With more than 320 days of sunshine each year, World Heritage-listed national parks and lush tropical gardens, Townsville is home to some spectacular natural landscapes and attractions.
By Stephanie Williams
Townsville is a major gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics and the Queensland outback. It’s a vibrant and bustling city sitting under the watchful gaze of Castle Hill. Enjoy alfresco dining, Federation-style architecture and boutique shopping, as well as the cooling ocean breeze and coastal vibe. It’s also Australia’s largest garrison town with Australian Defence Force bases and fascinating military history to explore.
Take your tastebuds on a tour of the tropics. JAM on Palmer Street is known for its fantastic breakfasts but visit any time of day for regional cuisine. Wander the dining precinct of City Lane and try Donna Bionda or Shaw & Co for a fun foodie experience. Rest your head anywhere, from large comfortable hotels to luxury apartments: try the Palmer Street area or along Ross River.
- A day trip to Magnetic Island for secluded beaches and abundant wildlife
- Dive to see the SS Yongala, Australia’s largest intact shipwreck
- Do a self-guided walking tour of Townsville
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Top things to do in Townsville
Learn about the traditional owners of Townsville
The Bindal and Wulgurukaba Aboriginal people are traditional owners and custodians of the Townsville region. Learn about the stories and see original artworks from the Bindal and Wulgurukaba people at the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre. While you’re there, visit Reef HQ next door, the world's largest living coral reef aquarium and the education centre for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. It’s home to thousands of fish and corals and North Queensland's first dedicated turtle hospital.
See Townsville on foot
Castle Hill is the red granite monolith dominating the city centre. You can climb to the top for views of the city and surrounding islands and then enjoy a leisurely walk along The Strand, Townsville's waterfront promenade, which has magnificent views over the Coral Sea. The Riverway complex offers recreational facilities for all ages, including a swimming lagoon with a toddlers pool, arts centre and boardwalk. At the Museum of Tropical Queensland you can see relics from the sunken British warship HMS Pandora which sank in 1791. Head to the Billabong Sanctuary to cuddle a koala, hold a wombat and stroll among the kangaroos and wallabies.
Visit the lush Botanic Gardens
Four separate gardens form the beautiful Townsville Botanic Gardens: The Palmetum, Anderson Gardens, Dad Gleeson Memorial Gardens and Queens Gardens. The Palmetum displays one of the largest collections of palms in the world. You can cycle or walk between the gardens on the Ross River Bikeway. The Anderson Gardens are the largest, covering 25 hectares (62 acres), with tropical trees and palms, grand avenues and the World Cycad Collection.
Go island hopping
Townsville is close to a number of spectacular islands. Magnetic Island is a 20 minute ferry ride away or take a short helicopter flight to Orpheus Island, a stunning national park. Hinchinbrook Island is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and Australia's largest island national park. It is home to the Thorsborne Trail, a 32 kilometre (20 mile) hike through spectacular wilderness.
Explore above and below the water
Scuba divers won't want to miss the SS Yongala, one of the world's great wreck dives. Fishing enthusiasts should head to Burdekin, a one hour drive south of Townsville to fish for barramundi and mud crabs in the rivers and estuaries. Burdekin is also famous for being the sugar capital of Australia. The Ross River, which flows through the city, is often used by locals for waterskiing, fishing and kayaking.
Visit the Paluma Range National Park
Around 90 kilometres (56 miles) north of Townsville is the Paluma Range National Park. Fringed by rainforest the park offers beautiful spots to relax, camp, walk and enjoy watching birds, butterflies and other native wildlife. The traditional name for the Paluma Range is Munan Gumburu, which means "misty mountain". The stunning Jourama Falls are framed by rainforest and if you bring your tent or caravan, you can spend the night here at the camping area.
How to get there
Townsville is located about 350 kilometres (218 miles) south of Cairns and 1350 kilometres (839 miles) north of Brisbane. Townsville Airport has links to major eastern seaboard cities, as well as Darwin, Bali and some Queensland regional inland towns. From the airport it's a 10 minute drive to the city centre.