Set on the far northern Queensland coastline, laid-back Townsville makes the perfect base for touring the region's beaches and getting a taste of the outback with a rented campervan. The laid-back life here is Mediterranean style, with siestas the preferred option for dealing with the tropical heat of high summer. Campervans are all-time favourites with Aussies for freewheeling holidays, and are easily hired in Townsville from a choice of providers.
Campsites in the area are equipped to a high standard due to the popularity of this type of holiday, and make the most of the glorious weather in this part of Queensland. Townsville is connected by ferry to famous Magnetic Island, so-called for its effect on Captain Cook's ship's compass in 1770. The town has several attractions and interesting things to do, and its unspoiled surroundings give enjoyable daytrips.
The city's unmissable landmark is giant, pink granite Castle Hill, towering over the downtown district and home to indigenous flora, fauna and a wide range of bird species as well as breathtaking panoramic views. Billabong Sanctuary Park with its crocodiles, koalas, wombats, kangaroos and snakes lies just beyond the outskirts of town and is dedicated to conservation as well as to encouraging braver visitors to pet its less aggressive wildlife residents.
Townsville's Maritime Museum on Palmer Street displays exhibits of its port's history and that of the sailors who navigated the dangerous waters in far-off days when shipwrecks were common. One gallery displays artefacts from the ill-fated luxury liner SS Yongala, which sank in 1911 and is now popular with divers as an artificial reef with a spectacular range of marine species.
The Museum of Tropical Queensland holds artefacts from the 1791 shipwreck of the HMS Pandora, which foundered with the loss of all hands including sailors captured after the Mutiny on the Bounty.
Rowes Bay Caravan Park is backed by a tropical forest and offers sandy beaches and a great view of Magnetic Island. Facilities include an outdoor salt-water pool, children's playground, amenities for the disabled, an internet cafe's, mini-mart and gazebo with BBQ equipment.
Coral Coast Tourist Park is conveniently and shadily located within the town, close to all its attractions. The park offers a camp kitchen, saltwater swimming pool, an internet kiosk and WiFi throughout, a TV room and a laundry.
Big4 Walkabout Palms Caravan Park on Townsville's University Drive is set in landscaped gardens adjacent to a shopping precinct and close to the city's main sights. Powered and unpowered pitches and a swimming pool are provided, and golfing fans will appreciate the nearby course.
A National Highway route runs through the city, giving convenient access to the northern coastal region of Queensland and beyond. If you're planning to drive into the outback, make sure you let someone know your proposed route and the time you're planning to return. Driving in Townsville is on the left, and motorists here are careful, although congestion is usual during peak travel times.
- Speed limits in the city: 50kph.
- Speed limits on national roads: 100-110kph.
- Help number: 000