The best way to get to know a place is by talking to the locals. Check out these Townsville, Queensland favorites!
Jan Robinson is a travel blogger who has lived in Townsville, Queensland (a state in the tropical northeast of Australia) for 55 years. Jan and her husband Marty have been living and traveling together for over thirty years. Let’s find out about her local favorites.
Restaurant: Rockpool Seafood Café Bar, 54 Howitt Street, North Ward, Townsville. Located on the corner of Howitt Street and The Strand, the café is housed in a sea-blue weatherboard building that overlooks a fresh sea water swimming pool enclosed by rock walls. There is something about spending a day near the ocean, that requires a salty haul of fish and chips. The Rockpool restaurant specializes in fresh seafood with a good variety of salads. Meals can be eaten on the deck, inside the cafe (with great ocean and rockpool views) or taken away for a picnic. The cafe suits the relaxed vibe of The Strand. It’s family-friendly, economical, and fully licenced.
Outdoor activity: Walking, rollerblading, skateboarding, along a concrete walkway at The Strand. This 2.2km walking/jogging track has 8 exercise stations, cafes, bars, free water park, free saltwater rock pool, ocean breezes, outriggers and shady trees often frequented by black cockatoos. The track hugs the beach and is surrounded by landscaped gardens with views of Magnetic Island and the Townsville Port.
Cultural or historical venue: Reef H.Q. 2-68 Flinders Street, Townsville. Operated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Reef HQ is the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. As well as the large aquarium that houses coral and reef fish there is a predator tank containing sharks and larger predator fish. The many smaller display tanks display smaller reef fish like seahorses. The aquarium and predator tank have large viewing windows and a walkthrough tunnel. Admission includes a visit to a turtle hospital and multiple interactive displays. Café and Souvenir Shop on site.
Event or festival: Townsville 400 V8 Supercar Race on the streets of Townsville on a weekend near 10-12 July. Annual Race. Two 72 lap races totaling 400 km. Inaugural event 2009. If throbbing engines and fast cars are in your blood this is the event for you. On the Saturday night there is a Live Gig. Last year the artist was Jimmy Barnes, an Aussie Rock Legend.
Day trip site for nearby location: Magnetic Island is a tropical island, characterized by large boulders, many bays, hills and a relaxed lifestyle. 20 minute fast catamaran ride from Townsville. The Island or Maggie as locals call it, has four populated bays, is mostly national park, has koalas in the gum trees on the historical Fort Walk, and water sports aplenty. There is a range of holiday accommodation available, B & B’s, island style houses or luxury apartments. Hire vehicles, taxis and buses are available on the island and you can even take your own vehicle over on a barge.
Place for romance or nightlife: C Bar Café, Gregory Street Headland. Gregory Street Headland juts out into the ocean giving the C Bar a prime waterfront position. Tables for two line the water’s edge with a Magnetic Island or Port outlook. Choose a night when the moon is full to watch it rise across the ocean. Continue the romance after dinner with a walk along the Strand and enjoy the harbor lights. The C Bar is fully licensed and offers a contemporary dining experience. Open from 6 a.m.
Views: Castle Hill, day or night. Winding it’s way from Paxton Street in North Ward, Castle Hill Road is popular with walkers, joggers and vehicle traffic. The summit is at 286 metres (938 ft) above sea level and offers 360 degree views of ocean and city from four lookouts and a summit walking track for inland views. A dirt track, known as the Goat Track, leads to the summit also and is popular with walkers and joggers. Day time has superb views all round, but night is best for viewing the City lights. Do both if time permits.
- Hire a car – public transport is not frequent.
- The weather is hot in summer and warm in winter – pack bathers, cool clothing and sun protection.
- There are Marine Stingers between the months of October and May so swimming is not recommended in the ocean during these months. However, swimming is popular in the marine stinger enclosures, the Rock Pool on the Strand, or freshwater swimming pools.
- As in most places where the weather is hot and humid, Townsville revolves around keeping cool. Water plays a huge part in the North Queensland lifestyle, be it swimming at the Strand, Magnetic Island or local water holes, playing in the Strand water park, rowing outriggers in the bay, snorkeling, sailing or viewing the underwater life of a coral reef in air-conditioned comfort at Reef HQ.
- Palmer Street, just across Ross Creek from the Townsville CBD, is Townsville’s Premier Dining Precinct. Ten or more restaurants line the street, most with outdoor dining areas. Being in the older area of town, there are historic buildings and continuing down the street the footpath hugs the creek and yacht harbour.
Anecdote about your city/area: Townsville was a staging post during World War II. It was bombed by the Japanese three times with no casualties. General Macarthur was said to have had headquarters here. The (then) population of 25,000 swelled by 90,000 with service personnel, the majority of whom were American Soldiers. My Grandmother lived near an American base on the outskirts of Townsville, and regularly invited the American “boys” over to share her family’s home-cooked meals. One of the boys still corresponds with my Mother (87) today.
Jan, thanks for sharing your Townsville favorites and insights!
Photos courtesy of Jan Robinson, Budget Travel Talk
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