This month we will be visiting Magnetic Island’s beautiful Florence Bay. In the early 1980s this was the focus of an intense battle between would-be developers and those who treasured its natural beauty and tranquillity. Fortunately, rather than becoming the site of a large resort and marina the whole area became part of the National Park.
DEPARTING FROM TOWNSVILLE: In response to feedback we now have a flexible departure time! Members can depart on either the 7.05am** or the 7.45am ferry. Those travelling on the 7.05am boat have the option of a walk along the Forts track before meeting the later arrivals and proceeding to Florence Bay – or can go on to Florence visiting Arthur Bay and the Searchlight tower lookout en route.
** A 50% reduction on the full adult fare is available on the 7.05am ferry.
GETTING TO FLORENCE BAY: From Nelly Bay, we will take the bus to the start of The Forts walking track and then walk down the steep road to Florence Bay, passing Arthur Bay on our way. This walk is 1.8km (about 30-40 mins), on a shady, narrow road but there will be some traffic and the surface is deeply pot-holed in parts so walk with care! Just before reaching the bay there is a side track (30 minutes return) that leads to the Searchlight Tower lookout – an ‘optional extra’.
People can spend as much time as they like at Florence Bay with the chance to swim, snorkel or just enjoy the beach and dune vegetation. One of our members has been taking part in working bees here with the National Park volunteers and she will be able to show us what they have been doing. All of us who opt to remain at Florence Bay will return the way we came – and, yes, it’s steep but can be taken slowly.
FROM FLORENCE TO RADICAL TO HORSESHOE: Walking on to these bays is entirely optional. Radical Bay can be reached by continuing along the road for another 25-30 minutes. It is a beautiful bay although the area where the resort once stood behind the beach has a neglected air. A pair of ospreys haunts the rocks at the northern end.
To continue to Horseshoe Bay you must follow the National Parks signs and track which leads off behind Radical Bay. The climb up from Radical is via a very steep, rocky track with a number of very steep steps, so is not for the faint-hearted (or faint-bodied). This 74-year-old certainly found it quite a struggle last week as, although there was reasonable shade, the hills blocked out any chance of a breeze. The descent down to Horseshoe is less strenuous but is almost equally steep and requires care to avoid trips and slips! The whole climb up from Radical and down to Horseshoe is 1.6km and will take anywhere from 50-90 minutes depending on fitness, how many stops you make and how many koalas you see!
WHAT TO TAKE: WATER!!! There is no access to drinking water at either Florence or Radical Bays, so take at least 1 litre of water per person. Other requirements are 1) sunscreen 2) hat 3) good walking footwear and 4) whatever you want for snacks and lunch. You may also want to bring swimmers, snorkel, binoculars, camera. If you intend to walk through to Horseshoe Bay, bring your walking poles or sticks!!
RETURNING TO TOWNSVILLE: We imagine most people will want to catch either the 3pm or the 4.25pm ferry home, but this is an individual choice and those who want to leave earlier or later can do so of course. The Sunbus service which departs from Horseshoe Bay (and from the Forts car park a few minutes later) is timed to connect with the ferry departures from Nelly Bay. Click on the links to view timetables.