More than a pretty face: fun facts about Townsville
Drag yourself away from the beach and discover Townsville's lesser-known charms.
- November 2018
- Updated July 2022
Renowned for its postcard-perfect beaches, its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and its generous sunshine, Townsville’s reputation as a fabulous holiday destination precedes it. But northern Queensland’s unofficial capital has more tricks up its sleeve than you might realise.
Waterfalls galore: nature at its most magical
Not only is its beach appeal off the charts, but Townsville also over-delivers in the waterfall department. Paluma Range National Park, just over an hour’s drive from the city, is home to several. The spectacular waterfall at Little Crystal Creek is a local favourite, while Big Crystal Creek has its own lovely waterfall (plus smooth slippery rocks that make great natural waterslides). Ethel Creek Falls, Diorite Falls and Jourama Falls are also worth exploring. Meanwhile in nearby Girringun National Park, you’ll find Australia’s tallest permanent single-drop waterfall, the breathtaking Wallaman Falls.
The Percivals: Australia’s other big portrait prize
Move over Archibald – make way for the Percivals! Held every two years, this prestigious Townsville-based art competition was established in 2007 after negotiations to show the Archibald Prize at the city’s Perc Tucker Regional Gallery stalled. There are three categories: portrait paintings, photographic portraits and – best of all – animal portraits, attracting entries from local and national artists. The finalists are then exhibited in the gallery, a magnificent 19th-century heritage building that’s practically a work of art itself.
Outback with a twist: Charters Towers
It may be just over 90 minutes’ drive from Townsville, but Charters Towers might as well be a world away. Its vast red landscape and infinite blue skies are pure outback, while its beautifully preserved old buildings hark back to its glory days as a prosperous gold-rush town. Plus, it’s seriously quirky. Where else in Australia would you find a Texas longhorn ranch that offers Wild West experiences, a guided ghost tour, and an old-school drive-in that’s been going strong since 1966? Think of it as Townsville’s eccentric country cousin...
A taste of Townsville: homegrown beers
In a city where even winter feels like summer, it makes sense that Townsville would be home to some fine locally brewed beers. Housed in an iconic heritage building complete with its own clocktower, the family-owned Townsville Brewing Company has been quenching tropical thirsts since 2001. It’s known for its easy-drinking lagers and fruitier ales. Meanwhile, relative newcomer Tiny Mountain is winning fans with its adventurous range (Mango Passionfruit Quencher, anyone?) and its Cowboys Castle Kölsch, inspired by local rugby league team the North Queensland Cowboys.
Shipwreck central: Magnetic Island
The turquoise waters off Townsville have claimed an inordinate number of shipwrecks over the years. Most famous is the S. S. Yongala, which sank in 1911 after sailing into a cyclone, taking 122 lives with it. It’s now a popular dive spot. Less well known, but more accessible, are the 20 shipwrecks dotted around Magnetic Island, forming a veritable Shipwreck Trail. Some – like the incredible City of Adelaide in Cockle Bay – are so close to shore, you don’t even have to dive to explore them.