A local’s guide to healthy holidays in Townsville
There are only two things people do in Townsville: work out and go out.
That’s because you need to be “shorts and T-shirt fit” all year round and embrace the city’s status as the sunniest place in Queensland.
As the owner of Townsville WaterSports, keeping fit is my equivalent of professional development – so it’s something I feel quite passionate about.
Townsville is a natural jungle gym if you know where to go. Follow me and let me show you how to keep healthy and find balance on holidays in Townsville North Queensland.
There’s a lot to love about Townsville’s dining scene – there’s always something on, people out and about, and everyone eats outdoors. I’d recommend making a beeline for City Lane, the Melbourne-esq precinct that connects Sturt Street with Flinders Street, for the best casual dining.
As a fourth-generation Ingham-Italian, my pick is Donna Bionda, which serves pizza, pasta and secondi. I’m a creature of habit and start with the arancini balls, followed by the fettuccine al funghi and finish, always, with an affogato.
Head to JAM for the most-awarded breakfast or Oliver Brown for their eggs benedict with chorizo and smashed avocado. For other dinner options – if you’re feeling fancy, make a booking at Michels or keep it casual with a parmy at the Shamrock Hotel.
With temperatures that bounce around the mid-20s, you’ll be happy to know it’s always beer weather in Townsville. Maybe that’s why there’s no shortage of spots to drink here?
On weekends, I like Longboard Bar and Grill, on The Strand. It’s always got a cool breeze and great views over Cleveland Bay. The Sunday sessions are so good here they pull a crowd – usually the same kind that you see in the mornings at Castle Hill. You see, everyone works out to go out.
For something a bit different, try The TapHouse’s pour-your-own-beer style of bar service. It’s the only self-pour venue in North Queensland. There’re 10 beers on tap, even more in the fridges and an Australian wine list to keep non-beer drinkers happy.
Regardless of how long you plan to stay, you’ll want to hire a car and make Townsville your base to discover it all. If you draw a circle 150km around the town centre, you’ll find all Australian landscapes – rainforest, reef, outback, canefields.
For something different, Rambutan is a great place to stay – and not just because it has a great restaurant and bar. It’s a ‘flashpackers’ and is in the thick of the nightlife section of town on Flinders Street.
If you want to stay more centrally, Quest on Palmer Street and the Mercure are convenient options to the nightlife and dining precincts.
When you’re in a city best known for humid, hot conditions, seize the day with an early morning, high-intensity cardio session outdoors.
I run up Australia’s tallest hill, Castle Hill, with my Maltese x Shih Tzu x mini poodle, Beau. People often think we look like the old couple but Beau and I are well matched when it comes to energy.
It only takes us 14 minutes to scale the 286m hill on the goat track. Once you’ve conquered the hill, you might bump into Beau off leash in Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park, where you can walk, bike ride or even bring your horse.
Aside from this time on dry land, I spend most of my day on the water. People joke that I have gills.
Townsville is ideal for watersports because there are no waves. You can actually do watersports in the open water as opposed to lakes and dams, which you can’t do in lots of other places. If you’re new to town, make sure you get on the water to see the city stretch out from The Esplanade.
We run the jet-ski tour and hire company for the area, taking tours from the marina to various Townsville locations. Our Cape Cleveland tour is the only way (aside from private helicopter) to see the Cape Cleveland lighthouse, and our daily jet-ski runs across to Magnetic Island offer another way to go island-side.
I’m not sure my advice should really be trusted when it comes to fashion. That’s what happens when you spend your time around boats and have to wear a PFD.
For menswear, I like the big centres like Stockland Townsville Shopping Centre, Castletown and Willows Shopping Centre.
LOCAL’S ONLY TIP
When everyone thinks of Townsville, for some reason, they never think of nature we have here. Make sure you save time to discover Wallaman Falls, Paluma Range National Park and Magnetic Island to see the natural beauty of Townsville.
If you’re interested in diving, the SS Yongala, which is voted by National Geographic as one of the best dive sites in the world, is on the city’s doorstep.
WHEN TO GO
There is no bad time to visit Townsville – but the best time to visit is when the Cowboys are playing.
Fly or drive, all roads lead to Townsville with direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Mt Isa among other centres.