Townsville is a relaxed, tropical, coastal city at the base of red granite Castle Hill. With around 190,000 people, it is the largest city in Queensland north of the Sunshine Coast and it is the most important city in North Queensland with many companies and government departments maintaining their regional offices here.

Despite its importance, Townsville has relatively little tourism compared with Cairns. However it is central to heaps of activities, sights and attractions. Just 8km offshore is Magnetic Island with its fantastic beaches, a few kilometres south of Townsville is the popular Billabong Sanctuary, and just north are nice beaches, great diving, and national parks like Paluma Range National Park.

The city centre has some nice architecture and great nightlife and the Strand, which runs along the shoreline, is filled with cafés offering lovely beach views. The city has several excellent attractions, including the Reef HQ aquarium, which has a walk-through underwater glass tunnel. Next door to that is a great Cultural Centre where you can learn about Aboriginal culture; and next to that is the Museum of Tropical Queensland, which is a must-see while you are in the area. A walk or drive up to Castle Hill affords beautiful views of Magnetic Island and the city.

Local transport

Sunbus operates Townsville’s local bus service with most routes converging near Flinders Street Mall. One-way fares range from $1.70 to $4.70.

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