Townsville is a tropical city on the north coast of Queensland boasting loads of sunshine and good times. This vibrant city is the perfect place to holiday with so much to see and do.
Whether you’re a family, couple, group or travelling solo there is something to suit everyone’s taste including fishing, water sports, arts, culture, sports, and natural wonders. We have narrowed down the top 15 things we think are a must when visiting Townsville.
1. Whale Watching
Townsville is a great place to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures as they pass through Townsville on their annual migration. The ocean comes alive from June through to October with whales frolicking in the warmer waters.
There are plenty of locally run cruises available to get up close and personal to these gentle giants. Spend half the day cruising through the tropical warm waters in search of these amazing mammals.
2. Magnetic Island
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville is the beautiful Magnetic Island. This little slice of paradise has 23 palm-fringed beaches and bays for you to soak up the sun’s rays. It is a great place to do as little or as much as you like.
There are plenty of ways to explore the island from walking tracks, cruises, or topless car hire. Whilst exploring, keep an eye out for Australia’s favourite furry friend, the Koala. Magnetic Island is home to Australia’s healthiest and largest population of Koalas
Whether you are just here for the day or an extended stay, there is something here for everyone.
Dip below the water to explore the tropical marine life along the snorkel trails at Nelly Bay and Georffrey Bay. There are also many dive sites to explore the natural wonders under the sea.
3. The Strand
The Strand stretches two and a half kilometres along Townsville’s vibrant beach foreshore. Take a walk, go for a run, ride a bike or scooter along the pathway whilst admiring the view of Magnetic Island. There are plenty of dining options along the Strand or spots to stop for a picnic or barbecue.
The kids will love the fun-filled playgrounds and the popular Strand Water Park. Enjoy the tropical warm waters with a dip in the ocean or rock pool. It’s also not a bad place to throw a line in or simply relax with a good book under a palm tree.
For a little bit of culture and history, check out Jezzine Barracks. This 15-hectare precinct includes a coastal walkway connecting the Strand to Rowes Bay. It’s significant to both the Australian Military and local Aboriginal People. Check out the observation decks at Kissing Point Fort, 32 specially commissioned public artworks, traditional plantings, and extensive interpretive signage.
4. Castle Hill
Castle Hill towers 290 meters high with 360-degree views over Townsville. This iconic, pink, granite monolith has around 15 walking tracks that are popular with both tourists and locals. Every day you will find walkers, joggers and cyclists making their way up the well-worn tracks.
The most popular tracks are Castle Hill Road (5.2km return), Cudtheringa (2.5km return) and Goat Track (1.6km return). If you’re not keen on an uphill hike you can always drive, there is a carpark up the top so you can get out and enjoy the view.
5. Yongala Dive
Most Scuba Divers will tell you that the Yongala Dive is on their bucket list. That’s because this historic shipwreck is a diving experience like no other. After spending over 100 years on the ocean floor, the Yongala has developed its own ecosystem and is home to an abundance of marine life including different species of fish, rays, turtles, and corals.
This historic shipwreck is a diving experience like no other.
The ship is 110 metres long and is one of the largest shipwrecks in the world. It’s situated inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park approximately 33 meters deep and 48 nautical miles from Townsville.
After the S.S. Yongala sank in 1911, a search for the missing vessel was carried out but nothing was found. For 50 years it remained a mystery and the S.S. Yongala was lost to the ocean.
Today it attracts many diving enthusiasts around the world and is considered one of Australia’s best dive sites. There are many dive centres in Townsville operating dive trips to explore this combination of man-made and natural wonder.
6. Museum of Underwater Art
Experience art like you have never experienced it before at the Museum of Underwater Art. This art gallery with a twist is Australia’s only underwater museum.
Resting on the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef in Townsville, you will find a display of globally significant artworks created by the world’s leading underwater sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor. It was created to provide an unforgettable underwater experience and inspire reef conservation.
If scuba diving is not your thing, you can enjoy the art on the surface. See the “Ocean Siren” sculpture that rises above the water alongside the jetty at The Strand. It is modelled on a local schoolgirl of Wulgurukaba Aboriginal heritage.
This four-meter sculpture is a visual representation of real-time reef conditions. It’s linked to a live data feed from a weather station on the Great Barrier Reef and the 202 LEDs change colour in response to changing sea temperatures.
Golf lovers rejoice, Townsville is home to a variety of courses so you can enjoy a day out on the green. Townsville’s dry season is the perfect condition to tee off with the average temperature around 27 degrees Celsius.
If you’re staying at Tasman Holiday Parks – Rowes Bay, the Rowes Bay Golf Club is only a five-minute drive. This picturesque course features Castle Hill as a backdrop with flowing natural waterways and a variety of flora and fauna.
For a golfing experience the whole family can enjoy, why not check out the Townsville Mini-Golf and Fun Park. Play a round on this 18-hole mini-golf course then finish up with some bouncy time on the jumping castles.
8. Wildlife Spotting
Townsville and its surrounding regions are home to an abundance of wildlife.
A trip to Magnetic Island will take you to a Koala’s paradise with more than 50% of the island protected by the Magnetic Island National Park. You may even spot Allied Rock Wallabies, Brushtail Possums, Echidnas, and 186 types of birds. On the mainland, you will find over 400 species of birds as well as flying foxes, snakes, crocodiles, echidnas and more.
9. Billabong Sanctuary
Billabong Sanctuary is an Australian native animal park and function centre. Set in 11 hectares (27 acres) of natural tropical North Queensland bush, you will find all kinds of native mammals, birds, and reptiles. This boutique park will make your visit a memorable one with many interactive experiences on offer.
If you want to get up close and personal with the animals you can cuddle a koala, snuggle with a wombat, feed the birds, take a dingo for a walk, or if you’re game, hold a baby croc or take a selfie with a snake. You can also check out talks and shows at the park including koala feeding, cassowary feeding, wombat experience, crocodile feeding and more.
10. Visit Beautiful Botanic Gardens
In Townsville, you will find three beautiful, botanic gardens to explore. Whether you’re after the ideal picnic spot, somewhere to stretch your legs, or simply want to get out in the fresh air, these parks and gardens are the place to do it.
Located near the Ross River you will find Townsville Palmetum. This garden boasts an impressive display of over 300 species of palms, many rare and threatened in their natural habitat. It’s also a great place for bird-watching with numerous bird species visiting the park and its many water features.
The Anderson Park is Townsville’s largest garden with 25 hectares of flora and fauna to explore. The Park contains specimens of tropical trees, palms, and Pandanus. It’s a stunning spot to soak up the natural beauty around you.
Situated at the foot of Castle Hill is the heritage-listed Queens Gardens. This is Townsville’s oldest garden established in 1870. You will find a range of ornamental plants with eye-catching flowers, foliage, and fruit. Wonder down the paved paths to see lush palms, frangipani trees, fig-trees, cactus, wild ginger, and roses.
11. Local Dining
Tempt your taste buds with Townsville’s growing foodie scene.
Palmer street offers a myriad of dining options from casual alfresco to classy, upmarket cuisine. Flinders Street has many cafes, restaurants, and bars, and comes to life at night until the early hours. Gregory street is famous for being Townsville’s cafe set as well as a couple of great dining experiences on offer.
If you prefer to whip up home-cooked meals, our Tasman Holiday Parks – Rowes Bay has a fabulous camp kitchen with everything you’ll need.
12. Reef HQ
Experience the Great Barrier Reef whilst keeping your toes dry. At Reef HQ Aquarium, you can get a taste of what it’s like diving the reef with a range of marine creatures and corals on display.
Discover hands-on encounters with some amazing creatures and many talks and tours including animal feeding, Turtle Hospital talks and a predator dive show. The kids will love finding Nemo whilst the adults marvel at the impressive display of corals and critters.
*Note: Reef HQ Aquarium is currently closed for refurbishments and will reopen in 2023.
13. Cotters Market
For a little retail therapy check out the bustling Cotters Market held each Sunday in Flinders Street. Spend your Sunday browsing through the largest arts and craft market in North Queensland with over 150 stalls offering a selection of local arts, handmade gifts, and food. Enjoy live music, grab a feed, buy some souvenirs, and support local farmers, artists, foodies, and designers.
It’s a great way to connect with and support the local community of Townsville.
Riverway is situated on the banks of the Ross River offering a great escape from the heat with its many waterfront activities. Take a dip in the free lagoon pools, enjoy a barbecue or picnic on the riverfront, or take a stroll along the shady pathways. There is also the Riverway Arts Centre, Pinnacles Gallery, the Riverwalk, public art, village spine, restaurant, and parklands to explore.
The kids will love looking for turtles and ducks in the river, and you might be lucky enough to spot a wallaby. They will also love watching a movie under the stars at the outdoor cinema at Riverway Oval – best part is, it’s free! Movies will screen every third Friday of the month.
15. Museum of Tropical Queensland
Experience a snapshot of the natural and cultural heritage of North Queensland at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. The galleries tell stories of World Heritage-listed rainforests, coral reefs, and the tragic tale of shipwrecked HMS Pandora.
The museum has permanent and changing exhibitions providing in-depth education experiences, innovative public programs, early childhood activities and entertaining holiday activities. Kids will love exploring Your Shipwreck Adventure, an underwater setting of a sunken ship on the Great Barrier Reef with interactive games and activities.
Where to Stay in Townsville
Tasman Holiday Parks – Rowes Bay
Tasman Holiday Parks – Rowes Bay offers a beautiful beachfront outlook in Townsville with picturesque views of Magnetic Island. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the city centre and popular Strand.
There is a wide selection of accommodation for families, couples, or groups on all budgets. With all the mod cons, great facilities and prime location, there is something for everyone. You can even bring the family dog as this is a pet friendly caravan park QLD. Book your trip to Townsville to experience the tropical laid-back lifestyle along with adventure, culture, and relaxation.