Tropic Wonders: Townsville



Big city benefits combined with pretty coastal havens, sandy beaches, rainforests, rugged outback terrain and the idyllic paradise that is Magnetic Island right on the  doorstep, it’s not hard to see the appeal of Townsville as a family destination.

Thrills and Spills
Younger families can splish and splash on the water slides and swimming pools at Townsville Aqua Park. Fit families might like to try sea kayaking to one of the many National Park Islands within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Those who want to be in and not on the water can snorkel and dive with a dazzling variety of tropical marine life in the Coral Sea but if your kids prefer their fish on the end of a line, Townsville’s surrounding waterways are brimming with game fish. On the outskirts of Townsville, the Tully River is a great spot for some whitewater rafting action or for a bigger thrill (for bigger kids) why not try a tandem skydive over the tropical islands with a soft landing on stunning Mission Beach.

Back to Nature

A trek up Castle Hill for majestic 360-degree views is well worthwhile. Magical Magnetic Island is home to superb views, palm-fringed beaches, bush walks and a huge koala population and is just 20 minutes from the city centre by catamaran. Townsville’s five northern beaches, about 60km north of the city, are idyllic, and it is worth venturing a little further north the cool waters of Crystal Creek and Paluma. It’s a bit of a drive but a visit to beautiful Mission Beach, one of the most pristine and untouched beaches you’ll find is a must as is a trek around Mission Beach’s Bicton Hill walking track which offers a fantastic taste of the lowland rainforest.

Animal Encounters

Just off Mission Beach, Beaver Reef is an unspoiled fringing reef surrounding a sandy cay and offers great beginner diving and snorkelling with green and hawksbill turtles, manta rays and an abundance of fish, both big and small. Townsville’s Reef HQ is the world’s largest coral reef aquarium at around the size of 50 family swimming pools and is home to  hundreds of coral and fish species, plus many species of other curious sea creatures. Kids are sure to love Billabong Sanctuary, an interactive wildlife experience featuring native animals set in 25 acres of natural bush where many animals and birds roam free. Nearby in Yabulu, Butterfly World is home to some of Australia’s prettiest butterflies.

Five of the best

1. Meet a python, hug a wombat, or cuddle a koala at Billabong Sanctuary wildlife park.

2. Hop the catamaran to Magnetic Island for a day of paddling, bush walks and koala spotting.

3. Try your hand at sea kayaking around the National Park Islands.

4. Visit Reef HQ to see the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium.

5. Take the trek to Mission Beach for pristine beaches, spectacular rainforest, island aces and great market shopping.

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