Visit to Magnetic Island
For the visitors from Timor there were two things that reminded them of home when they were flying in to Townsville. First the landscape. The rugged hills and the trees made the approach into Townsville much like flying into Dili. And second, Magnetic Island sitting across from Townsville is very much like Atauro Island which sits off Dili.
Atauro is further from Dili [about 24 kms] than Magnetic Island is from Townsville [about 8 kms] but both are tourist locations. Atauro was recognised last year as appearing "to have the most biodiverse waters anywhere in the world."
The veterans have a keen interest in promoting tourism in East Timor to support national development and take active roles in their local communities support this sector, so it was helpful for them to visit Magnetic Island and see the approach to tourism and the integration of some of the World War Two history. The story of East Timor's struggle its associated sites can attract tourists so there is a desire amongst the veterans to provide places to visit and and find ways to communicate this story.
The small RSL community in Magnetic Island hosted a morning tea and RSL member Colin Foley was our bus tour guide for our entire trip, assisted by Jamie interpreting. There was a lot of laughter!