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Magnetic Museum new exhibition launch - Saturday 23 March 2024

In 1770 Lieutenant James Cook saw the land mass now known as Magnetic Island and named it ‘Magnetical head or Isle’ on the premise that his compass had gone awry when he was nearby.  Cook’s belief there was a magnetic force of physics surrounding the Island has had few supporters over the years. However, that Magnetic Island has a very real ‘magnetic attraction’ for those who have lived there, visited or even been compelled to stay there is undeniable...

Magnetic Museum will re-open after its annual recess with the official launch of its new exhibition Magnetic Attraction – the Island of Magical Charm. The display focuses on various groups of people who have visited Magnetic Island or made the Island their home including, among others, those quarantined there from 1878, the lifesaver fraternity from the late 1920s, honeymooners, service personnel during World War II and farmers.

Magnetic Attraction – the Island of Magical Charm will be officially opened on Saturday 23 March 2024 at 2pm at the museum and a welcome to attend this function is extended to all. 

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LTTE: Points to Magnetic Island National Park name. Hello all, In 1998 I put my hand up as Chairman of the Native Title subcommittee of Magnetic Island Ratepayers Association to understand and see the


Mar 15

It looks like our island was lucky to get the Magnetic name because Cook had been having compass problems even one day before the Endeavour arrived at Cleveland Bay. Here's a transcript of the ship's log for those couple of precious days in June 1770.

6 June 1770

This bay which I named Cleveland Bay appear’d to be about 5 or 6 Miles in extent every way. the East point I named Cape Cleveland and the West Barren Head, Magnetical head or Isle as it had had much the appearence of an Island and the Compass did not travis well when near it. they are both tolerable high and so is the Mainland within them and the whole appear’d to have…

Mar 15
Replying to

During the First Voyage Cook made over 50 observations of magnetic variation: the angle between magnetic north and true north. He noted variations around NZ and Timor. The truth is it's most likely Magnetic Storms at the time.

It starts about 70 years earlier with Halley. The hope of Halley and others that measurements of magnetic variation would lead to an accurate method of determining longitude at sea were not realized

Cook notes several variations along the east coast and around Timor..The most likely explanation is magnetic storms occurring at the time.

On 11 April, 1770, between New Zealand and Australia, Cook noted

"this 2½°E more than yesterday and expected to have it less for the observations were equally good."

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