Once upon a time; five planes, one shuttle and a ferry ride from where I am today, I found myself on a rocky tropical island off the Queensland coast of Australia. If I were being honest, the mystery of Maggie Island was one of the reasons I chose to attend a semester in Australia as opposed to Europe where I had always planned to go. I can recall my travel advisor reporting:
Students who go to James Cook University in Townsville have the ability to go an hour inland to the rain forest or an hour out the the Great Barrier Reef. They also can take a 20 minute ferry ride out to an island to spend the weekend. Maggie Island was named Magnet Island because it interfered with the compass of the ship when it was discovered.
With the promise of endless natural adventures ahead, I headed for Australia and Maggie Island did not disappoint. Over half of it’s 20 square miles is reserved as a national park. I learned to scuba dive in the bays, spent hours hiking the rocky trails and soaking up sun on the beach, rode horse back into the ocean, and spotted koalas in the eucalyptus trees. With so much the island has to offer with natural beauty and abundant wildlife, it is no wonder the 2,100 island’s residents recognized the need to move towards sustainable living. The island embraced the opportunity to go solar and installed panels on many homes and businesses, the majority of homes received smart meters to monitor energy usage and the island has cut energy during peak houses down by 16%.
Maggie Island has plenty to offer eco-minded travelers as well. There is a wide range of Eco Accredited accommodations to stay and even more eco-tourism activities to enjoy. In order to keep the island healthy, they limit where motorized vehicles can go and provide walking tours of the forts. Hostels and hotels adhere to recycling and minimize waste. They work to build environmental awareness and strive to minimize their impact. There are dozens of ways to appreciate the island and with so much devotion to conserving it, Maggie Island will be able to be appreciated unchanged for a long time.