History, heritage and landmarks

Uncover the stories of yesteryear during your visit to Townsville North Queensland, you might be surprised by what you discover.

For a truly authentic step back in time, be sure to visit Charters Towers, a living montage of Australian history and heritage. Once, the second largest city in Queensland this old gold mining town has plenty on offer to explore. Try your hand at Gold Mining, catch a flick at one of the last remaining drive-in movie theatres and marvel at the historical architecture and history within the town centre.

As the largest military base in Australia, Townsville is entrenched with a significant military history. Discover walking and mountain biking trails that offer incredible views and remnants of WWII fortifications, take a tour to hear the hidden stories of Townsville’s military past or visit the Military Museum.

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Australian Institute of Marine Science

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) is a leader in tropical marine science. The Institute is consistently ranked among the top one per cent of specialist research institutions internationally and is known for its unique capacity to investigate topics from broad-scale ecology to microbiology. AIMS is committed to the protection and sustainable use of Australia's marine resources. Its research programs support the management of tropical marine environments around the world, with a primary focus on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the pristine Ningaloo Marine Park in Western Australia and northwest Australia. Public tours are available including data projection shows, information on research and guided tours of the facility.

Burdekin Diorama

The Burdekin Diorama provides a shady location to stretch your legs and discover the Burdekin's rich heritage. Easy to stop into, and interesting to find, you'll enjoy the diorama's surrounds. The Burdekin delta sits atop an amazing resource: the aquifer, a ground source of fresh water. Replenished by the Burdekin River, this managed system is explained through maps, photos, diagrams and charts at the Burdekin Diorama. Excellent resources and hard working people are what it takes to make a region prosper. The Burdekin district knows the good fortune of both. Some of the facts and figures are surprising! The local sugar cane industry, with its original hand cane cutters, is important to understanding the area's history and prosperity. The Burdekin Diorama helps get a glimpse into the journey of the Burdekin's sugar cane industry. Five recently installed stainless steel panels shine a further light on people, events and work, which impacted the region's history. You'll find the Burdekin Diorama near Home Hill's Inkerman Sugar Mill, on the southern side of the Burdekin River Bridge. The Burdekin Diorama is just over an hours drive south of Townsville.

Burdekin River Bridge

The Burdekin River Bridge is the district's best known landmark. Locally known as the Silver Link, it is a road and rail bridge which also has a pedestrian walkway. The bridge makes an excellent subject for architectural photos or a great location for holiday snaps. Taking 10 years to complete, the bridge was opened in 1957. It replaced a low level traffic bridge and a rail bridge. Remnants of the old rail bridge can be seen just downstream from the Burdekin River Bridge. Visitors wanting to experience walking across the Burdekin River Bridge are asked to park near the Burdekin Diorama. This is on the southern side of the bridge. You can then walk along the pedestrian walkway onto the bridge. During the crushing (sugar cane harvesting season) this gives you a good view over the sugar cane bins in the holding yard of the Inkerman Sugar Mill. For more detailed information on the Burdekin River Bridge, see the Burdekin Diorama, or call into the Gateway Visitor Information Centre in Home Hill.

Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park

Set in a scenic coastal location amongst open woodland and vine thickets, this park features an historic quarantine station, established in 1915. The station was initially used to quarantine passengers on incoming ships. During World War II the area was a strategic defence location. American and Australian armies set up camps on nearby beaches and used the Quarantine Station as a hospital. Walk or mountain bike the shared trails throughout the park to see the World War II structures on the Cape Pallarenda headland and explore the beaches and forested slopes of Many Peak Range. Enjoy a picnic on the foreshore. Look for wallabies, lizards and many kinds of birds in the woodland. Find out more about the quarantine days at the station's historic display.

Castle Hill

Just metres short of a mountain, Castle Hill is the giant pink granite monolith that stands proud in the centre of Townsville - a perfect place for visitors to orientate themselves. As well as offering vehicle access, Castle Hill provides a number of 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 which shouldn't be missed. As well as offering an iconic centre piece for the city and spectacular scenic views, Castle Hill has a significant history. The Hill's vantage was used by visiting American soldiers during World War II. According to local legend, the visitors famously offered to demolish the hill and use the rock to build a bridge to Magnetic Island. A World War II observation bunker sits on one corner of the Hill reminding visitors of Castle Hill's military history. Castle Hill facilities include car parking, public amenities, drink fountains and shaded seating to enjoy while taking in some of the best views of the city and across to Magnetic Island.

Centenary Park

Step back in time to the days of the gold rush when you visit Centenary Park in Charters Towers. This popular park space features a gold discovery monument and a collection of sculptures created by Queensland Artist, Hugh Anderson. Make sure you take a picture of the Bat Statue created and designed as part of the 2013 LATTE Exhibition. Centenary Park features an interesting history, with the area first announced for public purposes in 1888. In 1941 the last Gazette Order in Council set aside the area as a reserve for park purposes and named it "Sayers Park" after Robert John Sayers. From the city's very early days, Centenary Park was called "Harvey's Reserve", no doubt because Joseph Harvey, a local butcher, built and lived in "Tower Villa", an old Queenslander style home that still faces out over the north east corner of the Reserve. During 1972 the Park was re-named "Centenary Oval" as part of the city's centenary celebrations. Centenary Park features picnic tables, toilets, gas barbecues, a children's playground, liberty swing, lit walking tracks and is always cool and shady.

Charlie's Hill

2015 marks 70 years since the Radar Station at Charlie's Hill ceased operations after World War II. If you visit this historical site, you'll see igloos of reinforced concrete which provided bomb-proof protection for the radar equipment. The wooden towers which supported the transmitting and receiving aerials have been removed. However, you may find foundations from various structures near the igloos. 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 the township of Home Hill.

Charters Towers Cemetery

Charters Towers Cemetery was established in 1895. It is the resting place for a number of interesting local characters including Jupiter Mosman who, as local lore has it, was part of the party that discovered gold at Charters Towers; Doctor Leonard Redmond who discovered Australian dengue fever; Fredrick Pfeiffer owner of the rich Day Dawn PC Mine and James Knenniff who was the last bushranger in Queensland. The Charters Towers Visitor Information Centre has the cemetery records for both the Pioneer and Charters Towers cemeteries. If it is family history you are seeking, why not contact the Charters Towers and Dalrymple Archives Group or the Charters Towers Family History Association Incorporated? These groups aim to promote and preserve research into local and family history for the benefit of the community.

Dalrymple National Park

Ancient lava flows, fossilised limestone and the Burdekin River, the largest river in Queensland, are features of this park in the Charters Towers area. Mount Keelbottom rises 130 metres above the surrounding plain and part of the old Dalrymple township site can be found in the park. It was one of the first inland settlements in northern Australia and has links with the discovery of gold in the area in the mid-1800s. Parts of the township are privately owned. Please respect private property signs. In the dry season, bush camp along the sandy edges of the Burdekin River. Explore the undeveloped walking trails that follow the river and Fletcher Creek, and discover basalt flows and a peaceful riverside setting. Longer hikes to Mount Keelbottom should only be undertaken by well-equipped and experienced walkers. Watch waterbirds from the river's edge. Ride trail-bikes and mountain bikes on the internal roads through the park.

Gubulla Munda

A popular place in the Burdekin for visitors to take photos is located in Plantation Park, Ayr. The giant carpet snake is an impressive feature, and makes a fantastic backdrop. This 60 metre artwork depicts Gubulla Munda, the Aboriginal totem and the protective spirit for the Birri Gubba people. Gubulla Munda holds sacred cultural and spiritual significance to the Traditional Owners. Also, there are several plaques and a memorial stone. These mark the remains of Birri Gubba ancestors re-interred at this sacred site. The Gudjuda Reference Group commissioned the large sculpture Gubulla Munda Dreaming, which was constructed in 2004. It was painted by aboriginal artists. The monument was created to celebrate and promote indigenous culture.

Historic Ambulance Centre

The Historic Ambulance Centre, located in Charters Towers, dates back to 1903 and was restored and reopened to the public 100 years from its first opening. The Centre was the first ambulance station outside of Brisbane and houses a wonderful collection of vehicles, uniforms and an enormous number of log books recording the cases treated by ambulance officers during the past 100 years. The Centre is open on Sundays and at other times by appointment.

Ingham Cemetery

The Ingham Cemetery depicts the area's strong Mediterranean influences with a magnificent display of tile mausoleums. Undoubtedly, the southern European mausoleums in the Catholic section of the cemetery are quite noticeable. The older style mausoleums are constructed from white stucco and marble, the traditional materials, and contain gothic style windows and doors. The more recent ones are more commonly flat-roofed with parapet surrounds and finished with terrazzo and tiles.

James Cook University of North Queensland

James Cook University offers study and research opportunities in a broad range of disciplines, whilst enjoying world leadership in subjects of special importance to the region. James Cook University increasingly focuses on a range of commercial links to allow industry to further benefit from expertise within the University. Disciplines include: Medicine; Occupational Therapy; Surgery; Nursing; Science; Biomedical Sciences; Animal Science; Applied Science; Pharmacy; Engineering; Law; Public Policy; Economics; Commerce; Business; Arts; Administration (Tourism); Hospitality Management; Indigenous Health and Studies; Computing; Information Technology; Communication Design; Visual Arts; Theatre; Music; Education; Journalism; Psychology; Social Work; Community Welfare; Languages; Environmental Studies; Photography. For a full list of faculties, bachelor, post graduate degrees and masters programs refer to the web site. James Cook University also has a number of facilities available for use by the public including tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness centre, squash courts, ovals, football field and amenities block. Refer to the Visitor Information section on the web site for contact details.

Jezzine Barracks

A significant site for both the Australian military and local Aboriginal People, the Jezzine Barracks are now open to the public and include coastal boardwalks, artwork, traditional plantings and parklands. The 15-hectare heritage precinct commemorates the military and Aboriginal heritage of the Kissing Point headland through 32 specially commissioned public artworks, extensive interpretive signage and the restoration of significant elements of the Kissing Point Fort complex. The space includes a coastal walkway connecting Rowes Bay and The Strand, observation decks up at Kissing Point Fort, traditional plantings along the ethno-botanical walk, the Crossed Boomerang Amphitheatre, Norman and Brigadier North parklands and the Kennedy Regiment Plaza. The Traditional Owners of Garabarra are the Wulgurukaba people and the Bindal people, who retain an enduring 'connection to country' despite the impact of non-Aboriginal settlement in the area. For thousands of years Garabarra was the centre of a common food foraging area for local Aboriginal people - an area with immeasurable cultural and spiritual values. The Fort was established in 1870 after the British withdrew from the colonies and it was in continuous military use from 1885 to 2006. In 2007 a community trust was established to keep this land in public hands.

Lucinda Jetty

Situated near the southern end of World Heritage listed Hinchinbrook Island, the Lucinda bulk sugar terminal boasts the longest service jetty in the Southern Hemisphere. At 5.76 kilometres long, supported by more than 660 concrete and steel pylons, the jetty is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece with its length actually following the curved contour of the earth. Sugar takes 22 minutes to travel along the conveyor from the on-shore storage to the shiploader. The single berth can accommodate fully loaded Panamax class vessels and the major cargo destinations are Canada and Malaysia. The jetty enables Lucinda to receive the largest ships used in the raw sugar trade. Adjacent to this amazing structure is a small service jetty which is popular with anglers who don't have their own boat. Pelagic species such as Spanish mackerel, giant trevally, queenfish, northern bluefin tuna are there for the taking and some anglers have even been lucky enough to land small black marlin.

National Trust Heritage Centre

Journey back to the late 1880s and discover a quaint collection of heritage houses and their stories at the National Trust Heritage Centre. The three heritage houses featured at the centre have been furnished and restored to their original period glory and include a Worker's Dwelling (1878), a grand villa residence known as The Currajong (1889) and an early North Queensland farm residence known as The Farmhouse (1921). Guided tours are available.

Old Brandon Church

The Old Brandon Church is the place to go if you love historic buildings. Formerly Saint Patrick's Catholic Church, the building is listed on the Registers of both the National Estate and the National Trust of Queensland. This excellent example of a 'carpenter Gothic' church has stood on two sites in Brandon. After severe damage from cyclone Aivu in 1989, it was purchased by the Burdekin Shire Council, and in 1991 moved to its present site. It has been loving restored and is an excellent subject for structural photography. On Mondays, combine your visit to see this beautiful building with a visit to the Burdekin Machinery Preservationist's shed right next door. The Old Brandon Church is an hour's drive south of Townsville, and five minutes north of Ayr.

Pioneer Cemetery

Entrenched in a deep history from the days of the gold rush, Pioneer Cemetery located in Charters Towers, gives an interesting insight in the hardships faced by the pioneers of the time. Containing graves from those who were buried between 1872 and 1895, mining accidents, fires, murders, child birth and general hardship are some of the reasons that there are more than 5000 people buried in the early cemetery. Cemetery records are available for viewing at the Charters Towers Visitor Information Centre.

Reef HQ Aquarium

Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the the world's largest living coral reef aquarium and the Australian Government's national education centre for the Great Barrier Reef. Immerse yourself in the underwater viewing tunnel offering magical views of a living coral reef and the predators that prowl the water depths. Discover beauty and wonder of the Great Barrier Reef. Home to the world's largest living coral reef aquarium, the 2.5 million litre coral reef exhibition will open your eyes to an amazing world filled with thousands of charismatic marine creatures. Appreciate the challenges faced by Reef HQ Aquarium's Turtle Hospital patients and how you can play a role in protecting marine turtles in the Great Barrier Reef. The turtle hospital operates and promotes the C.A.R.E (Conserve. Act. Rehabilitate. Education) philosophy playing a key role in raising community awareness. Join their experienced and friendly interpretation staff on one of Reef HQ Aquarium's premier visitor experiences. Let their volunteers inspire you as they share their passion for the Great Barrier Reef.

Stock Exchange Arcade

Imagine back to the days of the 1800s, when the gold rush was at its prime and the township of Charters Towers was the second largest city in Queensland. An arcade was designed by Sydney architect Mark Day and built by Sandbrook Brothers of Sydney in 1888 for local civic leader and businessman Alexander Malcolm. Known then as the Royal Arcade, it housed one of Australia's first regional stock exchanges, the Charters Towers Stock Exchange from 1890. At one time the price of gold was set in that very Arcade, an indication of the importance of the Charters Towers' economy at the time. Today, the stockbroker's offices have been converted into shops and make for an interesting insight into the buildings history. Wander through the Don Roderick Gallery, enjoy the building's magnificent architecture and don't miss the "Calling of the Card," a ghostly reminder of Charters Towers' golden days.

Texas Longhorn Wagon Tours and Safaris

Witness the majestic and historic Texas Longhorns on a horse drawn wagon ride or Safari - an experience like no other. Take a traditional horse drawn wagon ride or Ranger Safari and a trip back in time, back to the 'Old West' to the time of the legendary Texas Longhorns. Situated 10 kilometres from Charters Towers, North Queensland, is Leahton Park, home to the largest purebred herd of Texas Longhorns in Australia. These cattle are direct descendants of the millions of Longhorns that walked in the great trail herds from Texas in the late 1800s. It is also home to the 2013 Guinness World Record Texas Longhorn steer - JR. JR was born and raised at Leahton Park and was certified in 2013 to have the longest horns measured tip to tip of all cattle in the world. His horns are now three metres from tip to tip. Listen to the yarns and learn the history of this magnificent breed of cattle while enjoying the canvas covered wagon ride in the bush on the one and only experience of its kind. Kangaroos, water buffalo, Scottish Highland cattle, American Bison, African Watusi and native Aussie wildlife are all at Leahton Park.

Towers Hill Lookout and Amphitheatre

Local legend has it that an Aboriginal boy named Jupiter first discovered gold at the foot of Towers Hill in December 1871. Today you can find a monument which depicts the location of the first gold sighting at the base of the hill. From there follow the road and uncover the stories of the Hill from the interesting and informative storyboards along the way which feature "Jupiter's Luck," "The Seismograph Station," and "Clark's Gold Mine." Discover 30 different World War II bunkers, one of which is a restored bunker located approximately half way up the Hill. Another track at the summit leads off to the ruins of the Pyrites Works. Early morning is the best time to discover the wildlife living on and around Towers Hill. You will see several species of macropods such as the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, the Whiptail and the Allied Rock Wallabies. Watch as the Wedge-tailed Eagles hunt their prey. Towers Hill comes to life in the evening with the Ghosts after Dark film screened in the Amphitheatre. Admission fees apply. Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Information Centre.

Venus Gold Battery

Located on the outskirts of Charters Towers, the Venus Gold Battery offers an insight into an amazing real life gold rush of the late nineteenth century. The Battery is of national cultural significance as the largest surviving Battery relic in Australia and the oldest surviving Battery in Queensland. Constructed in 1872, it was a public or custom mill in its prime and became a State Battery in 1919 to provide ore crushing facilities for small miners long after other mills had closed. It ceased commercial operations in 1973 after a century of service. Guided tours are available daily. One of the highlights is a fascinating film presentation that shows not only the process of extracting gold from ore, but also the story of the Battery's working life and some of its ghosts.

World Theatre, The

Explore the World Theatre, a cultural complex where the unique blend of heritage architecture and state of the art technology meet. Browse at your own leisure and check with the friendly staff for details of the live shows, movie times, morning melodies and the free local and touring exhibitions of art, sculpture, photography and more. For an interesting insight into the past ask the staff to tell you the story of the 'Murder on Mosman'.

Wreck Diving at Magnetic Island

Located within the waters of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Magnetic Island has a wealth of interesting dive sites. Some of the best places to dive are found in Geoffrey, Alma, Arthur and Florence Bays and the reef in Nelly Bay. The wreck of the Platypus an old dredge boat, is in Arthur Bay, on the left hand side out towards the point in a rocky cove and is encrusted with hard corals. Most ships were sunk as shelters to moorings or jetties. But the Island's rocks have also claimed the schooner Lavina in Rocky Bay, and the ketch Lallah Rookh was wrecked on Bremner Point in 1896. The Bee, a steam launch, was the first regular ferry service to the mainland. It came to grief on Knobby Point near Picnic Bay in 1901. The wrecks are relatively shallow, so are perfect for novices or for relaxed enjoyable diving.

Zara Clark Museum

This National Trust museum houses a large collection of photographs, equipment and other memorabilia that reflects Charters Towers' golden and military past. Their friendly volunteers are only too willing to share their special stories and demonstrate some of the equipment that is housed in the historic Burns Philp building, built in 1888. Ask for a demonstration of the flying fox (the Lampson Aerial Cash System from the old Pollards building). There are many other items too that will pull you into the drama and excitement that was Charters Towers 130 odd years ago. History buffs and collectors can put themselves to the test with the Museum's display of objects that so far have defied efforts to identify or date and the volunteers are delighted to show them off. Charters Towers has a proud military history from the Boer to Vietnam wars, housed in the Charles Wallace Military display. One of the more poignant pieces from World War I is a pair of half knitted socks, abandoned when a mum received news that her son had been killed, they are displayed exactly as she left them 100 years ago. Allow half an hour at least.