Down-to-earth Townsville, in the dry tropics of North Queensland, is the largest tropical town in Australia and basks in more than 320 days of sunshine a year. In the town center, high-rises hint at its role as the de facto capital of the region, but it still manages to pull off plenty of touristy charm.
Billabong Sanctuary is a family-owned wildlife park in Townsville. It’s been accredited with Advanced Ecotourism certification from Ecotourism Australia, due to its environmental management, commitment to conservation, partnerships with local communities, and education programs. Some of the animals you will see at Billabong Sanctuary include several kangaroo species, koalas, echidnas, different snake varieties, emus, and both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles.
Stretching for 2.5 kilometers along the calm waters of Cleveland Bay, The Strand is a popular beachfront promenade and a magnet for both tourists and locals. This is a great spot to soak up the tropical vibe when you first arrive in town. Coconut palms sway in the breeze, the blue-green waters of the bay beckon beyond the golden-sand beach, and Magnetic Island slouches lazily on the horizon.Children love the playgrounds and the colorful Strand Water Park, where tipping buckets, mini slides, and sprinklers spritz them on hot days.
Castle Hill is Townsville’s defining feature, and one of Queensland’s most distinguishable natural features. Located practically in the middle of the city, the giant heritage-listed pink granite monolith is a popular attraction for both tourists and locals. More than 2,500 Townsville residents walk up the hill’s many trails every day. You can also drive to the top of Castle Hill, which offers 360° views of Townsville. There are several lookouts and vantage points on Castle Hill as well.
SS Yongala wreck
The SS Yongala wreck is one of the world’s best wreck dive sites. The SS Yongala Ship sank off Cape Bowling Green in 1911, on its way from Melbourne to Cairns. Over 10,000 divers visit the SS Yongala wreck annually. Because it’s located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, divers can expect to see an array of tropical marine life. This includes sea turtles, gropers, rays, sharks, and many tropical and ocean fish species. Check out Adrenalin Dive in Townsville to dive the SS Yongala wreck yourself.
Barrier Reef Aquarium
If you can’t make it out to Australia’s World-Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, you can at least enjoy a glimpse of some of the creatures that live there at the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. The coral reef exhibit at Reef HQ is open to the elements and is home to more than 150 species of marine animals, as well as many different types of hard and soft corals unique to the Great Barrier Reef. A viewing tunnel provides a close-up view of the predator exhibit, where black-tip reef sharks and giant trevally prowl.