for $2 as well. Uhm, DUH. I wanna feed some kangaroos. Heck yeah. Armed with our kangaroo food and maps, we strolled into the sanctuary. The excitement was palpable.

Throughout the day at Billabong there are a bunch of different shows and interactive experiences. They’re actually all scheduled in such a way that you don’t even really need to do the park yourself, you just can bounce from show to show because they’re all kind of back to back. There’s koala feeding, turtle feeding, wombat, koala, and reptile experiences, croc feeding, bird show, kangaroo feeding, dingo experience, all sorts of magical stuff.

We arrived just in time to watch the wombat experience, and holy cow, color me ignorant because I had no idea wombats were so flipping huge.

Massive. Seriously. They did an informative talk about the wombats, and then we were able to take selfies

(as you do) and pat the wombat bum. Fun fact, wombats have bums of steel and they can literally kill with them. The example we were given at the sanctuary is, if a dingo has started chasing, and the wombat runs into it’s burrow, it’ll keep its bum sticking out a little ways. The dingo can be scratching at their bum, but there’s very few nerve endings and they’ll barely feel it. Then, they’ll open up a little space, the dingo will probably think it can squeeze in, stick it’s head in, and the wombat will slam it’s bum back and could potentially kill the dingo, at the very least giving it a nice little headache. So yeah, watch out for the wombat bum, it can kill.

We went straight from the wombat experience to go to the koala experience. The experience was very informative, but we obviously were kind of distracted by the idea of getting to hold a koala and take a photo.

So I definitely remember some information about them, due to my diligence at being a good student, but I was admittedly a little too stoked about cuddling a koala. Now even though I was so enamored by the koalas that I basically just sat there staring at them and their cute fluffy-ness, there are a few things I remember – 1. Koalas are related to wombats. 2. They prefer to eat the younger leaves on a plant because they are the softer, easier to chew leaves and koalas only have one set of teeth so they need to treat them well. 3. There are around 900 forms of eucalyptus in Australia, koalas only feed on around 40-50 of those. Picky eaters, aye? I can relate. 4. Most koalas do, in fact, have chlamydia. 5. That’s actually all I can remember right now, sue me. They were way too cute, I was extremely busy paying attention to the koalas and not the ranger because I’m a child. I’m sure more will come to me out of whatever black hole information goes into in my mind, but by then it’ll be too late for this purpose. Wikipedia it if you’d like. We all know wiki won’t hold up in school, but I’m not getting tested on this so if I’m being entirely candid, I don’t really care. Anyway, we did hold them and oh my god it was the best minute of my life.

Minor exaggeration but that’s fine. It cost extra, of course, but he was so fluffy and soft and cuddly and I just can’t even handle it. Number one tourist thing to do in Oz, checked off the list. Me and the little man had a moment too, he didn’t want to leave me, he loved me, obviously I could tell. Anyway, he was taken away from me just as quickly as he was given, leaving me lost, and confused, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sadly turned and began walking from the koala enclosure, looked up, and…dreams came true.

Dingoes.

There is a God. No, you have no idea. DINGOES. THiS IS ALL I CARE ABOUT. Have I mentioned my dog yet? No? Oh lord well let me tell you all about her! She’s a three legged angel, and also is part dingo. SO, the dingoes were the main attraction here for me. Yes, even over the koalas and kangaroos, all I cared about was seeing dingoes. And here the angels were, on their daily walk-about around the sanctuary. This was the best day ever. I had a total moment and squealed. I was still a ways away from them and the rangers heard my squeal, they looked around for a second before laying eyes on me. A certified crazy person, hands to my mouth, pure joy in my eyes, entire body tensed, ready for action. Needless to say they looked a little cautious when I threw my hands down to my sides and started aggressively power walking in their direction. It took a lot to not run at full speed. Once I got to the dingoes and their rangers, word vomit spilled out of me “ohmygawdhiohmygoooooddddddddhi*breath*ilovedingoesi’mobsessedwiththempleasemayi*breaaaaaaaath*pleAsemAyIPETHIMPLEASEEEEEEE”. Now I tell you what, first off, if that was hard to read, good, then you understand the broke ass sentence I threw at the rangers in a botched attempt to act normal and ask if I could pet the dingoes. And second, the rangers were, understandably, a little wary of me. One of them dipped out and left her coworker with me in a true abandonment moment that I have 1000% pulled on my friends, family, and coworkers before. I dropped as soon as King, the dingo, started wagging his tail at me and come over for pets;

partially out of pure excitement, and partially because I couldn’t physically hold my own weight anymore seeing as how I was in literal heaven and I felt like passing out. King was loving it, he came in for snuggles and pets and gave me a little kiss on the nose, I melted. Anyway, the ranger did remind us to attend the dingo experience later that day and I very enthusiastically informed her that I would be there, and then I grudgingly allowed her to move along.

We turned to leave and saw kangaroos. WHAT EVEN, BEST DAY EVER. We hurried over to the roos and pulled out our food and proceeded to love on these two guys hangin here.

So cute, literally I was starting to short circuit. I was so happy. But, alas, the roos did eventually decide to move along and we decided to do some wandering around the sanctuary until the next experience which was the crocodile feeding. We saw cassowaries, emus, snakes, wallabies, crocs, some cool birds, tons of turtles, and of course the dingoes again —

How hard was it to tell how obsessed with dingoes?

Anyway, once it was time we wandered over to the croc experience and good lord, it was cool. Crocs are sooooo creepy! First of all, they always know what’s happening around them, okay? They have a type of jelly sensory thing happening which makes it so they can sense vibrations around them, meaning they can pinpoint where you’re coming from and where you are. Also, they can creep up on you without a sound and with barely any ripple on the water, so creepy.

Also, crocs can go a year before eating again, this means that they will happily wait for the right circumstances. CREEPY. But so cool. So, that being said, crocs don’t need to learn your habits, they know what’s going on, they know where you are. We got to watch the crocs do some jaw snaps which were crazy,

The ranger said that one wasn’t even that loud comparatively; and we got to see different kinds of crocs – e.g. salt water

and fresh water.

After the crocodile feeding we headed to a kangaroo enclosure that you were able to go in of your own free will. It was basically a little petting zoo with kangaroos, and it was amazing. We spent like, 45 minutes in this little area, going from roo to roo, taking all of our photos and videos and obsessing and letting them eat out of our hands and oh dear it was just so terribly amazing. I gotta tell ya, kangaroos do appreciate a nice little scratch,

and there was one kangaroo that kept grabbing our arms to keep us from walking away from him. So cute. They did eventually realize the bag yielded more than our hands did so….

I never wanted to leave, but I did eventually end up running out of food for them, so we finally decided to wander out and find some hand sanitizer since we were covered in kangaroo spit, and I don’t know if that’s bad or not but, we figured we didn’t want to mess with that. From there we caught the end of the bird show, didn’t learn a thing, but got there just in time for the photo ops.

After the bird show was the turtle feeding/racing. Now, a turtle race, at any other point in time in my life, would be the most amazing thing in the world. What? Turtle racing? That sounds so stupid amazing, are you serious? Of course I want that in my life. However, we were dangerously close to the dingo experience and I would only miss that if it was a matter of life and death, meaning I would have to be dead. Not just dying, because if I was simply in the process of dying, I would still spend those 30 minutes at the dingo experience before moving on to either the hospital or the morgue. Anyway, being the diligent teachers pet that I am, I of course planned on being early. So we watched the ranger feed them

then skipped the rest and went straight back to the dingo enclosure, where I fawned over the beautiful pups for ten minutes before the rangers showed up with a group of people trailing behind, also excited for the dingo experience.

Let’s talk about these people for a second, they were all children. Children and their guardians. I had flashbacks to going to Incredibles 2 and wanting to elbow all of these children out of my way because age before beauty am I right? So yeah, I’m immature and I wanted to ‘pet the doggy’ just as badly as the four year old next to me who was about to throw an absolute fit.

I tried really hard to pay attention to the ranger talking about the dingoes, but they had made a little hide and seek game with food for them all over the closure and I was hideously distracted watching them be such good little hunters while she was talking.

Heckin good pups. I do specifically remember her talking about one of the main differences between dingoes and dogs, which is that dingoes are double jointed, which makes it possible for them to ‘climb’ decently high. Also if you have the sound on that short clip has a few of the differences listed by the ranger. (If it even uploaded, honestly the hostel WiFi is so bad I can’t even)

But, the most important thing was next and that was where we got to pet and get photos with them. So the rangers brought out two of the three, King and Killari and we got to pet and play with King while taking photos of the little miss. King did an insane job of looking too much like my pup back home,

while Killari apparently also could tell I needed the love because she gave me a little nuzzle and kiss too and I absolutely melted.

The time spent with these angels was much too short and I was daydreaming about it for the rest of the day. We had seen everything by that point for the most part, and decided to call for an Uber and look around the gift shop while we waited. I almost bought literally 10 postcards with King on them and talked myself out of doing that at the last minute. “No Zoe…ZOE…..Do you NEED 10 post cards with the exact same picture of King on them? No. I know you WANT them but do you NEED them? Zoe, I did not raise you this way. ZOE……….NO.” I compromised in the end and only got five. And two 3-D cards as well, because I am very convincing. Anyway we picked up our pro photos of us with koalas and then my phone informed me that my Uber driver was there, so we trotted out, smiles on our faces, koala photos in our backpacks, and joy in our hearts. What a great day. If you’re ever in Townsville, I am truly sorry for you. Truly, but fret not, the Billabong Sanctuary and all of its wonders and happiness are a short drive away, and heading there for the day will make up for anything that Townsville could possibly do to you.