Your sun-drenched launch pad for adventure and natural wonder

The gateway to Queensland’s vast north, Townsville makes an excellent base from which to explore this attraction-packed region, starting with the nearby Great Barrier Reef and Magnetic Island. Throw in the city’s laidback vibe and 320 days of sunshine per year, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t visit earlier.

Townsville’s aquatic charms are innumerable. The renowned Reef HQ Aquarium may be closed for renovations until 2023, but that just means more time for swimming, sailing, snorkelling and scuba-diving, island-hopping, sunbathing, and generally soaking up the serenity.

Away from the water, grand heritage buildings and lush botanical gardens hint at Townsville’s proud history, while a colourful street-art trail places it firmly in the now. Castle Hill is a popular walking spot with the locals — once you take in the glorious 360-degree views from its peak, you’ll understand why. And after all that exertion, you’ll be ready to dive into the city’s vibrant culinary scene.

Further afield, you can revel in the waterfalls, wetlands and ancient rainforests of Paluma Range National Park and Girringun National Park.

Nature and culture, inspiration and exhilaration: that’s Townsville.

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Things to do

  • Man cycling and woman cycling along the Strand, Townsville, at twilight (Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland)

    The Strand

    Sweeping along 2.2km of idyllic waterfront, the Strand isn’t just Townsville’s pride and joy, it’s the city’s heart and soul. Join the locals for a walk, jog, cycle or swim, or kick back in a waterfront bar or café and admire the million-dollar views of Magnetic Island. Playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, and picnic facilities add to its appeal. Don’t miss Jezzine Barracks at the northern end, site of some fascinating military and Indigenous history.

    Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

  • Woman holding a koala at Billabong Sanctuary, Townsville. (Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland)

    Billabong Sanctuary

    Less than 20km south of Townsville, the Billabong Sanctuary offers you the chance to get up close and personal with all sorts of indigenous animals in their natural habitat. Among the many furry, feathered and scaly residents of this 11ha, eco-certified park, you’ll meet dingoes and cassowarries, koalas and kangaroos, wombats and crocodiles. Take part in feedings, enjoy shows and talks, and snap a selfie with your favourite marsupial!

    Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

  • Little girl stands between palm trees on a Magnetic Island beach, looking at the ocean. (Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland)

    Magnetic Island

    A scenic 20-minute ferry ride whisks visitors to Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Explore its 23 glorious beaches, wander along its plentiful walking tracks (keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife), visit the rock wallaby colony at Geoffrey Bay, soak up the bird song and marvel at view after jaw-dropping view. If you ever doubted that heaven existed, this unspoiled island paradise will set you straight.

    Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

  • People enjoy the bars and restaurants of Townsville’s bustling City Lane precinct (Image credit: Townsville Enterprise)

    City Lane precinct

    For a small city, Townsville punches above its weight when it comes to eating out. A casual wander along Flinders Street or the Strand will reward most culinary preferences, or you could just make a beeline to City Lane (off Flinders Street). Whether you’ve got a hankering for Korean or Italian, sushi or tapas, craft beer or hipster-approved coffee, this lively laneway precinct has got you covered.

    Image: Townsville Enterprise

  • Aerial view of Wallaman Falls, Girringun National Park, Queensland. (Image credit: Kate Duffy, Townsville Enterprise)

    Wallaman Falls

    Day-tripping possibilities abound from Townsville, including to Australia’s tallest waterfall, the spectacular Wallaman Falls. Located at Girringun National Park, the falls plunge a mighty 268 metres. Access their base via Djyinda Walk, take in the stunning scenery and stay on the look-out for the musky-rat kangaroo, the elusive platypus and the endangered southern cassowary. Just watch out for crocs!

    Image: Townsville Enterprise, Kate Duffy

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Airport information

Townsville Airport (TSV)

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.

Shuttle A number of providers offer shuttle services from the airport, with adult fares starting from AUD $10 one-way.

Rideshare Ola, Uber and Sheba are available at Townsville Airport. Rideshare pick-ups take place in the rental carpark at the arrivals end of the terminal. An AUD $3 airport surcharge applies to all airport pickups.

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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. These months also coincide with stinger season, so be sure to swim at beaches with stinger nets in place.

The best time to visit is between May and September when the days are warm and the evenings are cool.

There's no such thing as winter hibernation in these parts, with the Northern Fringe Festival taking place in July/August, and the Magnetic Island Race Week at the end of August. New Year’s Eve celebrations are for the whole family – make your way to Strand Park to watch fireworks.

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Getting around

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. Or you could cruise around by e-scooter: simply download the Neuron or Beam app and unlock your scooter from one of the parking points.

Want to go further afield? All the main car hire companies have branches in Townsville.

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