Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Where the corks on the hats are made!
Member Name: thedevilinme
Date: 22/11/12, updated on 30/11/12 (52 review reads)
Advantages: Nice safe place
Disadvantages: Dunny break up the East Coast
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?
Summary: Get in and then out