Because we could push our luck a bit more up north, we set our course originally toward Hinchinbrook Island to see some more wild life and have a few more adventures.
I wasn’t too keen to stop on Magnetic Island a.k.a. “Maggie Island”. The rumors of it being a nest of backpackers probably helped that feeling. But I was curious to see the island where Julian Assange grew up, such an insignificant little Queensland island to be home to one of the greatest mind of our time.
We anchored in Horseshoe bay and the number of derelict boats staying there clearly indicated that there was a big concentration of tourists on the island. The more backpackers you get somewhere, the more you see old dodgy looking maintained vessels hanging around as many seagulls hoping to scavenge on the fresh young naive pot smoking money loaded Europeans (girls mainly). Sorry to be sarcastic but the most unsafe looking boats, overloaded, under maintained or even wrecks are around 1770, Airlie beach (the northerly wind clears them from time to time), Maggie Island, Mission beach and Cairns.
In Maggie Island, many of the “local” boats sported a pirate flag. How original…. (don’t get me started about Pirate flags or how to turn a wonderful strong symbol into the most commercial boring bogan and unoriginal declaration to make about a boat : “I like to drink booze, I am antisocial or pretend to be and I have no imagination whatsoever so I hang a stupid Pirate flag bought for 5 dollars in a junk shop to impress people and call for some respect” If you are really a Pirate, you make your own flag, you own a machete, you avoid talking to people and more than all, you stay discreet. )
Anyway, I stop ruining the fun, Maggie Island was fantastic! Absolutely gorgeous with heaps of walking tracks, WWII history, hidden little bays all around and a lot of wildlife. What impressed me the most was the atmosphere of the island which was extremely relaxed and with a strong sense of a tightly woven community conscious of their precious little island: they have their own solar powered electricity cooperative (and they built a skate park under the installation, how cool), free water for yachties and walkers (and the water tanks at the top of the hill have a tap), a very small amount of cars (the traffic was mainly little rental cabriolets driven by tourists), a very good bus service, eco lodge resorts (with cuddling Koalas), hippie therapies, health food coffee shops… you name it, it all felt a bit new age and greenie; I loved it.
As a consequence (of the many many walking tracks) you see people actually DOING things and even if there is quite a noticeable number of tourists; everyone is super relaxed, calm, chilling out and not packed all in the same place. It’s definitely VERY different from Airlie Beach where the sleazy mass tourism have turned locals into aggressive harpies against foreigners (even Ben suffered from it, he is too young to be a grey nomad so he must be a backpacker).
Maggie Island has a sweet feeling where everything will be ok surrounded by those amazing granite boulders and the dry bush everywhere. It’s an island where you can feel people have been living from the sea for thousands of years, the huge centennial looking fig trees are still echoing from the play of kids and the chatter of women sorting the day catch. All part of a community, all part of the island; I would really like to have a little shack there, on Maggie island looking at the banana trees, mango trees and pineapples grow. It’s a dry island but it is an unbelievably enchanting island. No wonder why Assange went the way he did, there is something different on this little piece of Paradise; maybe it is even magnetic?