Unofficial capital of North Queensland and the biggest town north of the Sunshine Coast, Townsville basks in 300 days of sunshine - fulfilling that familiar image of Australia as a sun-baked wonderland. A gateway to the outback, the wet tropics, the Great Barrier Reef, and several tropical islands, Townsville is a great place to base yourself for a flavour of what this magnificent continent has to offer.
Museum of Tropical Queensland
One of Townsville’s top attractions is the Museum of Tropical Queensland, located on Flinders St next to Reef HQ. You could easily spend an afternoon exploring the museum’s six public galleries. The Great Gallery of the museum is dominated by a reconstruction of the bow of HMS Pandora, the British naval ship sent to capture the HMS Bounty mutineers, which sank on the Great Barrier Reef. For something completely different, experience the light and shade of the “Enchanted Rainforest” exhibition.
Explore the Wet Tropics
Now that you’ve seen the exhibition, immerse yourself in the real thing. Townsville is the nearest urban centre to the World Heritage wet tropics rainforest, one of the most beautiful places in the world. You have a choice of 40 scenic routes with more than 100 breathtaking viewing points, but you really should ensure that your wet tropics trip includes views of Queensland's highest peaks, Bartle Frere and Bellenden Ker, and Australia's longest single-drop waterfall, the 305 metre Wallaman Falls. Get your boots on for some of the most stunning bush walks in Australia.
Visit Magnetic Island
A suburb of Townsville, Magnetic Island is the city’s island playground. Just 25 minutes from the city centre by regular, fast cat ferries, it is a paradise of secluded bays and golden beaches, with more than two-thirds of it designated national parkland. You will have access to 25 kilometres of walking tracks, criss-crossing the eucalyptus forests that are home to 2,500 free-roaming koalas and 166 different species of wildlife. Activities available include boat trips around the island, a variety of watersports, Harley Davidson tours, and horse riding.
Go Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is up there with the Sydney Opera House as one of Australia’s major iconic landmarks. Seeing the Great Barrier Reef is something every visitor to Townsville should do, and scuba diving is one of most popular ways to do it. A huge range of dive boats run tours lasting from a day to several days, depending on your level of experience, time available, and budget.
Visit Charters Towers
A 90-minute drive south-west of Townsville along Flinders Highway, Charters Towers offers a glimpse of what Australia was like in its early days. Once Queensland’s second-biggest city, the gold-mining town is rich in history and full of hidden treasures. The streets are lined with examples of ornate Victorian architecture, and the former mining operations remain intact, although relatively little mining is carried out here today. Enjoy a unique shopping trip among stores selling arts & crafts, antiques, and bric-a-brac on the Main Street and leave the bustle of modern life behind. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride and travel back to the era of Australia’s 19th-century pioneers.