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Paradise - - Traveller -

For begin­ner bub­blers, the shel­tered wa­ters and fring­ing reefs of Mag­netic Is­land are a good bet, as is the fur­ther-out Lode­stone Reef, a shal­low, white-sanded spot teem­ing with rays, clown­fish and (harm­less) reef sharks.

Adrenalin Dive (adrenalin­dive. com.au) of­fers Yon­gala dives (from $264) and live­aboards (from $895), as well as day trips to Lode­stone (from $309, in­clud­ing in­tro dive).

SHOP­PING Though the cli­mate makes no stren­u­ous de­mands on one’s wardrobe – san­dals, sun­dresses and shorts will do nicely – Townsville boasts a so­phis­ti­cated, sar­to­rial shop­ping scene.

Bou­tiques, pop-up shops and cafes line Gre­gory Street, just off The Strand; make a bee­line to Bille & Me (bil­lie­andme.com.au) for trop­i­cal kaf­tans, or check out the de­signer duds, jew­ellery and off­beat home­wares at Ur­ban Loft (face­book.com/ur­ban.loft.3) and The Home Room (face­book.com/ the­home­room).

The Flin­ders Street precinct, a short stroll south­wards, is lined with in­die re­tail­ers and spe­cialty stores; seek out the Strand Emporium (stran­dem­po­rium. com.au) for up­mar­ket boho threads, ri­fle the racks of cool cou­ture at One De­signer Cloth­ing Cul­ture (onecloth­ing­cul­ture. com.au) or hit Batik Bazar for Hawai­ian shirts, floaty dresses and hippy duds. For one-off finds, time your visit with the La­bel Traders Mar­ket (face­book.com/ la­bel­trader­stownsville), a vin­ta­geonly bazaar held the third Sun­day of each month. Other pop­u­lar places for a rum­mage in­clude Cot­ters Mar­kets (ev­ery Sun­day) and Strand Night Mar­kets (first Fri­day of the month). Air Ni­ug­ini flies from Port Moresby to Townsville twice a week, com­menc­ing March 31. See airni­ug­ini.com.pg.

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