October 16th 2008
MI Tourism takes a tour
On Tuesday the newly formed Magnetic Island Tourism group conducted a tour of Magnetic Island to familiarise themselves with local business locations and activities as well as getting to know each other a little bit better.
About eighteen local business people took the bus which left from the Nelly Bay boat ramp heading towards the Esplanade. Aquasearch Aquarium owner Rick Braley started the commentary with a description of a plan he has been hoping to attract interest in for a "swim-through" aquarium rock pool which he would like to see located in the corner of the Nelly bay beach which adjoins the start of the breakwater.
Commentary by Sara Shaw
The bus then headed off towards Base Backpackers and along the way Sara Shaw from the Butterfly House took up the commentary - noting that there was currently a business interested in taking on the old Nelly Bay helipad as a commercial helicopter operation.
On the deck at base
We visited Base's party deck then over to Picnic Bay to the EPA's Ranger's Office on Hurst Street in Picnic Bay where Ranger, Jo Peterson outlined the basic roles played by Rangers on the Island. According to Jo the most time-consuming jobs are track maintenance and weed management. One tour member asked why there were not more of the very popular interpretation walks and tours by Rangers and this was apparently due to the budgetary priorities of the EPA. Another asked why there was no track to Mount Cook (Magnetic's highest peak). The answer is that it is basically, very expensive to build and maintain. Jo Peterson did however emphasise that the EPA was very open to working with the community and urged business people to make sure they had supplies of the many useful brochures they have at the Office.
Later, our attention was drawn to Island attractions in Picnic Bay including the History and Craft Centre and future plans for Butterfly House to incorporate a gallery space.
Next stop was the new deck built by Townsville City Council over the old cement slab which was the base of the original art-deco style Lifesaving club house. It was good to see that the new deck, which will be a fine spot for a picnic, maintained the outline of the original building base which includes a curved front.
Once again we returned to Nelly Bay where we visited Rick Braly's Aquasearch Aquarium which drew lots of attention as a great little educational experience and, for seeing (Nemo) clown fish and Rick's favourites: the giant clams. As a special surprise, Nel Barley met us with a delicious, take-away Indonesian lunch.
Nel does take-away
We swung past Magnetic International Resort, Mantra Number 1 Bright Point and Pepper's Blue on Blue where Nicky Gardener from Peppers stressed the usefulness of the Peppers conference room for weddings, parties and, well, anything.
Next we were over to Arcadia where the pleasures of Geoffrey and Alma Bay were extolled. The Arcadia Pub was pointed out as a great destination and, nearby, the large sign advertising "Aparments," so a long-standing Island giggle was once again shared.
We wound our way up Horseshoe hill and noted Tatjana's juice stop at the start of the Island's famous Fort's Walk then down into the Bay where it was mentioned that Bluey's Horse Ranch is now under new management. Hitting the beach the Horseshoe eateries, accommodation and other shops were acknowledged before we stopped to take in the fresh breeze off the bay.
Backchat at Bungalow bay
Bungalow Bay was the next stop for a walk checking out the great revegetation work and insightful information on their extensive signage. We met a chatty Cockatoo and of course some Bungalow koalas.
Next was the boardwalk out of Sandals development which leads through to the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon. Unfortunately there were few lotuses to see at this time of year but the cooling paperbarks made it a restful stop.
Soon we were heading back to Arcadia where, onboard comic, Phill Stephens stressed that the restaurant was the only professional theatre restaurant in north Queensland.
We passed the marvelous Arcadia Store which has done much to bring gourmet food to the Island and other shops including the Magnetic Island Bicycle Hire.
We were then back over to Nelly Bay and the tour was over but it seemed clear that once one really looks it is quite amazing just how many and diverse businesses and attractions are tucked away through the Island.
All together now
Just how the fledgling tourism body will develop from here will be interesting to watch. Given the effort and interest shown by the participants on this tour the future looks a little brighter as the dark clouds of a major economic change gather.
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