Waterside camping near Townsville

Explore a tropical city on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef to camp in lush national parks.

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96% (1528 reviews)

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Waterside camping near Townsville guide

Overview

Against the backdrop of the dramatic Castle Hill, Townsville is a tropical city with a strong military history and great diving opportunities on the Great Barrier Reef. The Strand is Townsville’s waterfront promenade, lined with cafes and restaurants and popular for its water park, playgrounds and swimming pools. Among the city’s major attractions is Jezzine Barracks, a parkland dotted with outdoor sculptures and memorials honoring the city’s wartime history and the American forces who served here in World War II, but outside of town, caravan parks and campgrounds await. Cruises depart from Townsville harbor for the Great Barrier Reef, about 2.5 hours away. Experienced divers can also tackle the Yongala shipwreck.

Where to go

Magnetic Island

Take a day trip—or longer—to Magnetic Island, just five miles offshore. an hour’s ferry ride from Townsville. Much of the island is National Park (where camping is banned) and there are plenty of beautiful bays to snorkel, swim or tackle various watersports. A highlight is koala-spotting along the Forts Walk, which features ruins of World War II fortification.

Charters Towers

Charters Towers is a charming Outback town with a fascinating gold mining history, about 90 minutes’ drive west of Townsville. Among its attractions is the Venus Gold Battery, the largest surviving battery in Australia, and some elegant and impressive colonial buildings. There are two large camping and caravan parks in town.

Paluma Range National Park

Jourama Falls is the highlight of a visit to Paluma Range National Park, about 90 minutes’ drive northwest of Townsville. There is a popular camping area at Jourama Falls on the banks of Waterview Creek, walking tracks and day-use facilities including picnic tables, barbecues and toilets.

When to go

Claiming more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Townsville’s average temperature is 28°F. The best time to visit is April to November. Summers (December to February) are hot, humid and sticky, and marine stingers inhabit coastal waters from November to April, when it is best to swim in netted zones or wear a “stinger suit.” Summer is also a time when Townsville can sometimes be in the path of cyclones.

Know before you go

  • Remember to pack sunscreen; the tropical Queensland sun can be fierce. If you are heading to the Great Barrier Reef, check out sunscreens that won’t damage the coral reefs (those that don’t contain oxybenzone or BP-3).
  • Camping permits are required for all Queensland parks, forest and reserves and must be booked online and paid for before arrival. Make camping books as early as possible, especially in holiday periods.
  • Townsville is a great place to stock up before you go camping, with everything you’d expect of a major city, a post office, pharmacy, visitor information centre, bank, and car hire companies.
  • Townsville can be reached by road, air and rail. Townsville Airport is a seven-minute drive from the city centre, and Queensland Rail’s Spirit of Queensland long-distance train travels to Townsville several times a week from Brisbane and Cairns.

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Hipcamp is the most comprehensive resource for beautiful private campsites.

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Hipcamp acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and future and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.