An island tour
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).