Situated in the northeast of Queensland on the edge of Cleveland Bay, Townsville is the largest tropical town in Australia. Its numerous parks and gardens filled with tropical flowers make it one of the region’s most pleasant cities to explore, with a waterfront Strand lined with historic buildings, playgrounds and restaurants.

Townsville’s oldest botanical gardens are the Queens Gardens, established in the 19th century and a fine example of tropical colonial gardens from the era. Also of note are the Anderson Gardens that are the largest botanic gardens in Townsville and home to tropical trees, palms and the World Cycad Collection.

Be sure to spend an afternoon exploring the Riverway precinct that stretches along the Ross River in the suburb of Condon. This vibrant cultural hub is home to a public art gallery, swimming lagoons and plenty of cafes, as well as leafy parks and shops.

Townsville is home to the Reef HQ Aquarium that showcases marine life and corals from the Great Barrier Reef and is a good option for those that don’t want to go snorkeling or diving. It also includes a sea turtle hospital where these charismatic ocean creatures are nursed back to health. Another wildlife destination not to miss is the Billabong Sanctuary, which lies just to the southeast of the city and features native mammals like koalas and wombats, as well as stealthy crocodiles.

Townsville serves as the gateway to beautiful Magnetic Island that lies within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In addition to snorkeling or diving on the surrounding reefs, it boasts secluded beaches and exceptional native wildlife encounters.