Gateway to the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef
The gateway to Queensland’s vast northern region, Townsville is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and Magnetic Island. With about 320 days of balmy weather each year, it’s the ideal place to get acquainted with the undersea realm. Plus, it has beautiful beaches, bush walking tracks, abundant bird life and a koala sanctuary. And if that's not enough, you can revel in the waterfalls, wetlands and tropical rainforests of Hinchinbrook or Paluma Range National Park, or take off on an outback adventure.
A showplace of iconic 19th-century buildings, Townsville also hosts an array of cultural and sporting events. Groovin’ the Moo is the May Day long weekend musical highlight, while the Cultural Festival takes place in August each year. Award-winning restaurants and family-friendly attractions like Townsville Environmental Park abound.
Things to do
At the Billabong Sanctuary Australian Wildlife Experience, just 17km south of Townsville on the Bruce Highway, you can get better acquainted with all manner of indigenous animals in their natural habitat. From dingoes and cassowarries to koalas and kangaroos, wildlife lovers of all ages can mingle with the many furry-footed (and scaly-skinned) residents of this 11ha, eco-certified park, take part in feedings and enjoy shows and talks.
A 20-minute ferry ride whisks visitors to Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Plunge into the waters at as many as you can of its 23 beaches, wander along some of its 24 kilometres of walking tracks (you might spot a koala or two) and follow the Magnetic Island Snorkel Trail to discover life beneath the waves (you might spot a sea turtle or two).
Deepen your understanding of marine life at the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, offering fun and fascinating experiences in cooperation with the adjoining National Reef Education Centre. The aquarium’s 20m tunnel allows visitors to get amongst the sea life without getting wet. You can also visit the Turtle Hospital, where sick and injured marine turtles are cared for.
Wallaman Falls, a spectacular 268-metre drop, is Australia’s tallest waterfall. Located at Girringun National Park, the falls are part of the Wet Tropics Great Walk. Access the base of the falls via Djyinda Walk and see spectacular scenery at every turn – try to spot the musky-rat kangaroo, the elusive platypus and the endangered southern cassowary. Just watch out for crocs!
Ranked as one of the world’s top 10 dive sites, the wreck of the S.S. Yongala is located off the coast of Ayr. A challenge for even the most experienced diver, the sunken passenger ship is considered the equivalent of 10 separate dives. A host of marine creatures, including giant groupers, sea snakes, schools of trevally and turtles, has taken up residence here.
Distance to city centre 5km
Taxi Taxis are available outside the arrivals hall, and cost around AUD $20 (plus a AUD $3 airport surcharge) for the 15-minute journey into Townsville.
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When to go
Townsville enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine each year, with hot and humid summers and warm winters. The hottest months are between October and April – if you're visiting then pack your sunscreen and drink plenty of water. The best time to visit is between May and September when the days are warm and the evenings are cool.
Sailing festivities take place at the end of August each year at the Magnetic Island Race Week. New Year’s Eve celebrations are for the whole family – make your way to Strand Park to watch fireworks.Back to top
Townsville’s city-centre attractions around Flinders Mall and the Strand are easily navigable on foot. Sunbus, operating primarily out of Flinders Mall, runs local public transport, and puts on shuttles during special events.Back to top