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A local's guide: Islands and reef

11th September 2019


Townsville North Queensland is home to a number of stunning island options to suit everyone’s holiday desires. Here’s our guide to find out which one’s the best for you!

View from The Forts Walk: Magnetic Island

For absolutely everybody: Magnetic Island 

Magnetic Island proves that one island escape really can please everyone. Nature lovers can spot some of Northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas living in the wild, explore over 20km of walking trails through National Park and discover fringing coral reefs leading straight off the beach. History buffs can get a glimpse into Magnetic Island’s pivotal role in WWII exploring the well-preserved relics along the Forts Walk, and adrenaline junkies can get their hearts racing on a jet ski tour. For some serious rest and recovery, take in the views with a sailing trip, play a round of golf in Picnic Bay or simply sit back and relax on one of 23 bays and beaches. The Island is accessible via SeaLink Queensland passenger ferry, Magnetic Island Ferries car barge or via helicopter to indulge the inner celeb in all of us, with accommodation options ranging from luxury resorts to hostels to suit everyone’s budget.

Magnetic Island

For the ultimate adventurer: Hinchinbrook Island 

Despite it being the biggest island along the Great Barrier Reef, Hinchinbrook Island is completely uninhabited with only 40 people permitted to camp on the Island at any one time to protect its biodiversity. The Island’s claim to fame is its world-renowned 32km Thorsborne Trail, a 3-4 day self-sufficient hike, famous for its diverse terrain - from misting mountains to sandy beaches, wetlands and woodlands, rainforests and everything in between, not to mention the pristine waterfalls and swimming holes to explore along the way! Lucinda is your quickest link to the reach the Island, with day trips and scenic helicopter flights also available.

Infinity Pool, Hinchinbrook Island

For lovers of luxury: Orpheus Island 

Orpheus Island offers 1,300 hectares of untouched National Park, unique wildlife and amazing reef experiences at every turn. The best way to explore everything the Island has to offer is by booking into its luxury resort, capped to indulge just 28 guests at a time. You won’t have to worry about a thing with all-inclusive meals, watersports equipment and more – perfect for the lovers of exclusive and tranquil holidays that like the finer things in life. Alternatively, explore the Island on one of Sealink Queensland’s seasonal day trips or make your own way with self-sufficient camping amongst the National Parks.

Great Barrier Reef 

Townsville North Queensland is your ticket to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef which has less boating traffic and impact from human activity, giving visitors access to some of the most diverse coral and marine life at some the best sites in the world.

Great Barrier Reef

To get up close and personal 

There’s no arguing that one of the best ways to see the Great Barrier Reef is by getting up close and personal with a snorkel and diving trip. Hop aboard a day trip to witness amazing coral gardens, canyons and bommies and a variety of marine life, stay a little longer on a multi-day live-aboard for unlimited access to the water, or if you’re interested in becoming a certified diver, complete a diving course with one of our operators - where better to learn than the Great Barrier Reef? Trips are available with both Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive, and Remote Area Dive from Townsville, or Pleasure Divers on Magnetic Island.

For snorkellers who like to be closer to land, you can explore the stunning self-guided snorkel trails along Magnetic Island’s Nelly and Geoffrey Bays. Join Pleasure Divers for a guided experience or pick up a handy swim card on the Island to follow the trails and learn about the coral and marine life you may discover along the journey.

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef

To tick off your diving bucket list 

Did you know that Townsville North Queensland is home to one of the world’s best wreck dives? Certified divers can tick the SS Yongala Wreck off their bucket list and explore the site’s pristine shipwreck, array of hard and soft coral and spectacular marine life, including turtles, marble rays, wrasse, giant gropers, sharks and migrating humpback whales. Join Yongala Dive in Alva Beach for your quickest link to the wreck, with direct tours also departing Townsville and Magnetic Island.

Diving on the Great Barrier Reef

To see the reef without getting wet 

Get up in the air and see the Great Barrier Reef from a different perspective on a scenic flight with Townsville Helicopters or Nautilus Aviation to witness the reef’s vastness and beauty from the air. You can even land on a secluded sand cay to enjoy the reef all to yourself – a truly unforgettable experience.

Reef by helicopter

To learn about the reef 

Take a walk through Townsville’s Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium to explore the world’s largest living coral aquarium, learn about the reef and its threats, meet thousands of charismatic marine creatures and interact with a number of daily talks and tours. Right next door, visit the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s Secret Language of the Reef exhibit to learn how coral and marine creatures communicate, find out how corals live and grow and explore the museum’s coral collection, one of the largest in the world.

Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium

Our top tips to care for the Great Barrier Reef 

The Great Barrier Reef is far more than a holiday destination. You can make a big difference with simple changes on your trip to the reef and when you return home. Pledge to become a citizen of the Great Barrier Reef to take action and measure your positive impact on the reef:

  • Ban the bag: always remember your reusable shopping bags.
  • Hold the straw: purchase a reusable straw or ditch them altogether to reduce your plastic waste.
  • Carry your cup and BYOB: minimise your waste with reusable coffee cups and water bottles.

Find out more at 

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