Townsville Travel Guide
Townsville is a town of tropical location in the north of Queensland.
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I rarely need any more reason than the word “tropical” to convince a stop anywhere in Australia. Tropical Queensland is a part of this country that really can’t do any wrong. Lush foliage, warm weather; this is seriously a prime holiday location. But, if you need to know a little bit more about Townsville before spontaneously booking a flight, then read on in this guide.
Townsville is about 350 kilometers south of Cairns on Australia’s east coast. Many visitors will use Townsville as a hub for getting to the lovely Magnetic Island, as well as the Great Barrier Reef.
How to Get to Townsville
Driving: You can drive to Townsville from Cairns in just about 4.5 hours via the Bruce Highway. Coming from the south, you can drive for around 16 hours to get there from Brisbane, also on the Bruce Highway. Read more about driving in Australia.
Bus: Greyhound can get you from Cairns to Townsville in around 5 hours. Coming from as far south as Brisbane will take you around a day on a bus. If you are not stopping off at places along the way, I would recommend looking for a cheap flight to save time. Read more about bus travel in Australia.
Train: You can take the Sunlander train, or the newer and faster Tilt train in Queensland to reach Townsville. Using the Sunlander will get you from Brisbane to Townsville in about 24 hours, while the Tilt can cover the same distance in only around 18 hours. See more in the Australia train travel section.
Plane: You can catch a cheap flight to Townsville from many cities in Australia. Sydney to Townsville only takes about 2.5 hours to reach, and Cairns to Townsville is less than an hour. You can search for a cheap flight to Townsville right here:
Townsville has a tropical climate, and, just like Magnetic Island, it boasts 320 days of warm, sunny weather. Townsville is in a location that gets less wet weather than other parts of tropical Queensland, but it is still in a position to get the occasional cyclone, which can be devastating to say the least.
Getting Around Townsville
You can take buses and taxis to get around Townsville. The Sunbus Redbus is a popular tourist bus that can get you to all the major attractions in the city, and they run to and from the ferry (a popular stop for those looking to check out the glorious Magnetic Island). Check out the Sunbus online.
What to Do in Townsville
Townsville has a number of attractions that are appealing to visitors, such as the Reef HQ Aquarium with a new Sea Turtle Hospital inside. There’s the Museum of Tropical Queensland for those that want to learn a bit more about Queensland’s history and culture.
The Billabong Sanctuary is down the road from Townsville and features a number of the big Australian animals, such as koalas, wombats, crocs and snakes.
Dining and shopping are a must, especially when hanging around The Strand. You can find some amazing seafood, Indian, Mexican, Asian – you name it! It’s all perfect after working up an appetite at the markets or lazing near the water. Jupiters casino is also quite popular with a prime location near the water. Here you can choose from restaurants, bars, pools and live entertainment.
Nature lovers or exercise enthusiasts can challenge themselves by climbing the 2.9 kilometer road that takes you to the top of Castle Hill. Morning and evening views are the best and provide perfect photo opportunities.
Families with children should check out the Riverway area as there are two swimming lagoons with playgrounds and BBQs available throughout.
For a bit of a unique dive into the rather rich history of Townsville, you might want to consider a tour with Townsville Ghost Tours. While I didn’t find it scary per se, it was unique and it did give insight into a history that you might not otherwise get to know of the area. You’ll hit just about every hot-spot in town in one evening.
Where to Stay in Townsville
You can choose from simple hostel accommodation to luxurious resorts in Townsville. However, I did find that many of the hostels had rather low ratings the closer to town they were. When I was there, we decided to stay further outside of town in a place that really was too nice to be called a hostel. If you are willing to have to take a bus into town every day, then do choose the Foreign Exchange Accommodation – by far one of the most unique hostels I’ve been in thus far.
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