The city of Townsville flourishes in the shadow of Castle Hill, where it was established in 1864 as a port for the northern Queensland pastoral industry. When gold was discovered at Ravenswood and then Charters Towers, the town soon became North Queensland's principal centre.
The Rocks, an outcrop projecting into the sea, became the place the earliest inhabitants went to relax. Their people swam, sailed and, from 1866, wagered on horse races. The course ran from Kissing Point to the Rocks (now the Tobruk Pool - a part of Townsville better known as the Strand.
The Strand remains central to Townsville lifestyle, setting the standard for beaches Australia wide when it was named as Australia’s Cleanest Beach, 2004 Close to three million visitors enjoy the Strand each year.
Ten Things to do on The Strand:
Meet your favourite Australian animals in a tropical bushland setting at Billabong Sanctuary
- Swim in the sea. Try the Rockpool or any of the protective net enclosures during the November to May stinger season.
- Swim in the pool. Follow in the footsteps of former Olympic swimming stars. Try a few laps
- Play Have fun at the water playground or the Sunrise Rotary Sister Kenny grounds at the southern end, or the Townsville Rotary Playground on the Stuart Street headland.
- Fish Drop a line off the Strand pier, Rockpool or beach.
- Eat Enjoy any of the Strand’s cafes and restaurants, or picnic
- Fly Coral Sea skydivers operate on The Strand.
- Be thrilled Water sport hire craft are available on the beach at Gregory Street.
- Join the fun Be part of activities and events in Strand Park. View public artwork.
- Explore history The region's rich military history can be seen in the North Queensland Military Museum at Kissing Point. The museum is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, or by appointment.
- Be challenged How fit are you? 8 exercise points are positioned along the promenade. You could sign up with the local Surf Life Savers for some real action or become a member of one of Townsville's 3 outrigger clubs positioned on the Strand - Townsville, Magnetic Island, and the Coral Sea. The sailing club also operates from the southern end of The Strand.
Relax in Townsville
Didjeridoo Maker Plan a quiet day wandering through the Museum of Tropical Queensland (with the HMS Pandora exhibit), or perhaps the Maritime Museum of Townsville, the North Queensland Military Museum or the RAAF Base Museum of Townsville.
If you’d like to see nature at its best behaved, visit some of Townsville’s parks. The Palmetum is perfect for those with a special interest in palms. Visit Queen’s Gardens at North Ward or the Dan Gleeson Memorial Park and Pioneer Park at Thuringowa. Enjoy the public walkways at Anderson Park and remember to feed the ducks.
But if you prefer nature a little untamed, visit Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park, or go on to the Town Common Conservation Park. View birdlife from hides and explore the eco-system of Rowes Bay.
Perhaps a quiet game of golf? Or a wander around the galleries. Check out Townsville's’ Perc Tucker Regional Gallery.
There is lots you can do in Townsville to recharge your batteries.
Palm-fringed beaches, endless sunshine, koalas, hiking trails, topless barbie cars, snorkelling adventures, and lots more at nearby Magnetic Island.
Fun in Townsville
Wine bars, nightclubs, pubs, restaurants and cafes keep Flinders Street East jumping.
Jupiters Casino and the Entertainment & Convention Centre are additional entertainment options in easy walking distance of Flinders Street East. For a choice of dining experiences try Palmer Street a boulevard of restaurants, cafes and hotels all offering outdoor alfresco dining. Don’t forget the Strand or Gregory Street which offers cafe dining and boutique shopping with a great village atmosphere.
Townsville is home to the world's largest living coral reef experience, Reef HQ. Billabong Sanctuary (an Australian animal wildlife park), and Magnetic Island are waiting for you.