Magnetic Island – Magnetic Island, Australia - Atlas Obscura

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Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island, Australia

After much poking and prodding, this island is decidedly not a magnetic anomaly, but it sure is pretty. 


Only accessible by ferry, this gorgeous island is lacking in development, pollution, and a large human footprint. It’s also lacking any sort of magnetic weirdness.

The reason that the island’s magnetism was even in question is due to explorer Captain James Cook’s assertion that while passing the island on his way up Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, his ship’s compass suffered some sort of “magnetic effect.” This observation led him to dub the island “Magnetical Island”. Today the locals refer to it simply as “Maggie.” 

Since Cook’s slightly weird report of unusual magnetic activity, the island has been tested with various instruments by curious people trying to figure out the mystery, which so far seems to be something out of Cook’s imagination. 

Despite its lack of magnetic properties, Magnetic Island is still a lovely and interesting place with pristine beaches, Eucalyptus woodlands, and mangroves. An important defensive position during World War II, the island still has some battered remains of its time served during the war, including an observation deck overlooking Cleveland Bay. Like the rest of the island, it was knocked around and damaged pretty severely during 1971’s Cyclone Althea, but Magnetic Island is resilient and made a quick recovery. 

A wildlife haven, the island is a prime fishing spot as well as home to some 800 koalas. There are also several themed tours you can take depending on your interests, from boating to bushwalking to touring the remaining war fortifications. 

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