Does a hike up a mountain with amazing scenery, wildlife and some World War II history interest you?… Well, the forts walk on Magnetic Island is a must then!
Why are there forts on Magnetic Island?
This fortification was built when Japan advanced into the Pacific during the World War II in 1943.
It happened after the bombing of the US naval base at Pearl Harbour which prompted America and Australia to declare war on Japan.
When a review of our coastal defences identified Townsville as a strategic port and military base needing additional defences and manpower, the US brought over troops, guns and searchlights to help with security of the port.
Then in 1942 the threat from Japan become a reality for Townsville as three separate moonlight air attacks by long range “Emily” flying boats coming from Papua New Guinea. They dropped 21 bombs but fortunately none of them hit their targets.
So, Australia and the US built this fort with the quickness to keep the Japanese at bay.
What will you see on the Forts walk on Magnetic Island?
On this hike you will see the heritage listed remains of the old fort anchored into the granite rocks. Plus (hopefully) all the koalas!
This circuit track is 4km and takes about 2 hours including time to take in the scenery.
It is best to do this hike in the morning or afternoon as it’s very hot in the middle of the day.
Make sure you bring some water with you. And some bug spray as the march flies are relentless!
It’s a pretty easy walk with a gradual uphill until you hit some stairs.
Take your time as there are different viewing points up the hill.
And make sure you keep your eyes peeled for koalas having a nap in the trees above!
The first viewing point is a look out over Arthur Bay. Man this bay is amazing! It has a reef right next to the rocks that you can swim out to.
As you make your way up the hill you will pass the old mess for the fort.
Then the powder keg where they would store all the ammunition.
Further up you will find a gun emplacement.
This is where a French 155 millimetres M3 guns on Panama carriage mounts sat. These things would definitely cause some damage!
Also, at this point I noticed a koala chilling in the tree just watching me ha ha they are so cool.
A bit further up the hill you will find another gun emplacement.
Then as you climb the stairs to the top..
You finally reach one of the two forts.
The first is the look out.
The second is the command post.
These both have amazing 360 views!
The fort operated from 1943 to 1945 as the Pacific war ended and luckily not a single shot was fired in anger from this fort.
What is the best hike on Magnetic Island?
Hands down in our opinion, the forts walk is our favourite to do on the island. Not only did we see cool World War II forts and learn some history, but we also saw 7 koalas on this hike 🐨🐨🐨🐨🐨🐨🐨!!! Which is the most we have ever seen in the wild at one time 😊
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Tips for spotting koalas on the forts walk Magnetic Island
The forts walk is known for being the best place to spot koalas, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have any luck elsewhere on the island.
But considering this walk takes you right through the bushland your koala spotting chances certainly increase..
So, make sure you keep your eyes peeled as some were high in the trees sleeping..
Others were climbing and eating leaves.
And a mother and baby were at head height sleeping in a fork in a tree on the walking trail!
How did the koalas get on Magnetic Island?
Back in the 1930s, twenty koalas were introduced to the island as a conservation effort. Which seems to have paid off as today they are the largest colony of free ranging koalas in Northern Queensland!
But back in the day, the fur traders were shooting them on the mainland, for their waterproof pelts. As they were in high demand and sought after by the coat, glove and hat industries.
A conservation-led, public backlash against the open season on koalas declared in Queensland on the 1st of August 1927 toppled the government two years later.
Unfortunately, an estimated two million koalas were killed for their pelts in Queensland alone. And 8 million Australia wide.
As a result, koala populations were decimated and left on the brink of extinction.
The koalas on the mainland still live with severe stress often leading to fatal disease. And on-going habitat loss pushes them further into urban areas in search of food. Causing further problems, as here they can be hit by cars or attacked by cats or dogs.
Magnetic Island proved to be a remarkable island ark as a refuge for these cute furry guys.
Life is good here for the estimated population of 800 koalas. They live relatively stress free and disease-free lives. They have plenty of their favourite food trees, the ironbark and popular gums.
National Park protection and fire management invigorate the eucalypt woodlands which makes for a happy home for the koalas.
Koalas know how to beat the heat in Queensland conditions. They find shade and rest, draped over a branch or at the base of a tree.
The island koalas are smaller than those on the mainland. The population has space here for larger territorial ranges, good for low density living. But they need to roam further to find a mate and for food.
So Magnetic Island is the perfect location for this koala population to thrive.
Koalas sleep 18 to 22 hour of the day so they are not very active. There is a myth that they get high from the eucalypt leaves, but this is untrue even though they look like they are always high 😂😂
It’s always a good day when you see a koala on a hike 😊🐨🐨🐨🐨🐨😊.