From the Great Barrier Reef and its tropical islands, to the lush rainforests and World Heritage listed national parks, this once quiet coastal town has merged into a modern metropolis and is Australia’s largest urban centre north of the Sunshine Coast.

Townsville is home to the world’s greatest coral reef and is a vibrant city offering alfresco dining, unique shopping and adventures.

Discover Townsville Town Common Conservation Park through it’s hidden beaches, coastal woodlands and water lagoons. Hire a bike and ride along the park to explore Shelly Beach or to bird watch comb-crested jacanas, adorable ducks, magpie geese, broglas finches and fairy-wrens.

Townsville is home to the much lauded Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium. The world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, this educational centre boasts a 2.5 million litre exhibition, and a rehabilitation centre for sea turtles. The reef also brings the Museum of Underwater Art’s inaugural sculpture “Ocean Siren" to life, which can be seen from The Strand Jetty as it changes colour according to the temperature of the water.

Just 8km off shore, Magnetic Island tempts visitors, courtesy of a 20-minute ferry to its coral-fringed sands. Grab a snorkel and explore the kaleidoscopic colours of the Reef, alongside the bounty of national park reserves, hidden beaches, and palm trees that call the island home.

Back in town itself, there’s more than enough offerings to keep guests entertained. Days can be spent trawling the main drag’s increasing collection of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and galleries, or at beachside promenade The Strand, a favourite of families thanks to its free water adventure playground.

Taking a 268-metre trek up to the top of Castle Hill is well worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views and the chance to enjoy a particularly memorable sunset.

Image credits: Townsville Enterprise Ltd, Tourism and Events Queensland, Ading Attamini Photography