7 best Townsville attractions

Townsville from Castle Hill

After spending two days on Magnetic Island, we were ready to explore Townsville attractions. After jumping off the ferry, we drove to our Discovery Caravan Park and set up our camp.

When I went to connect my power cable to the power box, I was in for a surprise. Inside was a green frog that looked like a park decoration. I assumed it was meant to be lifted in order to access the power connection. However, as I approached it, the frog shifted away from my hand, indicating that it preferred not to be disturbed. It seemed content in its new home and I could tell that it had no intention of leaving. Meanwhile our fridge was defrosting in the heat.

Green from in power box
Green from in power box

I decided to put the plug into the powerpoint just millimeters away from it. Surprisingly, the frog didn’t react at all, leading me to believe that it was quite accustomed to seeing people connect cables in close proximity.

It wasn’t until later that we discovered that green frogs tend to be more common during the wet season, as they thrive in humid and damp environments. This may explain why we found one residing near the power outlet.

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Later on, we decided to try the giant slide at the pool and relax a bit.

In the late afternoon, we drove to Castle Hill.

Kasha on giant slide
Nell on giant slide

#1 Castle Hill at night

Our first impression of Townsville was excellent as we wasted no time exploring the city’s sights, beginning with a visit to Castle Hill.

This small hill situated in the city center is a popular destination for walking, running, and leisurely strolls, with its primary attraction being the breathtaking views from the summit.

The area features several lookout points and a handful of short walking trails, all leading to stunning vistas of the surrounding city. From the top, the view is truly magnificent and not to be missed.

Townsville attractions - Castle Hill at night
Townsville attractions – Castle Hill at night

Also, it was our second time to see green frogs sitting near the drinking tap. Gosh, they look so artificial! It was hard to believe they were real!

Townsville attractions - Castle Hill at night
Townsville attractions – Castle Hill at night

When we got to Castle Hill, it was already dark outside, but we still managed to see Magnetic Island and Townsville Marina from the east side and Mount Stuart and the town suburbs from the west side.

It’s not every day that you can get a bird’s-eye view of a town like this in Australia. Although, I have to admit, Hobart’s Mount Wellington lookout is still way better, being much higher and all.

On the way back from Castle Hill, we could see many historical buildings that were illuminated, and they looked stunning. Also, the city atmosphere with its pubs and restaurants open and aroma spreading around were so good.

Townsville attractions - Castle Hill at night
Townsville attractions – Castle Hill at night

#2 Townsville Rotary Markets

The following morning, we set out to explore the Townsville Rotary Markets, as we’ve always been fond of experiencing the local markets in any new city we visit.

What sets these markets apart is the fact that they bring together three different markets: the Strand Night Market, the Rotary Mega Market, and the Willows Sunday Morning Market. Notably, the profits generated are channeled towards supporting the local community of Townsville through the ten Rotary clubs.

Read more about Townsville Rotary Markets. 

As we strolled through the stalls, we immersed ourselves in the lively atmosphere of the market. The sounds of music could be heard in the background, creating a festive mood.

At one particular stall, I had the opportunity to try my hand at playing some magic singing sticks while an Aboriginal man played the didgeridoo, adding a beautiful melody to the mix.

I must confess that I got too caught up in the moment, lost my rhythm and ended up making a complete mess of it. The sound produced by the giant tube was fascinating, as it imitated the call of the kookaburra.

Castle Hill during the day

On our return journey, we decided to drive back up to Castle Hill to get a glimpse of the town in daylight. Once again, we were left in awe as the hill provided us with spectacular 360-degree views. We simply had to move from one lookout to another to take in the vast expanse of the horizon.

Castle Hill during the day
Castle Hill during the day

#3 Reef HQ Aquarium

The following day, we headed over to Reef HQ Aquarium, which is regarded as one of the top attractions in Townsville. As the largest living coral reef aquarium in Australia, it boasts a vast range of features including the Coral Reef Exhibit, Predator Exhibit, a children’s section, a gift shop, and a café.

We spent a good three hours exploring the aquarium and were thoroughly impressed by the diverse range of marine species and exhibitions on offer. With so much to see and discover, it was certainly worth the time spent there.

Nell enjoying the colorful fish
Nell enjoying the colorful fish

During our visit, we decided to take a break and catch a marine movie at the IMAX Theatre. This theatre had a giant dome-shaped screen and an exceptional sound system that left us thoroughly impressed.

The movie itself was fantastic, and with the large screen enveloping us, we had to keep turning our heads to take in every aspect of the film. Our time at Reef HQ Aquarium was certainly memorable, but little did we know that even more excitement lay ahead.

Nell learning about corals
Nell learning about corals

Our child, who was experiencing the cinema for the first time, proved to be quite a handful. She behaved as though she was lounging on the couch at home, and kept asking loud questions throughout the movie.

Despite our attempts to quiet her down, including warnings and requests for silence, she remained enthusiastic and uncontrollable. Fortunately, there weren’t many people around, and we managed to make it through to the end somehow.

#4 Mount Stuart

At dusk, we took a drive up to Mount Stuart, a towering mountain with an altitude of 584 metres that overlooks Townsville.

The road up was a bit winding, but not too challenging. Once we arrived, we were greeted with stunning panoramic views of the area, which made for some exceptional photo opportunities.

Mount Stuart at sunset
Mount Stuart at sunset

There is a path that circles the summit of Mount Stuart, providing a panoramic view of the nearby town with Castle Hill and Magnetic Island in the same line, as well as the surrounding mountains and hills. The scenery was breathtaking, and we felt a sense of accomplishment after checking Mount Stuart off our list.

#5 Museum of Tropical Queensland

The Museum of Tropical Queensland is a fascinating institution that showcases natural history and archaeology. Situated adjacent to the Reef HQ Aquarium, which we visited earlier.

The museum has an impressive collection of artefacts retrieved from the wreckage of HMS Pandora . This historic shipwreck is one of the most significant in Australian waters and dates back to 1791, when the Pandora sank off the coast of north Queensland after capturing some of the mutineers from the infamous mutiny on the Bounty.

HMS Pandora

We had an incredible opportunity to witness creatures from the deepest parts of the ocean, such as a fish with a rat’s tail that resides 1200 meters below the water’s surface. The exhibition also showcased an extensive collection of corals, including an exhibit dedicated to deep-sea creatures with accompanying pictures and detailed descriptions.

The presentation was so captivating that even Nell found it enlightening. We soon discovered that museums in Australia are exceptionally well-organised, with interactive displays and simple instructions wherever possible. This approach encourages children to explore and learn more about the fascinating artifacts and stories they encounter.

We spent a good three hours exploring the Museum of Tropical Queensland, traversing three levels and discovering countless new things we never knew about.

#6 The Strand

After our visit to the Museum of Tropical Queensland, Nell wanted to have a splash, so we headed to The Strand.

The Strand is a lively beachfront area offering something for everyone in the family. There is a 2.5 km pathway along the shore where you can admire Magnetic Island, go for a run, ride a bike or scooter, or simply enjoy a picnic.

If you don’t feel like cooking, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from around The Strand. Kids can have fun in the water park while adults can go fishing on the jetty.

The day was gorgeous, so we spent the entire afternoon at The Strand before returning to our caravan park.

#7 Town Common Conservation Park

The final item on our itinerary was a stroll through Town Common Conservation Park, where Kasha was hoping to catch a glimpse of dancing brolgas.

Situated north of town, the park boasts an observation tower, a lagoon bird hide, and several hiking trails. Our primary objective was to observe the birdlife, and we were fortunate enough to spot the brolgas once more.

Town Common Conservation Park
Town Common Conservation Park

At last, I managed to capture a shot of a dancing brolga, which is quite rare. Dancing brolgas are known for their elaborate courtship dance, which involves intricate movements such as head bobs, wing flaps, and leaps in the air.

Town Common Conservation Park
Town Common Conservation Park

On our way back, we came across a house in Townsville that was supported by metal poles to about 90% of its height, hanging off a cliff. While it was an impressive sight, we couldn’t imagine living in such a house.

House hanging of the cliff built on vertical poles
House hanging of the cliff built on vertical poles

Castle Hill at sunset – best among all Townsville attractions

Castle Hill was so captivating that we couldn’t resist visiting it again to capture the breathtaking sunset views, making it a perfect spot to unwind, and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting Townsville.

Our visit to Townsville came to an end, and our next destination will be Airlie Beach.

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