Chifley Plaza Townsville
This is the top rated 4-star hotel in Townsville
A sunny, coastal city in North Queensland, Townsville has plenty of vacation potential: among its many charms are impressive natural landmarks and beautiful botanic gardens, as well as a world-class aquarium, a wildlife sanctuary, and a handsome downtown with a thriving dining precinct. And after a day spent diving into the Yongala shipwreck or exploring the exotic islands just offshore, travellers have their pick of places to spend the night, from stylish hotels to caravan parks and boutique backpackers’ hostels.
Townsville is an exceptionally pedestrian-friendly city. Castle Hill, the red granite monolith at the city’s heart, is circled by walking trails, and the panoramic views at its peak are well worth the climb, particularly at sunrise or sunset. Travellers can also enjoy a breezy stroll along The Strand, a long, palm tree-lined promenade overlooking the Coral Sea, or wander down the Riverwalk to join the locals at play; the Ross River is a popular destination for water sports and cultural events. A series of four distinct gardens linked by a cycling and walking path, the Townsville Botanic Gardens are yet another option for a car-free outing. The stately Queens Gardens are the oldest of the four, while the Anderson Gardens are the largest, with 25 hectares devoted to tropical plants. Travellers can also get their fresh air and exercise at the Jezzine Barracks, a 15-hectare heritage site commemorating the area’s significant military and aboriginal history.
A peaceful oasis surrounded by the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, Orpheus Island is about half an hour from Townsville via a scenic seaplane or helicopter. It is known for its exceptionally luxurious resorts, while Hinchinbrook Island, also accessible from Townsville by air, is known for the challenging Thorsborne Trail, a 20-mile trek through stunning eucalypt forest, banksia forest, and mangroves. Just 25 minutes from Townsville mainland by ferry, Magnetic Island also sits within the Great Barrier Reef, yet does not share the tropical rainforest landscape of its kin. Mountainous, wooded, and studded with no fewer than 23 beaches, this bit of paradise also offers a mild, dry climate, ideal for water sports and hiking. Horseback riding and bird-watching are popular here as well, while night owls come for the Full Moon Down Under, an all-night-long dance party on Nelly Beach. Accommodations on the island are nearly as varied as they are in Townsville, and include several resort hotels with direct access to the beach.
Animal lovers should not leave Townsville without a stop at the Billabong Sanctuary; at this unique, family owned and operated wildlife park, visitors can hug a koala, feed a kangaroo, or even pet a python! The park is home to over 50 native Australian species, and is a successful breeding ground for many of them, including koalas, crocodiles, parrots, and snakes. Travellers can also visit the fascinating inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef without leaving Townsville: the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, Reef HQ, rivals an Olympic-size swimming pool in size. It is home to over 150 species of fish and nearly as many kinds of coral. Intrepid travellers who prefer tents to hotel rooms can camp out amid the exotic flora and fauna of Paluma Range National Park; part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the park is about 60 miles north of Townsville. Explorers who want to stay the night without “roughing it’” can reserve a luxurious “rustic” cabin in the rainforest instead.
Just off the coast of Townsville lies the S.S. Yongala, the largest and most intact historic shipwreck in Australia. Divers come from all over the world to swim up to the coral encrusted ship and meet its enormous inhabitants face to face: giant gropers, marble rays, and trevally prowl these waters, along with barracuda, turtles, bull sharks, and many, many more sea creatures. Townsville also offers land lubbers the option of exploring a famous shipwreck without getting wet: an extensive exhibition featuring the sunken British warship HMS Pandora is permanently on display at the Museum of Queensland, along with Your Shipwreck Adventure, an interactive exhibit purpose-built for young historians-in-the-making. The museum also entertains guests of all ages with a wide array of exhibitions exploring the area’s history, culture, and natural environment.