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Ayr

Situated 85 kilometres south of Townsville is the rural community of Ayr, in the prosperous Burdekin district. This is prime sugar country, with about 80,000 hectares of sugar cane, producing about 1.25 million tonnes of raw sugar annually. Being in one of the largest cane and mango farming areas in Australia, as well as melons and other fruit and vegetables, Ayr is a mecca for working backpackers. Iconic spots in town include: • The Silver Link - the spectacular Burdekin River Bridge connecting the towns of Ayr and Home Hill is the district's best-known landmark and longest crossing of its type in the country. • Plantation Park features the town’s famous Gubulla Munda – a sculpture of the giant Rainbow serpent; a memorial for the Birriguba Tribe who traditionally occupied the land. • The Ayr Nature Display exhibits an amazing array of insects, shells, crustaceans, reptiles, rocks, timber, aboriginal stone implements and fossils. • The Star Dust Drive-In offers a unique and nostalgic cinema experience, with an excellent café. • The Burdekin Theatre - a proscenium arch theatre offering arts and entertainment events year round. • In neighbouring Home Hill, the Ashworths Rock Shop, a gemstone, rock and fossil heaven. Ayr and Home Hill host a number of exciting annual events including the Burdekin Water Festival, Burdekin Races and Sweet Days, Hot Nights, which incorporates the First Fire of the crushing season, Burdekin Cultural Fair and the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships. A rich network of creeks and mangrove-lined estuaries make the area ideal for fishing and crabbing. The Burdekin is a known hotspot for fighting fish, barramundi, mangrove jack and trevally. The surrounding wetlands offer excellent birdwatching opportunities, with over 280 species recorded in the area, including the cotton pygmy-goose, which is listed as endangered in New South Wales. Alva Beach nearby offers miles of pristine sandy coastline, a popular spot for beach fishing, birdwatching and windsurfing. It's also a launching point for a dive tour to the world famous dive wreck on the Great Barrier Reef, the 'SS Yongala' - Australia’s largest and most intact historic shipwreck.

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Burdekin

Just one hour's drive south of Townsville is the Burdekin Shire - the sugar capital of Australia, fishing mecca, bird watching paradise and traditional homeland of the Gudjuda Aboriginal people. The Burdekin region is one of the only districts in Australia which still employs the traditional practice of burning cane prior to harvesting. During crushing season, the Burdekin horizon is often lit up by the spectacular sight of these cane fire burns. The widely-renowned Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships are held within the region, giving spectators the opportunity to walk through a paddock of burnt sugarcane, enjoy the food, drinks and activities on offer for the whole family and witness the pure grit and determination as competitors cut through tonnes of burnt sugarcane. The district is made up of the neighbouring towns of Ayr and Home Hill and includes over a dozen other smaller centres. It is as famous for its rich, flat farmlands as it is for its amazing waterways and scenic beauty. The Burdekin maintains a healthy reputation for its friendly residents, great specialty stores and boutique shopping and a laid-back lifestyle. The Burdekin River Bridge, which links Ayr and Home Hill, is the districts best known landmark. Known as the Silver Link, the 1,103 metre crossing is the only bridge in Australia without a solid footing and is longer than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. An Engineering Heritage National Landmark award was unveiled of the southern side of the bridge in 2010. The district is a well known fishing mecca, with access to barramundi, mud crabs, other estuary species and off-coast reef fishing. The Burdekin is also the closest point to the world famous SS Yongala wreck. Ranked as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, the SS Yongala gives divers first hand encounters with manta rays, bull sharks, turtles and barracudas. If you are seeking a more relaxed experience while in the Burdekin take a swim or relax at Alva Beach.

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Charters Towers

Take a step back in time and discover the enchanting town of Charters Towers, just an hour and half west of Townsville. Driving through the streets of Charters Towers is like viewing a living montage of Australian history and heritage. Gold was first discovered in the outback town of Charters Towers in 1871 by Aboriginal horse boy, Jupiter Mosman. It quickly became a booming gold rush town, with over 65 hotels and more than 25,000 people moving to the region. Charters Towers become the second largest town in Queensland and was renowned for having everything a civilised person could want and as a result nicknamed "The World." Today you can still see evidence of those early days with many museums, tours and colonial architecture depicting the past. Charters Towers offers a number of magnificent heritage buildings which are testament to the prosperity of the early 1980s. The heritage listed Stock Exchange Arcade, The World Theatre, City Hall and the Post Office Tower will have you reaching for your camera. The cemetery, which was established in 1895, is the resting place of Jupiter Mosman. Don't forget to visit the iconic drive-in cinema for flicks under the stars, the Towers Hill lookout for vast outback landscapes, the Venus Gold Battery to discover the largest surviving Battery relic in Australia and pan for gold at the Miners Cottage. For something a little different and a truly outback encounter head to Texas Longhorn Wagon Tours and Safaris to sample damper and billy tea and meet 'JR,' the 2013 Guinness World Record holder for the bull with the longest horns.

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Home Hill

Situated on the southern side of the Burdekin Bridge (known as the Silver Link) with an economy driven by sugar and agriculture, Home Hill offers landscapes dominated by lush green cane fields as well as access to some of North Queensland's finest produce. Start your experience in Home Hill with panoramic views of the regions towns, farmlands, wetlands, waterways and coastline from Inkerman Hill. Take in the pristine beauty provided by nature's greens and blues and enjoy a skyline that seems to go on forever. Other attractions include the historic World War Two radar stations which can be found on Charlies Hill and for a step back in time take a stop at Tom's Toybox to view a private collection of working farm machinery from yesteryear. The township of Home Hill was established in 1913 from land carved out of the Inkerman Downs Station and is located just 12 kilometres south of Ayr. The two towns are linked via the Burdekin Bridge, the districts best known landmark standing at an impressive 1,103m long and larger than the Sydney Harbour Bridge. To walk across the famous landmark, park near the Lion's Diorama at the southern approach to the bridge and head to the pedestrian walkway. While in Home Hill, visit the Ashworth's Tourist Centre to discover murals that depict the district's rural life and view original Islander artworks at Zaro's Cultural Gallery. Visit the Silver Link Interpretive Centre, which opened in 2007 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Burdekin River Bridge. Located in the main street of Home Hill, the centre tells the history of the bridge through more than 120 photographs. The Comfort Stop in the centre of town is a clean, modern facility with free restroom, shower and barbecue. There is ample parking for caravans and motor homes.

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Ingham

Where can you discover a taste of Italian life in Townsville North Queensland? With more than half Ingham's population being of Italian descent it isn't surprising that the township is often referred to as "Little Italy". Settled in 1864, Ingham is the heart of the local sugar cane industry, where many Italian migrants came to work, and has one of the largest sugar mills in Australia. The annual Australian-Italian Festival in August brings thousands of visitors to the town to enjoy Italian wine, cuisine, music and culture. Today, the town is just over an hour's drive from Townsville and offers a unique collection of culture, fresh produce and vast green landscapes. Upon arrival in Ingham be sure to visit the TYTO Wetlands and Information Centre. This location is a bird lover's paradise with the wetlands walk providing easy viewing of more than 230 different bird species including the Eastern Grass Owl. Enjoy an early morning or late afternoon walk when hundreds of agile wallabies come out to graze. Just a short drive southwest of Ingham provides an opportunity to discover the awe-inspiring Wallaman Falls, Australia's highest permanent single drop waterfall. Forming part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area, Wallaman Falls sits amongst the beauty of the lush green rainforest. Take in the views from above at the look out, or venture a little closer by taking the walking track to the base. Either way, Wallaman Falls is a great location to enjoy a picnic lunch and to discover the local wildlife. A little further north of the town is the pristine Hinchinbrook Island, a nature lover's paradise. The region includes many recreational National Parks and State Forests with some of the oldest rainforests on earth and many endangered plants and animals. Keep an eye out for the brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly and the rare and ancient cassowary bird. Enjoy exploring in the cooler months from April to September.

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Magnetic Island

Escape to a tropical island paradise surrounded by secluded bays, golden beaches and activities to excite everyone. With 23 beaches and bays and just a 20 minute ferry ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island has the natural beauty and serenity of an untouched paradise within a thriving community. The rocky granite headlands fuse with sheltered bays and beaches, studded with majestic hoop pines, which create a dramatic and spectacular coastline. Over two-thirds of the Island is classified as National Park, providing a haven for native wildlife including rock wallabies, koalas, possums and more than 100 different bird species. The Island has a range of accommodation including hotels and resorts, self-contained apartments, bed and breakfasts, holiday house rentals and backpacker hostels. Getting to Magnetic Island is easy with a passenger ferry and car barge available. Once you have docked, it is straight into island life. Explore at your own pace, take the bus, hire a scooter, jet ski or topless car. For those who love outdoor adventures explore the wilderness by riding or walking along the networks of tracks available. There are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy including boat trips, parasailing, snorkelling tours, walks, bus tours, water sports, golf, diving expeditions, jet skiing, great fishing and horse riding. There are numerous walking tracks on the island, the most popular being the Forts Walk, where you can usually spot koalas in the wild. Walking tracks range from easy, short walks to longer tracks with a moderate level of difficulty. Magnetic Island is a food lovers dream, with a range of restaurants to choose from you surely won't leave the Island hungry.

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North Ward

North Ward is one of the oldest and most popular suburbs of Townsville. Wedged between towering Castle Hill and the deep blue Coral Sea, North Ward overlooks the tourist drawcard of Magnetic Island and the Port of Townsville. North Ward is home to The Strand, a bustling seaside foreshore brimming with chic restaurants and cafes, legendary Queensland watering holes and glorious ocean views. The Strand offers a safe swimming beach, rock pool, palm fringed landscaping, children's free fun water park, barbecues and picnic areas and a network of bike paths and walkways. The beaches have stinger enclosures (November to April) and there is good fishing to be had from the pier. The suburb of North Ward also contains fine examples of early Queensland architecture including pre-war hotels and church buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Jezzine Barracks, located at the end of The Strand, is a perfect outing for history buffs with access to the Military Museum and a collection of outdoor sculptures and walkways that provide historical insight into the days of the war and Townsville's development. Head up to Kissing Point Jezzine Barracks for some of Townsville best ocean views. Not far from The Strand and Jezzine Barracks is Queens Gardens, one of three fine botanical gardens in the city. Established in 1870, Queens Gardens includes a formal rose garden, two small hedge mazes, a rainforest walk and a small aviary featuring peacocks, lorikeets and sulfur-crested cockatoos. North Ward is just minutes from the Townsville City Centre and offers a range of accommodation options including backpacker hostels, units and motels.

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Townsville

Discover a holiday destination that leaves you feeling energised and alive! Townsville, in North Queensland offers a collection of attractions and events to spark everyone's curiosity! Beneath the protective presence of Castle Hill, Townsville City combines federation architecture with modern fine dining like no other Queensland city. Stroll down The Strand and look over the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef, discover rich WWII history as you reach Jezzine Barracks and take the kids to explore an impressive water-park. Townsville's many attractions include the world's largest living coral reef aquarium, an Australian native wildlife sanctuary, art galleries, museums, parks, restaurants and the spectacular Strand beachfront promenade. If you are seeking an active adventure jump on board a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef, spot a koala in the wild on Magnetic Island's walking trails, test your balance on a Stand Up Paddle Board on The Strand or admire ocean views along mountain bike trails at Pallarenda. With a diverse range of dining and culinary precincts in Townsville there is something to suit everyone's tastebuds. From fine dining through to iconic Aussie pub meals and funky cocktail bars, Townsville comes alive with an infectious atmosphere! Many of the local restaurants and cafes feature fresh produce grown and sourced directly from within the region, adding a fresh, local flavour to your dining. Need some retail therapy and craving a shopping break? Explore Townsville's range of specialty and boutique shopping opportunities within the City Centre or head to one of the major shopping precincts to discover local produce and the latest fashions. Nature lovers are right at home in Townsville! Dip your toes in the ocean or relax on the shores of one of Townsville's golden beaches, spot a magnificent array of birdlife from the Townsville Town Common, explore lush botanical gardens, stroll along the river walkways or embrace an inspiring sunset on Castle Hill to end your day of exploring. Using Townsville as a holiday base, visitors can experience the natural wonders of the diverse North Queensland region through day tours, cruises or adventure excursions - all operating out of the city.

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Townsville North Queensland

The best holidays are the ones that leave you feeling energised and alive. Townsville North Queensland gives you that feeling with a collection of destinations and attractions to spark everyone's curiosity. The best place to begin your exploration is Townsville city. Beneath the protective presence of Castle Hill, Townsville City combines federation architecture with modern fine dining like no other Queensland city. Stroll down The Strand and look over the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef, or better understand its beauty with a visit to Reef HQ Aquarium. If it's nature you like, don't miss a walk through Northern Australia's largest colony of wild koalas on Magnetic Island. The remarkable Forts Walk is the best vantage point for wildlife, spectacular rocky coves and historic military sites. Your history lesson continues with a short drive to iconic Charters Towers. Feel the fervour of the gold rush with a trip to The Miner's Cottage where you might just strike it lucky when panning for gold. Or just wander the streets of this celebrated Australian town and sample billy tea and damper straight from the camp oven. A little further south is the Burdekin, the sugar capital of Australia. Sample the legendary Burdekin produce or try your hand at barramundi fishing in the Burdekin River estuaries! Or get even closer to marine life with a scuba dive on the SS Yongala shipwreck - one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. The last destinations to explore are the ancient and awe-inspiring rainforests of Townsville North Queensland. Swim in the crystal clear waterholes of Crystal Creek, stare with amazement at Wallaman Falls in the Hinchinbrook region - the largest single-drop waterfall in Australia - or play hide and seek in the world's oldest continually living rainforest in Paluma National Park. Townsville North Queensland rewards your curiosity. Wander, ramble, peer and unearth, and you'll leave with something more precious than gold: the feeling of being alive.

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