Magnetic Island is a serene nirvana situated right within our planet’s greatest natural wonder of the world, the Great Barrier Reef.
Also known as Maggie (or MI as the locals call it), it’s the perfect place to kick back and relax, as well as go on all different kinds of fun-fuelled adventures.
I have put together this ultimate guide to 30 Awesome Things To Do On Magnetic Island, so continue reading to discover why this destination is considered Australia’s best-kept secret.
Overview – Things To Do On Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island boasts picturesque views, diverse marine life, lively ecosystems, rugged hiking trails, world-class snorkeling, palm-fringed beaches, and countless days of sunshine!
You can also find cute little bars, restaurants, and cafes all along the two main bays, Horseshoe Bay and Nelly Bay, and the native wildlife is breathtakingly abundant.
It’s also home to Northern Australia’s largest colony of wild koalas, so you’ll be sure to make many new furry friends during your visit.
Before we dive into all of the best things to do in Magnetic Island, here is some useful information on how to get here, and other logistics to help you plan the perfect trip.
Where Is Magnetic Island?
Magnetic Island is located just 8km off the coast of Townsville, North Queensland, and has effectively become a suburb of the city.
The island is home to 23 beaches and bays, each one more beautiful than the other.
Two-thirds of the island is a protected national park, and part of the World-heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Since the ferry ride from Townsville is only 25 minutes long, you could technically visit Maggie just for a day.
However, I highly recommend you spend at least 3 to 7 days here as there are so many awesome things to do on Magnetic Island that you don’t want to miss!
RELATED ARTICLE → 7 BEST MAGGIE ISLAND TOURS
How To Get To Magnetic Island Queensland
The best way to reach the island from Townsville is with the Magnetic Island Ferry which takes just 25 minutes on the passenger ferry or 45 minutes on the car ferry.
I recommend booking your ticket in advance to guarantee a spot on the ferry – tickets sell out fast.
The Magnetic Island Ferry Terminal is located at Ross Street, South Townsville, and there are several ferries departing each day.
It is possible to bring your own vehicle with you on the ferry as well, be aware that pre-booking is essential to secure a spot for you and your car.
I have put together a separate guide that has everything you need to know about the Ferry including prices, timetables, and terminal locations to help you plan your trip ahead of time.
FULL BLOG POST → HOW TO GET TO MAGGIE ISLAND
How To Get Around
Once you’ve made it to paradise and want to start ticking off your list of things to do in Magnetic Island, you have multiple options for getting around the island’s 40 kilometers of roads, including multiple 4×4 tracks waiting for you to have some fun on.
The first option is to bring your vehicle with you on the ferry. If you come for a couple of days or even weeks, this is definitely the cheapest option.
You can bring your own bike on the ferry free of charge. Just keep in mind there are lots of hills on the island, so I wouldn’t recommend this during the summer months.
Rent A Car:
There are a number of rental car companies on the island to suit every traveler’s needs.
Go topless in one of the island’s iconic Barbie cars or hire a 4×4 to take you safely down all the dirt roads to some of the more remote locations.
Depending on the vehicle, rentals start at around $69 a day.
Related Article: Magnetic Island Car Hire – All You Need To Know
Rent A Scooter:
An easy and fun way to explore all of the tourist spots on the island is by scooter.
Road Runner Scooter Hire offers a wide range of different single and dual-seat scooters. Rates start at $40 per scooter per day.
Sunbus is the public bus service on the island and has 29 bus stops located throughout the island.
The service runs regularly and reliably from one end of the island to the other from morning till night.
The bus meets arriving visitors at the ferry terminal in Nelly Bay and stops conveniently near all of the accommodation points.
You can purchase single, daily, and weekly tickets or purchase a ferry and bus package from the Breakwater Terminal in Townsville.
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30 Awesome Things To Do In Magnetic Island
Now that you know a little about Maggie Island, how to get here, and the best time to visit, it’s time to get to the fun stuff!
So, without further ado, here is a complete list of 30 Awesome Things To Do On Magnetic Island during your visit.
Chill Out At Geoffrey Bay
Let’s kick things off on this list of what to do in Magnetic Island with the beautiful Geoffrey Bay!
Featuring a sweeping golden sands beach with a number of small shops and the well-known Arcadia Pub located along its stunning shoreline.
Geoffrey Bay is very popular for its picturesque palm trees where you can get that perfect Instagram shot and it’s also a very nice beach to go for a refreshing dip in the crystal clear blue water.
The wreck of the German sailing barque, the Moltke, which was sunk in 1911 and is a very popular open-water dive site, can also be found in the waters at Geoffrey Bay.
Feed The Rock Wallabies
Feeding the rock wallabies will be one of the many highlights during your stay as it’s one of the best Magnetic Island attractions.
They are a colony of friendly wallabies that have made the old Fantasea ferry harbor in Arcadia their home, and they will come up to you and eat right out of your hand.
However, be mindful that they are wild animals and, therefore, not supposed to be fed by humans.
I know it’s incredibly tempting so if you can’t help yourself, no judgment, make sure you feed them appropriate food.
You can get a bag of wallaby food at the newsagents right next to the Arcadia Pub.
They will also happily nibble on some fresh fruit or veggies, their favorite snack seems to be carrots and apples.
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Drive The Island In A Topless Car
One of the absolute best things to do on Magnetic Island is to go topless and rent one of the iconic Barbie cars for a day.
This is the only place you can rent topless cars and they’re not only stylish but they’re a really fun way to explore the island.
I would even go as far as to say they are the cutest, most Instagrammable island transport you could imagine.
You can hire them from Tropical Topless Car Rental, conveniently located next to the ferry terminal in Nelly Bay. They seat four people and cost just $80 for a day or $90 for 24 hours.
Explore The Boulders At Alma Bay
A visit to Alma Bay is an absolute must, as it’s one of the main beaches in Arcadia for all kinds of activities.
Because of its location on the island, and the absence of mangrove creeks nearby, it is protected from the infestation of box jellyfish, which makes it the perfect place to swim all year round.
There are plenty of shady trees and a lifeguard patrolling the beach daily. You can also find toilets, shower facilities, and a large children’s playground at Alma Bay.
Explore the cove formed by large granite boulders and enjoy a peaceful picnic beneath the impressive trees.
Stop by for a morning swim or spend the whole day here with your friends and family.
Full Blog Post → Alma Bay Travel Guide
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Enjoy The View From Olympus Lookout
The track to the unofficial Olympus Lookout is a short 25-meter path that leads from the end of Olympus Crescent to a large rocky outcrop overlooking the cove just around the corner from Alma Bay.
It takes less than two minutes, is very easy to get to, and is well worth it for the epic views of the rocky coastline along the incredibly clear and blue water that will leave you speechless.
This is one of the lesser-known things to do on the island so I guarantee you’ll be the only one there when you go and check it out for yourselves!
Visit Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay lies sheltered on the northeastern end of the island and it’s the main tourist hub boasting lots of retail shops, numerous restaurants, pubs, bars, and cute little cafes.
Horseshoe Bay Beach is a beautiful 3km long beach that offers excellent conditions for swimming as well as multiple other watersports like tube riding, snorkeling, or diving that can be booked all along the busy shoreline.
Not only is Horseshoe Bay beautiful during the day, but you can also come here for dinner and sit back, unwind, and enjoy one of the famous seafood platters while watching the sun go down.
RELATED ARTICLE → 10 THINGS TO DO IN HAMILTON ISLAND
Grab A Pub Feed At Marlin Bar Tavern
Looking for live music and a chill vibe paired with generous portions of delicious food and great views? Marlin Bar Tavern is where you’ll want to go!
The variety of meals is excellent and so is their drink menu. Whether you fancy a cold beer, a glass of wine, or a tropical cocktail, the bartender at Marlin Bar has got you covered.
RELATED ARTICLE → 12 BEST RESTAURANTS ON MAGNETIC ISLAND
Try their juicy burgers, served on a toasted brioche bun with hot, crunchy chips, and recharge your batteries before you continue your adventures.
You can enjoy their tasty meals and good vibes Monday to Friday from 10:00 am – Late, and Saturday to Sunday from 8:00 am – Late.
Just make sure you call ahead and book a table as it can get very busy, especially on the weekends.
Marlin Bar Tavern is also pet-friendly, so if you’re traveling with your pup, bring them along for the fun too.
Hire A Jet Ski
One of the many watersports you can try at Horseshoe Bay is jet skiing and it’s by far one of the best things to do for those looking for an adrenaline rush.
Hire a ski from Magnetic Jet Ski Tours and explore the waters around the island by yourself or book one of their guided tours for an unforgettable experience.
All of the high-quality safety equipment is included in their price and their timetable is flexible.
3-Hour Jet Ski Tour:
Cruise the entire Island coastline through the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and take in the scenery on this 3-hour tour that promises an exhilarating experience while creating memories to last a lifetime.
$395 per ski for up to 2 people.
2-Hour Jet Ski Tour:
During the 2 hour tour, one of the experienced and well-trained professional guides will take you to explore the North East and North West aspects of Maggie.
$220 per ski for up to 2 people.
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Rent a Kayak or SUP
Another one of the top things to do in Magnetic Island is to rent a kayak or SUP and explore the area all around Horseshoe Bay.
You can rent either a double or single kayak and there are different SUP board sizes available as well. Prices range between $10 and $40. See the picture below for more info.
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Try Slacklining At Horseshoe Bay
Have you ever tried slacklining? If not, you most definitely should give it a crack!
During my visit to MI, my friends and I found a permanently installed slackline down on the shorefront at Horseshoe Bay that’s available for anyone to use.
Balancing on a line tied between two palm trees is a lot harder than it looks, but makes up for a very fun activity and the advantage of doing it at the beach – when you fall off you land in the sand.
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Visit The Island Markets
Every second and last Sunday of the month from 9 am – 2 pm you can visit the Magnetic Island Markets in Horseshoe Bay.
MUST READ: 21 BEST TRAVEL ACCESSORIES FOR ANY TRIP
They have two very popular open-air market scenes for you to stroll through. Both include local produce, ready-to-eat food, drinks, clothes, artwork, jewelry, and live music.
If you miss the Sunday markets, there is a weekly Friday Night Market in the RSL Hall in Arcadia. They are open from 6 pm – 8 pm.
Climb The Rocks At Arthur Bay
Arthur Bay is not to be missed on your list of what to do in Magnetic Island.
Access to Arthur Bay is quite simple if you have a 4WD as you can simply drive down the hill and park near the oceanfront; otherwise, without a 4WD you’ll have to walk.
From the Forts Walk car park on Horseshoe Bay Road, it’s a 2km return track down to Arthur Bay.
When you reach the shoreline, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful beach and stunning rock formations from which you can admire the dazzling views of the bay.
Arthur Bay can be explored as part of the Five Bays Walk (Arthur, Florence, Radical, Balding, Horseshoe Bays) or done as a little adventure on its own depending on how much time you have on the island.
Go Swimming At Florence Bay
Going for a swim in the unbelievably clear water at Florence Bay is yet another one of the most awesome things to do on Maggie.
Located right next to Alma Bay, it can also be reached on the 4WD track or by walking.
Florence Bay is very popular with locals and visitors and is considered one of the most beautiful bays on the island.
The picturesque location is a popular snorkeling area with a large coral population along the rocks on the left side of the bay, and coral bommies in the middle.
When the wind increases and the conditions are right, Florence Bay gets rideable, fun little waves, and will be your bay of choice to go for a surf whilst on the island.
Do The Forts Walk At Sunrise
The Forts Walk is one of the most popular hikes on the island for multiple reasons.
Several little lookouts along the way offer amazing views of the Palm Island Group in the north and the Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south.
The Forts Walk is also one of the best places to see koalas in the wild. Keep an ear out for male koalas as their mating call is very loud, some even describe it as sounding like a lawnmower.
MUST READ → BEST CAMERA GEAR FOR TRAVEL
The 4km return track leads to historic World War II fortifications and infrastructure. It will take you about 30 – 45 minutes each way, but it’s a fairly easy walk and well worth it.
Overlooking Florence Bay and Horseshoe Bay, it’s by far the best location on the island to watch the sunrise.
Go Nude On Balding Bay
Balding Bay is a hidden gem, featuring a beautiful white sand beach surrounded by cool rock formations and large granite boulders, Balding Bay is the place to be on a hot summer day!
A remote location that can only be reached after a 45-minute bush walk from the southern end of Horseshoe Bay.
The sandy bottom and gentle swell make Balding Bay a good spot for a refreshing swim after the hike to get here.
No need to bring your swimmers either as it’s one of the few nude beaches on the island.
It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks and drinking water with you as there are no amenities nearby.
Hike To Radical Bay
A further 45-minute hike through the eucalyptus forest will take you from Balding Bay to Radical Bay.
This peaceful north-facing beach is a popular spot for boating but the palm tree fringed shoreline and the turquoise waters also make it an excellent beach for relaxing and swimming.
Radical Bay was once the home of a vibrant resort, but its only inhabitants these days are iconic Australian wildlife.
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Spot Koalas In The Wild
MI is home to the largest Koala population in the North of Australia and is therefore without a doubt one of the best places to spot Koalas in the wild.
Many of them sleep in the gum and eucalyptus trees on all the walking and hiking tracks around the island.
RELATED ARTICLE → 7 BEST MAGNETIC ISLAND TOURS
You’ll find them especially on The Forts Walk and along the way on the walk to Balding Bay and Radical Bay.
Also, the Wallaby Way in Horseshoe Bay and the back streets around Picnic Bay are areas where it’s very likely you’ll get to see them too.
If all else fails, you can visit the Magnetic Island Koala Park at Bungalow Bay. The accommodation and adventure center offers wildlife tours a few times a day where you have the opportunity to meet the three resident koalas.
Go Horse Riding
Enjoy the scenic beauty of Horseshoe Bay, its abundant wildlife, beautiful beach, and lush hinterland followed by a thrilling bareback ride with your horse in the cool clear waters of the Coral Sea.
Horseshoe Bay Ranch offers tours for riders of all abilities. There are plenty of opportunities to trot and canter for intermediate and advanced riders, but not to worry if you are a beginner.
It’s an amazing experience to ride along the tracks through the eucalyptus forest on a paradise island while spying on koalas and wallabies in the wild – there’s nothing quite like it.
There are two tours available every day, one at 9 am and the other at 3 pm.
Bookings are essential and it’s mentioned on their website that weight restrictions apply to ensure the health and happiness of the horses.
The price for a 2-hour Magnetic Island horse riding experience is $120 per person.
Visit Magnetic Island Koala Sanctuary
Use the opportunity to learn and get close and personal with the unique wildlife during a visit to the Koala Sanctuary.
There are three daily tours conducted with onsite rangers offering local stories and personal experiences with the native Australian Wildlife.
The times for the tours are 10 am 12 pm and 2:30 pm.
The tour lasts approximately one and a half hours and is within the wildlife park where you can wrap yourself in a python, hold a lizard, a small saltwater crocodile, and of course get to know the icon of the island – the koala.
Entry fees for adults are $30, for children ages 5-15 it’s $13 and the family price for 2 adults with up to 3 children is $80.
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Have A Meal At Scallywags Cafe
Next on this list of things to do is Scallywags Cafe, a fairly new cafe in the very heart of Nelly Bay.
On their menu are delicious healthy meals and fair trade coffees in a fun-filled, family-friendly atmosphere with a theatrical pirate crew.
Live music and fire shows during dinner time ensure a great vibe while enjoying their excellent food.
With plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, everybody’s needs will be satisfied.
Scallywags Cafe is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from 7 am – 8 pm. Prices are very reasonable and range between $9 and $24.
Go Diving Or Snorkeling
Maggie has a fringing coral reef and many shipwrecks that are abundant in sea life surrounding the island, making it an epic spot to go scuba diving or snorkeling on Magnetic Island.
Some of the best bays to explore the underwater world are Nelly Bay, Geoffrey Bay, Alma Bay, Arthur Bay, and Florence Bay.
There are two marked snorkel trails on the island waiting for you to explore. One in Nelly Bay and the other one in Geoffrey Bay.
Snorkel trail maps can be purchased at various locations all around the island for a $5 donation for the upkeep and maintenance of the trails and other reef areas.
These handy swim cards are super helpful, as they mark the species of fish and coral that you are likely to see at each location.
The Nelly Bay Snorkel Trail starts about 100m off the beach near Base Backpackers and the Geoffrey Bay Trail is close to the wreck of the Moltke as well as a WW2 propeller engine block.
If you are looking to explore the reef further out and are ready for a full dive tour, Pro Dive is the only dive shop on the island, a professional, friendly service offering the full experience!
With daily boat trips to the Great Barrier Reef as well as dive intro, open water, and advanced open water courses, snorkel trips, and marine training.
They off absolutely everything to suit everyone’s needs.
Prices for dive courses and certifications start at only $249 and let me tell you, getting scuba diving certified will be some of the best money you could ever spend on any activity.
Round The Island Boat Tour
See the breathtaking coastline of Maggie from a different perspective on a tour with ‘Get Around Island Boat Tours and Hire.’
Rated as one of the best things to do on Magnetic Island, you can discover stunning beaches that are not accessible by walking or car, snorkel around the amazing reefs, take a dip in secret coves, try your luck at fishing, and catch an unforgettable sunset from the water.
All snorkel and fishing equipment is provided on the boat that can fit up to 8 people per charter. Tours start at 9:30 am till 4:30 pm and the cost is $75 per person.
If you have your own boat license and would like the freedom to explore on your own, there are also self-drive tours available.
Grab Coffee & Breakfast At Shaka Cafe
Start your day right, with a delicious, healthy meal by the beach at Shaka Cafe.
Choose from their wide variety of tasty smoothie bowls, and pressed juices, or pair a cup of freshly brewed coffee with their yummy raw treats. All while listening to good tunes right along the beach at Nelly Bay.
Open 5 days a week, Thursday – Sunday from 7 am – 1 pm. Don’t miss out on this little gem, said to have the best smoothie bowls on the island.
Discover Rocky Bay
Another one of the top things to do on Magnetic Island is visit the secluded Rocky Bay.
There are two ways to reach the golden sands and granite boulders of Rocky Bay.
You can either walk along the boulders in front of Base Backpackers (Nelly Bay) until you get to Rocky Bay or follow the same trail to Hawking’s Point Lookout (Picnic Bay).
It’s a little bit more difficult to get to than the other beaches, but it’s well worth the effort. The atmosphere is beautiful and a great spot for a picnic or a relaxing afternoon.
Feel free to go skinny dipping as Rocky Bay is another nude beach on the island.
Hike To Hawkings Point Lookout
Hawking Point Lookout is one of my favorite locations on the island and an epic adventure not to be missed during your visit.
The trailhead to Hawkings Point Lookout is located at the northern end of Picnic Bay.
It’s a nice bushwalk that takes around 20 minutes from bottom to top and rewards you with sweeping panoramic views of the island.
Head up just before dark as it’s undeniably one of the best spots on Maggie to watch the sunset.
Check Out Picnic Bay Jetty
Picnic Bay is the southernmost corner of the island and a must-visit location. The iconic long jetty and the beautiful, usually uncrowded sandy beach make it a very special little bay.
The Picnic Bay Jetty is a heritage-listed jetty situated along the esplanade that was built between 1959 – 1977 and added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 2004.
From the end of the jetty, you can enjoy fantastic views of Cleveland Bay and you can also see Townsville in the distance.
Watch Sunset At West Point Beach
There are many epic spots to watch the sunset, but in my opinion, the best location is West Point Beach.
Take a rug and have some beers down by the water with friends while watching Mama nature turn off the light.
There is a dirt road leading from Picnic Bay straight to West Point Beach and the drive is about 20 minutes.
Take A Photo Of The Shipwreck
The S.S. City of Adelaide is a 15-year-old Scottish vessel with a proud history of serving the east coast of Australia.
In 2018 a photo of it became the most popular image on Tourism Australia’s Instagram page and for a good reason.
Featuring a half-exposed shipwreck with trees growing out of it that makes for excellent drone shots.
If you don’t have a drone, you can book a tour with Aquascene Charters which will take you out to the wreck.
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Play A Round Of Golf
The Maggie Island Country Club is the island’s only golf course. It is set in a backdrop of rugged hills strewn with boulders and lush vegetation and backs onto the National Park.
Home to a lot of native wildlife, you’ll probably have multiple koalas as an audience during your game.
The Country Club is open 7 days a week, from 8 am, and offers challenges for all levels of abilities.
The price for nonclub members for the 9 holes course is $25 and $35 for the 18 holes course. You get 50% off the Social Green fees when you come to play on a Sunday or Monday.
The club is located in Picnic Bay and provides full bar facilities. Visitors are welcome to play a round, join competitions, or just relax in the clubhouse.
See The View From Sphinx Lookout
Last but not least on this list of things to do on MI is seeing the awesome view from Sphinx Lookout.
This cool viewpoint is located near Alma Bay and while hiking along the ridges up to the lookout, you’ll be offered fantastic views of Horseshoe Bay.
From the top, you’ll be able to see beautiful Alma Bay and Geoffrey Bay.
Where To Stay On Magnetic Island
There are dozens of accommodation options to choose from on Maggie, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend.
LUXURY: PEPPERS BLUE ON BLUE
MID RANGE: DANDALOO GARDENS
BUDGET: NOMADS MAGNETIC ISLAND
For More Options, See My Complete Guide On Where To Stay On Magnetic Island
Best Time To Visit Magnetic Island
With 320 days of sunshine, its stable climate, and pleasant temperatures, MI is enjoyable to visit all year round.
If I had to pick the best time of the year to visit I would say during the dry season between May and November, just because the high humidity during the summer months can be very tiring for visitors unaccustomed to a tropical climate.
Summer (November – March) is also the high season for marine stingers but be mindful and careful all year round.
Horseshoe Bay and Picnic Bay are protected by a stinger net and you can and will be advised to hire stinger suits for when you go snorkeling or diving.
When hiking to more remote beaches, take notice of any warning signs and ideally carry some vinegar with you to douse the sting.
February and March are usually the quietest months of the year, while the months between June and October are the busiest.
Weather On Magnetic Island
Maggie Island is within the dry tropics, an area that has a wet season similar to other parts of the tropics but is characterized by a dry season with very little rain and lots of sunshine.
Daytime temperatures vary between 25°C and 32°C, whereas nighttime temperatures are between 14°C and 24°C all throughout the year.
Supermarket & Bottle Shop
IGA Supermarket is located opposite the Nelly Bary Ferry Terminal and is open from 6 am – 8:30 pm, Monday – Saturday, and 7 am – 8:30 pm on Sunday.
It has the biggest selection of groceries on the island.
The other supermarket is Foodworks. It’s located in Nelly Bay and is open 7 days a week from 7 am – 7 pm.
Cellar Doors is the local bottle shop on the island with three locations, one in Horseshoe Bay, one in Nelly Bay, and the other one in Picnic Bay. Open daily from 10 am – 8 pm.
Magnetic Island Map
Click here or on the image below for an interactive map of the island.
What To Pack For MI
When visiting Maggie Island, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you.
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Final Thoughts – What to Do in Magnetic Island
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about things to do in Magnetic Island Queensland, please leave a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
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