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Northern Queensland's often-overlooked major city is easy on the eye: at Townsville's heart is its handsome, endless esplanade, an ideal viewing platform to fabulous Magnetic Island, a mere ferry ride offshore. A better museum and aquarium you'll struggle to find in Queensland, and it's a pedestrian-friendly city, its grand, refurbished 19th-century buildings offering loads of landmarks. If in doubt, join the throngs of the fit and fabulous marching up bright red Castle Hill to gaze across the city's dry environs.

Townsville has a lively, young populace, with thousands of students and armed forces members intermingling with old-school locals, fly-in, fly-out mine workers, and summer-seekers lapping up the average 320 days of sunshine per year. Needless to say, the nightlife is often full throttle.

The Wulgurukaba Indigenous people claim to be the traditional owners of the Townsville city area, but these are also the traditional lands of the Bindal, Girrugubba, Warakamai and Nawagi.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Townsville.