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The Top Things to do in Townsville

Looking for things to do in Townsville, Australia? You've come to the right place! North Queensland's unofficial "capital", Townsville has plenty to see and do ranging from the natural to the man made; its coastal location makes exploring the beautiful waters off QLD and the Great Barrier Reef a pleasure, as snorkelling, surfing, cruises and more are all popular pastimes, while nearby Magnetic Island is a paradise just off-shore. See the marine life up close at ReefHQ Aquarium, explore the nearby rainforest, climb Castle Hill in the city centre and much more!

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The Top Things to do in Townsville

Looking for things to do in Townsville, Australia? You've come to the right place! North Queensland's unofficial "capital", Townsville has plenty to see and do ranging from the natural to the man made; its coastal location makes exploring the beautiful waters off QLD and the Great Barrier Reef a pleasure, as snorkelling, surfing, cruises and more are all popular pastimes, while nearby Magnetic Island is a paradise just off-shore. See the marine life up close at ReefHQ Aquarium, explore the nearby rainforest, climb Castle Hill in the city centre and much more!

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Kids Activities in - Townsville and surrounds

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1. Explore The Strand

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Location: The Strand, Townsville CBD

Spend some time at the popular hotspot, The Strand. There are so many things to do, the whole family will be pleased.

The kids will love playing in the waterpark, waiting for the big bucket to drop and shooting each other with water guns, while mum and dad will like the fact that it’s free!

The water park is open every day for all to enjoy, there are also picnic areas surrounding the park giving you more than enough room to set yourself up for the day.

If you’re wanting to go for a dip, wade into the Rock Pool Swimming enclosure, with beautiful views of the Port of Townsville and surrounding bays.

"The kids will love playing in the waterpark, waiting for the big bucket to drop and shooting each other with water guns, while mum and dad will like the fact that it’s free!"

If you continue to walk along The Strand boardwalk you will come across the giant flying fox, another free activity for everyone to enjoy. There are a lot of playgrounds spread along the area as well as restaurants, cafes and take-out joints.

You can easily spend a whole day at The Strand travelling from playground to playground or cafe hopping. There is so much to do, no one will be disappointed!

2. Reef HQ Aquarium

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Location: 2-68 Flinders Street, Townsville

One the largest living coral reef aquariums in the world, Reef HQ Aquarium is a must-see! Showcasing the beautiful colours, corals and marine life, this Great Barrier Reef replica is as close to the real thing you’ll get, without getting wet.

Home to thousands of different marine life, you can walk through the underwater viewing tunnel of the Predator Exhibit for great views of some of the oceans most dangerous.

The little ones will love walking under a curious reef shark or friendly ray as they glide above around the glass dome. The Coral Reef Exhibit is the size of an Olympic size swimming pool, holding over 150 species of fish and 120 species of hard and soft coral, found only in the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

"Home to thousands of different marine life, you can walk through the underwater viewing tunnel of the Predator Exhibit for great views of some of the oceans most dangerous."

Visitors can take part in daily talks and tours where you can see a diver brush shoulders with sharks and other predators, visit North Queensland’s only Turtle Hospital or watch some scary sharks and pretty fish get fed.

Since 1987 Reef HQ has been giving visitors an intimate view of the the Great Barrier Reef, while working to conserve the real reef of the mainland. The Waterview Cafe is also open for a drink and refreshment during your visit to the aquarium.

3. Barra Fun Park

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Location: 505 Allambie Lane, Kelso

Spread over 25 acres of land, the Barra Fun Park, definitely lives up to the name. The park is filled with a range of fun activities for the whole family, you won’t be leaving disappointed, but you will be leaving tired.

There are big and small barramundi dams for fishing enthusiasts who want to try their hand at catching one of these great fish. The inflatable water park is a hit with the kids, filled with slides, obstacles and trampolines, they’ll be bouncing all over the place and having a ball!

"The park is filled with a range of fun activities for the whole family, you won’t be leaving disappointed, but you will be leaving tired."

The park also has cable skis for wake boarding and skiing, as well as a giant jumping pillow, slip and slide, toboggan rides and water bikes. The park is open for visitors of all ages, enticing anyone who is up for an exciting adventure.

The park is open every weekend and every day during Queensland school holidays, from 10am to 4pm.

4. See wildlife at Billabong Sanctuary

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Location: Bruce Highway, Nome

Get up close and personal to some of Australia’s most iconic animals at the Billabong Sanctuary. Take part in some of the interactive wildlife show throughout the day, run by experts in the field.

At the sanctuary you will be able to cuddle a koala, feed a cassowary, tickle a wombat, hold a baby crocodile, feed the turtles or even wrap yourself up in a slithering snake!

Kids will love having a hands on experience with these animals from the moment you set foot into the sanctuary.

If your young ones are brave enough, they can even have a go at feeding the sanctuary’s resident male crocodile, Rock.

"If your young ones are brave enough, they can even have a go at feeding the sanctuary’s resident male crocodile, Rock."

The experienced guides will help you feed Rock the Croc, making sure he doesn’t bite off a bit more than he should.

There is a pool and cafe on site for those wanting to relax and unwind after a busy day filled with interesting wildlife. The park is open everyday from 9am until 5pm.

5. Travel to Magnetic Island

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Location: Magnetic Island, Townsville, QLD

Located just 8 kilometres off the mainland, Magnetic Island awaits!

Magnetic Island is home to a national park, with walking trails and lookouts throughout the island. If you’re kids are up for a hike make your way along Magnetic Island’s number one trail, The Forts Walk.

Stretched over 2.8 kilometres, the walk takes approximately 1.5 hours return. Departing from the Forts carpark, the walk is a moderate trek with undulating terrain. Some of the other walks include Cockle Bay Walk and West Point Walk.

While on Magnetic island you can go for a swim, dive on the reef or relax on the beach. The local markets at Horseshoe Bay run on the second and last Sunday of each month from 9am until 2pm. Stalls sell a range of products from jewellery and clothing to art and food and the atmosphere is great with bustling vendors and shoppers looking for a bargain.

The Friday Night RSL Markets are another regular local market. Held every Friday night from 5:30pm to 8pm, you can browse the markets, have some dinner or grab a drink at the licensed bar.

"Magnetic Island gives you the option to do as much or as little as you want, there is sure to be something for everyone."

If you do make your way over to Magnetic Island, the Bungalow Bay Koala Park should be on your must-do list! The park runs koala presentations at 10am, 12pm and 2:30pm daily, led by passionate rangers and island residents.

After you’ve cuddled the koalas you can hold a small saltwater crocodile or wrangle a python while you learn about the koalas and freshwater crocodiles on display.

You ranger will also give you a guided tour explaining the history of the land and the traditional land owners, the Wulgurukaba people. This unique mix of history, indigenous culture and native animals makes for a great day out that the adventurous young ones will love!

Magnetic Island gives you the option to do as much or as little as you want, there is sure to be something for everyone.

There are several day tours and extended tours that will take you to and from the island.

6. Museum of Tropical QLD

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Location: 70-102 Flinders Street, Townsville

Discover the natural and cultural heritage of north Queensland at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. There are a range of Queensland collections the kids will love including Dinosaurs and Ancient Life, Animals, Ancient Life, Rocks, Environment and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders Cultures.

The museum has been building the collections since it opened in 1862 and is continuing to grow with new discoveries and new information constantly emerging.

"There are a range of Queensland collections the kids will love including Dinosaurs and Ancient Life, Animals, Ancient Life, Rocks, Environment and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders Cultures."

There is always a list of exhibits on display throughout the year, these are great for the kids to learn and discover facts about Queensland and the animals that call it home.

Informative talks run daily throughout the museum, highlighting certain aspects of particular exhibitions and answering any questions from visitors.

The museum is open everyday from 9:30am until 5pm. There is an entry fee into the museum that includes access to all current exhibitions.

7. Explore Paluma Range

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Location: Paluma Range National Park, Crystal Creek, QLD

This natural attraction is a beautiful national park suited to the adventurous kids. Visitors to the area can camp in the park and soak up the natural surroundings or drive through for a day trip.

Paluma Range is home to three popular fresh water swimming holes; Crystal Creek, Jourama Falls and Lake Paluma. All of these swimming hotspots are open to the public and taking a dip after a hike is the best way to cool off.

The Mount Spec section of Paluma Range National Park has seven different walking tracks winding through the park. Walkers looking for an easy track can follow the Rockslides walking track stretching only 800 metres return or the Paluma Rainforest walk with a distance of 680 metres.

"The young ones will love trying to spot a wild platypus or easter water dragon around Lake Paluma."

For those wanting a bit more of a challenge, try the Cloudy Creek walk with a distance of 4-kilometres return, which passes small waterfalls with a lot of steps and boulder hopping.

The young ones will love trying to spot a wild platypus or easter water dragon around Lake Paluma. The lake is surrounded by the beautiful national park and is open for swimming.

The Paluma Range is just over an hour north of Townsville. To make the most of the area and all it has to offer, visitors can sign up for a package that includes a self-drive guide and two nights accommodation at Hidden Valley Rustic Cabins.

8. Take a Military Tour

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Location: Murray, QLD

Spend the day wandering around Townsville’s Lavarack Barracks, the largest military base in Australia, as you learn about the history, both past and present, of the Australian military.

In small groups, your local, experienced guide will walk you around the barracks as well as the military museum. Here you will learn about Townsville’s military history and hear brave stories of courageous men and women who lost their lives defending this country.

"This isn’t just a tour, it is a journey to discover our past. Kids with an interest in the history of the Australian military will love this!"

On this guided tour you will get an in-depth look at the role Townsville played in multiple wars and get a glimpse into the barracks, home to the 3rd brigade. This isn’t just a tour, it is a journey to discover our past. Kids with an interest in the history of the Australian military will love this!

Visitors have the option of a half day tour departing Tuesdays and Fridays or a full day tour running on Sundays.

9. Walk along Jezzine Barracks

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Location: 38-52 Howitt Street, North Ward

Opened to the public in 2014, Jezzine Barracks is now a popular destination for those wanting a lovely view, to connect to the land or to learn about history.

One of the main attractions is the coastal boardwalk, connecting Kissing Point to Rowes Bay with a beautiful foreshore location giving users a beautiful view of the bay.

The 15 hectare precinct is open to commemorate the Aboriginal heritage and the military presence on Kissing Point. If you walk around the area you will find up to 32 commissioned public artworks and interpretive signs.

"If your kids are too tired from all of the activities to walk along the coastal walk, set yourselves up for a scenic picnic on the Kissing Point Fort observatory deck."

In the lead up to the reopening of the area as a public facility and not a military facility, it was restored and rebuilt by over a thousand dedicated workers to be the popular precinct it is now. Restorations also included the original Kissing Point Fort, which is believed to have been built in 1870.

The area is also to pay respect to the traditional land owners, the Wulgurukaba people and the Bindal people, who still have a connection to the country.

Jezzine Barracks is a lovely place to unwind and relax with beautiful views. If your kids are too tired from all of the activities to walk along the coastal walk, set yourselves up for a scenic picnic on the Kissing Point Fort observatory deck.

10. Browse the markets

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Location: Various locations

Sift through all of the beautiful stalls and fresh food stands at one of Townsville’s popular markets. There are four main market events, the Willows Rotary, Cotters Markets, The Strand Night Markets and Riverway Moonlight Markets.

The kids will love wandering around the area, with a great atmosphere, friendly vendors and delicious food. The young ones might be interested in the toy stall or take a liking to the handmade jewellery stall, no matter what there is something to suit everyone.

"Townsville has four main market events; the Willows Rotary, Cotters Markets, The Strand Night Markets and Riverway Moonlight Markets."

The Willows Rotary markets run every Sunday from 7:30am until 11am, the Cotters are also on Sunday from 8:30am to 1pm. The two night markets begin in May and run until December.

The Strand Night Markets are on the first Friday of every month from 5pm to 9:30pm and the Riverway Moonlight Markets run from 5pm to 9pm every third Friday.

Top 10 Restaurants in Townsville

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Experience Oz Staff
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While not widely known throughout Australia as a culinary hotbed, Townsville boasts a lively and impressive dining scene with over 75 small to large scale restaurants of all different cuisines calling the city home. The city's dining hub of Palmer Street is a diverse mix of offerings from the high-end to the budget, yet seafood is a recurring theme throughout as its coastal location makes obtaining fresh ocean produce a key part of the dining culture here.

Townsville's main dining district manages to be both busy and quiet, making having an enjoyable, undisturbed meal much more of a manageable affair than can sometimes occur in more rowdy Great Barrier Reef-focused destinations such as Airlie Beach or Cairns. But with such a wide array of options for breakfast, lunch and dinner on offer in the city and its suburbs, which Townsville restaurants are the best of the best?

We break down the list of the Top 10 Restaurants in Townsville, QLD, and what makes each on of them such a tantalising experience, in detail below.

1. A Touch of Salt

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Location: 86- 124 Ogden St, Townsville CBD, QLD

Cuisine: Modern Australian

What happens when fine dining and an excellent riverside location meet? You get a restaurant like A Touch of Salt, part of the main Salt facility on Townsville's Ogden Street all wrapped up in a very tastefully-decorated package on the Ross River that's recently been refurbished.

Sitting inside or out, the quality here is obvious – management put a considerable amount of effort to ensure that guests are having an appropriately enjoyable dining experience commensurate with the price they are paying, and it shows in that no problems or complaints are ever handled with disdain while staff are always willing to share their extensive knowledge on the array of dishes and wines on offer. If you're looking for a restaurant that combines hospitality with a touch of class, this is your place.

Dishes are of a high standard across the board, while still offering flexibility as far as choice goes – customers are given the option to order dishes in both main and entree sizes, which can be a great boon if you aren't quite sure what to order or are looking to try multiple dishes in one sitting.

Hints of differences are noticeable in each dish, with the chefs not afraid to innovate on proven formulae; the likes of oysters are given new life when combined with cucumber and ginger, while delicious Moreton Bay bugs are both fresh and worth every penny of their (not insignificant) pricetag.

"The quality here is obvious – management put a considerable amount of effort to ensure that guests are having an appropriately enjoyable dining experience commensurate with the price they are paying."

Steak here is also exceptional, with both fillets and sirloin dishes mouth-watering and almost universally tender. Vegetarians are also catered for with a great deal of thought, as the vegetarian and vegan-focused menu is comprehensive and offers plenty of choice for those wanting to avoid their meat.

While standard entree-main-dessert 3 course meal options are great at A Touch of Salt, it's the deluxe degustation experience available – consisting of 5 sumptuous courses – that is the undoubted standout. Ideal for those looking to take their culinary adventure up a notch and expertly paired with appropriately-selected wines, it's one of Townsville's ultimate foodie experiences and well worth the investment.

Gluten-free is extensively catered for as well, and the entire dining affair is capped off with plenty of delicious desserts as well – the sticky pineapple pudding is a unique highlight that comes highly recommended.

As far as upper-end Townsville dining is concerned, A Touch of Salt is hard to beat.

2. Jam Corner

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Location: 1 Palmer Street, South Townsville, QLD

Cuisine: Australian (seasonal)

An excellent choice for either breakfast or dinner, Jam Corner is a true up-and-comer in the Townsville dining scene that is everything an innovative, reasonably-priced restaurant should be – this restaurant would be right at home in the likes of Lygon Street in Melbourne with its quality meals and well-run yet friendly environment.

The menu here is always changing and being updated with something fresh and new, and if you're looking for a modern and enjoyable dining experience that makes for a break from the norm without breaking the bank, then Jam Corner will more than suffice – you can even book online, which is a much-appreciated sign of currency that many other restaurants still lack in this day and age.

Jam Corner offers meals all day – and has separate menus to boot – but its breakfast remains a definite pride and joy (try the Romanian omelette or avacado and sourdough with ricotta – you won't regret it), as everything is fresh and cooked to perfection while remaining inventive and quirky. They aren't afraid to try different combinations here that may not normally occur to most of us, while all the more run-of-the-mill breakfast offerings such as Eggs Benedict, Big Breakfasts and the like are taken care of expertly.

"Jam Corner is a true up-and-comer in the Townsville dining scene that is everything an innovative, reasonably-priced restaurant should be."

The extensive menu carries on into the lunch/daytime offerings too – there's simply such a wide amount of variety on offer at Jam Corner that it's hard to know what to pick sometimes; however rest assured you'll come away with some new taste experience that satisfies across the board – all served with a characteristically friendly smile.

The décor here reflects the attitude of the management and staff appropriately as a well – it's comfortable, welcoming and chic without trying too hard to be ultra-modern, with the service quick and communication from staff to both customers and their colleagues efficient and friendly.

Another restaurant of the cavalcade situated in a convenient location on Palmer Street, Jam Corner offers one of the best balances of any dining spot in Townsville between price, convenience, service, food quality and originality. If you're tired or boring old typical menus, then pay Jam Corner a visit and give your tastebuds something new to try.

3. Watermark Townsville

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Location: 74 The Strand, North Ward, Townsville, QLD

Cuisine: Australian

The saying in real estate goes that everything is “Location, location, location”, and while that's not entirely the case when it comes to restaurant, it can certainly go a long way to enhancing the dining experience.

This is exactly the case as far as the Watermark Townsville is concerned – it sits in an outstanding spot right on the Strand overlooking the waterfront, and when combined with the quality of its food and the lovely, pseudo-modern décor, it's not hard to see why this is one of the city's most popular places to dine on everything spanning from cocktails through to dinner.

Food is great here and the service is generally to match, which when combined with its outlook and reasonable prices for all of the above makes the Watermark a great go-to restaurant while in Townsville.

Start off the experience here by choosing between either air-conditioned indoor seating (with additional privacy offered by private booths – a nice touch) or sit outdoors and take in the views out to Magnetic Island and beyond, then choose from the solid gourmet menu with entrees that are big enough to qualify as mains at some other lesser restaurants, and mains that are both wonderfully prepared and appropriately filling.

"The Watermark Townsville is sits in an outstanding spot right on the Strand overlooking the waterfront, and when combined with the quality of its food and the lovely décor, it's not hard to see why this is one of the city's most popular places to dine."

The menu at the Watermark is different enough for most people to be able to find a new taste to indulge in; fish with ocopa sauce, curry coconut duck and various other offerings are all refreshing in their own way, and offer flavours at a solid price point that make for a nice break from the norm.

This variety extends to the Watermark's gluten-free menu as well; rather than be a small afterthought as on most other menus, here it's surprisingly extensive and deserves a definite gold star for effort and consideration. The many tapas-style dishes on offer round out the experience and are a joy to eat in and of themselves, ensuring that regardless of if you're visiting the Watermark for an extensive sit-in meal or merely grabbing some appetisers and enjoying a drink on the esplanade you'll still have something on offer that more than meets your needs.

4. Michels

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Location:Palmer Street, Townsville

Cuisine: Australian / French fusion

This award-winning, gourmet Aussie-French fusion restaurant is an example of high-end Townsville dining at its finest, and the embodiment of what Palmer Street dining was originally supposed to be all about. Situated right in the heart of the culinary district, great service and beautiful food – both visually and taste-wise – make Michels an easy choice to recommend for first-time visitors to the city who take their food seriously and aren't afraid to spend a few extra dollars while doing so.

Townsville has a solid array of good restaurants but there are few that aim towards the exclusive; Michels aims to fill this gap somewhat, and everything about the experience is first class.

Boasting great décor, impressive service from the highly attentive wait staff, the option to sit either in or outside, and a comprehensive menu full of delicacies to choose from, there are few things lacking here.

Entrees and mains alike are appropriately reflective of a high-end French menu that has all the hallmarks of classic fine dining that is very well executed – the likes of quail, seafood bouillabaisse, mornay and pastries are all wonderful, with the lamb shanks and duck confit also coming highly recommended.

"Situated right in the heart of the culinary district, great service and beautiful food – both visually and taste-wise – make Michels an easy choice to recommend for first-time visitors."

Likewise, as one might expect the wine list is more than adequate, with a wide range of quality drops that wait staff are happy to recommend to coincide with your choice of meal.

As with most restaurants of this caliber, be prepared to pay for the privilege; it's by no means a cheap night out, and many locals reserve it for special occasions, but it's by no means extravagant and the restaurant offers a “specials” menu that can help cut down on the price somewhat while still providing some delicious meals.

If you're after an exclusive atmosphere at a lovely venue right in the heart of Townsville and are willing to open your wallet, Michels is a safe and delectable choice.

5. The Brewery Restaurant Townsville

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Location: 252 Flinders St, Townsville

Cuisine: Barbecue/ Modern (Malt)

Townsville's brewery is something of a local icon, having been in operation for over 100 years and responsible for the production of some of the finest drops of amber to be sampled in Queensland; however, it's not only a place to wrap your mouth around a drink or three – the Townsville Brewery also offers some great dining options for visitors.

Two separate and distinct foodie venues can be found here, with the option to choose between the more laid-back Lounge Bar with its great spin on typical “pub” food, and the newer Malt restaurant that focuses on more refined culinary experiences. Exactly which of the two is more appealing for you will come down to matters of both price and personal taste.

The Brewery's lounge-bar facility represents an excellent place to grab a solid, filling bite to eat while also sampling the extensive array of brews on offer; there are around 8 different craft beers on offer – each with their own distinct taste – and the menu from the kitchen is designed to complement these accordingly. Chicken wings, schnitzel, burgers and fish and chips which are to be expected of such a venue are always done well, with the salt and pepper calamari being a particular favourite.

The atmosphere here also feels somewhat more upmarket than what one might expect from your typical “pub”; it's sophisticated enough to provide a comfortable place to enjoy a bite to eat without ever feeling like you're “slumming it” as can be felt in other similar venues.

"Their special beer sampler tasting plate – some hand-picked beers to go along with a range of starters that complement each others perfectly – is something you're not going to be able to match anywhere else in Townsville."

The Brewery's Malt restaurant, meanwhile offers dining at the other end of the scale – comfortable, modern surrounds combine with an extensive Aussie style menu to add a touch of class to the dining experience.

Simply put, if you're looking for a decent steak in Townsville, this is one of the best places to get it – both the eye fillet and the sirloin are to die for (if you're prepared to pay for the privilege), while both its melt-in-your-mouth pork belly and delicious walnut gnocchi also warranting a special mention.

Two other highlights make Malt a standout dining experience: first, their special beer sampler tasting plate – some hand-picked beers to go along with a range of starters that complement each others perfectly – is something you're not going to be able to match anywhere else in Townsville, and is what a “brewery dining” experience is all about.

Second, Malt's dessert menu is nothing short of exquisite; unique flavours (bier-amisu, anyone?) combined with the chance to get a mixed plate that offers the likes of chocolate ale pudding, banana tarts, rum caramel and other delights befitting an alcohol producer are all on the cards here.

History and dining combine to make the Brewery one of Townsville's must-do's, and eating there is no exception.

6. GYO Japanese Restaurant

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Location: 252 Flinders St, Townsville City QLD

Cuisine: Japanese

Those looking for a touch of Asian flavour during their time in Townsville will find a hard time beating GYO, which sits on Gregory Street just off the popular Strand waterfront precinct. In a region that's not widely known for its Japanese cuisine, GYO stands out as a restaurant worthy of the upper-end offerings found in the likes of Sydney and Melbourne rather than a more regional destination like Townsville, and it shows in all aspects from service to dish presentation to the extensive menu.

The venue is modern, clean and meticulously maintained, and carries an upmarket feel throughout; upon entering you'll receive a traditional greeting in Japanese, which while it's become standard these days is still a nice touch and kicks off the authenticity nicely.

Attentive and friendly staff – in typically polite Japanese fashion - make the dining experience both comfortable and efficient, and are prompt when bringing their servings which are all of a generous size for the quality of restaurant. In terms of food on offer, the menu is comprehensive; Japanese favourites such as seafood teppanyaki (which is fresh and delicious), gyoza (Japanese dumplings) is a specialty that's cooked to perfection, and the tempura is a standout with batter that is light and crispy without too much oil or fat.

"In a region that's not widely known for its Japanese cuisine, GYO stands out as a restaurant worthy of the upper-end offerings found in the likes of Sydney and Melbourne."

In the same vein, the beverage list is also surprisingly long – it blends together a wide selection of wines and other drinks from both Australia and Japan; if you've never tried Sake before then this is a great place to indulge! GYO also boasts a range of unique cocktails with interesting flavours concocted by the staff for those who are looking for something different to quench their thirst.

Be sure to book in advance if you're planning on spending an evening at GYO; it's a popular place, and although service remains great despite the business, it can make getting a table a problem on busier nights.

More than just the “default” place to go if you're looking for Japanese food in Townsville, GYO is an impressive restaurant in its own right, with seafood that melts in your mouth, a price that is higher-end but without being ridiculous, and a great location that makes wandering over to the Strand after dining for a stroll an ideal combination on warm evenings.

7. The Balcony Restaurant

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Location: 287 Flinders Street, Townsville

Cuisine: Breakfast, Australian

Housed in a heritage building, The Balcony restaurant has become a staple to the dining scene of Townsville for over 30 years.

The timber staircase and heritage building gives the restaurants a unique atmosphere that sets itself apart as more than just another café but a place for a memorable catch up with friends and family.

If you are looking for a relaxed breakfast or lunch spot then the Balcony Restaurant is a great pick to find a quiet moment with delicious food and coffee.

Sit on the balcony and take part in some people watching and slowly watch the world go by down below.

The Balcony Restaurant is open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch daily with a few of your breakfast favourites plus a couple of new dishes with a twist.

"It wouldn’t be an Australian restaurant without the obligatory avocado on sourdough on offer, or eggs benny but diners can also choose from grilled halloumi, chilli baked eggs, Mediterranean omellette or an indulgent breakfast panna cotta."

It wouldn’t be an Australian restaurant without the obligatory avocado on sourdough on offer, or eggs benny but diners can also choose from grilled halloumi, chilli baked eggs, Mediterranean omellette or an indulgent breakfast panna cotta.

One of the reasons why this place is so well loved is that their breakfast menu is served all day or if you arrive at mid morning skip onto the lunch menu.

On the menu for lunch, a variety of cuisines are catered for including burgers and sandwiches, thai curries, chicken and vegetarian salads and a dedicated vegan menu.

You can grab your coffee fix or sit down and have a meal at The Balcony Restaurant 7 days a week from 7.30am to 2pm Wednesday to Sunday and from 9am to 2pm on Monday and Tuesday.

8. Townsville Yacht Club

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Location: 1 Plume St, Townsville

Cuisine: Seafood, Modern Australian

When you find yourself in a coastal location then a restaurant to sit and admire the views is highly desired and the Townsville Yacht Club fits the bill here.

Overlooking the marina, find yourself a table inside at the restaurant and bar or head outside for some fresh air and a more relaxed setting overlooking the boats bobbing in the water.

The Townsville Yacht Club is open 7 days a week serving meals at lunch from 11.30am or dinner from 5.30pm but the bar is always open because as they say its “5 o clock somewhere in the world”.

Executive Chef Sunil Prasad and his team of chefs are responsible for delivering the menu to you featuring fresh, locally sourced produce.

It should come as no surprise that seafood is a specialty here with a menu featuring the freshest catches of the day and platters (towers) for two.

"Overlooking the marina, find yourself a table inside at the restaurant and bar or head outside for some fresh air and a more relaxed setting overlooking the boats bobbing in the water."

The extensive menu also includes an assortment of dishes from the grill such as Lamb Shanks, Jacks Creek Rump Steak, Chicken schnitzels, Seared duck breast.

And if you are seeking some comfort food then ask about the risotto, pie or pasta of the day accompanied with a salad.

It’s hard to overlook the Townsville Yacht Club with an a menu that has an item of the menu to tempt all diners despite whatever cuisine you desire.

Children are also catered for with a dedicated menu and small bites to eat and an activity pack to keep them occupied.

The Townsville Yacht Club is one of the hidden gems in the Palmer Street restaurant precinct and represents great value and a picturesque setting for locals and visitors to relax and dine on delicious food.

9. Seasoned

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Location: 13 Palmer Street, Townsville

Cuisine: Asian inspired traditional dishes, Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly;

The concept of Palmer Street’s Seasoned restaurant is one that is based on the four seasons and how they can be incorporated into a unique dining experience.

Seasoned aims to bring dishes to diners with the freshest, in season ingredients from summer, through to autumn, winter and spring.

Executive Chef Clint Stievano says that having spent years travelling around the world he is now able to bring these experiences and present them in a diverse menu for diners in North Queensland.

Seasoned is “fine dining for every season” and it is a great option for those seeking a more refined gourmet experience or restaurant for a special occasion in Townsville.

The Chefs here at Seasoned pride themselves on a dining experience from start to finish experimenting with fresh, local flavours to delight the senses in a creative atmosphere with attentive staff.

"The Chefs here at Seasoned pride themselves on a dining experience from start to finish experimenting with fresh, local flavours to delight the senses in a creative atmosphere with attentive staff."

Begin your culinary experience here with starters including a dukka grilled ciabatta, confit duck spring rolls, ham hock and split pea arancini.

Look to the main meals for a delightful selection of seafood or beef dishes including but not limited to pork belly, beef short ribs, salmon linguine, seared baby rainbow trout.

To accompany your meal look to impressive wine lists to perfectly pair with your meal. Choose from 400 different wines that have been individually sourced and handpicked from all across Australia.

If you are seeking a gourmet experience as opposed to a quick bite to eat then Seasoned should be high on your list.

Seasoned is open 7 days a week for lunch on Thursday and Friday from 11.30am and dinner on Monday to Saturday from 5.30pm.

10. IMC Steakhouse

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Location: 17 Palmer Street, South Townsville

Cuisine: Steakhouse

IMC Steakhouse is THE place for carnivorous diners to head to in Townsville with a menu of featuring steak sourced from Australian farmers from ‘Cape York to Cape Grim’.

Sure, a steak meal may seem like a simple request but it can be difficult to get it cooked to juicy perfection just the way you like it.

IMC Steakhouse will not only cook your steak to your liking but you can choose from a menu of world class beef cuts and regions from farms all across Australia.

And the best part is that you don’t have to remortgage your house to afford to eat here with the average price of rump or eye fillet around $ 30 per meal.

Of course, there are other meal options available including salmon, free range chicken breast or free range chicken skewers but the star of the show here are the steak dishes.

"The philosophy of paddock to plate is one that is practiced here at IMC Steakhouse quite literally with Australian beef celebrated and showcased on the menu."

Repeat visitors won’t get bored here either with an ever changing menu that is updated regularly to reflect changes in the beef market and what is fresh and in season.

The philosophy of paddock to plate is one that is practiced here at IMC Steakhouse quite literally with Australian beef celebrated and showcased on the menu.

Vegetarians may go hungry here though, with no vegetarian mains on the menu but let’s be honest, if you are a vegetarian it is unlikely that you would consider dining at a steakhouse anyway.

IMC Steakhouse is open 7 days a week from 5pm to 10.30pm and the kitchen will stay open until 9.30pm if you are in search of a late night dinner.

The Top 10 Things to do in Townsville, QLD

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by Experience Oz staff
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Townsville is a widely underrated destination in Tropical North QLD that serves as a great port of call for those looking for an alternative, less touristy spot than the likes of its nearby neighbours Cairns and Port Douglas.

Couple this with the proximity of the beautiful Magnetic Island which provides numerous opportunities to enjoy all the atmosphere and marine activities of the Whitsundays, and you've got a wonderful holiday destination right next to the Great Barrier Reef.

One of the sunniest destinations in North QLD – boasting an average of 300 days per year of sunshine – Townsville's weather, laid-back atmosphere and convenient coastal location make it a great choice for an all-around travel spot that tends to be easier on the wallet than some of the “bigger names” to boot.

But if you're looking to travel to Townsville and enjoy its offerings, how should you best spend your time there? We've put together a detailed list on the Top 10 Things to do in Townsville below based on a combination of feedback from locals, tour operators and staff input.

1. Visit Magnetic Island with SeaLink

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Location: 8km off coast of Townsville

Undoubtedly the feather in Townsville's cap, Magnetic Island is an island oasis just off the coast of the city that's hugely popular with both locals and visitors from afar alike and just a short, 20-minute boat ride away across a beautiful stretch of water.

As part of the Great Barrier Reef island chain, it's got everything you'd expect when imagining a reef escape – pristine beaches, hidden bays, abundant wildlife, a ton of walking tracks and an ideal location amongst a World Heritage protected marine park.

It's only fitting, then, that the island is the focal point of activities in the region and offers a bevvy of things to see and do regardless of if you're looking to kick back and take it easy or to take things up a notch.

How you choose to enjoy Magnetic Island is entirely up to you; even simply walking is popular as there are some outstanding views on offer at various points on trails that meander their way through its National Park that's filled with animal life such as koalas, echidnas, wallabies and numerous kinds of birds.

Trails varying in distance and difficulty can be found all over the island and range from easy half-hour strolls to more challenging multi-hour journeys up steeper inclines – but with more rewarding views at the end. Signage is both well done and maintained on the majority of these tracks, so there's little fear of getting lost if you stick to the path.

Those who love the water will obviously be in paradise on Magnetic Island, as there are a range of ways to enjoy it both from under and above; swimming is an obvious choice, and the sheltered nature of the island's bays coupled with their lovely water can make this simple activity a joy.Patrolled swimming areas can be found at Horseshoe Bay (the largest of Magnetic Island's offerings), Alma Bay and Picnic Bay, all of which offer on-shore picnic facilities nearby and volunteer lifeguards to help keep safety levels to a maximum.

Snorkelling is also a hot pastime as the fringing coral reefs make access to shallow-water exploration a breeze from the shores of the island.

Fishing from the rocks, tours from the island further out into the Great Barrier Reef, and whale watching during the season from August to October round out the experience, so if you're looking to take advantage of the surrounding aquatic environment there are plenty of opportunities to do so all throughout the year.

On shore, meanwhile, the island is no slouch, either; there are various attractions both natural and man-made to keep everyone occupied as well as accommodation options aplenty ranging from backpackers all the way up to 5-star resorts. The island's restaurant, dining and bar scene is also a key feature, as there are numerous cafes and pubs to enjoy while taking in the fresh ocean views (particularly enticing at sunset) amongst the typically balmy weather. Add to this the opportunity for golf, theatre shows and plenty of pampering, and Magnetic Island offers the complete holiday getaway package.

While it's a great place all-year-round, the season from May to November (the winter bridging period) is generally considered the best time to visit Magnetic Island due to comfortable humidity levels, more predictable weather, and the ability to get away from the cold for those living further down south.

Transportation runs from Townsville to Magnetic Island via a ferry service that operates 18 times per day with operator SeaLink, making it an easily accessible spot regardless of if you're an early riser or prefer a sleep-in. Overall, with such a huge array of things to see, do and enjoy amongst a picturesque natural package, if you're visiting Townsville you'd be missing out if you didn't make the trip over to Magnetic Island.

2. Reef HQ Aquarium

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Location: 2-68 Flinders Street, Townsville

Townsville's excellent Reef HQ Aquarium is one of the best bang-for-the-buck experiences of its kind in the country and has one of the most organic and informative atmospheres of any aquarium in Oz.

With its status as the world's largest living coral reef aquarium, it's the best available showcase of the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef available for those who aren't keen divers or aren't looking to get wet, having won numerous awards for its combination of entertainment and conservation efforts.

While overall it's not a massive facility, Reef HQ's main viewing tanks are impressive in scale, boasting a 2.5 million litre main coral reef exhibit as the feature attraction that mirrors a view of what the coral and creatures of the Great Barrier Reef are actually like – the integration of so many different kinds of creatures into a single area rather than segregation into smaller tanks gives a wonderfully natural feel.

The likes of sharks, rays, groupers and more all live their lives in a shared environment that's about as close to they would in the “real world” as possible, so it never feels quite like the typical “isolated attraction” experience given by some other wildlife facilities.

Reef HQ offers plenty of viewing areas to take in marine life from a variety of different angles and boasts a great variety of fish and coral types, with free tours and talks given throughout the day in order to showcase detailed information on many of them.

With predator dive shows featuring sharks, shark and other animal feeding sessions, turtle shows and more, there's always something going on at Reef HQ in addition to its quality static exhibits. The staff here likewise deserve special mention, as they're both incredibly helpful and informative as well as insanely knowledgeable about the various marine species and their habits, environments and diets.

It's also immensely popular with kids as there are not only plenty of interactive displays for them to take part in, but also a hands-on “Discovery Lagoon” exhibit that allows them to see, listen and touch aquatic life of the reef, while a Play Zone is available to keep the younger ones occupied. Special events and activities are also put on for children should you be visiting during the school holidays – which can be a great thing for families or an annoyance for adults who time their trip during this season.

Lastly, a tip of the cap must be given to the Aquarium's turtle hospital, which serves as a place where the public can get an up-close look at the work and effort that goes on behind the scenes to rehabilitate turtles injured in the wild either my predators or mankind. This is about as real as an aquarium experience can get, and is both educational and slightly sad at the same time as it's possible to see the negative impact man's reef exploration can have on animal life.

In all, Reef HQ is Townsville's best man-made attraction and serves as a great “first-step” introduction to the reef for first-timers before taking their first actual snorkel or dive, making it an essential itinerary item – particularly for those bringing kids along for the ride.

HOT TIP: Combine with a visit to the Museum of Tropical North QLD (they're right across from each other) for a wholesome day of Townsville marine goodness on dry land.

3. Outer Barrier Reef Day Trip

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Location: Breakwater Ferry Terminal, 10 Sir Leslie Thiess Drv, Townsville

One of the main drawcards for those visiting Townsville from bother interstate and abroad is obviously going to be the Great Barrier Reef; it's considered one of the worlds Natural Wonders for a reason and Townsville's relatively less-commercialized nature for exploring its offerings make for a pleasant reef adventure springboard than the likes of Cairns or Port Douglas.

The majority of tours from Townsville offering access to the reef feature an emphasis on a number of great dive sites rather than purely scenic cruising; the likes of popular spots Lodestone Reef and the incredible SS Yongala wreck require more lengthy trips out than some other just-off-shore options in similar destinations, but they're typically well worth the effort due to the quality and uniqueness of the reef experience they provide.

Options for different dive types will thus have a large impact on what kind of underwater adventure you come away with when travelling from Townsville; choosing from a challenging world-class wreck dive, sticking to shallower fringing reefs and canyons, or heading down to deeper waters as far down as 35m from surface level are all on the cards here.

Lodestone Reef, in particular, is renowned for offering a great marine experience while still remaining fairly uncrowded, with its calmer conditions making introductory dives and snorkelling also a possibility. As part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, you'd expect there to be aquatic life aplenty, and Lodestone Reef doesn't disappoint; graceful sea turtles and rays, brilliant corals and hundreds of species of reef fish all call the area home.

As part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, you'd expect there to be aquatic life aplenty, and Lodestone Reef doesn't disappoint; graceful sea turtles and rays, brilliant corals and hundreds of species of reef fish all call the area home.

Various other, smaller reefs off the coast such as Bramble, Broadhurst and Keeper reefs also offer their own take on the experience, with some serving as great spots for fishing and others being prime destinations during the annual whale watching season.

The slightly-more-southern geographical location of Townsville and its reef dives also comes with milder trade winds as well which can assist with both smoother waters and granting higher levels of visibility – a small, but not insignificant benefit as opposed to other northerly spots.

Tours to the Great Barrier Reef from Townsville with operator Adrenalin Snorkel & Dive typically depart early in the morning either from terminals at Townsville itself or Magnetic Island, with 2-3 hours worth of travel required to reach the most popular spots. As a reef destination, Townsville is truly underrated as an option and serves as a very viable alternative to some of its more famous brothers further north.

4. Castle Hill Walk and Lookout

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Location: Castle Hill, Townsville CBD

Most major cities have one spot that serves as the clear best lookout point, and Townsville's answer to this is Castle Hill which sits right in the centre of its CBD. Upon arriving in the city, it's hard to miss; the hill's central location coupled with its distinct red-pink colouring and 286m tall peak looms over the city and is one of the most popular walking/hiking locations in the region.

From the summit, great views stretching out over Townsville and its surrounding Cleveland Bay can be had, and with it also doubling as the best spot in town to grab a photo, making the trek to the top – whether by car or on foot – makes it a must-do.

As the city of Townsville is relatively flat and expansive, views from Castle Hill are almost completely unobstructed and allow a great perspective on both Magnetic Island to the east and the various rugged mountain ranges to the west. Simply put, it's the city's only true 360-degree lookout, and helps shed more light on what a lovely location it sits in.

Multiple viewing platforms are on offer all over the hill which can provide a clearer outlook to certain directions, accessed via a range of individual walking tracks that differ in both length and difficulty. Those willing to put in the effort to walk the entire 2.8km length of the road from the base to the top will get a dose of some of the best exercise available, and is often the best option as, while driving is possible, parking at the top is often at a premium and it can get quite crowded on weekends or during peak holiday periods.

The walk can be taxing – particularly during summer – however, if you prepare with a suitable hat and sufficient water then the sense of self-accomplishment coupled with the great views at the end make for a satisfying experience.

Those wanting to conserve their energy can make the drive to the top, find a parking spot and then ascend the stairs to the main lookout; and once you're there you'll have a great outlook that takes on a whole different perspective at both day and night times – with the spectacular sunset views being perhaps the best of the best.

The Castle Hill summit also is equipped with facilities to make things easier on visitors such as public toilets and refreshing shower-sprinklers to cool off either in the warmer months or after making the trek from the base.

Pretty native plants that flower brightly during spring, various local animals such as rock wallabies, falcons and kites, and a monument to the city's founder Robert Towns round out the scenery on offer on the Hill, making it one of Townsville's most comprehensive sightseeing experiences all for the best possible price: free.

5. The Museum of Tropical QLD

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Location: 70-102 Flinders St, Townsville City

This little gem of a museum differs from many other similar attractions around the country by combining typical historical exhibitions with its focus on all-things-tropical. As the name suggests, Townsville's Museum of Tropical Queensland puts a large emphasis on the likes of the natural history of rainforests, maritime exploration, modern and ancient animals that dwell in the tropics and – of course – the ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef.

Set out over 3 levels, this is an informative, interactive and hands-on museum that's highly kid-friendly. The Museum of Tropical QLD has multiple permanent exhibits, the most obvious of which can be seen upon entering - life-sized replica bow of the HMS Pandora, a British ship that sunk back in 1791.

The Pandora's exhibition is thorough and details both the history of the ship, how its guns and weaponry functioned, and an in-depth look at life for both crew and prisoners during this period of maritime history.

Next up is the facility's impressive rainforest area, which talks visitors on a bridge journey through a simulated rainforest canopy that takes a detailed look not only at the animal and plant inhabitants of the rainforests of QLD and Australia as a whole, but also the culture and history of their indigenous inhabitants.

Set out over 3 levels, this is an informative, interactive and hands-on museum that's highly kid-friendly.

It also offers a replica rainforest floor that helps to pay tribute to the tiny – yet no less important – creatures that sometimes go unnoticed amongst these vast ecosystems. Many of the other sections of the museum deal with the aquatic, with the tropical region's mangroves and Great Barrier Reef, demonstrated in detail via various galleries and dioramas that showcase all the amphibians, fish and coral that give Tropical QLD its natural, vibrant colours on both land and sea.

While the word “museum” doesn't typically translate to “fun for kids”, the Museum of Tropical QLD is a strong exception to that rule. There's plenty for them to see and do as the interactive focus allows them to perform such activities as digging for fossils, taking part in optical illusions, discovering the finer points of the human body, experiment with science and much more – and all while hopefully learning a few things!

The newest addition to the museum – a dinosaur exhibit boasting extremely lifelike dinosaurs, only serves to add to the offerings with to-scale dinos to get up close to and take a photo with, as well as dioramas showing baby dinosaurs hatching.

While it's not a large museum – expect to allocate around 2-3 hours for the average visitor – the offerings and interactivity make the Museum of Tropical North QLD well worth a visit while in Townsville; and, as an added bonus, it's located right next to one of the other attractions featured below on this list that can be combined for one of Townsville's best attraction-based days out for families.

6. SS Yongala Wreck

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Location: 89km South-East of Townsville

Widely regarded as Australia's best wreck dive, the skeleton of the SS Yongala off Townsville's coast is an immensely popular diving site for enthusiasts all over the country.

Located in waters teeming with a large range of sea life ranging from graceful manta rays to fierce-looking bull sharks and everything in-between, it's a site that combines both varieties with generally good visibility.

The wreck requires a fair journey from Townsville – expect roughly a 3 hour boat trip from the coast – and thus many aspiring divers choose to instead leave from the nearby town of Ayr further down the coast before heading to the launch point of Alva Beach in order to maximise dive time.

Once out and under the water, it's easy to see why the dive is so popular – although it sank over 100 years ago, the Yongala is still in remarkably good condition due to its isolated location, and now serves as a fully-fledged artificial reef draped in all the characteristic colours of the World Heritage-protected Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Coral cover the body of the ship, with both soft and hard types contributing their individual colours and hues to the proceedings, while fish are numerous and range from smaller species all the way up to immense Maori Wrasse and other species of grouper.

Although it sank over 100 years ago, the Yongala is still in remarkably good condition due to its isolated location, and now serves as a fully-fledged artificial reef draped in all the characteristic colours of the World Heritage-protected Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Various parts of the ship are also still clearly exposed and make for some great exploration opportunities; rudder, forward and aft masts, engine, steam rooms and more are visible and sits in a channel that is only roughly 30 metres deep.

On clearer days, the site is truly spectacular; the lack of depth and the quantity of life blend with the impressive skeleton to more than justify its status as one of the world's best wreck dives – with perhaps the only downside being the often-unpredictable inclement weather typical of Tropical QLD that can make the surrounding waters anywhere from difficult to dangerous.

Dive masters who run daily services out to the wreck know the area and conditions like the back of their hand, however, and will be sure to do their best to ensure your safety or postpone a trip if the climate takes a turn for the worse.

Simply put, if you're a veteran diver and visiting the greater Townsville region during a time when the sun is shining and the waters are calm, you'll want to sign up for a trip to the SS Yongala – it's an underwater experience that is truly “epic” in every sense of the word.

7. The Strand

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Location: The Strand, North Ward, Townsville

Townsville's popular beachfront promenade of The Strand is perhaps the city's centrepiece and serves as a central hub for all sorts of entertainment and outdoor enjoyment.

Stretching for a length of over 2 kilometres, the Strand is home to a variety of facilities – from accommodation to barbecue areas to playgrounds to walking and biking tracks and more; it's a spot that's both relaxed and energetic at the same time, and provides great views out to nearby Magnetic Island to boot.

There's something here to appeal to all ages – families will be in their element here as kids will have access to a massive FREE water park surrounded by spacious grassed areas presenting plenty of play opportunities, while older visitors can take a stroll and enjoy the array of beaches, shopping, art and well-maintained landscaping that make the place a joy at which to spend time.

Those looking for a bite to eat will find The Strand more than fits the bill as well – it's home to a range of cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs many of which offer great outlooks that are almost as enjoyable for the people-watching as the food and beverages they provide.

Townsville's popular beachfront promenade of The Strand is perhaps the city's centrepiece and serves as a central hub for all sorts of entertainment and outdoor enjoyment.

Eateries of all sizes can be found here, with your choice of restaurant likely coming down to personal preference and budget – fish and chip joints exist alongside higher-profile gourmet dining options, and while the array of restaurants on offer is not staggering, they are almost all of a universally-high quality.

Capping off the offerings is the city's casino, which not only serves as a decent spot for a flutter but also adds to the skyline with its sleek architecture and lights reflecting on the waterfront.

The Strand is a place that accurately reflects Townsville's balance between being a growing city while still retaining a strong sense of community; the family environment here persists even during crowded travel periods, and with beaches on one side and grassed areas on the other bordering the lovely waters of the Coral Sea, it's a great balance of colours and spectacles all on offer for free that the city should be commended for.

Safe, secure, scenic and satisfying, Townsville's Strand is simply one of the best-developed esplanade areas in any Australian city.

8. Military History Tours with Tour Townsville

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Location: Townsville City, QLD

Townsville has played a rather large role throughout Australia's history for over 130 years and additionally serves as home to the largest Army barracks in the country. It's only fitting, then, that the transition from peace to war and back again is an integral part of Townsville, and the chance to experience and learn about these often tumultuous times are offered by local operator Tour Townsville who aim to provide further insight for interested parties.

Blending history, culture and scenery into a single informative and entertaining package, the tours showcase an in-depth look at this military influence with various defence sites, museums, memorials, monuments, barracks and more all featured on the itinerary.

Travelling from point to point, detailed commentary outlining the various trials and tribulations our service men and women faced over the course of Townsville's history all done with a combination of professionalism, pride and respect conducted by host/guide and former serviceman Toby Dean.

Blending history, culture and scenery into a single informative and entertaining package, the tours showcase an in-depth look at this military influence with various defence sites, museums, memorials, monuments, barracks and more all featured on the itinerary.

Toby's passion for both the city and its army influence shines through in his presentation and willingness to answer any and all questions guests may have about the region or wartime activities.

Standard military tours can also be combined with a Townsville sightseeing package that will expand the itinerary and take you to some of the key icons and local landmarks along the way, so if you're looking to blend the best of both worlds and it's your first time to Townsville then this can make a solid choice.

While an interest in all-things-military – or, at least, history – is an obvious advantage, it's far from required to come away from one of these tours without either some level of enjoyment or a new appreciation for the region's role in Australia as a whole. With hotel transfers, morning tea and admission fees included in the overall price, it's a solid value and sometimes-moving way to take your Townsville explorative experience to a whole other level.

9. Billabong Sanctuary

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Location: 11 Country Road, Nome, QLD

Those in search of some quality animal interaction within the Townsville region can take the family to the excellent Billabong Sanctuary - a charming and environmentally-conscious wildlife attraction around 20 minutes to the south of the city.

Set amongst a lush, tropical bush setting and - as its name implies - alongside a billabong, the attraction plays host to all your expected favourite Aussie animal icons such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats. However, there's also a distinctively Tropical North QLD bent courtesy of its saltwater crocodile which feature prominently as well, highlighted by amazing demonstrations of the crocs' power during feeding time.

Billabong Sanctuary places a great degree of emphasis on providing opportunities for animal interaction; always a hit amongst the kids and kids-at-heart in particular. As Queensland's legislation allows the holding of koalas, Billabong Sanctuary is no exception, with koala cuddling an extremely popular opportunity for travellers from both interstate and abroad alike.

Set amongst a lush, tropical bush setting and - as its name implies - alongside a billabong, the attraction plays host to all your expected favourite Aussie animal icons.

Feeding the animals is also an enjoyable activity, with not only the sociable kangaroos, but also turtles and eels in the water always keen for a handful of food, which can be purchased on-site.

Billabong Sanctuary also provides a strong focus on eco-tourism and the environment, giving back both to animal-friendly organisations while adhering to a range of criteria governing the feeding and handling of native animals. As a result, you'll be able to enjoy all the benefits of a high quality wildlife park without the over-commercialisation of some other zoos and similar attractions elsewhere throughout Australia.

Staff here are passionate and do an excellent job of educating visitors about native Aussie animals and their habitats while still keeping things fun, and are more than happy to answer any questions visitors may have.

The range of talks and presentations offered throughout the day help to round out the experience at Billabong Sanctuary, which overall serves as an excellent value for money attraction that families and adult travellers alike can enjoy during their time in the Townsville region.

10. Town Common Conservation Park

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Location: Townsville City, QLD, 4810.

It's rare to have such a large, natural showcase of wildlife in an environment relatively untouched by man so close to a city, but Townsville's Town Common Conservation Park is just that.

While bird life is the undisputed focus here (it's home to almost 280 species in total) – the park comes with its own purpose-built bird watching tower designed to provide optimal views of the various ducks, geese, herons and numerous others that's free for anyone to access – there are also various other kinds of animals such as wallabies and dingoes that can be found dwelling amongst their natural habitats within the park.

All of this which, when added to the lush, green wetlands and impressive surrounding hillsides, makes for a great escape that's easily reachable just minutes from the city.

The Town Common Conservation Park is a typical tropical wetland environment dotted with various lagoons of different sizes intermingled with woodlands, vines and shrubbery and offers visitors a number of great walking, hiking and biking tracks that make exploring its many offerings easy.

A number of these tracks lead to lookout points that provide terrific, panoramic views over the land, with views out to the coast and beyond in some cases.

The Town Common Conservation Park is a world-class bird haven and wilderness site just outside one of Tropical North QLD's largest cities and well worth a visit for wildlife enthusiasts and others alike.

Photographers – both professional and aspiring – will be in their element here, as the mixtures of greens and blues coupled with the large water birds and other wildlife make it possible to come away with some great snapshots of nature at its finest.

Careful effort has been taken by local authorities to leave the park as undamaged and uninfluenced by mankind as possible, with the tracks running organically with the flow of the land; the Many Peaks Track is a highlight as – although it requires a fair amount of effort – the walk provides some expansive views of the Common.

An easy recommendation for those visiting Townsville who want to “escape to the bush” without having to travel all that far, the Town Common Conservation Park is a world-class bird haven and wilderness site just outside one of Tropical North QLD's largest cities and well worth a visit for wildlife enthusiasts and others alike.

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