When we woke up this morning we were planning to drive 3hrs west of Cairns to a little town called Chillagoe, famous for its wonderful caves, but we felt we’d spent enough time in Far North QLD and now it was time to head south.  So as we’ve done before, our plans changed over breakfast and we left Coconut Holiday Resort in Cairns and drove 4hrs south to Townsville.

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As a teenager I visited Townsville, and all I remember about the town was the coastline and views over Magnetic Island, the military base, and the great Aussie bogans. Everywhere we went there were hoons screeching tyres and yelling out indecent proposals as they sped past. Well we’ve been here all of 48hrs and in this respect, nothing has changed 30 years later (except the indecent proposals – but I’m not expecting any this time)!

Townsville has matured into a major town, with a sprawling urban footprint which can be seen seen from any of its major lookouts. It’s well known these days for terrific walking and bike paths (an area called The Strand is the hotspot), its links to Magnetic Island, and Reef HQ has become one of the best loved aquariums in Australia. We were astonished by the size of Townsville – with a population of 200,000, it’s technically much smaller than Canberra’s 350,000 but the retail shops and city centre make it seem much larger.

Things we did in Townsville

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Castle Hill Lookout

Just a few metres too low to be classified as a ‘mountain’, Castle Hill is a pink monolith near the centre of Townsville City which gives visitors spectacular views over the street below, the coastline, and Magnetic Island. What we loved about this lookout is that there were many different paths to follow, each giving you a different photo opportunity.  Visiting at around 2pm didn’t give us great lighting but it was interesting to see all the mansions nestled into the hills around the city.

Mount Stuart Lookout

From Castle Hill we looked over to an even taller mountain and found it on Wikicamps, so we set off straight over there.  It was a much longer drive and we were the only visitors there which was refreshing. The views are more expansive but for photography we felt the Castle Hill lookout was slightly better.

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Perc Tucker Regional Gallery

Driving down Flinders Street we noticed the signs for a children’s exhibition by Tom Moore called ‘Metamorphosis‘ at this council run gallery.  There was a real WOW factor as you walk through the main doors and see the weird and wonderful glass sculptures that Tom Moore is known for.  Branded as a ‘children’s exhibition’, they certainly embraced the theme by presenting kids workshops, character studios, multimedia and activities targeted at young kids.  We LOVED it and it inspired the kids to look into Canberra Glassworks when we return home.

Upstairs in the Perc Tucker Gallery they also displayed the finalists in the 2016 Annual Youth and Emerging Artist Exhibition and the 2016 Townsville Young Artist Awards. The work done by these Townsville kids was excellent.  Our two learned about the different media possibilities and they said they saw some great art projects that they would like to try themselves.

Both exhibits were free and we spent an hour seeing all exhibitions.  Thanks to the Townsville Council for putting on such a great event!  Our rating: 10/10.

Where we stayed in Townsville

Magnetic Gateway Caravan Park (Top Tourist Park)

This was the fourth caravan park we called as we drove into Townsville. We knew we’d be here a few days so price was a factor in choosing a place to use as our base in Townsville. The staff were welcoming, the price was reasonable ($44 for a powered site, 2A+2C per night), and we were given the choice of sites and chose one out the back on the grass where there’s lots of space. There was a bit of road noise as it’s next to the Bruce Hwy, and it’s about 8km out of town which is a bit far but we felt it was good value for money.