You’ll be hard pressed to find any ‘must do’ list for Townsville without this local hot spot! The Strand is a thriving beach foreshore with 2.5km of walkway, stunning views across to Magnetic Island, outdoor gym equipment, and more playgrounds than the kids will know what to do with, including the free water park. The Strand Jetty is also the best location to view the Ocean Siren – a 16m art installation part of the Museum of Underwater Art project (Tip: visit at sunset to watch her change colours in response to sea temperatures).
If you’re keen to get up close and personal with some Aussie wildlife, head to Billabong Sanctuary. With natural bushland to explore and a 2-hectare billabong at its heart, the Australian native animal wildlife park is home to over 50 native species including kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, parrots, and even the snappy variety – with mainland Queensland’s biggest crocodile, Krakatoa at 5.1m (and his croc mates)!
For a bit of tropical history, you can’t go past the Museum of Tropical Queensland. It is here you will discover about life onboard an old sailing ship and get insights into the stories of the region’s rainforests and reefs. Or dive deeper – figuratively – with a visit to the world’s largest living coral aquarium and the official headquarters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. The perfect place to learn all about Nemo and his friends – without getting wet – enjoy regular shows and visit a functioning Turtle Hospital – this air-conditioned attraction is one for young and the young at heart.
For an unforgettable sunrise and to really soak up the best views of the city, take a hike to the top of Castle Hill, an iconic attraction which stands proudly at 286m in the centre of Townsville City. Castle Hill offers vehicle access as well as several popular walking tracks – including the Goat Track and Cutheringa Track, which are frequented by more than 2,500 locals a day! The 360-degree views of Townsville at the top are well worth the journey.
Cheer on a Local (The North Queensland Cowboys)
After you’ve seen the sights from above, don’t miss the urban inner-city Street Art Trail for stunning murals which will lead you through the city centre. Why not take the opportunity while in town to join the locals and cheer on the mighty ‘Cowboys’ as they do battle against the NRL’s finest. The North Queensland Cowboys are the local Australian professional rugby league football club based in Townsville and are considered local heroes and the pride of the North. The team competes in Australia’s premier rugby league competition, the National Rugby League (NRL). Since their foundation in 1995, the club has appeared in three grand finals (2005, 2015 and 2017) winning in 2015, and has reached the finals ten times. The team’s management headquarters, high performance centre and home ground, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, are convenient located in the heart of the city adjacent to the banks of Ross Creek.
Take a short 20-minute ferry ride with SeaLink Queensland across to Magnetic Island, locally nicknamed “Maggie”, where the adventure is up to you.
Spend the day (or ideally days) exploring the 23 beaches and bays dotted around the island, either by car (if you travelled by Magnetic Island Ferries car barge) or hire topless jeep with Magnetic Island Adventures. If you want to experience some of the most remote and exclusive beaches on the island take a discovery tour with Aquascene Charters or go luxe with a Beach Club Picnic.
Make a splash along one (or both) of the self-guided snorkelling trails at Geoffrey Bay and Nelly Bay and get an up-close-and-personal look at the wonders of the coral reef – right off the beach! Or for the more adventurous, hop aboard your very own sea kayak to paddle the calm waters on an eco-accredited tour with Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks.
If nature and wildlife is also your thing – you’re in luck – because Magnetic Island is also home to Northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas in the wild!
Tip: Wake before the sun and take the gentle stroll along the Forts Walk – it’s the best place to spot a furry companion, and also a pretty sweet sunrise vantage point… can’t beat a 360-degree view! Want a local’s point of view – take the Fort Walk tour with Magnetic Island Best Bus Tours.
End the day sailing the high seas on a luxury yacht with Big Mama Sailing, or Pilgrim Sailing. Both tours offer a sunset sail – so kick-back and relax while you sip a champagne and take in the watercolour skies across the horizon.
Take your island-hopping adventure to the next level – literally, with a scenic flight over Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef with Townsville Helicopters or Nautilus Aviation. With flights ranging from a 10-minute scenic tour, to a more indulgent remote island picnic – this luxury upgrade is an epic way to see Townsville North Queensland’s island oases.
Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA)
Further off the coast of Townsville is the majestic underwater playground of the Great Barrier Reef. Get amongst the magic of this world-class spectacle, with a dive or snorkel trip to the outer reef. Take a tour with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive or for the more experienced divers, head out with Yongala Dive to SS Yongala – Australia’s best dive site and one of the world’s top wreck dives!
Townsville newest underwater attraction and first-ever underwater building, the Museum of Underwater Art’s ‘Coral Greenhouse’ at John Brewer Reef is also absolute must.
Set amongst the stunning rainforest of the Girringun National Park, this breathtaking waterfall is one of the most beautiful sights on the drive between Brisbane and Cairns. The meandering Stoney Creek meets the top of the Wallaman gorge abruptly. Here it cascades over the precipice and plunges almost 300 meters straight down toward the deep pool below. On its long descent, the creek turns into mist, engulfing the gorge and lush green rainforest below.
Wallaman Falls is located 162 kilometres north of Townsville, and 287 kilometres south of Cairns. The town of Ingham is 52 kilometres to the west of Wallaman Falls and marks the point where you leave the highway – well worth the trip.
The highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia, Wallaman Falls is part of the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, home to some of the oldest rainforests on earth and many endangered plants and animals. Wallaman Falls is a cascade and horsetail waterfall and is notable for its main drop of 268 metres. The pool at the bottom of the waterfall is 20 metres deep. An estimated 100,000 people visit the waterfall annually.