the ultimate travel guide toTownsville

The tropical city of Townsville stretches out around the striking giant pink granite monolith known as Castle Hill that stands proudly in its centre. Towering skyscrapers, Federation buildings and suburban homes spill out around it to meet the coastline of the Coral Sea with Magnetic Island in view just offshore. Bordered by The Wet Tropics to the north, the outback to the west and the Great Barrier Reef to the east, Townsville is home to endless possibilities.

Getting to Townsville

Townville lies 1340 km north of Brisbane, making it a 15-hour drive or a two-hour flight from Queensland’s capital city. There are also flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Darwin to Townsville Airport. Arrive via Queensland Rail from Cairns, Brisbane and many more stations along the east coast of Queensland.

Top Things to Do in Townsville

Attractions

Explore the underwater wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef from the Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville. You’ll come face-to-face with thousands of unique marine creatures and walk through exhibits that feature rare and fascinating features of the Reef. The best bit? You get to stay dry.

 

For an unforgettable day trip from Townsville, take the 20-minute ferry ride to Magnetic Island and spend the day exploring its 23 bays and beaches. The island is only 11 km in length but it is home to hundreds of koalas and wallabies, more than 25 km of walking trails, picturesque lookouts and is located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – don’t miss the self-guided underwater snorkel trail.

 

The Museum of Tropical Queensland showcases the best of the region’s cultural and natural heritage from prehistoric to modern times, including the World Heritage listed rainforest, reefs and an impressive replica of the shipwrecked HMS Pandora and more.

Activities

Hike to the top of Castle Hill in the centre of Townsville for 360-degree views of tropical city and out to Magnetic Island. The 286-metre hill is just shy of mountain status with numerous walking tracks to choose from, but Castle Hill Road (5.2 km return) Cudtheringa (2.2 km return) and Goat Tracks (1.3 km return) are the most popular options. The trails are dog-friendly and we’d recommend packing a picnic to make the most of the trip to the top. Also, take time to learn about the Hill’s fascinating World War II military history.

 

Run, cycle or walk the 2.2 km walkway along The Strand at Townsville’s foreshore. Sit down for a waterfront meal or drink at one of the many cafes that line the strip, take the kids for a play at the free Strand Water Park, or cook up a barbeque for lunch by the beach.

 

Take your pick of the plentiful Townsville diving spots – 10 of the world’s best dive sites are just off the coast. The SS Yongala shipwreck, which sank over 100 years ago during a cyclone, is Australia’s most famous wreck dive. The dive site will take you down to view one of the most intact wrecks in the world and bring you face to face with giant gropers, massive marble rays, turtles, sea snakes, eagle rays, bull sharks and more.

For Kids

Townsville is packed full of activities to entertain kids. Check out Kingpin Townsville for an afternoon of bowling, laser tag, karaoke, pool tables, and a game of King Spin table tennis then enter the Playtime Arcade for over 90 arcade games to choose from.

 

Ninja Parc Townsville is a mind-boggling indoor obstacle course of rope climbs, boulders, vertical and horizontal doors to scale and a staggering sea of poles to manoeuvre through.  If mini golf sounds like it is more your speed, take the family to Townsville Mini Golf and Fun Park, the 18-hole course – with jumping castles for little ones – is set in shady tropical gardens.

 

Holding a wombat, feeding freshwater crocodiles and cuddling a koala are just a few of the many interactive experiences you can have with Australia’s native animals at the Billabong Sanctuary. The wildlife park is set in lush tropical bushland and there are daily educational talks and shows for visitors in addition to the hands-on encounters.

Best Places to Stay in Townsville

Hotels & Motels

For the best luxury accommodation in Townsville you can’t go past The Ville Resort Casino. A $43 million redevelopment transformed this tired casino into a luxurious oceanfront resort that radiates stylish coastal vibes, boasts six eateries – including the ever-popular Miss Songs – and the Ville’s resort pool with swim-up bar and views of Magnetic Island.

 

The Mercure Townsville is set on the banks of Lake Curralea amongst 11 acres of tropical gardens. In addition to the 162 stylish rooms, which all feature views of the lake, pool or gardens, you’ll find the largest free form swimming pool with spa in Townsville and two full size tennis courts to use throughout your stay.

 

If it is a private island paradise you seek, then take a 30-minute scenic helicopter ride from Townsville to Orpheus Island Resort in the Great Barrier Reef. The luxe stay has the price tag to match, but the views from your exclusive beach villa paired with a rotating line up of mouth-watering gourmet meals and topped off with access to its incomparable dive sites, will cement this all-inclusive hideaway as one of – if not the – best holiday destinations you’ll ever experience.

Caravans

Coconut Glen Caravan Park offers budget-friendly powered and unpowered sites for caravans and tents, cabin stays and a range of facilities, including a swimming pool, BBQ, camp kitchen and laundry. It is also pet-friendly for those travelling with furry companions.

 

For a nature-escape that promises to rejuvenate even the weariest of travellers head to the Bush Oasis Caravan Park. Set on 14 acres just 12 minutes outside the city, the park is home to an adults-only heated pool and spa, an abundance of local wildlife and nearby to Cape Bowling Green National Park and Alligator Creek nature walk.

Holiday Parks

BIG4 Rowes Bay Beachfront Holiday Park boasts an absolute beachfront location with unbeatable views of Magnetic Island and is within walking distance of the Strand and city centre. Book powered and unpowered camping and caravan sites, or stay in one of the many cabins or villas. They also have a saltwater swimming pool and children’s playground onsite.

 

Secura Lifestyle The Lakes Townsville is located in the heart of the city overlooking the lake. You’ll be a short drive from the Strand, across the road from restaurants and shopping outlets and only a 5-minute walk to Castletown Shopping World. The pet-friendly park offers units, villas, cabins and bungalows in addition to powered sites with ensuites for tents and caravans to book.

Best Places to Eat & Drink in Townsville

Head to Palmer Street and Flinders Street to locate the best of Townsville’s dining and bar scene, visit The Strand for your pick of waterfront cafes and restaurants, or the City Lane dining precinct.

 

The health conscious can stop by Born Wild to pick from the seasonal menu of whole food meals, drinks and snacks – think acai bowls, Buddha bowls and the usual brunch staples of bircher muesli, smashed avo, eggs and fritters. They cater to all dietary restrictions and also sell pantry products and lifestyle supplies for a spot of shopping to round out the experience. You’ll find them in the laneway at City Lane.

 

For something light and fresh, the Beet Bar on Flinders Street whip up the best superfood bowls, smoothies and healthy takeaway meals – such as super-salads, healthy burgers and falafel wraps and more.

 

JAM on Palmer Street uses the best produce in the region for modern Australian dishes with a distinctive North Queensland twist. If you like to start your morning with something on the sweeter side order the caramel brioche toast with mango ice cream and roasted stone fruit. The lunch menu caters for all appetites with a sizeable list of share plates and larger plates to choose from – try the Bao buns with tempura chicken, kimchi mayo, purple cabbage slaw. Splurge on the six-course tasting menu or select from the a la carte menu for dinner.

 

Southeast Asian cuisine at its best can be found at Miss Songs inside The Ville resort. Walk through the lobby, past the casino for a meal with a sophisticated-meets-Townsville chill vibe. Arrive hungry to partake in your choice of three banquet options or select from the a la carte menu. Definitely try the Peking duck pancakes and san choi bao.

 

Perched beside the water on the headland along The Strand sits Longboard Bar & Grill. With enviable views of Magnetic Island and Cleveland Bay combined with a beach, beer and surf-themed fitout and a vibrant American and Mexican influenced menu – you’ll find yourself unwinding as soon as you enter its doors. Stop by for lunch or dinner and order the local-approved crispy buffalo wrap followed closely by a sizeable serve of Frank’s original buffalo wings. Take your pick of craft beer on tap, a drop of vino or treat yourself to a classic or novel cocktail.

 

For the perfect blend of rooftop views, cocktails and share plates consumed poolside head to Rambutan. The Hamptons-inspired rooftop bar is set up high overlooking Flinders Street atop the hotel by the same name.

Hot Travel Deals

Tours and Packages Townsville

Set yourself up with a boat from Townsville Boat Hire to spend the day island-hopping, mud crabbing or fishing in the local creeks. They also offer custom private boat tours with a skipper for a full or half-day spent exploring at your own pace.

 

Picture yourself riding a horse bareback through the ocean just off the shore on Magnetic Island. Now make your way to Horseshoe Bay Ranch to book the bush-to-beach horse riding tour. It is one of the region’s most unique experiences.

 

Witness the tropical beauty of Townsville from the sky during a scenic flight with Townsville Helicopters.

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