One of my favourite places to go when we want to get out of town for the day, is Horseshoe Bay, on Magnetic Island. There are some great walking tracks here (some are easy, some are challenging); and there’s a “Butterfly Forest”, located next to the site of the old Horseshoe Bay School. It is a wetlands rehabilitation site, so if you go there after it’s recently rained, you can expect the track and other parts of the area to be pretty boggy, so wear appropriate footwear, and don’t forget your insect repellent!
What butterflies you’ll see here does depend on what time of year you visit. On a recent trip, we saw a number of species here (and in the immediate vicinity) including Purple Crow [Euploea tulliolus], Blue Tiger [Tirumala hamata], Cruiser [Vindula arsinoe], Shining Oak-blue [Arhopala micale], Chequered Swallowtail [Papilio demoleus], and a Jezebel (possibly a Red-banded Jezebel) – [Delias mysis].
The Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Conservation Park walk is another lovely walk – accessible off Horseshoe Bay Road, about 150-200 metres back from the beach. It’s an easy walk, on flat, sandy ground, with some really stunning trees – particularly the melaleucas and eucalypts. The track leads to a timber boardwalk across part of the lagoon itself, which allows you to fully appreciate this beautiful wetland landscape.
I wasn’t particularly on the lookout for birds on this walk, but we were lucky enough to spot a Pied Currawong, high up in a tree, about 20 metres away (thank goodness for zoom lenses!) and later, a Pheasant Coucal, hiding amongst an Acacia tree (Townsville Wattle).
*Magnetic Island is just a 25-minute ferry ride from Townsville. You can catch a bus from the Nelly Bay ferry terminal over to Horseshoe Bay to explore these (and other) walks.