Townsville in Brief
Townsville is a city that sits on the sun-dream coastline of Queensland and almost 1400 kilometres north from the state capital, Brisbane and about 480 kilometres south of Cairns. It is the gateway to the wild outback, the tropical north and the Great Barrier Reef. This elegant city of Townsville, considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland by locals is a sprawling city with great charm and style which is not like Cairns or Port Douglas, been overwhelmed by tourism. This city is too big and too devoted to serving the tropical north, to be a slave to tourism. The city of Townsville is lined with yatch clubs, a busy cultural centre, military and reef museums, waterparks, casino and beaches with a well maintained promenade area. In general, Townsville is the largest city in Australia lying north of the Tropic of Capricorn and many will quickly realise that it is a thriving metropolis with lots of accommodations, a vibrant nightlife and large numbers of excellent and fine dining restaurants along the coastal road.
Townsville host a number of Australian’s best natural attractions right on your door-step. There is plenty to admire in this city and is also the gateway to the laid-back state of mind, where everything gets done in its own time. Why rush when there is 320 days of sunshine in the year. However, like myself, when most people picture Townsville, the first things that likely to spring to mind are some combination of the Great Barrier Reef, mining and humidity. There is so much more on offer that many of both the Australian public and international visitors don’t know about that gives the city its own special character. I returned back again to this city to explore some of its attractions that I probably didn’t know about Townsville.
Day 1: Flinders Street
One of the beauties of travelling around in Australia from cities to country regional towns, it is entirely possible to get around and visit many attraction places with the help of public transport Driving around in Townsville was straightforward and staying right in the heart of Townsville’s central city centre, most of attractions that I wanted to visit were almost within walking distance. I wanted to explore city’s various major attractions in my own time apart from the other attractions that required a self-drive guided tour. Going on tours was not an option for me, since I was familiar with the city. There is plenty to see in this city and my day began in the city centre, walking along Flinders street admiring fabulous heritage buildings which are some of Australia’s finest 19th century buildings including few gracious pubs which have been serving up ice-cold beers to tasty locals for generations. These gracious buildings and old pubs give it a sense of sophistication. This was the great place to start my journey.
Further along the city centre, is the little piece of paradise – The Strand, Townsville’s waterfront. Taking a walk along the city’s waterfront that boasts a revitalised esplanade call the The Strand that stretches away forever. Immersing myself gradually in the Townsville way of life as I discover The Strand. This is Townsville city’s thriving beach foreshore has a relaxed, yet energetic vibe is always bursting with activities to excite tourists and the whole family. The waterfront walkway offers spectacular views across to Magnetic Island. It is very popular spot for runners, walkers and kids with bikes and scooters. It is a great place to treat the whole family to a barbecue or beach picnic. After enjoying the ocean breezes with a meal at one of the restaurants there, I walked further along the waterfront to take a swim in the rock pool. After cooling off, I found myself under the shade of the palm trees with a book and just simply enjoying the stunning views.
At the end of The Strand, is the Jezzine Barracks. It is located at the other side of The Strand and it is the best source of any information regarding the war history of Townsville. It certainly uncovers the stories of Townsville’s settlement. In learning the regions significant military and indigenous history and enjoying the outdoor art was just pure delight. This was a significant site for the Australian military and local Aboriginal People. The Barracks is open to the public and includes coastal boardwalks, artwork, traditional paintings and parklands. The space includes a coastal walkway that connects to Rowes Bay and The Strand and there is an observation deck up at Kissing Point Fort. This was without a doubt, was very informative which combines the essence of history and beauty of the place. What a beautiful view of the sea and other parts of Castle Hill and all for free.
My day ended with a drive up to Castle Hill. Just metres short of a mountain, Castle Hill is the giant pink granite monolith, dominates Townsville and it is the most iconic landmark that stands proud in the centre of Townsville. This hill is a great vantage point to have a full view of the entire Townsville city and a great way to have a panoramic photo of the city. Without a doubt, this is the iconic landmark for Townsville and is very popular among locals and visitors to the region. It is a perfect place for visitors to orientate themselves. Once, I reached the top, I could see Townsville city and marvel at how big it was. The 360 degrees view of Townsville at the top was well worth the journey. It is a great spot for photography, a photo opportunity that I didn’t want to miss. From the summit, I not only had a great view over Townsville but I had the stunning views of Magnetic Island and the hinterland, Mount Stuart and a military fort overlooking Cleveland Bay and the Coral sea. A small circular walk at the top to enjoy the views in all directions was just stunning. Locals say, the best time to visit Castle Hill is early mornings to see the spectacular views of the sunrise or late afternoon to see the best view of the sunset. My best option was the late afternoon to the summit, to see the breathtaking view of the sunset and towards the evening, you get to see how the city sparkles with the lights below like a light-show spectacular.
Day 2: Mount Stuart
The following day, I began with a drive to Mount Stuart, west of Townsville city before driving south of Townsville to Billabong Sanctuary. Mount Stuart, that overlooks Townsville is little known on the traditional tourist radar. Just 25 minutes drive to the summit from the Townsville CBD, you will have a 360 fantastic view of the city and probably the best compared to Castle Hill. Though the access road was windy and narrow but once I reached the top, I had a great capture overview of the entire city of Townsville and across to Magnetic Island and Cleveland Bay. It had a first class viewing platform with panoramic views of Townsville city and the surrounding Tropical Savannah and Coast. The view from the top was spectacular, breathtaking and unforgettable as well as enjoying the breeze as I take in the views but you can relax with a picnic. Mount Stuart was a great way for me to get my bearings before further exploring Townsville North Queensland.
After taking in all the views of the Townsville city from Mount Stuart, I continued my journey a few kilometres of drive south of Townsville CBD to Billabong Sanctuary. Taking a visit to the Billabong Sanctuary was something that I will treasure about Townsville and it is one of Australia’s best interactive wildlife experience I ever had. It has lots of variety of animals. There are interactive talks and feedings shows throughout the day and these wildlife presentations, you will learn first-hand insight information about all the unique characteristics of Australia’s native animals. It was not only informative but fun at the same time, as I got to hand-feed the kangaroos which was absolutely fantastic. These native animals are displayed in their natural habitats of wetlands, eucalyptus forest and rainforest. It was worth taking pictures with the animals that you can touch or hug and for others that are dangerous, you just have to hold tight and watch them as they feed them – the crocodiles. The highlight of my trip to the Sanctuary was holding a koala, hugging a wombat, hand feeding a kangaroo and cassowary, holding a small crocodile and wrapping a python around my neck. What an up close fauna experience it was.
I ended my day with a visit to Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park and and Town Common. Cape Pallarenda Conversation Park was a quarantine station in the early 1900s and a strategic defence location in World War 11. Nestled in a scenic coastal location amongst open woodland and vine thickets, I came to spend some time in the station’s historic display centre to find our more about the quarantine days. After that, I set off on foot to explore the shared Cape Pallarenda Trails to enjoy the scenic coastal views and discovering the historic World War 11 structures on Cape Pallarenda headland. Here I took a longer hike around the slopes of Many Peak Range and exploring picturesque beaches and forested slopes of Many Peak Range. Little known by tourists and many locals, this hike not provides scenic views of the coastal but you will be having an encounter with wallabies, lizards and many kinds of birds in the woodland.
Town Common as known by the locals is a park close to the bustling city centre of Townsville. It is a great place to enjoy nature and fantastic coastal views and this is what I came to see and enjoy. Here I took time to explore some of the secluded beaches framed by rocky headlands, coastal woodlands bordering seasonal wetlands and deep lagoons. Advised by the locals that during summer rains, it transform the park into an immense wetland, attracting large flocks of waterbirds. This park is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Many other species and wildlife gather here to feed and nest, particularly as the wetlands dry out and food sources become concentrated in the remaining lagoons. It is a popular nature escape and lots of heart-pumping fun, just close to the city.
Day 3: Riverway
Riverway is a lovely outdoor area to be enjoyed. Located right next to a mall, this water park is an ideal place in Townsville where you can get to use the pool without any problems with cleanliness and safety. Visited this area for the first time, on a lovely sunny day, I was quite very impressed with what is on offer all for free. There are play grounds for small children and barbeque areas situated under massive shady trees. It has a relaxing atmosphere and it is certainly a place that I will be revisiting on my next visit to this beautiful city of Townsville. This river-way has something for everyone to enjoy.
Queens Garden Townsville
To enjoy a full day of relaxation and discover the rich flora and fauna of this city of Townsville, a visit to the Queens Gardens Townsville is a “must see” in every tourists list. The Queens Gardens is quite small in comparison to many botanical gardens but they have some outstanding specimens of exotic tropical plants and offer a wonderful place to relax to appreciate some great outdoor open spaces. This was a pleasant garden for me to unwind after doing self-drive tours of the major attractions in the city. This beautiful garden is lined with lovely flowers, trees and cacti and is simply a nice place to walk around while surrounded by colourful blooms . There is lot to discover if you look closely. It is a well tended horticultural and botanical garden in the are.
If you visit Townsville city, be prepared. There is a great sense of adventure in this city and there are lots of things to do and see. It is an exciting city to discover and there is lots of surprising corners along the way and Townsville Palmetum happens to be one of them. The Townsville Palmetum is a free and superb tropical park with excellent rainforest and colourful blooms. Undoubtedly, this hidden gem is one of the surprising attractions I have seen in Townsville city. It was kind of hard to imagine that a natural park with lush vegetation and wildlife is just located right next to the busy downtown part of the city. As I stepped inside this nature park, it was an oasis of peace and tranquility. It is amazing to know that this city has lots of well preserved sites waiting to be discovered within its premises.
Day 4: Reef HQ Aquarium
One of city’s premier attractions, the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef is a sea aquariam that gives every visitor an opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. It gives everyone an idea what the Great Barrier Reef looks like if they don’t have the chance to see it personally. The visitors can actually see the Great Barrier while safely on land and without getting wet. These are the only living coral reef in captivity. This Aquarium is the largest living coral reef aquarium and the whole complex is air-conditioned with an on-site cafe. I virtually almost spent all day watching baby turtles and tiny sea-horses in the display tanks. My favourite was the underwater tunnel where you can watch sharks in the predator tank and fish swim around you. I was totally being mesmerised by marine life going about their daily business around the life sized coral bommies. Spending two hours here, you can almost see everything easily and it felt like spending a day to me. I must say, this is a good starting point too if you plan to explore the Great Barrier Reef because it is like having an awesome preview of what to see and do in the most visited reef of the world. What a great way to discover the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
Tropical Queensland Museum
Museum of Tropical Queensland, situated in the heart of city centre and located just beside the Reef HQ Aquarium, showcases snapshot of this diverse region of North Queensland, from World Heritage listed rainforest and reefs to the story of the shipwrecked HMS Pandora, the ship sent to capture the Bounty mutineers. It is a peaceful and interesting and cool place to visit. I just loved fossicking around in the Pandora gallery. The museum is family-friendly and it displays, explore life in the tropics from prehistoric times to modern day. It has a tragic history of Pandora, which most of the objects recovered from the wreck are part of this permanent exhibition.
Day 5: Magnetic Island
The final day of my time in this beautiful city of Townsville, I decided to get onboard for some “Island Time”, a quick easy access ferry ride to Magnetic Island. This Island off the coast is a popular spot for locals to pop across and do something different but also is a huge tourist attraction for the area. Magnetic by name, magnetic by nature provides the ultimate connective experience for visitors to the Townsville region and the Magnetic Island. It is also known as Maggie but most born and bred Townsvillians refer to Magnetic Island simply as The Island. Yes, Magnetic island has lured me to enjoy the magnificent weather, see the koalas and many unique bird life in the wild, hike the stunning hiking trails and enjoy the pristine palm fringe beaches and an opportunity to snorkel. This was the ultimate way for me to discover the best of Magnetic Island. Enjoying this secluded paradise of Magnetic Island, a tropical destination known for its quiet pristine beaches, rugged landscape and abundant wildlife, I have discovered that this island is truly is a nature lovers dream. I have to come to visit and enjoy the local surrounds and I certainly have.
After many hectic days of visiting some of the major attractions and iconic sites around this beautiful city of Townsville, I decided to retire and unwind at Cowboys football club. What a thrill to be at this city and what I have discovered makes this destination a friendly place to re-visit time and time again.