12 Days of Christmas in Townsville North Queensland
10 December 2021
Christmas is fast approaching and with school holidays in full swing, we thought it timely to share the best of what Townsville North Queensland has to offer with our TOP 12 THINGS TO DO these festive holidays!
1. Island Time
Arthur Bay, Magnetic Island
Arthur Bay is the perfect spot if you are looking for an extra quiet getaway these Christmas holidays. Surrounded by granite boulders and hoop pines, and featuring some of the most beautiful coral close to shore – be sure to bring snorkel gear to explore this pristine bay. Summer rains also refresh natural pools which can be found in the granite embankments.
One of Magnetic Island’s most secluded beaches, Arthur Bay is a mini paradise, and is located not far from the entry to iconic Forts Walk walking trail. The 4km return track, is the best vantage point for wildlife, spectacular rocky coves and historic military site, and also home to some of the island’s most adorable residents. Look up and keep your eyes peeled for some of Northern Australia’s largest colony of wild koalas who inhabit this part of the island in mass numbers.
Note: Marine stinger season is from November to April. If entering the water, be sure to wear a stinger suit.
Magnetic Island Jet Ski Hire, Horseshoe Bay
Cost: from $100 per person
We know Christmas time goes quickly, so get up to speed on a zooming jet ski in the picturesque Horseshoe Bay with Magnetic Island Jet Ski Hire. An adrenaline pumping activity, great for the whole family.
Hire the jet skis for 30 or 60 minutes, and suitable for first timers and families with children. The minimum age to be a passenger on a jet ski is 6 years old. Any person under the age of 18 must ride with an adult (18+).
The team will provide you with a briefing, as well as other important tasks before you get started. They will also supply you with life jackets, sunblock, storage of personal belongings (backpacks, etc), waterproof bags to take small belongings out with you (e.g., phones + camera), watches – each ski has a watch to keep track of time.
Wind down after your thrilling lap of the bay, at one of Horseshoe Bay’s many cafes and restaurants.
2. A Place to learn
Townsville's Inner-City Street Art Trail
Immerse yourself in arts and culture as you uncover the astounding murals that lie within Townsville’s inner-city Street Art Trail . Take your time and follow the map to find each Street Art location and read the artists interpretation on each piece. Some artwork also incorporates augmented reality experiences which will really WOW the kids!
DOWNLOAD MAP>> Street Art Trail Map
Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville
Cost: from $15 per person
Take the kids on an exciting learning journey at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, located in the heart of Townsville. The diverse range of exhibitions and displays are designed to captivate audiences of all ages, focussing on natural and cultural history, biodiversity, human science and much more. Explore life in the tropics from pre-historic times to the modern era. One of the most popular exhibits is the Enchanted Rainforest, it focusses on one of North Queensland’s most iconic ecosystems, transporting visitors into the light and shade of Tropical Queensland’s rainforest environment.
Paid street parking is available outside the museum.
3. Immerse in nature
Wallaman Falls, Girringun National Park, West of Ingham
Go on a magical Christmas journey to Wallaman Falls, Australia’s highest, permanent, single drop waterfall, located in Girringun Nation Park, west of Ingham. Surrounded by World Heritage rainforest, Stony Creek plunges 268 metres in a clear single-drop, often through a rainbow-fringed cloud of mist. Gaze at Wallaman Falls from the main lookout, or walk to the second lookout which provides stunning views of the gorge and the Herbert River Valley.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are several walks from Wallaman Falls (one moderate, one easy). Camping is allowed, although you’ll need a permit – online or from the TYTO Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre.
Billabong Sanctuary, South of Townsville on the Bruce Highway
Cost: from $40 per person (children $27)
Give your family the ultimate Christmas gift by taking them to Billabong Sanctuary – located 20km south of central Townsville. The Australian native wildlife park – featuring a 2-hectare billabong at its heart, specialises in memorable experiences. Get up close to all the animal favourites: koala, wombat, parrots, dingo, cassowaries, and the mighty estuarine crocodiles – including mainland Queensland’s largest – Krakatoa!
There are three walk-through enclosures where kangaroos and pademelons will hop up for a pat. The focus on conservation has earned Billabong Sanctuary Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation.
4. Be a part of history
Lissner Park, Charters Towers
Enjoy a Christmas picnic at Lissner Park, nestled in nature and lined with figs, jacarandas, eucalypts, tamarinds, Burdekin plum, milky pines, palms and silky oaks, this park is an ideal spot to relax in the shade. Facilities and attractions include picnic tables, gas barbecues, Boer War kiosk, band rotunda, children’s playground, WWI guns, Gudgal People Yarning Circle, duck pond and memorials to grazier William Hann and pioneer Jupiter Mossman. Got your furry friend joining the road trip? Dogs are allowed in some areas of the park. What’s not to love about this place?
The Miner's Cottage, Charters Towers
Cost: from $5 per person
Bookings essential: Alan - 0414 967 369
Cover the Christmas expenses when you pan for gold at The Miner’s Cottage, located in the historic precinct of old Charters Towers. Established in 1992 by the current owner, Alan (he has plenty of stories to share), this quaint little cottage has become a “must see” attraction when visiting ‘The World’. During the Summer months the hours can change for the Miner’s Cottage, however you can usually arrange for a group booking, bookings are essential so call ahead! Oh and make sure you ask about the ghost!
5. Go Back to the outback
Charlie's Hill, Burdekin
Knowledge is a gift, expand yours when visiting Charlie’s Hill. Constructed by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the No 211 Radar Station on Charlie’s Hill was one of twenty radar installations along the North Queensland coastline. These were operated to give an early warning of approaching enemy aircraft during World War II.
When visiting this historic site, you’ll stumble across igloos of reinforced concrete, which provided bomb-proof protection for the radar equipment.
The buildings are listed in the Queensland Heritage Register because of the site’s historical and military significance.
Charlie’s Hill is a six minute drive south of Home Hill.
Ayr Nature Display, Ayr
Cost: $5 per person
The kids’ fascinated minds will love visiting the Ayr Nature Display. Discover the finest, preserved collection of butterflies, moths, beetles, crustaceans, seashells, rocks, timber, aboriginal stone implements and fossils, especially ammonites, all under one roof.
The experience begins as you walk past feature walls decorated with North Queensland rocks at the front and entrance of the display. After traversing the entrance, you will walk into an exceptional display of thousands of specimens housed amazingly in a 4.9-metre by 28.4-metre room.
6. Snorkel through the coral
Geoffrey Bay, Magnetic Island
Geoffrey Bay is a Christmas gift that will keep giving. The large, easily accessible beach is a must-do for visitors of all ages. Fun activities on Geoffrey Bay include: spotting the local rock wallabies, discovering the magnificent marine life, exploring a piece of history at the Moltke Wreck, kayak on the water and much more! Geoffrey Bay is listed in the top 10 snorkelling spots in Queensland, with its own snorkel trail that takes you through stunning coral to the historic Moltke Wreck, so be sure to have your snorkelling gear with you! You can also hire gear on the island!
Everything is close by on Geoffrey Bay, all you need to do is sit back, relax or adventure!
Aquascene, Magnetic Island
Cost: from $89 per person
Christmas on the beach? One of our favourite ways to “beach” is exploring Magnetic Island with Aquascene. Ranked 7th in the top 10 experiences in the world, Aquascene is one of Queensland’s Signature Tour Experiences, renowned for giving their guests an exceptional time. Discover and explore special places you won’t find on your own. Create connections with real people, as family owned Aquascene share with you this beautiful Island they have called home for over 35 years. They offer their guests fun, personalised and informative tours exploring the iconic beauty of Magnetic Island. It’s suitable for absolutely everyone! Discover secluded beaches and bays, snorkel fringing coral reefs and meet some local wildlife, above and below the water.
7. Experience Townsville
The Strand, Townsville
Enjoy Christmas this year with a morning stroll along The Strand, the two-and-a-half-kilometre walkway offers spectacular views across to Magnetic Island. Have a mouth-watering barbeque or beach picnic, take a swim in the rockpool or the ocean and enjoy the feel of sand in between your toes. Test your balance on a Stand-Up Paddle Board or land on the beach after the adrenaline rush of skydiving! The family can have some fun at one of the several, fantastic playgrounds and cool off afterwards at the popular Strand Water Park. Enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants or cafes with to-die-for water views. For fishing enthusiasts, the jetty is a great spot to cast a line - the Strand truly has it all.
Townsville Helicopters, Townsville
Cost: from $130 per person
Why not ask for an experience as your Christmas gift this year? Experience Townsville from a new perspective, explore secluded coastlines, join the ultimate fishing adventure, or be whisked away to your own private island. At Townsville Helicopters, there’s a wide range of fun experiences to accommodate different budgets and itineraries, having scenic tours and charters running 7 days a week.
8. Rainforest - Ocean
Paluma Range National Park
Spend Christmas in nature at Paluma Range National Park. Embrace the natural beauty of the Paluma Range National Park, the southern gateway to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Connect with the outdoors with your family, by taking a swim or having a picnic at Big Crystal Creek or Little Crystal Creek. Big Crystal Creek features a large swimming hole and a large picnic area. Little Crystal Creek is well known for its historic stone arch bridge, built in the 1930s and the cascading waterfalls which feed into one of the best freshwater swimming holes in the north. Take a bushwalk on the one of the many walking tracks that are around, such as McClelland’s Lookout, Birthday Creek Falls Track and Paluma Rainforest Walk. Camp at one of the designated camping areas, be sure to book your permit in advance. There is also a handful of accommodation options in Paluma.
Big Mama Sailing, Townsville & Magnetic Island
Cost: from $85 per person
Christmas on the ocean? Sign me up! Operated from both Townsville and Magnetic Island, Big Mama Sailing is owned and operated by a small family. Stu, Lisa, Fletcher and boat dog Coco live on board of the Big Mama yacht, so they are welcoming you into their home. They offer a unique and authentic sailing experience, exploring the hidden gems of Magnetic Island. The trip will be a personalised and memorable one, adventures for small exclusive groups include a Half Day Tour, Full Day Tour, Sunset Sailing or Private Charters. Big Mama has plenty of deck space. Relax in a bean bag, a comfortable inside saloon area or join the fun and action of sailing and other water activities. Ragamuffin 111, has a colourful history of racing, well known for her involvement in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Bring your own beverages and meals is welcome. Join Big Mama Sailing and you’ll have an unforgettable experience!
9. Treat yourself
Queens Gardens, Townsville
Immerse yourself into the lush green oasis of Queens Gardens during these Christmas holidays. Queens Gardens are the oldest botanic gardens in Townsville, having been established in 1870. Set against the impressive pink granite monolith of Castle Hill, Queens Gardens offers a quiet, cool retreat from the nearby city centre. It is the perfect place to relax during the busy Christmas period. The garden is divided into quadrants, each with a central fountain. Special areas include a formal rose garden, the Herb Society’s garden, the annuals garden beds, the two small hedge mazes, a rainforest walk and the black bean avenue. There is also a small aviary featuring peacocks, lorikeets and sulfur-crested cockatoos.
Cotters Market Townsville, Flinders Street
Wonder through Townsville's most iconic farmers market for over 35 years. From 8am every Sunday morning, in the heart of Townsville’s Central Business District, enjoy live music, fresh foods and exotic goods. Cotters Market is your one-stop to taste and experience the real Townsville.
10. Water Fun
Picnic Bay, Magnetic Island
Nothing says Australian Christmas like spending it on the beach. Picnic Bay is well suited to meet everyone’s holiday desires and budgets. With a sweeping beach, tranquil setting and the iconic jetty, Picnic Bay on Magnetic Island is a spectacular location. Enjoy a relaxing swim, beachside dining or fishing off the jetty. Snorkel and explore the abundant marine life of Picnic Bay or take a stroll along the jetty. Picnic Bay is also home to Magnetic Island’s only golf course, consisting of breathtaking views and curious wildlife including koalas, wallabies and birdlife.
Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks, Horseshoe Bay
Cost: from $65 per person
Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks is popular for paddlers of all fitness levels as they explore many locations that are only accessible by water! View nature in the wild on Magnetic Island’s most informative advanced eco-tour from the quiet of your sea kayak. You can wind down your day with a relaxing sunset kayak tour, spotting turtles around the coral beds. If you’re feeling more adventurous, take part in the half-day morning tour, exploring the northern tip of the island, discovering the rugged beauty of the coastline in Magnetic Island’s World Heritage National and Marine Park.
Free photography is also provided on the tour and is sent to all guests at the end of the paddle.
11. AdrenalinE Pumping
Castle Hill, Townsville
New to visiting Townsville these holidays? Castle Hill is the giant pink granite monolith that stands proud in the centre of Townsville – a perfect place for visitors to orientate themselves. Castle Hill offers vehicle access and multiple popular walking tracks, 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. Be sure to have a camera on hand, particularly for sunrise or sunset as these are photo opportunities that shouldn’t be missed.
Pitstop Karting, Townsville
Cost: from $30 per person
Have a zoom of a time this Christmas at Pitstop Karting, the ultimate adrenalin rush at Townsville’s only go karting hire facility. Pitstop Karting is a purpose-built outdoor kart track that offers the ultimate fun and thrill in a Junior, Senior or Passenger Kart! You’ll want to experience the rush over and over again! If you’re wishing to gift the experience to someone, they do gift vouchers, birthday party packages and more.
12. The cherry on top for a true Townsville north queensland christmas experience
Pioneer Park and Ross River, Townsville
Have a chill Christmas at Pioneer Park and Ross River. Pioneer Park is located in Townsville on the banks of the Ross River and Ross River Dam. The park provides recreational facilities and is a popular fishing location. Facilities include sporting fields, picnic and barbecue areas. This park is also home to the Riverway Precinct, a major community facility with integrated resources and attractions including retail, community, environmental and entertainment precincts.
Museum of Underwater Art, Great Barrier Reef
Cost: from $274 per person
Swim through the Museum of Underwater Art this Christmas. The John Brewer Reef ‘Coral Greenhouse’ is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is the largest MOUA installation thus far, sharing a message of reef conservation and restoration. It is the first-ever underwater building created by international underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who hopes to advance education and offer opportunities for scientists, marine students and tourists to engage – either by snorkel or drive – in action-based learning and to conduct globally important research on coral reef restoration.