30 of the best things to do in and around Townsville
There’s a place in Queensland you may not have discovered yet that’s waiting to be explored.
Bordered by the Coral Sea, the Wet Tropics and the Outback, the Townsville region has a vibrant natural landscape, rich Indigenous history, beautifully preserved Federation architecture, a smattering of islands just off its coast, and a vibrant, progressive dining scene.
So, what are you waiting for?
1. Even if you’ve only got one day to spare, jump on the SeaLink ferry to Magnetic Island – it’s only 20 minutes offshore.
2. Discover the flourishing bommies and historical wreck relics that lie beneath the waters off Magnetic Island on a self-guided snorkel trail.
3. Become a master of the waves and winds when you learn to kitesurf with Intheloop. Couldn’t get the hang of it? Opt for a calmer approach to the waters with their stand-up paddleboard hire instead.
4. Hire a boat from the kind folks at Townsville Boat Hire and take the family out for a day of mud crabbing and fishing in the local creek systems.
5. Head to the rooftop bar at glam-packers resort Rambutan to feast poolside on tacos, fried chicken, and lazy cocktails.
6. Did you know one of the world’s top 10 dive sites lies just off the coast of Townsville? The SS Yongala is a total bucket-list shipwreck, but if you haven’t got your creds yet for this advanced dive, you can start from scratch and tick off all the certifications in one trip with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive or Yongala Dive.
7. There’s no denying the SS Yongala is the main draw-card for keen divers, but if you’re a novice or just keen to explore the underwater world some more, there are wreck dives off Magnetic Island and plenty of trips to the Great Barrier Reef to keep you busy.
8. If you’ve got an appreciation for the arts, check out an exhibition at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery and Pinnacles Gallery. Or, check out the annual Australian Festival of Chamber Music to watch incredible musical performances.
9. Follow your nose to feed your appetite with the best restaurants and cafes.
10. Grab a scoop of creamy deliciousness at Juliette’s Gelateria on The Strand. Actually, make that two and walk it off with a stroll from the rock pools down to the Marina.
11. For a short and sweet cardio fix, hit up the Goat Track on Castle Hill (don’t let the first part of that sentence fool you – your buns will still feel the burn).
12. Drop in on the Australian Institute of Marine Science and learn all about their research projects, focused on helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
13. Tick off an Australian wonder when you road trip two hours north-west of Townsville to Wallaman Falls – the highest permanent single-drop waterfall in the country.
14. If you’re in need of a nature escape, head to the misty mountain village of Paluma, where freshwater crystal creeks and Wet Tropics Heritage-listed rainforest walks await.
15. Did you know it’s estimated over half the population of Ingham is of Italian descent? And what do Italians like to do? Eat. Or force you to eat. So beat them to the punch and stock up on continental delights at the Italian delicatessen known as Lou’s Food Emporium.
16. Get a hands-on encounter with creatures of the Great Barrier Reef at the world’s largest living coral aquarium, Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.
17. Spend two days trekking through ancient palm-filled gullies and open forests on the Wet Tropics Great Walk.
18. Ride bareback through the ocean on a bush-to-beach horse riding tour at the Horseshoe Bay Ranch on Magnetic Island.
19. Feed a freshwater croc and cuddle up to a dingo at the Billabong Sanctuary.
20. From palms and pandanus to cacti and succulents, plant lovers will be in heaven exploring the city’s botanic gardens – Anderson Park, Queens Gardens, Dan Gleeson Memorial Gardens and The Palmetum– all within a 20-minutes drive from the CBD.
21. Have brekkie with the koalas at Bungalow Bay Village on Magnetic Island. As well as having a morning snuggle from these cuties, you can stuff your faces with an Aussie-style breakfast of jaffles and toad-in-a-hole (our version of eggs cooked in bread).
22. Go old-school on date night with a trip to Tors Drive-In Cinema in Charters Towers.
23. Take adventure to the next level with Townsville Helicopters and witness the beauty of this tropical paradise from above.
24. Hop aboard Pilgrim for a sip and sail sunset cruise off Magnetic Island.
25. Go back in time to the gold rush era of Charters Towers on a tour at the Venus Gold Battery.
26. Mountain bike through the open woodland and rocky shores of Cape Pallarenda on the ‘Under the Radar’ trail.
27. Two words: platypus safari. Why? The platypus safari at Hidden Valley Cabins has a 98% success rate of spotting these duck-billed cuties, earning them the title of one of the top six places in the country to spot them by Australian Geographic, no less.
28. Spend four days hiking through a smorgasbord of changing landscapes and habitats from rainforest to paperbark country on Hinchinbrook Island‘s Thornsborne Trail. But before you set off, make sure you double and triple check this packing guide.
29. Bliss out in your own private paradise at Orpheus Island Resort. It may be pricey, but with everything included in their luxe accommodation packages – gourmet meals, unlimited use of water equipment, and island tours and activities – it’s well worth it.
30. Get a taste of the real-life fast and (not so) furious at the Supercars Watpac Townsville 400 as they race through the streets of Townsville.