Townsville is a coastal city in tropical North Queensland popular for its location near the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest and the outback. As Australia’s largest city north of the Sunshine Coast, many locals consider Townsville the unofficial capital of North Queensland. I spent a semester studying abroad in Townsville and have given my best tips for a weekend visit, splitting your time between exploring Townsville City and adventuring on Magnetic Island.

Walking Tour of Townsville City

Townsville City is home to a significant number of Townsville’s popular attractions. The Strand esplanade is Townsville’s seaside foreshore that offers a recreational park, restaurants, cafes, beaches and pools. Flinder’s Street has the majority of Townsville’s nightlife, as well as the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, Reef HQ.

View from The Strand, you can see Magnetic Island in the background across the water

Townsville City is also known for its picturesque gardens, hiking trails, walking paths and bike paths that wind throughout the city. Follow the Riverwalk along the Ross River and become acquainted with Townsville’s wildlife, or hike Castle Hill, the most popular path in Townsville, to get the best view of the city.

Castle Hill Hike

Day Trip to Magnetic Island

Start your day by hopping on the SeaLink Ferry in Townsville City and heading over to Magnetic Island. ‘Maggie,’ as locals affectionately call the island, is over 50% national park and is one of the few places left in Australia that you can still see koalas in the wild. The island is famous for its spectacular views and wildlife, with over 24km of walking tracks and 23 beaches, almost all of which are accessible by bus.

“Magnetic Island can be described by one word: Paradise. This hidden gem had everything someone could ask for in a vacation destination, and more.” | TEAN Alum Brady Clarke, University of New Hampshire who studied abroad in Townsville

You can take the bus to Horseshoe Bay – a small village with pristine beaches, fabulous restaurants and quaint shops – and hike the Forts Walk, where lookouts from World War II offer a 360-degree view of the coast. The Forts Walk is also the best place to see Northern Australia’s largest population of koalas in the wild.

Right before the sunset, head to Geoffrey Bay to see the Rock Wallabies emerge from the rocks.

With only one weekend to spend in Townsville, you will hopefully get a taste of why so many Australian’s have decided to call the city their home, and why I hope to one day to call it mine as well.

Tiare Fridrich is a TEAN Alum, she studied abroad at James Cook University with TEAN in Townsville, Australia. If you want to spend a semester abroad in Townsville, get in touch and let us know.