New to Townsville?
There’s plenty to do and see in NQ, writes Jade Kennedy
Uni students have hit the classroom and new people are moving here every day. So what is there for newbies to Townsville to actually do? Here’s Savvy’s top 10 ideas:
1. Play tourist: Never seen a kangaroo? Head out to Billabong Sanctuary. Like the thought of seeing the reef but don’t like getting wet? Hit up Reef HQ. Want to feel a little but cultured? Check out the Museum of Tropical North Queensland ( it’s free for locals).
2. Go out for ice cream: Take advantage of ice cream being a year-round treat in Townsville. Wander along the Strand for the best local icy treats - take your pick from Cold Rock, Gelatissimo or Juliette’s. Or, if you have access to some wheels, head up the Bruce Highway past Paluma for ice creams and sorbets made from fresh local fruit at Frosty Mango.
3. Be adventurous: What better place to jump out of a plane than above Cleveland Bay? Land on the Strand and take in a spectacular view with Coral Sea Skydivers. Or take advantage of the hot weather and take up a water sport – try skiing or wakeboarding on the Ross River, or kitesurfing down at Pallarenda.
4. Head ‘ overseas’: Magnetic Island is only a 25-minute ferry ride away with Sunferries, which makes it perfect for a day trip. Go horseriding on the beach in Horseshoe Bay, take a jet ski tour around the island with Adrenalin or wait for one of the Full Moon Downunder parties at X-base Backpackers.
5. Get sporty: There are plenty of local clubs and national teams for everything from AFL to Ultimate Frisbee. Check out JCU’s sport and rec web site for all the info. Of course, if you’re not into participation, spectator sports are also big here. There are Cowboys ( NRL) and Crocs ( NBL) and Townsvillains ( roller derby) here, as well as events like Brace for War ( mixed martial arts), Nitro Circus ( motocross), Beat the Bastard ( downhill luge/ longboarding) and Troy Dunn’s PBR International ( pro bull riding).
6. Chill out: The Strand is the obvious place to head for some well-deserved r‘ n’r, but there are plenty of places to head for a BBQ, a swim or to just laze under a tree. There are plenty of beaches on the north side of town, including Saunders and Bushland, that have easy access to food and drink from the shore, and Crystal Creek is a popular swimming hole with locals and tourists alike. Riverway is also an easy location to get to, with man-made lagoons, BBQs and seating as well as an art gallery and cafes.
7. Learn a new skill: Townsville is the perfect place to learn how to scuba dive. There are plenty of local dive shops that provide PADI certification in everything from basic open water to divemaster. Adrenalin Dive, Pro Dive and Salt Dive all offer different packages and courses, with plenty of open water dive options like the Yongala shipwreck to explore.
8. Try some free fitness: It may seem insane, but at 286m high Castle Hill is a popular spot for local walkers. Ease into it by walking the road or head up one of the goat tracks accessible from West End or North Ward. Townsville Road Runners can help with information. The footpaths along Ross River are perfect for walking, running, cycling or longboarding, as is The Strand, which is sealed all the way along. Cre8ive Sk8 organises a Wednesday night skate along the Strand every week.
9. Love the nightlife: Flinders St East is the most popular hub for weekend entertainment, with a variety of pubs, clubs and restaurants many offering a-la-carte dining right on the nightclub strip. Palmer St is just across the river, and has heaps of dining options to choose from. The Avenues ( affectionately known as the Av Tav) is a hot spot in Kirwan, as is Canon Park, which offers movies, restaurants and a pub in the same complex. Just across the weir, the Riverview Tavern ( also known as The Tav) offers meals and drinks overlooking the river and is popular with uni students and tradies alike.
10. Music, sweet music: Most pubs will have a live local band, solo act or duo playing from Thursday to Sunday - Savvy publishes a gig guide every Thursday that lists who is playing where. The Venue often hosts national and international touring acts, and will be the place to see Bone Thugs n Harmony when they tour here in April. Townsville is also home to touring music festival Groovin The Moo in May as well as Full Noise, a homegrown music festival, later in the year.
Watch or join in local sport