Top things to do in Townsville on a budget

Enjoying Townsville on a budget is easy: just follow the sun.

  • Jetstar
  • June 2021

Unless someone figures out how to bottle sunshine and sell it, there’ll always be plenty of free and low-cost things to do in outdoorsy Townsville. Here are five of our favourites to get you started.

Go troppo at a botanical garden

You don’t need to be a green thumb to enjoy Townsville’s magnificent botanical gardens. With their exotic plants and graceful landscaping, they're ideal for whiling away a few hours. Get a sense of the city’s grand past at the heritage-listed Queen’s Gardens opens in new window (dating back to 1870), with its colourful collection of colonial ornamental plants. Check out the Palmetum’s world-renowned coilection of palms and frolic barefoot on its rolling lawns. Or head to the enormous, idyllic Anderson Gardens for a picnic, surrounded by a plethora of tropical plants.

Queen’s Gardens: corner Gregory and Paxton streets, North Ward
Palmetum: University Road, Douglas
Anderson Gardens: 41 Gulliver Street, Mundingburra

Young woman walks among the greenery, Queens Gardens, Townsville. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
The lush Queens Garden is just one of Townsville’s beautiful botanical gardens. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Hit the street-art trail

If you thought street art was for edgy metropolises like New York, London and Melbourne, think again! Inner-city Townsville is home to an impressive collection of street art by internationally renowned names and local talents. From towering possums and kookaburras to mythological monsters and dinosaurs, colourful abstracts and evocative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander murals, these super-sized artworks reveal an unexpectedly quirky side to the city. Grab a Street Art City Walking Trail map from the Visitor Information Centre or download the augmented reality app for a more interactive experience.

Location: Townsville city centre

Woman admires colourful street-art mural on building, Townsville. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
Following Townsville’s street-art trail is a great way to explore the city! Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Discover the submarine splendour of Magnetic Island

That old chestnut about the best things in life being free could have been coined for the beaches and bays of Magnetic Island. No need for costly charter tours to far-flung waters: simply step from the shore into a snorkellers’ paradise. There are two self-guided snorkel trails on the island, clearly marked for maximum ease, enjoyment and safety. The Geoffrey Bay trail features myriad fish, a shipwreck (the Moltke) and a sunken WWII airplane propeller. The Nelly Bay trail takes in otherworldly coral reef and its resident marine life.

Location: Magnetic Island, a 20-minute ferry ride east of Townsville

The blue waters of Geoffrey Bay, Magnetic Island, Townsville.
Aquatic wonder awaits you below the turquoise waters of Geoffrey Bay, Magnetic Island.

Spend a day at Riverway

An easy bus trip or drive from the city centre, Riverway lives up to its name. This 11-kilometre swathe of parkland stretches along the picturesque Ross River and could easily keep you entertained for a day. Take a dip in the huge Riverway Lagoons, wander the shady boardwalk along the river and get your culture on at Pinnacles Gallery. Learn to play traditional games once enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in different parts of Australia on the Ngulu Marga Yulga Uriny Games Trail and take advantage of the picnic facilities. Plus, there are free monthly movie nights!

Location: Thuringowa Central, Townsville

Riverway Lagoons, Townsville. Image credit: Roslyn Budd/Townsville Enterprise
Take a dip in the lovely Riverway Lagoons at Townsville’s Riverway Precinct. Image credit: Roslyn Budd/Townsville Enterprise

Enjoy a natural high on Castle Hill

Wherever you happen to be in the city centre, you can be sure of one thing: Castle Hill will form part of the view. Falling just a few metres short of a mountain, this towering pink granite monolith stands smack-bang in the middle of town – a handy landmark that allows visitors to get their bearings quickly. Every day, more than 2,500 locals walk its trails, a steep trek culminating in spectacular, Insta-worthy views. American soldiers used the peak as a lookout during WWII; be sure to check out their old observation bunker.

Location: central Townsville

Couple at the top of Castle Hill, Townsville, with the city and Magnetic Island in the background. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland
That’s what we call a view! Townsville city and Magnetic Island as seen from the top of Castle Hill. Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland