The amazing Magnetic Island, only 8 kilometres across the water from the city of Townsville and a 20-minute ferry ride away, is home to several walking tracks and many amazing bays to walk and explore. But also unique is how many of these bays are connected by these same walking tracks.
The Forts Walk is probably the most significant walk on the island. Not only is it accessible by bus or car but you can also walk from one of the other bays to reach it. You can also walk the 4 kilometres from Horseshoe Bay to Radical Bay where the hike begins.
As you make your way along this hike you get to see how amazing the landscape is on this tiny island. With large boulders everywhere the terrain looks like something almost prehistoric. The gigantic granite boulders have been windswept and honed to resemble giant marbles here and there. Great outcroppings make for amazing viewpoints. It almost resembles the Bay of Fires (without the fire)in Tasmania and Girraween National Park in southeast Queensland.
Passing through the forest you can spot some of the inhabitants of the island. Koalas nap in the trees, birds call out from overhead and the clouds float by dreamily as you catch amazing views of Palm Island in the distance. The higher you walk the more amazing the views.
As you make your way along this historic walk notice how strategically everything was placed for the safety of the men and women who called this island home from 1943-1945. You come across remains of shared quarters, gun placements and other historical remnants of a time when the Australian Army and Navy shared responsibility for keeping the coast guarded. When you see the size of the living quarters, you realise how difficult it must have been for the people who served, how small their personal space was and how devout they were to their country. Both women and men served and had separate quarters.
A command centre was set up high atop the island, all the better for seeing distantly to watch for approaching aircraft or watercraft that could pose a threat to the Queensland coast. Any information could be easily sent back to Castle Hill in Townsville for further implementation. The structures that still stand were comprised of the command centre, a watchtower, telegraph line and munition storage as well as gun placements, none of which were ever fired.
Amazingly enough, unlike so many other historical places, you actually get to walk and climb into all the nooks and crannies of the remaining buildings and watchtowers that are part of this walk. You are asked to be respectful and it is apparent that most people have complied because the lack of graffiti or damage to anything is minimal.