Zen on Magnetic Island

April 9, 2019
Wild Koala mother with baby, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia


It’s wonderful to welcome Jan Robinson to the ZTT guest post series for ZTT #12.  Jan’s a fellow Aussie mid-life blogger who I’ve met once at a blogger’s lunch here in Brisbane and hopefully will catch up with again at a future similar occasion.  Jan’s zen ‘go to’ place is Magnetic Island, and this is what she is sharing with us today.  You may not live nearby to Magnetic Island or ever have been to Magnetic Island but perhaps there is a place you love to visit that has similar qualities and effects on you!

If you’re linking up for ZTT Link-Up #010 – thank you and welcome!

Magnetic Island

I have road tripped through biblical landscapes in Eastern Turkey, day tripped to off-grid Cambodian Islands and spent a month on a Balinese beach, but when asked for my favourite Zen experience, I immediately go to the North Queensland hideaway of Magnetic Island.

Captain Cook was positive this island had magnetic qualities from the moment his ship’s compass went crazy and he wrongly guessed the boulders he spied on-shore were magnetic.

It is true however, that this palm-fringed tropical island, a mere 20 minutes boat trip from Townsville, oozes magnetic charm.

Locals love Maggie with a passion and I’m a local of sixty years. To my mind there is nothing more relaxing than the eerie call of a Curlew in the night, or gentle ocean breezes that lead naturally to meditation.

Florence Bay, Magnetic Island

With a bit of adventurous driving along a pot-holed road and a short walk beneath the Casuarina or She-Oak trees, it’s possible to reach the deserted sands of Florence Bay, my favourite island escape.

Lying flat out on the sand, while mesmerizing grey green Casuarinas filter the sun and a whispering breeze tames the North Queensland heat, is a treasured and calming memory that I regularly call upon.

It is so important to have a beautiful memory to calm your soul – one that is so personal that it forms part of your inner self.

Magnetic Island calms my soul.

Even though I now live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Queensland, I think I’ll have my ashes sprinkled under the She Oaks at Florence. I know I’ll be at peace.

But for now, I love to rent a beach house for a week and succumb to a daily routine of morning swim, a pub meal at lunch and wake-up swim following an afternoon nap.

The repetitiveness is a meditation in itself.

Wild Koala mother with baby, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

Wild Koala mother with baby, Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
ID 88302380 © Julian Peters | Dreamstime.com

Reconnecting with nature on the island is calming and grounding. Most of the land is National Park with many walks connecting the bays and leading to lookouts or natural features.

My favourite island walk leads to the observation forts – relics from when nearby Townsville was bombed by Japanese aircraft in World War II. Eucalyptus trees line the rustic track and are home to a thriving colony of wild koalas.

The trick to finding koalas is to walk slowly, stopping often to scan the forks of trees where they sleep. It’s when I’m on koala watch that the sounds of the bush infiltrate. I stand and listen to the intermittent but deafening sound of cicadas, cackling kookaburras or unseen critters scurrying out of the way.

On this particular track, Koalas can be found in low down tree forks, making it super easy to scrutinise them. Nothing makes me happier than studying a sleeping koala. Have you noticed how they seem to smile as they sleep?

Echidnas – Australia’s spiny anteaters – scurry across paths intent on burying their heads in forest litter. Their whole demeanour is one of “I can’t see you, so you can’t see me”! They seem smaller than in my childhood, but it makes my heart sing that these crazy little creatures still thrive in the bush.  

The Island is wild.

Dark green hoop pines line the ridges and wedge themselves amongst the giant grey boulders staggering themselves along the waterline.

Those boulders form the dark cool caves that hide colonies of rock wallabies. Although the wallabies are wild they can be seen popping out of their caves to scavenge for food at dusk. They often do this at holiday homes adjoining rocky sections of the park or where rock caves meet public jetties.

I do enjoy cities, but I’m a country girl at heart. Nature calms me and makes me whole.

Every Magnetic Island interlude grounds me and feeds my feeling of self. It adds yet another layer to the already many layers of positive feelings and memories I associate with island time.

Whatever I’m doing in the world, I need only close my eyes and return to my sandy spot beneath the She Oaks to reclaim my inner Zen.


Jan RobinsonJan writes about Travel on her Budget Travel Talk blog. She started backpacking solo through Australia, Asia and Europe in her teens, then with her husband in her early 20’s until today. Now in her 60’s she sits happily, slightly outside the box and enjoys housesitting, staying with locals via Airbnb and experiencing other cultures from the ground up. She has lived most of her life in Townsville North Queensland.

Read More About Townsville and Magnetic Island on her Blog.

Follow her on  Pinterest  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter


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  • Reply Natalie April 9, 2019 at 6:35 am

    Islands have a way to slow us down to be more relaxed. Magnetic island looks beautiful and idyllic. I like the koala photo, too Thanks, Jan and Min, for sharing. #ZTT

    • Reply Min April 9, 2019 at 11:30 am

      I’ve been to Magnetic Island once many, many years ago and it was gorgeous! I’d love to go again. You’re right that islands have a way to slow us down and relax us. I’m going to ‘Stradbroke Island’ for 5 nights in June/July – can’t wait! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan April 9, 2019 at 9:46 am

    It is not a place I have visited but I sure can see why it IS magnetic…as a place of zen. Lovely words matching amazing photos.
    Australia has wonderful places for calm and refreshing ourselves. Thanks Jan and Min.

    • Reply Min April 9, 2019 at 11:30 am

      I’ve been there once many years ago and my memories are that it was beautiful! Australia sure does have some beautiful places to go to. Thanks Denyse! xo

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond April 9, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Magnetic Island sounds like paradise Jan and isn’t it wonderful that we have such beautiful places here in Australia. As I read your post I felt like I was there and yes, I felt calm. Thank you for sharing this magical place and you have certainly lived a fascinating life. Thanks Min for another interesting guest and a great way to find some Zen in our lives. Have a great week, ladies. xx

    • Reply Min April 9, 2019 at 11:32 am

      Thanks Sue. I felt the same. Jan really takes us there in her writing. Makes me want to go to Magnetic Island … NOW! I wish! You have a great week too Sue xo

  • Reply Debbie April 9, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    This is my type of island – a bit wild and with special powers. I haven’t been there (yet) but it’s definitely on my list after reading jan’s words 🙂 . Thanks Jan and Min for sharing a truly beautiful piece of zen.

    • Reply Min April 10, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      I’ve been to Magnetic Island once Deb and it is wild and magical for sure! I loved it and would love to go back again 🙂

      • Reply Debbie April 10, 2019 at 9:40 pm

        Sounds like a great plan Min! I’ve shared this on social media for #mlstl

        • Reply Min April 11, 2019 at 6:42 am

          Thank you Deb!

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt April 10, 2019 at 8:35 am

    Thanks, Min for sharing Jan’s thoughts on finding zen! I’m in love with those images–I do love the island life when I get it! Visiting from #MLSTL

    • Reply Min April 10, 2019 at 2:51 pm

      My pleasure Terri. I love some island life too. It’s been far too long. I must do something about that! 🙂

  • Reply Patrick Weseman April 10, 2019 at 10:48 am

    Such a beautiful place to find zen. Very nice. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min April 10, 2019 at 2:51 pm

      It sure is a special place. I’ve only been there once but it left an impact on me. I hope to get back there again some day!

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au April 10, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Those photos were just beautiful Jan. Queensland has so many beautiful islands to explore and I really want to get to a few someday. You’ve convinced me to add Magnetic Island to the list – especially with the chance to see a wild koala!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Reply Min April 10, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      You’ll not regret a visit to Magnetic Island Leanne. It’s special and very different to the other islands around the Great Barrier Reef. Magnetic is natural and wild and real and so beautiful. 🙂 xo

  • Reply Johanna Castro April 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    What a gorgeous post Jan and I’m loving your Zen series Min – such a great idea. I agree that Magnetic Island has magnetic qualities that draw you back. When I visited I started looking at house prices there I loved it so much! In my dreams … #MLSTL and sharing on SM x

    • Reply Min April 11, 2019 at 6:41 am

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series Jo – thank you! I’ve only been to Magnetic Island once but it sure did leave quite an impression on me. So funny that you were looking at house prices. I always do that too – at all the places that I love and think are beautiful! Need to win Lotto! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Bren Pace April 10, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Min! Stopping over from MLSTL! I have to see, just looking at your images, I got a deep sense of calm. What a beautiful place! To think of waking up every morning to these views would be amazing, right? Thanks so much for sharing these with us. By the way, I love Koala bears! They are so adorbs but I hear they can be real boogers. 😉

    • Reply Min April 11, 2019 at 6:47 am

      Hi Bren – so glad you enjoyed Jan’s post. Magnetic Island is a natural beauty – very special. Koalas actually aren’t called koala ‘bears’. They’re marsupials (pouched mammals) but of course very cute and cuddly looking like a little bear. I wouldn’t approach or attempt to handle a wild koala as they do have sharp claws and teeth and would be defensive. Koalas in sanctuary’s etc are used to being handled and are lovely for a cuddle. 🙂

  • Reply Amy Johnson April 11, 2019 at 7:20 am

    I’ve never heard of this island before. It sounds wonderful. Visiting from MSTL.

    • Reply Min April 11, 2019 at 1:18 pm

      It’s always great to learn of places you didn’t know of before! 🙂

  • Reply Christie Hawkes April 11, 2019 at 10:28 am

    It sounds lovely–very zen. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min April 11, 2019 at 1:28 pm

      It’s a beautiful place!

  • Reply Jennifer April 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    That sounds lovely, I could feel the peacefulness through your words, Jan!

    • Reply Min April 12, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Jennifer! 🙂

  • Reply Christina Daggett April 12, 2019 at 5:38 am

    Jan, this Island sounds heavenly, and your descriptions of the wildlife make it sound all the more intriguing. I’d love to visit this beautiful place, someday. I’ll be sharing to FB.

    • Reply Min April 12, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks Christina, and I agree that Jan is so cleverly descriptive that you’re almost transported there and most definitely bewitched by the allure of the place!

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