HIDDEN GEM: MAGNETIC ISLAND
Just a 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville lies a peaceful tropical paradise filled with hiking trails, native wildlife, fringing coral reefs and secluded beaches.
While there are an abundance of topless cars to hire as your Magnetic Island transport, I opted to take the Defender over on the barge from Townsville Marina and spend a few days exploring the island.
This slice of paradise offers something for everyone - with an abundance of boutique accommodation, shops/cafes, walking tracks, snorkelling spots and family friendly activities.
The main settlement on the island centres around Nelly Bay and even has an IGA supermarket, with picturesque Picnic Bay jetty situated just to the south and a multitude of shipwrecks nearby as well.
Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to jump in the water and go snorkelling this time, however I did complete a handful of the many walking tracks meandering between the sandy coves and granite headlands.
Starting at The Forts junction, visitors can choose between exploring the island's WWII infrastructure (beware, it's a steep hike but with rewarding views!) or follow the ridgelines along to a multitude of neighbouring bays.
My favourite area was undoubtedly Arthur Bay - a picturesque, sheltered cove on the island's East coast with towering hoop pines, golden sand and yachts dotted around the bay.
Make sure to keep an eye out for resident wildlife such as the Allied Rock Wallabies on your travels - these friendly faces are best spotted at dawn or dusk among the granite boulders that dominate the island's shores.