THE GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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More than half of Magnetic Island's 52 square km (20 square miles) is national parkland, laced with miles of walking trails and rising to 1,640 feet at the Mt. Cook summit. The terrain is littered with huge granite boulders and softened by tall hoop pines, eucalyptus forest, and rain-forest gullies. A haven for wildlife, the island shelters rock wallabies, echidnas, frogs, possums, fruit bats, nonvenomous
green tree snakes, and Northern Australia's largest population of wild koalas. Its beaches, mangroves, sea-grass beds, and fringing reefs support turtles nesting, fish hatching, and a significant dugong (manatee) population. You can take time out on 23 island beaches and dive nine offshore shipwrecks.
More than 2,500 people call "Maggie" home; most live on the island’s eastern shore at Picnic Bay, Arcadia, Nelly Bay, and Horseshoe Bay. Many artists and craftspeople reside here, drawn by the serenity and scenic environs; you can see and buy their work at studios and galleries around the island.
Tourism is the lifeblood of Cairns (pronounced Caans ). The city makes a good base for exploring the wild top half of Queensland, and tens...