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16 Fun Family Things to Do in Townsville, North Queensland

Family fun is on the agenda in tropical Townsville, North Queensland. With a vast range of attractions and outdoor experiences, there’s plenty for curious kids to see and do

A family on Magnetic Island. Image Megan Mackinnon
A family on Magnetic Island. Image: Megan Mackinnon

It’s not hard to see the appeal of Townsville as a family travel destination. As the gateway to Tropical North Queensland, the region is home to some of Queensland’s best family travel experiences.    

Flanked by two World Heritage-listed sites, Townsville is the perfect base for day trips with kids. Visit the Great Barrier Reef, tropical rainforest and the family-friendly island paradise of Magnetic Island, all less than an hour from city hotels and resorts.  

Townsville’s unique attractions will excite kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Add an abundance of family-friendly accommodation, and there’s no better place for your next Queensland holiday.  

Read on to discover some of Townsville’s best experiences for kids.      

16 Best Things to Do in Townsville With Kids

Museum of Tropical Queensland
Museum of Tropical Queensland

From checking out vibrant street art trails to visiting Australia’s largest waterfall and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, Townsville North Queensland is ideal for curious families who love to explore.  

Here are 16 fun and family-friendly things to do in Townsville:   

1. Go wild at Billabong Sanctuary

01 Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville
Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville

With a two-hectare billabong at its heart, this wildlife park is home to more than 50 native species, including kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus and mainland Queensland’s largest captive croc, Krakatoa. It offers daily ranger shows, photo opportunities and the chance to hand feed some animals.

2. Snorkel the coral reefs at Magnetic Island

02 Snorkelling at Florence Bay on Magnetic Island. Image Tourism and Events Queensland
Snorkelling at Florence Bay on Magnetic Island © Tourism and Events Queensland

Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville, Magnetic Island is a nature lover’s paradise. More than 75 per cent of the island is reserved as national park, with 23 bays and beaches to discover. Snorkel the fringing coral reef at Nelly Bay or Geoffrey Bay, or book a guided tour with Aquascene Magnetic Island to a secluded bay. 

3. Dive the Museum of Underwater Art

03. Ocean Sentinels sculptures at the Museum of Underwater Art
Ocean Sentinels sculptures, The Museum of Underwater Art © Tourism and Events Queensland

Be inspired by the works of British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor at the Museum of Underwater Art, which you can visit on a tour with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive or SeaLink from either Townsville or Magnetic Island. Children aged 12 and over can do an introductory dive to see the Coral Greenhouse, while the Ocean Sentinels sculptures are great for families with kids old enough to snorkel.

4. Follow the vibrant street art trails

Street Art burdekin
Burdekin street art © Roslyn Budd

Townsville and the regional towns of Burdekin and Charters Towers are decorated with magnificent murals, sculptures and installations showcasing the region’s culture and heritage, with artists from across Australia recruited to repurpose unassuming spaces and transform them into vibrant outdoor galleries. Collect a map from the local Visitor Information Centre and get the kids to navigate! 

5. Go retro with a night at the drive in 

05. Stardust Drive In at Ayr. Image Roslyn Budd
Stardust Drive In at Ayr © Roslyn Budd

Bundle the kids into the car with some comfy pillows and blankets and head to one of two drive-in theatres in the region — Stardust Drive In Theatre at Ayr or Tors Drive In at Charters Towers. Enjoy a new release or an old classic whilst taking in the bountiful open views and stargazing. 

6. Have breakfast with koalas

Meet a family of koalas and enjoy a ranger-cooked breakfast, including pancakes with native jams and bacon and egg rolls, in a relaxed bushland setting at Selina Magnetic Island. Magnetic Island is home to northern Australia’s largest colony of wild koalas, and you’ll also get to meet other wildlife, including wombats and reptiles. 

7. Explore the Museum of Tropical North Queensland

06. Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island
Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island
07. The Museum of Tropical North Queensland
The Museum of Tropical North Queensland

Discover the tragic tale of HMS Pandora — the ship sent to capture the Bounty mutineers — and learn about the region’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforests and reefs at the Museum of Tropical North Queensland in Townsville. The diverse range of exhibitions and displays are designed to captivate audiences of all ages, focusing on natural and cultural history, biodiversity and human science.  

8. See Australia’s largest waterfall

08. Wallaman Falls near Townsville. Image Tourism and Events Queensland
Wallaman Falls © Tourism and Events Queensland

Want to see Australia’s biggest waterfall? Then a day trip to Wallaman Falls, around two hours’ drive north of Townsville, is an absolute must. There are also some beautiful waterfalls to swim at en route. The heritage-listed Little Crystal Creek Bridge is surrounded by pristine cascades with small pockets of water that make perfect swimming holes. Nearby Paradise Waterhole, on Big Crystal Creek, is just as inviting.  

9. Learn about history at Charters Towers

09. The Miners Cottage Charters Towers
The Miners Cottage Charters Towers

It’s worth making a day trip to the former gold rush town of Charters Towers to see its historic buildings and museums. Kids will love the audio visual displays at Venus Gold Battery Charters Towers, an old mill where gold was extracted from quartz for more than a century, and trying their hand at gold panning with a retired prospector at The Miners Cottage Charters Towers. 

10. Take a Texas Longhorn wagon tour

10. Texas Longhorn Tours in Townsville
Texas Longhorn Tours in Townsville

While you’re in the area, make sure you visit Leahton Park to enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride and meet some of the longest horned cattle in the world — direct descendants of the Texas Longhorns that walked in the great trail herds in the US in the late 1800s. Open from May to October, he family-owned property is just 10 kilometres from Charters Towers.

11. Cool off at Townsville’s water parks

11. The Strand Waterpark in Townsville. Image Townsville City Council
The Strand Waterpark © Townsville City Council

What kid doesn’t love a water park playground? There are three in the Townsville region to cool off. Located on the Townsville foreshore, the water park at The Strand has slides, a tipping bucket and water cannons, with bonus views across the water to Magnetic Island. There are also some great options at Burdekin Aquatic Centre and Charters Towers. 

12. Discover Indigenous culture with Mungalla Aboriginal Tours

12. Mungalla Aboriginal Tours
Mungalla Aboriginal Tours

Have a go at throwing a boomerang and chat with the Aboriginal traditional owners of the lands around Ingham on a tour at Mungalla Station, around 100 kilometres north of Townsville. You’ll also learn about the area’s history, including the conflict between the Nywaigi People and early European settlers.  

13. Relax at Townsville’s family-friendly parks

13. Riverway Arts Centre in Townsville. Image Megan Mackinnon
Riverway Arts Centre © Megan Mackinnon

The Townsville region abounds with great parks that will keep the kids happy — and help them burn off some energy! Located on the banks of the Ross River, Pioneer Park has a colourful playground and a Sound Garden where children can experiment with musical instruments, with two large swimming lagoons at the neighbouring Riverway Arts Centre to splash about. Established in 1870, Queens Gardens is a beautiful spot for a picnic, with tropical plants, a swing and maze. Plantation Park at Ayr, TYTO Wetlands at Ingham and Burdekin Weir Park at Charters Towers are also worth checking out. 

14. Spot a platypus in the Paluma Range National Park

A platypus at Paluma Range National Park

Experience a true eco-adventure at Hidden Valley Cabins. Nestled on the doorstep of the Wet Tropics,  this solar-powered resort is the perfect place to go off-grid with kids. Animal encounters are guaranteed, with gliders, wallabies and owls to spot from your rustic family cabin. Paluma Range National Park has a unique drawcard: it’s one of the best places to see a platypus in the wild, and booking a tour is highly recommended. Spotting one of these notoriously shy creatures is bound to be a treasured memory.  

15. Cruise through the Maritime Museum of Townsville

Townsville, Queensland
Townsville, Queensland

At the Maritime Museum of Townsville, prepare for a journey into Australia’s sea-faring history. Indoor and outdoor exhibits span over a century of nautical life, from the 1911 shipwreck of the S.S. Yongala to 1942’s Battle of the Coral Sea. Budding historians can get a first-hand glimpse into life on board an Edwardian steamship and learn about life in Townsville during the Second World War. Little ones can have their photo taken in full pirate regalia to commemorate the day.  

16. Enjoy North Queensland’s pristine beaches

mission beach is known for its beautiful beaches.
Mission Beach is known for its beautiful beaches. Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

No trip to Tropical North Queensland is complete without soaking up some sun. With plenty of idyllic beaches in the region, there are plenty of options for an afternoon or full-day excursion. The Strand is the most iconic Townsville beach for families, boasting two kilometres of sandy shores and plenty of cafes lining the dunes. For a day trip, it’s worth venturing further north to the cool waters of Crystal Creek, Paluma or the beautiful Mission Beach.  

How to Get to Townsville, North Queensland

Townsville is located in North Queensland, around halfway between Airlie Beach and Cairns. Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar are among the airlines that fly to Townsville Airport. Townsville is 15 hours north of Brisbane by road and 4.5 hours from Cairns. 

In partnership with Townsville Enterprise Limited 

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