Looking for a holiday with everything from world-class museums and galleries to pristine beaches and nearby waterfalls? Welcome to Townsville North Queensland.
With an average of 320 gloriously sunny days each year, Townsville locals know a thing or two about how to enjoy (and escape) the heat. The gateway port for beautiful Magnetic Island, this dynamic coastal city is fast becoming one of North Queensland’s favourite new destinations. From historic pubs, fine dining, and world-class art galleries to several kilometres of stunning beaches, nearby waterfalls and hikes, a Townsville summer has quietly emerged as the perfect place to be.
Join locals for a wander along The Strand. (Image: TEQ)
Go wild swimming
While you could easily spend the day enjoying The Strand beach promenade, or you could pop over to Magnetic Island’s famous Horseshoe Bay for a splash, if you’re in the mood for something a little different, Townsville also has a range of amazing options for a day of wild swimming. You’ll find a variety of gorgeous, sheltered beaches that are family-friendly in Pallarenda. Take a picnic and spend the afternoon lolling in the sparkling waters.
Pop over to Magnetic Island’s famous Horseshoe Bay. (Image: TEQ)
For an afternoon creek swim, head to Paluma Range National Park, the southern gateway for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Here, you can camp or set up a picnic table next to the freshwater creek and cool off from the heat.
Or get your gear on and head underwater at Lodestone Reef, a short boat ride off Townsville. Ideal for snorkellers and divers, this reef is so bustling with butterflyfish, octopus, reef sharks and stingrays that you’ll feel like you’re in an aquarium. Divers and snorkellers will also love the living coral reef installations at the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA), located in John Brewer Reef just off the coast. MOUA includes two underwater art installations including the Coral Greenhouse (a 12-metre, 58-tonne sculpture and coral garden) and the newly installed, snorkeller-friendly, Ocean Sentinels.
Dive into the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA). (Image: TEQ)
Hike up a waterfall
One of the best ways to escape the summer heat is to get out of town and chase some waterfalls. Your first stop should be Wallaman Falls, the country’s highest permanent single-drop waterfall. Just two hours out of Townsville, near Ingham in the Wet Tropics Heritage Area, this incredible waterfall is 268 metres high – and, if you fancy, you can make the steep two-kilometre hike to the bottom. Arrive early or late in the day to beat the heat.
Stop in at Wallaman Falls. (Image: TEQ)
Curious explorers should head to Paluma Range National Park, where the average temperature is 10 degrees cooler than the city. The park is home to the popular Little Crystal Creek, a small waterfall and watering hole framed by a 1930s bridge. In the northern section of the park, Jourama Falls features cascading and meandering falls that finish in a deep pool just perfect for swimming. The hike to the top of the falls takes about 90 minutes and is steep but worth it for the views.
South of Townsville, Bowling Green Bay National Park is home to the curiously named Alligator Creek. Offering water holes below, private infinity pools at the top and a new accessible paths for direct water access, this is a place to dwell in nature’s surroundings.
Cool off in Paluma Range National Park. (Image: TEQ)
Fill up on local produce
Fuel your adventures with some of the best restaurants in North Queensland. Start with the famous ricotta pancakes from Grandma’s, just two blocks from The Strand. This leafy cafe serves up colourful, tasty homestyle cooking and is open seven days; you can’t go past their iced coffees.
For lunch, pull up a stool and order a burger at The Tap House. Dedicated to craft beer, their 10 taps are constantly changing to feature a new Aussie brew. Or head just out of town to the Townsville Eco Resort, where Black Barra Bar & Cafe sits on 14 acres of land overlooking a beautiful constructed wetland. Enjoy the views as you choose from a menu highlighting native and locally sourced ingredients.
Enjoy the famous ricotta pancakes from Grandma’s.
For something completely different, close out the day at The Palm House for a buffet dinner with a twist. Featuring live cooking demonstrations, an impressive show kitchen and a huge range of cuisines, this is a venue where food preparation becomes part of the experience.
If you’re looking to kick on, you can’t go past an expertly crafted cocktail at Osk Bar, a popular small venue just off The Strand. Try the Toasted Toblerone vodka cocktail.
Feats on a twist of the classic buffet at Palm House in The Ville.
Get cultured (and entertained)
With such great weather, it’s not surprising that the Northern Australian Beach 5s Rugby Championships and Pacific Championships are being held later this year in Townsville. They’re being followed by the World Triathlon Multisport Championship, Townsville Fire WNBL season and P!nk in concert in March next year – and these are just a few of the many attractions that the region plays host to.
Year-round, the Museum of Tropical Queensland tells the story of the region from geographical and cultural points of view. It also has a gallery featuring the incredible HMS Pandora, launched in 1779 and later sent to capture the famous HMS Bounty mutineers.
View the famous HMS Bounty at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. (Image: TEQ)
Art enthusiasts will love the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, located in a beautiful heritage building and brimming with an impressive collection of North Queensland artworks.
To see more local art, grab a Street Art Walking Trail map from the Townsville Visitor Information Centre, then head out at twilight when the heat has cooled to spot some of the town’s best street murals. Find a cafe on your way and enjoy a chilled drink as the sun sets.
Grab a Street Art Walking Trail map. (Image: TEQ)
Plan your summer holiday in Townsville.