Does 320 days of sunshine a year sound like paradise to you? Then welcome to Townsville, the largest and sunniest city in North Queensland! With all this perfect weather, you’re going to want to make the most of it, so here’s my ‘Top 5 Experiences’ in Townsville.
1. Castle Hill
The best way to get a feeling for Townsville is to head to the top of Castle Hill. This local landmark towers over the city and has 360 degree views of the region from Magnetic Island and the Coral Sea all the way to Mt Stuart and the countryside. There’s a few ways to get to the top; you can drive, walk up along the road or if you’re feeling adventurous, take the goat track!
Tip: Sunrise is a beautiful time of day up here and the whole hill lights up in rich reds! If you’re going to walk up make sure you bring lots of water and do it either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, the sun can have a real kick to it!
2. The Strand
Once you’re done soaking in the sights from Castle Hill you’ll probably feel like going for a swim! Luckily the Strand is just a short drive from Castle Hill and there’s plenty of beautiful beaches and pools along here to take a refreshing dip.
The foreshore of the Strand stretches out over 2.6km and has something for everyone with a path that follows along the beachside, it has lots of shaded picnic areas, a great jetty for fishing and lots of top little cafes!
Tip: If you’re looking to take the kids to the waterpark or go for a swim in the rock pool just be aware that the water park is closed for cleaning on Tuesdays and the rock pool is closed for cleaning on Wednesdays.
3. Magnetic Island
Whilst you’ve been enjoying the views from Castle Hill and The Strand, you’ve undoubtedly seen the magical Magnetic Island which is just 8km offshore and been longing to do a day trip! ‘Maggie’ as the locals call it, is a short 20minute ferry ride from Townsville. You can take your own car over there or alternatively hire a car (or mini moke!) or hop aboard one of the buses that service the island. It’s home to 23 bays and beaches, has almost 25kms of walking tracks and some stunning fringing reefs for snorkelling!
Tip: Don’t forget to check out the Marlin Bar! A special place to grab a cold drink, delicious pizza and soak up those blue ocean views.
Loving these things to do in Townsville? Why not look further north to Cairns and make a road trip out of it?
4. Wallaman Falls
The Townsville region is also home to Australia’s tallest single drop waterfall, Wallaman Falls in the Girringun National Park. It’s around a 2hour drive to the falls which are part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and has some of the oldest rainforests on earth. The views from the lookout at the carpark are good but if you really want to get the most out of this experience then make sure you allow enough time to do the trek to the bottom. The walking track is about a 2hour return journey so bring lots of water and decent enclosed footwear. On the trek down you’re rewarded with spectacular views through the rainforest canopy and once you reach the bottom you’ll be in awe of the sight and sound of this stunning, thundering waterfall!
Tip: On the way back to Townsville make sure you stop in at the Frosty Mango. It has some of the tastiest homemade ice creams and gelatos and is the perfect refreshment after a big day at Wallaman Falls!
5. Reef HQ
Want to get up close with Nemo and all his friends without getting in the water? That’s not a problem at Reef HQ, the largest living coral reef aquarium in the world! You can learn all about the Great Barrier Reef, its inhabitants and challenges in the underwater viewing tunnel and numerous displays around the centre. The kids (and big kids) will love seeing everything from the colourful fish & stingrays to ‘Cuddles’ the friendly shark.
Tip: Reef HQ is also home to the Turtle Hospital and you can get a guided tour of this amazing facility at 12 PM and 3:30 PM daily.
The 4.5 star Clarion Hotel Townsville is the perfect stylish and contemporary place to stay. It’s a great home base for all your activities (including these Top 5) and is right in the heart of the CBD. My room was modern and spacious (with a soft luxurious bed), it was hard to check out at the end of my stay!
Words and images by Mark Fitz