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Rock Wallabies, Magnetic Island - North QLD


The rocky terrain and dense vegetation of Magnetic Island is home to Allied Rock-Wallabies.
Their subtle colouring camouflages these animals, making them difficult to see among the rocks. Allied rock-wallabies move quickly and surely around their rocky habitat, helped by short toenails on their hind feet.
Magnetic Island is one of the few places (if not the only place) in Australia where you can feed wild Rock Wallabies.
At dusk, the Rock Wallibies hang out in Arcadia near the pier.
Rock-wallabies aren’t found anywhere else on Earth.
There are currently 16 species and eight subspecies of rock-wallaby living in Australia.
They form the largest group of macropods (kangaroos, wallabies and their relatives), representing 22% of the species that remain.
Rock-wallabies are an internationally recognised group for the study of species development and chromosome evolution in kangaroos and wallabies.
Few features distinguish the allied rock-wallaby from its close relatives but each species lives in a different part of Queensland and northern New South Wales; where their ranges overlap slightly, there is some hybridisation.
They all have upper parts that range from brown to grey, and paler underparts.
They usually have a dark muzzle and a dark patch around the armpits. On the face is a pale cheek stripe, and across the hips is another pale stripe
The diet comprises grasses and shoots of herbaceous plants, with up to thirty percent of the diet being browsed from bushes.
They have a small home range during the wet season when food is readily available, but range much more widely during the dry season.
While foraging, out-of-pouch young are often left hidden in rock crevices.
The allied rock-wallaby is behaviourally monogamous, but not all the offspring are sired by the supposed father.
The gestation period is about thirty days, the joey leaves the pouch at six to seven months and is fully weaned when nearly a year old.
Young adults may disperse over distances of two kilometres or so, and longevity is about seven years.

Posted by charlystyles 13:28 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island allied_rock_wallabies Comments (0)

Walking on Magnetic Island - North QLD

One popular activity on Magnetic Island is making the most of the walking tracks. I spent a whole day exploring the island and discovering beaches that only be reached on foot.
After getting up early enough to pass thse wallabies
and enjoying an hour of yoga on the beach at sunrise
I set off along Horsehoe Bay to begin my exploration
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay (3km, 45mins)
Horseshoe Bay supports a flourishing, healthy mangrove community.
A mangrove is not a species but rather the name given to a community of unrelated plants living in areas which are inundated by tides.
This track climbs up through a steep gully of closed eucalypt forest along a ridge.
A turn left leads downs through shady trees to a secluded beach in Balding Bay.
being careful when I took these photos as it is a nudist beach!
By continuing along the ridge
it is the same distance again to Radical Bay
Continuing to hug the coast line, I dipped down again to
Florence Bay
With a contained fringing reef, large sandy areas and a tree-fringed beach it is one of the special, unspoilt bays on Magnetic Island.
In 191415 Mrs Jane Alice Benjamin bought 36 acres of land at Florence Bay and began to build a tourist resort with a jetty. however, the bay is difficult to access by prevailing winds in the summer and by 1926 lease and council rates were unpaid for several years so the land was sold on.
During World War II two army huts for servicemen were built at the bay. today the site belongs to the Scout group.
Further along the track, there was a short walk to the Searchlight Tower
During World war II tall structures towered over the ridges of Magnetic Island.
Two searchlight towers were installed to compliment the radar and gun emplacements erected at The Forts.
Both were carbon arc lights with a 3million candle power capacity, capable of spotting aircraft at 30,000 feet. the lights were powered by diesel.
A little further laong the track was another short wal to Arthur Bay Lookout
Which was the last beach stop along this section of the coastal path
Arthur Bay
not easily accessible as it is protected by an area of Mangrove
The first line of defence for many mangroves is to stop the salt water from entering the plant, by filtering it out at root level. Another trick is to quickly excrete salt which has entered the system.

After a quick look around the local school fete, I caught the bus to begin another section of the walk from
Nelly Bay to Arcadia (6km, 2hrs)
This track passes alongside Gustav Creek up a steady climb to the saddle of the ridge,
with Nelly Bay on one side and Horseshoe Bay on the other.
Horseshoe Bay, where I'd starting my walk that morning
many birds and other wildlife can be seen, such as this sunskink
and this Green Ants nest made from leaves and held together with saliva
The track continues along the ridge through open eucalypt forest to an excellent view of Horseshoe Bay.
Further along a turn off to the left leads to Horseshoe Bay but by continuing on, another turn off left leads to Sphinx lookout to Alma Bay
and back on towards Arcadia
and Geoffrey Bay
It was a hot day to do a lot of uphiill walking
but the views were worth the sweat!

Posted by charlystyles 13:06 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island Comments (0)

Animal Encounters on Magnetic Island - North QLD

Magnetic Island is an island 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) offshore from the city of Townsville.
This 52 km2 (20.1 sq mi) mountainous island in Cleveland Bay has effectively become a suburb of Townsville, with 2,107 permanent residents.
The island is accessible from Townsville Breakwater to Nelly Bay Harbour by ferry. On the way out, we passed HMS Canberra
HMAS Canberra (L02) is the first of two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships constructed for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Construction of the ship started in Spain in 2008, with the hull launched by Navantia in 2011. The hull was then transported to Australia in late 2012 for completion by BAE Systems Australia. Canberra was commissioned on 28 November 2014, and is the largest ship ever operated by the RAN.

On the Magnetic Island there is a large 27 km2 (10.4 sq mi) National Park and bird sanctuary and walking tracks can be taken between the populated bays and to a number of tourist destinations such as the World War II forts.
My bed for a couple of night was at Bungalow Bay, near Horseshoe Bay.

One attraction to Bungalow Bay is their animals encounters talk, where you can spend two hours learning about and meeting some of the Australian animals,
such as:
Shadow the Black cockatoo
who was tame enough to eat seeds from your mouth

Charlie the sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Harry the large Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat

Pebbles the Koala

Sam the Shingle Back Lizard

Red the Blue Tongue Lizard

Fred the Frill Neck Liazard
Charlotte_..rill_lizard.jpg Fred_the_Frill_lizard.jpg

Elvira the Carpet Python

Donatello the fresh Water Turtle

Dali the 14 month old crocodile

Barbie the adult female croc

Horseshoe Bay is situated on the north side of the island with views to Palm Island and beyond.
Horseshoe Bay is the largest bay and is considered the 'watersports capital' of the island as operators hire directly form the beach.
A great selection of restaurants and bars line the esplanade with a delicious view of the bay and the many yachts which come to moore there.
It's also a great place to watch the sunet

Picnic Bay
Until recently, the bay was the landing site for ferry services from the mainland, but ferries now arrive at a new terminal at nearby Nelly Bay
The town is serviced by Magnetic Island Bus Service, which runs regular services to coincide with Ferry arrivals and departures at the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal.

Unfortunately the weather was too windy for snorkling during my time on the island, so I made do spending hours watching these tropical fish in a large tank at the bar

Whilst on the island I made the most of the events that were on for the Bay Days festival, including being taught how to bowl, Australian style!
It's a popular sport and something I've been wanting to try, so it was good to have some guidance and learn how they do it on the other side of the world!
I also went to school fetes and evening markets and food bazars, where I was feeding this possum and her baby left overs from the Italian stall!

Posted by charlystyles 13:52 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island bungalow_bay Comments (0)

The Forts, walking on Magnetic Island - North QLD


This walk leads to World War II coastal fortification with stunning views of the Palm Islands, Cape Cleveland, Bowling Green Bay National Park and the granite boulder landscape below.
Halifax Bay

The first section of the rough track follows a ridge up through a mixed eucalypt woodland, with panoramic views across the island to the eastern bays and surrounding water.
Along the track, I spotted this wild koala, nestling in against the wind.
Koala's have made themselves at home on the island since 18 animals were introduced here from Bowen in 1932 to protect them from mainland threats.
ten years later, the war brought new threats to their island sanctuary.
Now there are around 800 koalas on the island.

Mid-way, the track levels our where marked side tracks lead to remains of the military communications structures that were in operation between 1943 and 1945.
The track becomes steeper on the 'Forts Circuit' where stone steps and a narrow track lead up past huge granite boulders to the solid fortifications, set into the hillside.
It was near here in mid 1942 that the first team of army engineers pitched their canvas tents before surveying and clearing the track used today.
It takes about an hour to walk to the top, it took them about 6 months to finish the job.
A team of 25 local men from the Main Roads Commission built this track and the blocky concrete forts ahead in just 10 months, finishing the job in July 1943.
Arthur Bay
Building materials came by barge from the mainland to Arcadia and were loaded on to the 'red terror', a local V8 truck more often used to cart pineapples. In the tropical heat the crew winched and pushed barrows of concrete. they used timber roads to ram the mix into 30cm thick walls, recycling the timber framework for the next building.

Critical to the forts' operation were the two US-army 155mm guns sited at the gun emplacement, each weighing over 10 tonnes. It was a massive task getting them up here.
Under secure guard they were loaded onto a Townville barge to be towed across to the island by the steam tug Alert.
The weighty gun placements were hauled up the beach over logs and completed their journey up this track towed behind a tractor, with a tense moments when one gun tipped over on the bend ahead and had to be righted.
A powder keg
Located a safe distance from the guns, in case of enemy action, the reserve magazine housed the main supply of ammunition - about 400 high-explosive projectiles, each weighing around 43kg. Further up the hill each gun had it's on supply for immediate use. The guns could rotate 360 degrees and were extremely accurate, with a range of 19.3km. A crew of 1 manned the guns. The disappearance of the guns remains a mystery!

The artillery Command Post
The boxy building looked very different in the war, concealed by a cloak of decorated netting and concrete rocks to blend into th natural environment.
This place controlled all battery operations including searchlights and radar units. It housed the main depression range finder, a long telescope on finely geared mountings seated on the concrete column, used to measure the exact range to a target.
The Australian Women's Army Service plotters used the readings to calculate details for the guns and communicated order to the battery command on Castle Hill in Townsville.
The three storey Port War Signal Station is a typical naval communications facility using light and flag signalling.
The big signal light was readable as far away as Great Palm Island, 50km to the north.
Cleveland Bay
Standing 233m above sea level, the station commands a 300 degree ocean view from the top level.
form here the navy monitored all shipping traffic in and out of Cleveland Bay. In 1943 there were regularly 40 ships stacked in the bay. Ships were challenged with a wartime communication and expected to respond with the code of the day.

Posted by charlystyles 13:40 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island the_forts Comments (0)

Seahorses on Magnetic Island - North QLD


For over 30 years Horseshoe Bay Ranch (originially Bluey’s) has provided travellers from all over the world with the truly magical experience of swimming with their horse in one of the most beautiful locations on earth, Horseshoe Bay.
We even spotted a couple of koalas along the way
Imagine yourself trekking on horseback through native Australian bushland
and arriving at a pristine beach.
Now unsaddle your horse and experience the sensation of riding them bareback into the ocean.
Remembering to hold on tightly, as it's a different experience to riding with a saddle
Especially when the waves wash against you as you get deeper.
All the horses were well-schooled and calm-natured.
But more than that, they all loved going in the water - what a treat on a hot sunny day.
Not something that was on my bucket list, but definitely should have been!

What an incredible experience.

Posted by charlystyles 13:50 Archived in Australia Tagged magnetic_island horse_riding beach_riding horseshoe_bay_ranch Comments (0)