If there’s anything more refreshing than a tropical weekend getaway, I’m yet to find it. And when it comes to tropical weekend getaways it’s impossible not to think Queensland. But while the tourists may gravitate towards the better-known hotspots of Cairns and The Whitsundays, you can get all the beauty, beaches and sunshine in and around the untapped hub that is Townsville.
If you’re hoping for adventure and/or a side of chill, there’s something in the air there that simply demands you relax, and the views aren’t half bad either! But the best places are the ones the locals keep to themselves…until now. Plan your next mini-vacay like a local with these insider hot spots.
1. Knock One Back, Poolside
You’re on vacation in a tropical location, let’s not even pretend like you don’t deserve a fancy cocktail or four. The blessed hipsters have worked their magic around the world and Townsville is no exception.
There are plenty of options for you, but really, who could go past lounging in or around a pool, fancy cocktail in hand? This is exactly what’s on offer at The Ville’s Splash Bar. Swim right on up to the bar and spend your day sipping from an actual coconut.
2. Get THE Iconic T-Ville Shot
There is no shortage of beautiful bush walks for hikers of all levels around this part of the world, whether you’re exploring around nearby islands or adventuring through the wet tropics. But it’s a local Townsville tradition to wake up for sunrise and hike to the top of Castle Hill, which overlooks the sea and the city. It is THE most Townsville photo you can get, so you’ve kind of got to.
3. Grab Some A+ Grub
You won’t have any shortage of delish restaurant and cafe options. You have ample unmissable food options in The Ville. Special shout out to Miss Songs. There’s the relaxed atmosphere of Longboard Bar + Grill right on Townsville’s shorefront walk, The Strand. Or morning coffee that’ll satisfy the snobbiest of connoisseurs at Hoi Polloi or boutique laneway dining at City Lane.
But why not add a little sight-seeing to get your truly foodie kicks? Get out of town on a two-hour road trip to the small town of Ingham, which is basically Queensland’s ‘Little Italy’. It’s also where my fam is from and after years of visits to Grandma’s I can promise you it will fulfil all your pasta and cheese related needs. You’ll also definitely want to stop in at The Frosty Mango on your way in or out of town because it’s hot and their mango gelato is THE best.
4. Swim Under A UNESCO Waterfall
You know if it’s a World Heritage–listed site, Wallaman Falls in the wet tropics rainforest is well worth the hour drive inland from Ingham. The hike to the bottom of the falls is quite steep – not surprising seeing as it’s the highest permanent single-drop waterfall in Australia – but not long. If that’s a bit much you park up the top with great views of the falls and plenty of BBQs for all your picnic needs. Which is perfect because you have all your deli goods from Ingham, right?
5. Feed A Rock Wallaby, Or Four
Magnetic Island itself is no secret. Nor should it be seeing as it’s an easy 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville and gives punters the opportunity to get their hearts racing with some water sports or chill all the way out of stunning beaches. But what you might not know is that it’s also the perfect place to be able to feed IRL rock wallabies. Head over to Geoffrey Bay on the island with a bag of (island approved) food for the little guys and stay very still. They might be used to people but they’re still wild.
6. Explore A Shipwreck
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It’s no coincidence that Magnetic Island pulls you to its shores – it’s scientific. ⚡️ Beyond being the ultimate @townsvillenorthqueensland weekender to swap the city's nurture for nature, @thisismagneticisland also happens to be home to countless secluded beaches and bays, and over 20 sunken vessels where new ecosystems have come to life in the wreckage of these ships. The SS City of Adelaide – pictured here – is the most famous… and it's not hard to see why. Isn't she a beauty? #thisisqueensland by @photobohemian #townsvilleshines
There’s no end of ways to explore the big blue, whether you’re into snorkelling, diving or casual ocean swims. However, get a different view from the norm and head out on tour with a company like Aquascene Charters. They’ll take you to beaches that can only be accessed by boat, and over to the SS City Of Adelaide shipwreck.
7. Be All Majestic On Horseback
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Giddy up this weekend with the friendly folks at horseshoe bay ranch. Ride through forests spotting wildlife and crossing creeks before riding bareback in the ocean – a truly magical experience and a must do on maggie ????????www.horseshoebayranch.com.au Photos via @travelwithjaz @flyingshiela_travelling @horseshoebayranch
While you’re being adventurous over on Magnetic Island, you should also shake up the typical tourist experience with a majestic as heck horseback ride through the shallows of Horseshoe Bay. Tour operators Horseshoe Bay Ranch have perfected the route over the last 30 years so you’ll get to explore inland as well.
8. Scoot Around, Island Style
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Cruising around @thisismagneticisland with @islehiremagneticisland having loads of fun in one of those miniature convertibles ???????? Snapped by our personal paparazzi, the legend @normjenkin ???????? // #thisismagneticisland #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #townsvilleshines #islehire
Horses not really your thing? Don’t worry, I totally get it. Take in all the best of the island anyway, and at your own pace no less, in a cute little jeep from Isle Hire Car Rentals. You can take your own 4-wheel drive and get off the main roads to really see the hidden gems of this stunner of an island.
Want someone else to do the planning for you? Click here to download your insider’s itinerary to a weekend in and around Townsville.Image: Supplied: Jesse Linderman