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Top things to do in Townsville

Top things to do in Townsville

Top things to do in Townsville


26 June 2024

Looking for the top things to do in Townsville - Northern Australia's largest regional city? We've got you sorted with this epic itinerary of things to see and do!

Walk The Strand 

Early morning – when the sunlight is still gentle – is the perfect time to check out The Strand, Townsville’s two-kilometre seaside promenade. From the ANZAC Memorial Park to the saltwater swimming pool, this palm tree-lined stretch is the pumping heart of the city. A notable highlight includes The Strand Water Park, a free, soft playground with water jets and slides. 

Visit the Billabong Sanctuary 

Less than a 20-minute drive from the city, interactive animal park Billabong Sanctuary Townsville lets you get up close and personal with koalas, crocodiles, eclectus parrots, greater bilbies, red-legged pademelons, meerkats, wombats, kangaroos, red-tailed black cockatoos and much more. Conservation of native animals and their habitats is a major focal point, with conservation efforts targeting endangered bilbies and cassowaries in recent years.  

Swim at The Ville 

The Ville offers a dual experience as a resort and casino, boasting a lavish infinity pool overlooking the ocean, complete with a coastal-chic swim-up bar. No need to reserve a room to enjoy the VIP treatment; opt for a day package instead and bask in the sun on the pool's loungers while savouring mojitos or watermelon margaritas. 

Go snorkelling on Magnetic Island   

Magnetic Island, or Maggie as the locals call it, lies 20 minutes off the mainland by ferry. Thanks to its extraordinary location in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the island offers some of the country’s best snorkelling; after arriving on the island, book a local tour and explore the underwater worlds of Geoffrey Bay, Florence Bay, Arthur Bay and Alma Bay. 

Take a sunset cruise 

For a breathtaking glimpse of Tropical North Queensland’s natural splendour, book a sunset cruise around Magnetic Island and, as the sun dips below the horizon, let your worries melt away. Home to otherworldly granite boulders, towering hoop pines and dozens of hidden coves, you’ll feel light years away from the mainland.  

Eat at chef-hatted restaurants 

JAM and Bridgewater are must-visits for any culinary aficionado, with JAM exemplifying a commitment to seasonal produce and Bridgewater showcasing a modern Australian degustation menu. Late last year, the restaurants (both helmed by chef Matt Merrin) were the only in the region to receive Chef Hat Awards by the Australian Good Food Guide. In fact, 2024 marks the 12th consecutive year JAM has received the accolade. Read more on our top picks for dining and bars.

Explore Townsville’s first-class museums

The waterside Queensland Museum Tropics tells the story of North Queensland, and exhibitions on the region's World Heritage-listed rainforests and fascinating cultural history are both well worth exploring. Alternatively, head to the Maritime Museum of Townsville, home to recovered shipwreck artefacts, intricate model ships and historical items detailing North Queensland's significant role in global conflicts. 

Catch a stadium event

Even those who aren't typically sports enthusiasts find themselves drawn to the electrifying atmosphere of the Queensland Country Bank Stadium during rugby season. Serving as the proud home turf for Townsville’s NRL North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, the stadium has also hosted the prestigious rugby league showdown between the Australian Indigenous All-Stars and the New Zealand Maori Kiwis. 

Check out the Sunday morning markets  

After sugar cane, red papaya and coconuts? How about art from Indigenous artists or jewellry featuring North Queensland gemstones? Find it all and more at Cotters Market. Held each Sunday in Flinders Street in Townsville’s city centre, the market is the perfect spot to bring the family, listen to live music and get your shopping on.  

Take a tipple at Tan Lines Distilling

For an experience off the beaten path, head down to Tan Lines Distilling, located in a hidden nook along The Strand. This cozy distillery overlooks a secluded oceanfront saltwater pool, offering a breathtaking backdrop for intimate sessions with Tan Lines Distilling Founder Aaron Rieniets. The distillery’s internationally acclaimed vodka and gin uses locally sourced ingredients to capture the vibrant essence of North Queensland; add a splash of tonic and you’ve got the perfect way to beat the heat.  

Visit an underwater art museum

On the John Brewer Reef lies the Museum of Underwater Art: the only undersea art museum in the Southern Hemisphere and holder of the Guinness World Record for the largest underwater art structure. Scuba divers can witness dozens of installations, including designs depicting marine science students and a sprawling nine-metre stainless steel coral greenhouse.

Have rooftop drinks at Ardo

Ardo Rooftop is the most casual of three onsite dining venues at Ardo, the first five-star hotel to grace Townsville’s sun-drenched coast. Ideal for an afternoon of laidback cocktails, the bar boasts views over the Coral Sea as far as the eye can see. If you’ve got time, dine at onsite restaurants Marmor and Terasu; both are exceptional. 

Hike Castle Hill 

For outstanding panoramic views of Townsville from above, make the one-hour hike to Castle Hill from town. Tracks catering for all ages and fitness levels crisscross the giant pink granite monolith, making for a wonderful morning out. 

Do the Forts Walk on Magnetic Island   

One of the most popular treks on Magnetic Island is the gentle, four-kilometre Forts Walk, weaving through eucalyptus forests filled with koalas, ruins dating back to World War II, enormous granite boulders and hidden beach coves. 

spot a koala 

Although it's rare to venture to Magnetic Island without encountering a koala in its natural habitat, for a more intimate experience with Australia’s adorable marsupials a visit to The Koala Park at Selina Magnetic Island is a must. You’ll have the chance to hold pythons, lizards, saltwater crocodiles and more while learning about the park’s noble conservation efforts. 

Visit Paluma Range National Park  

Paluma Range National Park is teeming with stunning landscapes, including waterfall-filled rainforests, expansive floodplains and the majestic Mount Spec. Easily accessible by car from Townsville's town centre, an escape to this exquisite region promises exceptional camping, hiking and swimming.   

Embark on a platypus safari in Hidden Valley 

Platypuses are notoriously elusive animals, and it’s incredibly rare to spot one in the wild. The area surrounding Townsville is renowned as one of the top spots in the country to catch a glimpse of these adorable creatures; join a two-hour tour with Hidden Valley Cabins for an immersive wilderness adventure into platypus-paradise Hidden Valley, located just two hours north of town.

Explore Townsville’s botanic gardens  

Hectares upon hectares of Australia’s most beautiful flora are yours to explore across Townsville’s three unique botanic gardens. Jump on your bike and ride through countless palms at Palmetum Gardens, walk through Anderson Gardens' conservatory, admire local heritage architecture or catch live music at Queens Gardens. 

Go mountain biking in Cape Pallarenda 

Just north of the city lies the distinctive bushland of Cape Pallarenda, which overlooks the Coral Sea and hosts heritage-listed World War II fortifications along with a historic quarantine station. Mountain bike trails range from family-friendly treks to adrenaline-fueled cross-country tracks.  

Explore Perc Tucker Regional Gallery  

Home to over 2,000 artworks, the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery is Townsville’s premier regional art space. Alongside exceptional national and international exhibitions, the gallery hosts workshops, educational programs, inspiring talks and performances of music, theatre and dance.  

Article originally published by Luxury Escapes.

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