Mag­netic at­trac­tion

An is­land tour

Paradise - - Contents -

Adam Hinks is a rare find on Mag­netic Is­land. While most res­i­dents in this 2500-per­son com­mu­nity hail from some­where else, he is a bona fide Mag­gie lo­cal.

He was raised on the is­land – a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville – and when child­hood mates were mov­ing to the main­land to find work Hinks was build­ing his busi­ness, Aquascene, and tak­ing vis­i­tors on wa­ter tours around this jewel in the Coral Sea.

Decades of beach­comb­ing, swim­ming, snorkelling, surf­ing, pad­dling and fish­ing mean he knows Mag­gie’s 23 bays and 28 beaches like the back of his hand and adapts every tour he leads to the in­ter­ests of those on board his pur­pose­built cata­ma­ran, which can nuz­zle into lit­tle coves and hover above in­ter­est­ing cor­ners of the coral reef.

Hinks is tak­ing my group out on a de­light­ful 26C win­ter’s day. We take our time and cruise through Ge­of­frey Bay to hear about the tiny rock wal­la­bies that hide be­tween the boul­ders on the hill, the giant clams that live amongst the coral, and the wrecked ship sub­merged just be­low the sur­face.

We in­spect Alma Beach, which is the is­land’s safest swim­ming spot, dart into Smug­glers Cove to learn about the stately hoop pines that cling to the coast and sur­vive be­cause they go months with­out rain, and pause near a rocky point so he can feed his favourite white-bel­lied sea ea­gle, which swoops to snatch a piece of fish from his fin­gers.

When we ar­rive in Florence Bay, a cove that’s home to a ma­rine na­tional park green zone pro­tect­ing a gar­den of coral, Hinks drops the boat’s rear steps and gath­ers more food to hand feed the short fin-bat fish that con­gre­gate to greet us.

Snorkels, gog­gles, flip­pers and noo­dles are dis­trib­uted and it’s into the wa­ter where we dis­cover the stripy fish have been joined by a school of baby black-tip sharks who gather to watch us float above the colour­ful coral and sleepy tur­tles.

Hinks tells us there’s noth­ing to fear from these sleek crea­tures, which are just a few months old and about a me­tre long, and ex­plains that the ju­ve­nile sharks are tak­ing shelter in this shal­low sec­tion of the reef un­til they build the strength to head for deep wa­ter.

“Dur­ing the past sum­mer 29 ba­bies were born, but they were tiny and vul­ner­a­ble so there’s only eight left now, and they will move on from here when they get big­ger,’’ our host ex­plains.

See townsvil­lenorthqueens­land. com.au or aquascenechar­ters. com.au to learn about Aquascene’s Mag­gie Dis­cov­ery Tour.

Snorkels, gog­gles and flip­pers are dis­trib­uted and it’s into the wa­ter where we dis­cover the stripy fish have been joined by a school of baby black-tip sharks.

Quiet cove ... plenty of space to move on this Mag­netic Is­land beach (top); lo­cal Adam Hinks (above).

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