Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Mon July 27 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | July 27, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    A Quick Guide To Townsville, Australia

    A Quick Guide To Townsville, Australia

    Townsville Strand photo courtesy of A Cruising Couple

    Townsville, Australia may not be on the radar for most travelers to Australia, but it definitely should be. Situated in the tropical zone of Queensland, Townsville receives more sunshine than any other city in the region, and is a convenient hub not far from the Great Barrier Reef.

    But that’s not all there is to this locale.

    I was lucky enough to spend six months in the sunny city and found it to be one of the most charming places in Australia. If you’re ready to experience it for yourself, here is my quick guide of things to see and do in Townsville.

    The Strand

    No trip to Townsville is complete without a walk down The Strand, Townsville's beach area. Soak up some sun, splash around on the interactive playground or relax in the rock pool as you gaze across the water at Magnetic Island. There is no fee except for car parking.

    Magnetic Island

    Leaving Magnetic Island

    Photo by via Flickr/betta design

    About five miles and a quick 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville is Magnetic Island. More than half of the island is reserved as a national park, including 15 miles of hiking trails with spectacular views. All sorts of activities are available from sailing to snorkeling to golfing. Passenger ferries frequently leave from the dock and some even include car parks if you'd like to drive around the island.

    Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Sanctuary

    Marine life at Reef HQ Townsville

    Photo via Flickr/milren 

    Reef HQ is the largest living coral reef aquarium. You'll be able to see all types of coral and sea creatures that are found on the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest, located right off Townsville's coast. Tickets are $28 for adults and $14 for children, with group rates available.

    The Great Barrier Reef

    Great Barrier Reef, Australia

    Photo via Flickr/eutrophication&hypoxia 

    After you've learned all about what's going on with the Great Barrier Reef, it's time to go see it for yourself. Townsville is one of the easiest places to access the reef. Hire a boat to take you diving or snorkeling.

    Flinders Street

    You'll find local university students here on almost any night of the week. Follow the sounds of live music and it will lead you to bustling bars and clubs. Popular watering holes include The Exchange, Flynn's Irish Pub and The Mad Cow.

    Castle Hill

    Townsville Sunset

    Photo via Flickr/betta design

    Seen from almost anywhere in Townsville, Castle Hill stands 938 feet over Townsville. Home to the most popular walking trail in the city, you can reach the peak of Castle Hill by either taking the 2-mile circular road or the more adventurous goat trails. If you’re not feeling up for a hike, there is a parking lot near the peak, which is accessible by car. Once at the top you'll be rewarded with an awesome 360-degree view of the city and surrounding sea.

    Billabong Sanctuary


    Photo via Flickr/mdalmuld

    The 27-acre native species sanctuary is home to many of Australia's staple fauna. Shows offer the chance to meet and learn about koalas, kangaroos and the enormous saltwater crocodile. Tickets are $34 for adults and $21 for children. Be ready to hold a baby crocodile, wrap yourself in a snake, feed kangaroos and touch a wombat and koala. Definitely bring your camera as you’re bound to want to document these animal encounters!

    Townsville may not get a lot of hype, but it’s a great alternative travel destination in Australia. Have you been there? What did you think?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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