The sunniest spot in Queensland, Townsville has grown from a regional port to a sophisticated city known for its food and shopping. The region is close to the centre of the Great Barrier Reef, flanked by national parks, lush rainforest and rolling sugar cane fields.
Founded in 1864, Townsville was the first capital of Tropical North Queensland. Today, it’s a thoroughly modern city with excellent boutique shopping, a brand new creative dining and retail precinct called City Lane, and the popular Strand foreshore lined with beaches, parks, lagoons and barbecue areas.
Townsville Airport is 10 minutes from the city, with direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and regional Queensland towns, as well as international flights to Bali and PNG.
Two-thirds of Magnetic Island is national park, home to an incredible variety of wildlife including northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas in the wild and rock wallabies that greet you off the ferry. The island is ringed by 23 bays and beaches, dotted with towering hoop pines and rocky granite headlands.
Magnetic Island is a 25-minute ferry ride from Townsville. Boats depart every day from the ferry port in central Townsville.
The largest national park island on the Great Barrier Reef, Hinchinbrook Island is mostly uninhabited and covered with virgin rainforest and isolated beaches. Hike the Thorsborne Trail, a tough 32km track that ranges from mountains to mangroves or take one of the many other trails that are suitable for all levels. Campsites are rugged and remote, providing a real connection with nature.
Boats to Hinchinbrook Island depart from Cardwell and Lucinda on the mainland.
An exclusive hideaway, Orpheus Island is made up of national park and just one luxurious resort. The surrounding reefs host more than 1,100 species of marine life, making for some of the region’s best snorkelling. Don’t miss the giant clam nursery, populated by 300 of the impressive molluscs.
Orpheus is a private island, so you will need to organise a boat charter or private helicopter transfer.
The strand Townsville early in the morning is a great place to be. Ryab David
The Strand, Townsville