Townsville is a city of some 166,000 people on the north-eastern
coast of Australia, located 1,300 km from Brisbane. It is adjacent to
the central section of the Great Barrier Reef in the dry tropics.
Where is it?: Townsville is 1,300 km north of Brisbane, and 350 km south of Cairns via the Bruce Highway, and lies on the shores of Cleveland Bay.
Townsville enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year, which lends itself to tourism activities, however the city has suffred from having few landmark attractions within its boundaries, being more of a commercial centre for the region.
The historic waterfront on Ross Creek, leading into Cleveland Bay, has some excellent old buildings mixed with the later modern skyline. The Strand, a long tropical beach and garden strip; ReefHQ, a large tropical aquarium holding many of the Great Barrier Reef’s native flora and fauna; the Museum of Tropical Queensland, built around a display of relics from the sunken British warship HMS Pandora. The Maritime Museum of Townsville’s collection includes the retired Australian Navy patrol boat, HMAS Townsville, seen in the second series of the popular TV drama Patrol Boat.
Townsville PalmetumTownsville Palmetum has numerous tropical botanical displays; Anderson Park Botanical Gardens is the largest botanical garden in Townsville; Town Common Conservation Park (6km north) at Cape Pallarenda is a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Museum of Tropical QueenslandDiscover the natural and cultural heritage of North Queensland at the world-class Museum of Tropical Queensland. Located in the heart of Townsville, the Museum has temporary and permanent exhibitions to captivate visitors and our ever-changing school holiday programs offer something for kids of all ages.
The Great Gallery is dominated by a replica of the HMS Pandora, the ship sent to capture the Bounty and her mutinous crew. Discover her ill-fated journey for yourself and view priceless objects recovered from the wreck, which rests off the coast of Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef. Explore a North Queensland rainforest environment in the Enchanted Rainforest.
Join the HMS Pandora Gun Team at 11am and 2.30pm daily and learn how to load and fire a cannon like they did in the 1700s. You can also join them for in-depth, free presentations on the second Tuesday of each month on a range of interesting topics, from dinosaurs to isopods, and Townsville history to climate change.
Location: 70 – 102 Flinders Street, Townsville, Queensland
Ph: (07) 4726 0600
Open daily between 9.30am and 5.00pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day. Closed on the morning of ANZAC Day.
Maritime Museum of Townsville
Maritime Museum of Townsville gives visitors a close look into the naval and maritime history of Townsville. The Museum is best known for its display about the doomed ship SS Yongala, which sunk south of Townsville in 1911 with the loss of all 122 passengers it had on board.
Inside you’ll see displays including The Port Building Gallery, The Yongala, Federation Gallery and more. There is also a gift shop onsite with some very unique Museum souveniers, a book shop and even an artefacts museum so if you know of an item that may be of historical interest to the Townsville Maritime Museum, feel free to talk to the friendly staff that are on board to help.
The Townville Maritime Museum also hosts a number of private functions in a completely unique atmosphere.
Location: 42-68 Palmer Street, South Townsville
Open: Weekdays 10 – 3pm; Weekends 12 – 3pm
Admission fees apply
Ph (07) 4721 5251
Tthe mass of red granite, which provides the backdrop to the city is
called Castle Hill (292 metres high). A lookout at the summit gives
panoramic views of the city and its suburbs including Cleveland Bay and
Mount StuartA viewing platform offering views across the savannah plain to Townsville is located at the top of Mount Stuart. There is a short 20 minute walk around the summit with interpretive signs and spectacular views. A 25 minute drive from Townsville, Mount Stuart is accessed via Tarakan Street off the Flinders Highway.
Piper’s Lookout, Hervey RangePast the suburbs of Rangewood and Rupertswood is Piper’s Lookout in the Hervey Range. It offers views to Townsville and out to the ocean.
The Australian Festival of Chamber Music runs over ten days each
year in July. The festival has been running since 1991, and attracts
many acclaimed international and Australian musicians.
The annual Great Tropical Jazz Party on Magnetic Island presents a quality musical experience.
Townsville is a popular destination for conferences, and on more
than one occasion we have arrived in Townsville (particularly mid-week)
unable to obtain accommodation because the conferences had booked out
the whole place. Be sure to book your accommodation ahead, and be
prepared to pay higher rates than Cairns. When in Townsville, we stay
at the Townsville Plaza Hotel. It is located in the centre of town and
the rates are reasonable.
There are numerous destinations north of Townsville on the way to Cairns that are of interest to the traveller. These include Ingham (107km north west), Cardwell (161km north west), Tully (201km north west), Hinchinbrook Island (155km north west) Palm Island and Mission Beach (224km north west) and Dunk Island (off Mission Beach).
Magnetic Island, just offshore from Townsville in Cleveland Bay, has long become established as a holiday destination with many hotels and several resorts in operation to cater for all levels of service. The locals like it so much it has effectively become a suburb of Townsville, with 2,107 permanent residents, but don’t let that put you of from visiting, either for a day trip or longer.
Bowling Green (91 km south east) is the region’s largest coastal park. Its coastal plains are dramatically set against a backdrop of rugged granite mountains rising abruptly in the distance. In this section of the park, Alligator Creek flows between two rocky mountain groups – Mount Elliot and Saddle Mountain.
Billabong Sanctuary and theme park (21 km south east) the sanctuary’s facilities include hands on exhibits for the children, a swimming pool, conducted tours of the animals, nocturnal walks, and extensive picnic and barbecue facilities. The Sanctuary is dedicated to effective conservation of Australia’s native animals through display, interpretation and education. It also reproduces some of Australia’s major habitats; eucalyptus forest, rainforest and wetlands in a single location.
Yongala wreck site
The central section of the Great Barrier Reef is approximately 50
nautical miles (90km) offshore from Townsville. Swim throughs,
underwater canyons, caves, gullies and sensational wall dives are all
features of this section of the reef, and can be accessed by tours from
Townsville. Popular reef destinations are Wheeler Reef (a premier reef
dive site); Lodestone Reef (good for snorkelling with plenty of fish);
Davies Reef (large pinnacles, caves, prolific coral gardens and
drop-offs); Helix Reef (small reef with shallow coral gardens as well
as large crevasses and gullys).
The Yongala wreck is one of Australia’s most wreck popular dive sites and one of the world’s top ten. 89km south east of Townsville, the coral-encrusted structure attracts a prolific variety of colourful marine life.
Townsville is the Northern Queensland administrative centre of State
and Federal Government, housing the area offices of many departments
and governmental bodies such as Centrelink and the Australian Taxation
The Ross River flows through the city. Three weirs, fish stocking and dredging of the river in these reaches has resulted in a deep, stable and clean waterway for the recreation of residents and visitors alike. 30km from the mouth (at the junction of Five Head Creek) in Thuringowa city is the Ross River Dam, allowing the river to serve as the population’s major water supply. Ross River is navigable only by small vessels, where speed and wash limits apply in most sections.
Though not a high profile tourist destination by comparison with other Tropical Queensland localities, the city remains popular with tourists; backpackers are particularly drawn to Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef. The city has excellent diving and snorkelling facilities, with a variety of vessels using the port as a home base for their reef tourism activities. Conference tourism has become lucrative with national and international organisations choosing the area for many business forums.