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Townsville is a curio. For a tropical city by the beach it doest really utilize that all around sporting outdoor Aussie appeal. It has some small sandy beaches and a deep water port for commercial shipping and leisure boating, access to the Great Barrier Reef its main selling point, but still feels like Northampton by the sea, not the most romantic image to conjure up in Australia! The fact the alarmingly pasty Julian Assange of wikileaks notoriety was born here is all you need know about the blandness of the place. Greg Norman and wayward cricketer Mitchell Johnson are also Townsville boys. It just lacks something Australia has buckets of, almost a prototype Aussie city that has been forgotten about. Julian, Michael and Greg no longer live in Townsville. Its the 'dunny' break between Brisbane and Cairns.
Spread around a big dusty red rock called Castle Hill (8 meters short of being a mountain!) it's an ugly place with awkward looking tower blocks and tacky restaurants staring blankly up at Castle Hills distinct lack of majesty, looking like an old mining slag heap, the city brutally slashed open down the middle by the Ross River, colored brick red from all the junk and chemicals tipped in it from the nearby mineral mines. I took the walk up the hill to see the views and to be fair I have to say it was very beautiful up there, lots of interesting wildlife to explore, and evade, with equal measure on the way up. It was the first time I was ever chased by a wild pig!
The more pleasurable and family friendly seafront is a nice escape from that concrete boringness of the city and offers pleasant flat pack beaches and a lengthy boardwalk, at low tide the chance to walk out to an old wooden shipwreck, holidaymakers enviously looking out at the beautiful and mysterious Magnetic Island five miles from the shore, well worth a trip out if you end up in Townsville, thirty minutes on the local car ferry. The Island offers excellent camp sites, log cabins and things to do and some fabulous walks and cozy coves to explore, a very Mediterranean island feel to the place. You can also launch yourself onto the Barrier Reef from Townsville through various cruise and tours although it's widely believed it's not the best place to do that and Cairns the better option as it's a much longer boat trip. You do get decent access to the exclusive and glorious Whitsunday Islands from Townsville though but still along cruise out there. The Whitsundays need more than a day to enjoy. If you don't fancy the water there is a nice aquarium in town for ten bucks and everything in there you would see if you were to dive and snorkel out on the sea. The diving is very good in Queensland, wrecks and iridescent marine wildlife galore.
Climate wise its warm all year and wet at certain times of that same year, tropical storms and cyclones often smashing into the city in the rainy season. When it rains in Queensland it rains! I have never seen storms like the ones I did in Townsville. Season's do bring stingers into the shore so bathing times are limited in the sea. Adhere to those signs guys as everything in the ocean is painful north of Brisbane and if you are not stung you will be eaten by a shark or sea croc.
Townsville in not big enough to attract an exciting nightlife, especially visiting international showbiz talent, Billy Connelly's tri-bike not quite getting this far up, aborted at boring Brisbane no doubt, and so very much a beer and a fast food place, the old style Victorian pubs and bars good fun though to catch a ruck or an Aussie rules match. Those sporting events are similarly second tear and no cricket or rugby of note although they have a new sports arena stadium to entice that one day. I watched a rodeo there, which was good fun.
Getting there is easy with a decent international airport and great bus and train links. The whole Queensland coastline is perfect for backpackers with lots of places to stop between Brisbane and Cairns on the Bruce Highway. I hopped on and off various times between the two cities during my year there. I would recommend Airlie Beach just up the coast if you want to go to the Whitsundays. There are tons of cozy fun beach resorts all up the coast, less about surfing and more about beaches and tropical relaxing.
Most of the major hotel chains have accommodation there and fairly priced. The IYHA hostel is big and impersonal with few sea views and lots of corridors, around a tenner a night, I recall. I would go for a smaller independent one if you are staying longer. Shopping is not bad for the girls and lots of Aboriginal art and trinkets pushed on you at every corner in the city. Unfortunately the local art is rather forced and commercial and you can bet your life the people who painted it didn't get a fair deal. You can drive into the outback from here to do the Aboriginal experience but there is nothing romantic about the way those guys live, a tin shack and grog still considered fancy Down Under for an Abo. Townsville is the real Australia if you don't get past Brisbane heading south.I wonder if they make the corks for the hats here?
Townsville is the largest tropical city in Northern Queensland. I thought this would mean more culture, things to do, places to go out. However I was sorely disappointed with this city.
There are some amazing beaches which stretch along the front of the city, some have protective stinger nets in the stinger months but they have been taken out now, so take care when swimming as the water is still quite warm here.
The actual town itself is quite depressed, the whole shopping street is being dug up, and most of the shops have closed. The only place to really have a good time shopping is the stocklands mall which is a bus ride away.
I recently visited townsville for the first time since I arrived to go to Magnetic Island and I am so glad I live on the island. The contrast is amazing.
The people in townsville are not so friendly, I didnt feel safe walking around at night, there were loads of fights outside the pubs and clubs and there are just loads of roadworks and building everywhere so its noisy.
I have already written a review about reef lodge where I stayed before I moved to Magnetic. It was a nice hostel but the town was so awful I had to leave.
Stocklands shopping centre has some nice shops, and a great hairdressers where I had my hair cut. A friend also got a tatoo a bit further out which she was pleased with. The rest of the drive there was a mixture of sex shops, alcohol warehouses and run down shops.
I wont be visiting townsville again until I have to get the bus up to Mission Beach in September. The only reason for visiting Townsville is to get to Magnetic Island which is so much more amazing both in the way it looks and the people who live there.
I have to admit I kinda stumbled into Townsville with five dollars in the pocket after my final fruit pick in the outback at what quickly became the end of my chaotic”year out” Down under. Cant say that there's not a lot to do here if you have already done the reef in Cairns. I suppose it could be best described as a Floridian town where you have a lot of old shriveled prune faced couples wandering around mingling with the tourists being dispatched to The Whitsunday resorts and cruises or the delightful Magnetic Island with its distinctive Mediterranean look and feel. As the last major conurbation in Queensland before the rain forest kicks in up north theres a small chance of work in bars and hotels on the near bye islands although in general the place is slow and not to exciting so don’t stop off unless your reefing or going to the islands near here which are swarming with punters. Magnetic Island is a nice beautiful relaxing place to chill by the beach with some eloquent wild life to ohhh aghhhh at. The hostel is basic with cute wood cabins and a lively bar to keep you there longer than you need with all the facilities for $12 bucks a night. The near bye Whitsunday’s are a more upmarket affair with Hamilton being the cream of the crop as hotels start at $10000 a week to rub shoulders with Australia’s rich and famous. Ralph Harris, Bob” Dowde’ Under.who! They say. The IYH hostel in Townsville is a lot like an Asylum seeker detention center in set out only although not so full as hours with tight corridors and banging doors and very communal rooms and showers. I shared a dorm with four birds from Italy and Spain, guys you now what I’m saying about those latinas…Wow. Good facilities and a touch manky /cramped kitchen with a cool TV room and chill area. I actually watched the men’s final from Wimbledon at 3 am in the morning sitting next to a girl who drinks in my local in Northampton who I ne
ver met before. Small world isn’t it. Theres some nice old Victorian Aussie boozers in the town where if you play Pool one can easily turn over the locals on tournament nights, as they blaze away like the yanks never rolling up to the pocket….easy money if your down to your last paper stuff like I was.
Townsville is a city in North Queensland that is not well known in the tourist market. Which is understandable as the city itself has does not have much to offer the traveller. That said, it is one of the many Australia cities that is attractive for people looking for somewhere to live. However it does have a few redeeming features. The main one of these is that there is direct access to the Great Barrier Reef from Townsville. It also has an International Airport, although you might be a little pressed to find a carrier flying directly there. The only other place in Queensland with this combination of facilities is Cairns. If you do find yourself travelling through Townsville and are looking for a place to rest over for a few days, then I can recommend Magnetic Island. Magnetic Island was named by Captain James Cook as he travelled up the east coast of Australia because of the effect it had upon the ships compass. Magnetic Island has some good points, and some bad. If you want a party hotspot, then don’t go here. If you want a built up island with all the modern facilities then don’t go here. (That said there are some quite luxurious hotels on the island). However if you want a place to get away from the world and relax for a few days then Magnetic Island is the place. Public transport is not worth troubling with on the island, so it is best to take a car. However even if you don’t have a car, buggies can easily be hired on the island. Drive around, look at the beautiful white beaches and generally relax. Another spot in Townsville that is worth visiting if you like views is Castle Hill. This gives you a panoramic view over all of Townsville and out to Magnetic Island. Unfortunately even if you walk around the whole top of the mountain this is unlikely to keep you entertained for more than an hour or two. This holds especially for people like my wife who don’t particularly like views. So dri
ve up there, look around, have an ice cream (especially in summer) and then move on. Just south of town is the wildlife park named “Adventure World” if memory serves me well. The main attraction (of course) is the crocodiles. This is actually one of the few places you can genuine estuarine (salt) water crocodiles in Australia. Especially since you will never see them in the wild (unless you have a habit of swimming in the tidal stretches of rivers, and then you might get a view a little closer then you will like). The local Tourist Information Centre (TIC), and the various hotels can put you in contact with companies travelling to the Great Barrier Reef. There are several things to remember when visiting Townsville. Townsville can be hot and wet in summer, November through till March. There is also the possibility of a cyclone during the same period (which, depending on your outlook, could be an attraction for you). Swimming in the ocean is severely restricted over roughly the same time period. This is because of the box jellyfish. In conclusion Townsville is a nice place to travel though, and perhaps even stop off in, but it does not have a lot to keep you interested for a long period of time.
"Townsville city and major port, eastern Queensland, Australia, at the mouth of Ross Creek on Cleveland Bay of the Coral Sea. It is adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef in the dry tropics. The city enjoys over 300 days of sunshine each year, which lends itself to tourism activities all year round and an abundance of outdoor activities. Popular attractions include 'The Strand', a long tropical beach and garden strip; Reef HQ, a large tropical aquarium holding many of the Great Barrier Reef's native flora and fauna; the Museum of Tropical Queensland, built around a display of relics from the sunken British warship HMS Pandora; and Magnetic Island, a large neighbouring island, the vast majority of which is national park. Lying close to Flinders Passage through the Great Barrier Reef offshore, it has one of Queensland's finest artificial harbours. A tourist base for the Great Barrier Reef and the Atherton Plateau, the city is dominated by the 938-ft (286-m) Castle Hill, which overlooks Magnetic Island."