This is home.  Magnetic Island is just 8 km from Townsville in north Queensland, but the island is very different from the mainland.  It is a landscape of hills filled with huge granite boulders, some just balanced upon other rocks awaiting their time to fall, beautiful beaches and woodlands, wildlife, and residential as well.  The basic services of city water and electricity are run in pipes and cables along the seabed from Townsville.  Passenger ferries run daily from morning to evening (Sealink Magnetic ; or by Magnetic Island Car & Passenger ferry ).  View the May 2016 Sealink video shown on the ferry as visitor travel to the island from Townsville. This video also includes a short piece of me showing my aquarium and talking about the snorkel trails. The link is

For further information see our Links page with reference to Magnetic Island.

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(photo/map of Magnetic Island from island information source)


Snorkel Trails on Magnetic Island & WW2 wreck of a propeller & engine block

Dr. Rick Braley obtained a grant from Queensland Treasury Community Benefit Fund in September 2011 for designing and setting up two snorkel trails on the island on behalf of TOBMI (Tourism Operators and Businesses Magnetic Island). Permits were granted to construct the trails from GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) at Nelly Bay and at Geoffrey Bay. The Nelly Bay trail (near Base Backpackers) was installed on 4 June 2012 and the Geoffrey Bay trail was installed on 14 July 2012. The launch of the trails was set for Saturday, 18 August, 11.30am at the beach near Base Backpackers. Swim cards (A5 size laminated) will be available from a number of locations on the island for $5 each. Just attach the wrist band an you are ready to go. There will also be a complimentary 'best practices for snorkeling' in 7 languages for those who purchase the swim cards. The cost of the cards help TOBMI to pay annual insurance and maintenance. Magnetic Island TV has produced a youtube video of the snorkel trail launch which can be viewed at the following link: 


Google image of the floats at the Nelly Bay snorkel trail. Note position of Base Backpackers.

Google image of the floats at the Geoffrey Bay snorkel trail. Note position of the Moltke mooring and the WW2 propeller & engine block

While Dr. Braley and Dr. Andy Lewis were obtaining GPS positions for the surface floats at Geoffrey Bay they located a WW2 propeller and engine block which some locals had talked about. Dr. Braley investigated the wreck and contacted Gregory Williams, RAAF, Canberra, and Peter Dunn (of ozatwar website) and after several Townsville Bulletin news articles, the experts said it was the remains of a crash of a CW-22B Curtis Falcon, serial number 3771,on 5 December 1943. American pilot Richard A. Sansing survived the ditching of this plane which had an engine failure. The cowl and propeller are fairly intact "...indicating that it was not under power at the time." See the following link:

Photo taken by Dr. Andy Lewis 15 June 2012 when located along with Dr. Rick Braley

Photo from above taken by Dr. Rick Braley on 4 August 2012

Close-up of cowl in front of propeller (Photo by R. Braley on 4 August 2012)


Launch of the TOBMI Snorkel Trails 18 August 2012


A Claudia Gaber photo: left to right Rick Braley (Aquasearch and TOBMI), Vern Veitch (Deputy Mayor, TCC), Lindsay Simpson (Chair, TOBMI), David Lynch (TCC), Sara Shaw (TOBMI) at the temporary beach entry sign.

A Claudia Gaber photo: left to right, Lindsay Simpson (Chair, TOBMI), Vern Veitch (Deputy Mayor, Tvll), Rick Braley (Aquasearch and TOBMI) chritening the trail sign with a cultured clam shell and seawater.

One of the two canopies with information and selling swim cards

BBQ put on by Base Backpackers and launch participants on the beach

Salads, BBQ, soft drinks hosted by Base Backpackers at the launch

Drum circle led by Albert Salvador at the launch

sub-surface float (SSF) E

lettuce coral, Montipora

approximately 100 yr. old boulder coral, Porites


Giant clams translocated to the snorkel trails on 13 June 2013

Magnetic Island visitors will be the luckiest snorkelers in the region following the introduction of 14 giant clams to the TOBMI (Tourism Operators and Businesses Magnetic Island)  snorkel trails on the island.   27 yr. old aquacultured giant clams (~100 kg ea.) of the largest species of mollusc the planet has ever seen (Tridacna gigas), are now easy to see by snorkelers using the self-guided snorkel trails.  Waterproof swim cards with specific information about the trails can be purchased from 11 locations on the island detailed in the Visitor Guide and Informer.

The TOBMI snorkel trails are only a year old but have created a great deal of interest amongst  visitors .  The trails are at Nelly Bay, a short walk from the ferry terminal and at Geoffrey bay which is easily accessible from the terminal because of the new $4m walkway built earlier this year.   The TOBMI snorkel trails are an exciting addition to the existing opportunities for nature based tourism on the island.

 Dr. Rick Braley, one of the worlds’ authorities on giant clams is the TOBMI member who designed the trails and cultured these clams from fertilized eggs during his PhD thesis.   The clams have been held since 1990 at the opposite end of the island to the snorkel trails.    In the past week the clams were moved into the trails and set in groups of 5 and 3 at Nelly Bay and 4 and 2 at Geoffrey Bay.  The clusters of these clams are like ‘mimics’ of high density natural populations mapped on reefs of the northern GBR during Dr. Braley’s thesis field work.  They are all tagged on the outside of their shells and can be observed and photographed by the public.    They are one of the emblems of the GBR.  When Captain Cook first saw these massive clams he quipped “there is a cockle so large, two men can not eat one at a sitting”.  However, poaching by foreign vessels of giant clams for their adductor muscle in the late 1960s-70s resulted in reduced populations or local extinction in some Asia – Pacific countries.   While poaching also occurred in GBR waters, the size of the reef still contained natural untouched populations.   Following the poaching, this giant clam species has been on the CITES  Appendix 2 list of endangered species. 

We can say that there are no other continental  islands off northern Queensland other than Magnetic island where visitors can get to relatively cheaply by scheduled ferry to see these magnificent animals just off the beautiful beaches.  Both Base Backpackers Magnetic Island continues to sponsor the snorkel trails and along with Sealink ferries they have helped sponsor the translocation of these clams into the snorkel trails.

See the following YouTube link for the Channel 7 TV news on 19 June 2013 about these clams in the snorkel trails:


clams in trails

Group of 5 clams in the Nelly Bay Snorkel trail near surface float 2

Group of 4 clams in the Goeffrey Bay snorkel trail near surface float 2.


World Oceans Day 2017


In December 2008 the United Nations General Assembly agreed upon 8 June each year to be World Oceans Day or WOD. Magnetic Island was the first place in Australia to have an event in 2009. This year there were 43 events in Australia, most being in NSW and Victoria, and Magnetic Island State School also had one today. Dr. Braley organised it and had help with presentations by Dr. Andy Lewis and Dr. Adam Smith. Also, representatives of Qld. Marine Parks and others also gave talks / demonstrations. After 1 hr. of information all the students at the school, including prep studehts, formed a parade down to the Nelly Bay beach carrying colourful pictures of marine animals and a banner. A beach cleanup was done and some games as well as a human WOD on the beach (see the photo). What a great day!

Nelly Bay beach near the marina wall (left) with Magnetic Island State School students forming a WOD on 8 June 2017


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Updated 1 January 2015; Copyright Aquasearch