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Day Trips from Townsville

© John Skewes

6 Townsville Day Trips

Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island makes an unforgettable day trip. Walking trails offer stunning views and give you the chance of seeing Magnetic Island’s resident koalas snoozing up a tree. 

Board a Sealink Ferry from Townsville (departs hourly $30 - $35 adult round trip). Pick up some free maps on board and, upon arrival on Magnetic Island, catch the Sunbus to one of the 23 stunning bays and beaches Magnetic Island is famous for. The Sunbus travels to all the key locations, but if you’d like more mobility, hire a bike, car or scooter for the day or take a Hop on Hop Off Bus Tour.

With white sands, turquoise water, onshore reefs, underwater shipwrecks and majestic granite boulders, you could spend the entire day swimming, snorkeling and beach hopping. Here's our pick of the best.

  • Horseshoe Bay is a stretch of beach with parkland and picnic tables serviced with cafes, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and a supermarket.
  • A beautiful walking trail to secluded Balding Bay and Radical Bay begins at the east end.
  • Alma Bay has eateries and a picturesque bay sheltered by monolithic granite boulders.
  • Near the Forts Walk you'll find secluded Arthur Bay and Florence Bay.

Magnetic Island has a WWII history. Forts and bunkers can be reached via the Forts Walking Trial. 

magnetic island
Magnetic Island. Photo: dupont_thomas via Instagram

Charters Towers

137 km (1.5 hr drive) west of Townsville, Charters Towers enjoyed a rich and heady hey day during the gold rush. Victorian mansions with iron-lacework verandas and imposing public buildings still stand as a reminder. 

  • The handsome Stock Exchange Arcade building was built in 1887 and restored in 1972. Today it houses the National Trust office, a tourist office, a couple of galleries and shops, and a mining museum. 
  • The Zara Clark Museum, has an interesting collection on transport and lifestyle in the early Charter Towers. 
  • Explore gold mining at the Venus Battery 
  • Take a Texas Longhorn wagon tour of town.
charters towers
Charters Towers. Photo: Tripinavan via Instagram
charters towers cows
Long horn cattle of Charters Towers. Photo: Tripinavan via Instagram

Great Barrier Reef and Shipwrecks

Many tours leave Townsville daily for the Great Barrier Reef and underwater shipwrecks where you can snorkel, scuba dive, or enjoy the reef through the comfort of a glass bottom boat. Tours range from a single day trip to four days where you sleep on the boat and visit different dive sites.

Visit local a travel agent for Great Barrier Reef trips.

townsville shipwreck
Shipwreck off Townsville. Photo: sim.diver  via Instagram

Paluma Range National Park

78 km (1 hr 40 min drive) north on the Bruce Highway.  Explore Jaurama falls, Big Crystal Creek floodplain, the lookouts and the many rainforest walks. There is budget national park camping with showers, picnic tables and BBQs here. 

paluma overlandersway
Paluma Range National Park. Photo: Overlandersway via Instagram

Hinchinbrook Island

165 km (2 hrs drive) north and on the coast. Park your campervan and catch a ferry to Hinchinbrook Island to spend a day hiking through its pristine forests, mangroves, streams and beaches. The Visitor Information Centre at Cardwell can give you ferry information.

hinchinbrook Island
Hinchinbrook Island. Photo: Steven Nowakowski 

Mission Beach

235 km (3 hr drive)  north of Townsville Mission Beach Long empty beaches, islands, cafes, and coastal walks. The Kennedy Walk is a personal favorite. There is a Visitor Information Centre and lots of beach camping and caravan parks to choose from. 

beach camping mission
Camping at Mission Beach, between Cairns and Townsville.

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