The port of entry for trips into the Outback and to the Great Barrier Reef
The gateway to Queensland’s vast northern region, Townsville is adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and Magnetic Island with its beaches, bush-walking tracks, bird life and koala sanctuary. With about 320 days of balmy weather each year, it’s the ideal place in which to get acquainted with the undersea realm. Beyond that, visitors can revel in the waterfalls, wetlands and tropical rainforests of Hinchinbrook or Paluma Range National Park or enjoy a bit of Outback adventure. A showplace of iconic 19th-century buildings, Townsville is also a magnet for visitors thanks to its hosting of 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
The wild life
Just 17km south of Townsville on the Bruce Highway, Billabong Sanctuary Australian Wildlife Experience is the place to go to 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 (or scaly) residents of this 11ha, eco-certified park, take part in feedings and catch shows and talks.
Rules of attraction
A 20-minute ferry ride whisks visitors to Magnetic Island in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Plunge into the waters at one or more of its 23 beaches and bays, enjoy a reef-based activity or two or hotfoot it along sections of its 25km of walking tracks. The wildlife here, which includes koalas, is another highlight. Entertainment options run the gamut from the Stage Door Theatre Restaurant to weekly cane-toad races.
Tunnel of love
The Reef HQ Aquarium, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, offers fun and educational experiences in cooperation with the adjoining National Reef Education Centre. The aquarium’s 20m tunnel allows visitors to scope out all the sea life without getting wet. The place is also home to a turtle hospital that’s open to visitors. Once you’ve deepened your understanding of marine life, venture out into the water with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive or Remote Area Dive to explore Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Fall for it
Wallaman Falls (pictured) is Australia’s tallest waterfall at 268m. Located at Girringun National Park, the falls are part of the Wet Tropics Great Walks. Try to spot the musky-rat kangaroo, the elusive platypus and the endangered southern cassowary. Access the base of the falls via Djyinda Walk and see spectacular scenery at every turn. Book your falls day trip with Hidden Valley Cabins and Tours or Kookaburra Tours and Charters.
What lies beneath
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.
Travel time 10 minutes
Taxi Approx AUD $20
Con-X-ion Airport Shuttle One-way AUD $10 (adult), AUD $5 (child); journey takes 10 to 15 minutesBack to top
When to go
Townsville enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine each year. Enjoy hot and humid summers and warm winters. The hottest months are between October and April so 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 always 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, namely the main tourist areas of Flinders Mall and the Strand, are easily navigable on foot. Primarily operating out of Flinders Mall, Sunbus has the monopoly on local public transport and also operates shuttles during special events. Hired cars are best booked online and taxis are also available.Back to top