A big draw for Townsville, for many, is the small island off the coast known as Magnetic Island – Maggie to the locals. It’s a beautiful island with more than half of it a national park, with untouched bays, beaches and bush.
The largest city in Queensland, and one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, locals consider Townsville the unofficial Capital of North Queensland. It sits on the shores of Cleveland Bay, near the central section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Along with Magnetic, there are Orpheus, Dunk and Bedarra Islands, which are also zoned as National Parks. The merits of the islands are obvious – they are nothing short of gems shining in the blue seas – but Townsville is beautiful too with several fascinating attractions.
The Strand is popular with locals as well as visitors and the Riverway is a unique space with swimming lagoons, galleries and parklands. Reef HQ, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, is a huge draw, as is the Museum of Tropical Queensland. One of its star attractions are the exhibits from the HMS Pandora, a British warship that was sent to capture the mutineers from the Bounty, and which sank off Queensland in 1791.
Townsville has a tropical climate, and, thanks to its geographical location, it has less rainfall than other parts of the tropics. Townsville gets more than 300 sunny days per year. The winters (June to August) are warm with occasional rain, and the summers (December to February) are hot and humid. Late October and November can see “build-up” thunderstorms, while Late-December to early April gets most rainfall. Tropical hurricanes (and then flooding) are a threat during these months.
High season times are April to October, Christmas, Easter and the school vacations.
The end of January to the end of March, and October to early December are low seasons in Townsville.
Taxis and car-rental companies are available at the airport. There’s also an Airport Shuttle bus that travels to various hotels and motels, the Strand and City, Sunferries, the Transit Center and the Coral Princess cruise company. Sunbus runs the bus service. There are regular ferry services to Magnetic Island and Palm Island.