Townsville Tourist Attractions
Townsville (pop. 97,000), the most important town in northern Queensland, lies on Cleveland Bay at the foot of Castle Hill, a granite crag 300m high.
The largest tropical town in Australia, which successfully combines its 19th C. heritage with the achievements and the buildings of the present day, it was founded in 1864 as a port for the shipment of the agricultural produce of the hinterland. The port project was financed by John Black and Robert Towns, and the town, originally called Cleveland Bay, was renamed Townsville in 1865 after a visit by Robert Towns.Townsville is now an important industrial town (metal processing) and commercial center, with a considerable trade with Southeast Asia. It is also an excellent base for excursions and tours, particularly to Magnetic Island. Townsville has a large airport linking it with all parts of Australia and with countries overseas. It also has good rail and bus connections and a municipal bus service.After heavy falls of rain in summer some roads may become impassable through flooding.The ten-day Paciific Festival takes place annually in September/ October.Information about what to see and what's on in Townsville can be obtained from the Southern Information Centre on the Bruce Highway, Enterprise House (3 The Strand), and the information kiosk in Flinders Mall. The offices of the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) are in Ross River Road in the Aitkenvale district.
In the old districts around the harbor are many old private houses in typical Queensland style, built on stilts to promote the circulation of air and provide shade in the heat of the day but often so covered with a lush growth of vegetation that the open structure of the house is concealed. The deep roofed terraces and ventilation openings in the roof are also designed to mitigate the heat. Many such houses are to be seen in Castling Street.The former Magistrates' Courthouse (1876) at the corner of Sturt Street and Stokes Street is now a community information center.Another handsome relic of earlier times is the Victoria Bridge, a swing bridge over Ross Creek.At the foot of Castle Hill (Stanley Street) is the brick-built neo-Gothic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (1902).
James Cook University
Townsville is an important educational and cultural center. In addition to the Institute of Education to the south of the town there is the impressive complex of the James Cook University, the first in Australia to offer a course of studies in tourism.The Australian Institute of Marine Science which is attached to the University is one of the world's leading research institutes in the field of marine biology. The head office of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is also in Townsville.
The town's main street is Flinders Street, which has many handsome buildings of the colonial period; part of the street is now a pedestrian zone (Flinders Mall). Among the most notable buildings are the Australian Bank of Commerce (1888), the Cabaret Restaurant, Magnetic House (1887-88), the National Bank (1880) and the post office (1886), whose original clock tower was pulled down during the Second World War and replaced in 1964 by a tower with a copper dome.
The Great Barrier Reef Wonderland is a magnet for visitors, with an underwater tunnel of acrylic glass which gives visitors a close-up view of the wonderful underwater world of the coral reefs, with a colorful variety of fish (including sharks).In the same complex are the Omnimax Theatre, which shows 3D films, the Museum of Tropical Queensland and ferry terminals to Magnetic Island.
Address: Box 1379, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
Opening hours: 9:30am-5pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $99.00, Adult $24.75, Students $18.95, Concession or reduced rate $18.95, Pensioners (OAP) $18.95, Child 16 & under $12.10
Museum of Tropical Queensland
The Museum of Tropical Queensland features a variety of exhibits and houses a replica bow of the HMS Pandora.
Address: 70 -102 Flinders Street, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
Opening hours: 9:30am-5pm
Always opened on: Anzac Day (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) (Apr 25)
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Good Friday - Christian
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $30.00, Adult $12.00, Students $8.00, Concession or reduced rate $8.00, Pensioners (OAP) $8.00, Child 16 & under $7.00
Useful tips: Open from 1pm on Anzac Day.
Parks and Gardens
Townsville owes much of its charm to its many parks and private gardens with their luxuriant tropical flowers and fruits. The Queen's Park in Warburton Street is one of the town's oldest public parks. Adjoining are the Queen's Gardens, a botanic garden established in 1870.
In the Strand, which runs along the waterfront, are the Criterion Hotel (1904), the Queen's Hotel (1900s; now the Radio and Television Centre) and the Customs House (1900-2). Note also the handsome bandstand of 1913, with rich wrought-iron decoration, in Anzac Park, between the Strand and the boating harbor.
Townsville also has a number of handsome modern buildings. On the Western Breakwater (Sir Leslie Thiess Drive) is the Sheraton Breakwater Complex, in northern Queensland, which offers a variety of other attractions.
Townsville is a good base for day trips and longer cruises to the Great Barrier Reef, to Hinchinbrook, Orpheus and Bedarra Islands and to Magnetic Island, only 8km away.
Magnetic Island is a popular tourist destination, with a large portion of the island designated national park land.
Bowling Green Bay National Park
55,000ha.Bowling Green Bay National Park consists of a rugged, hilly wilderness and a lowland area in the delta of the Burdekin River, with mangrove swamps and salt pans, extending to Cape Bowling Green. The areas of marsh and deposits of mud are constantly growing, providing nesting sites for large numbers of water birds. There are two granite hills in the park, Mount Elliot in the south and Cape Cleveland in the north. In the wetter areas round the hills there are the most southerly expanses of tropical rain forest in Australia. There is a popular bathing spot on Alligator Creek, from which a walking trail follows the river to a waterfall.
Address: Alligator Creek Road, Alligator Creek, QLD 4816, Australia
Useful tips: Best time to visit: autumn, winter and spring. Access via road to Mount Elliot area off Bruce Highway 24km south of Townsville. To Cape Cleveland area, track off Bruce Highway 34km south of Townsville (in wet weather only with all-terrain vehicle). Bush camping allowed with permit, obtainable in Townsville.
From steep-sided Castle Hill there are magnificent views of the town and the harbor. A good tarred road winds its way up to the summit.