Yunbenun — otherwise known as Magnetic Island — is a short ferry ride from Townsville in tropical North Queensland. Its network of stunning trails, which run along ridges and descend to idyllic bay after idyllic bay, make for some sweet trail running and it’s pretty special to cool off afterwards with a snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef.

Totally Tropi-trail

With temperatures hovering around the mid-teens overnight and hitting the mid-twenties during the day, August was an awesome time to visit Yunbenun (Magnetic Island).

The island is the traditional land of the Wulgarukaba, or canoe people, and consists of a handful of beautiful bays inhabited by around 1000 permanent residents. Dividing the bays are rugged boulder-strewn ridge lines leading to the island’s highest point, Mt Cook, which stands at 493m.

Along several of these ridges lie stunning trails which weave around and climb over the amazingly diverse landscape, made up of everything from rainforest through to arid scrub.

Trail Running On Yunbenun (Magnetic Island)

Maggie’s trails vary from 1km to 6km individually, but are easily linked together to create stunning runs from 5km to 30km depending on your appetite. The best part is most of the runs can be planned to spit you out at an empty pristine beach for a cool off in the ocean.

The trails are suitable for all abilities — they are all frequented by trail walkers but are diverse and challenging to run at speed for more advanced runners.

The trail leading inland from Nelly Bay, then north to Horseshoe Bay, is a personal favourite — just over 6km of varied single track with around 250m climbing each way.

The view at the end of the Forts Loop is one of the best on the island, with plenty of other panoramic views along the 3.5km undulating loop. If you slow down a little you will often see koalas here too.

Snorkelling And Diving

Being on the inside of the Great Barrier Reef, Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) is host to some awesome marine life which can be accessed either by snorkelling or diving. Around the island there are a number of marked snorkel routes, each around 100m offshore and around 400m in length, marked with buoys.

Tropical Trail Running // Yunbenun - Magnetic Island (QLD), Rowan Beggs-French, fish, coral, sunlight, underwater, barrier reef

The visibility is variable as the island sits close to the Townsville shipping channel, and sometimes the water is quite silty. However, on a clear day there are some beautiful coral formations to see, diverse fish life and giant clams. If diving is your thing then the World Heritage recognised SS Yongala shipwreck is around a 3 hour boat trip from Maggie.

Tropical Trail Running // Yunbenun - Magnetic Island (QLD), Rowan Beggs-French, coral, underwater, blue, barrier reef

Base Camp

For our time on the island we stayed in Nelly Bay, where the hourly ferry arrives and departs from.

This bay has a variety of accommodation options, from backpackers where you can pitch a tent through to resort style hotels (if that’s your thing). The other small settlements at Picnic Bay, Alma Bay and Horseshoe Bay provide similar options and, due to the small size of Yunbenun (Magnetic Island), getting between the bays is stress free.

Getting There

After flying into Townsville you can catch a shuttle bus which will take you directly to the ferry terminal in the city. There is a barge to take vehicles across to the island if you drive, otherwise there is an hourly passenger ferry which takes around 30 minutes. Once on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) there is a regular bus service to get where you need to go, or you can explore on foot — just hit the trails and start running!


Go Troppo Round Townsville…

5 Stinger Season Swimming Holes Near Townsville (QLD)

Alligator Creek Waterfall // Bowling Green Bay National Park (QLD)

Battling Mount Bartle Frere // Wooroonooran National Park (QLD)

Waterfalls and Rockslides // Big Crystal Creek (QLD)

Better Than Body Pump // Wallaman Falls (QLD)