WALK ON WILD SIDE
IT’S NO SECRET THAT MAGNETIC ISLAND IS HOME TO ALL KINDS OF CRITTERS — YOU JUST NEED TO KNOW WHERE TO LOOK. A NEW WILDLIFE AND TRAILS GUIDE IS GIVING VISITORS THE KEY TO DISCOVERING THE ISLAND’S CUTEST INHABITANTS, AND THEN JOIN THE FIGHT TO PROTECT THEM
Lying on the beach at Horseshoe Bay, having a cold beer at Picnic Bay, taking a refreshing dip at Arcadia.
There’s so much to love about Magnetic Island: our very own slice of paradise.
But aside from the usual relaxation-focused activities, Maggie is also the perfect place to get up close with some pretty amazing wildlife. The problem is knowing where to look.
That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (FNPW) has teamed up with SeaLink to create the island’s new Wildlife and Trails Guide.
They reckon giving people more information about what wildlife can be found on the island and where they can be found means good things for tourism and conservation.
“This is all really important because we have to get people all around Australia to understand that we as a country actually have the worst mammalian extinction record of anyone and we need to take action quickly in Australia to start looking after our own wildlife and our wilderness,” FNPW CEO Ian Darbyshire says.
“What you’ve got in Magnetic Island is a great piece of Australian wilderness with some really unique Australian wildlife, and you can come over and experience it.”
The FNPW is a not-for-profit organisation set up to create national parks and protect the creatures that live there. They work with commercial partners to come up with ideas to get more people to enjoy national parks and help look after them.
With around 200,000 people visiting Magnetic Island every year, Darbyshire says there’s a huge opportunity to get people out and enjoying the walking trails which provide access to a huge array of wildlife without having to go too far off the beaten track.
“What’s interesting about Maggie is there aren’t many other places where you can easily see marine animals — so you can go snorkelling and see turtles and clams — and then go on shore and see koalas, have eagles soaring majestically overhead, go and see some rock wallabies,” he said.
“The beauty of an island like that is that you can get there easily, and by taking these walks and understanding the wildlife on the island you can actually see more in a very small time.”
Maggie locals are no strangers to looking after their island home, as Darbyshire and his team discovered when they were putting the trails guide together.
“We met some fantastic people doing amazing things,” he said.
“There’s the koala hospital there which is doing a lot of work to look after injured koalas. There’s some real passion for revegetation of areas with koala feed trees.
“There’s also some quite unique work going on with clam relocation and the scuba trail. The turtles came to our attention as well, and there are some people working with turtles on the island.
“They’re all really powerful contributions to getting people to understand the pressure that our wildlife is under and how you can contribute.”
Darbyshire says that projects like the Wildlife and Trails Guide will give the island an economic boost, by capitalising on the growing trend of travellers looking to experience nature.
“A guide like this promotes nature-based tourism which helps the animals and helps local business. So it’s quite an idyllic loop I think,” he said.
“Nature-based tourism is growing very strongly in Australia. I used to run a tourism operation, and to me Magnetic Island is like a beautiful jewel because it’s largely untouched. It’s a great part of the world and a great spot to see what Australian wildlife is all about.”
Magnetic Island Wildlife and Trails Guide is now available at the Sea Link Terminal.