A Guide to Vanlife in Townsville.
Townsville has a lot to offer, from surprising views and epic waterfalls to jaw-dropping lookouts, groovy street art, and beautiful beaches, it's truly a hidden gem. Townsville boasts a unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm. As you plan your visit, REDARC are here to share some valuable advice to make your stay even more exciting and easy.
A Brief History.
Townsville is a city on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia and founded in 1864, as a ‘port for the fledgling pastoral industry’ in North Queensland. After the discovery of gold at Ravenswood and Charters Towers, the town has developed into one of the main centres of North Queensland. Fast forward to today, and Townsville is growing bustling city, with a projected population of 203,620 by July 2022.
When To Go.
Townsville is best known for its sunshine that occurs around 320 days a year. Between November to April temperatures rise to 27°C, where humidity soars. May to October is peak season and temperatures settle to a daytime average of around 23°C in May and daily lows of 16°C between June and August.
Please note that Townsville’s cyclone season is usually around April.
For How Long.
A Week (7 days) - This would allow you to take day trips to nearby national parks, go hiking, visit cultural sites, and engage in outdoor activities.
Please note the Journey from Ayr to Ingham could take up to 3 days, which will be mentioned later in this article.
Extended Stay (10+ days) - For a more immersive experience, consider a longer stay. This duration would let you explore the region in-depth, go on multiple day trips, and truly embrace the local lifestyle.
Burdekin Cascades Caravan Park, Ayr
Conveniently located on the Bruce Highway next to the Ayr Swimming Pool and close to the main Ayr shopping centre, this caravan park offers 69 tourist sites suitable for short- and long-term travellers. With powered sites starting at $32 per night, it's a budget-friendly option in Ayr.
Coral Coast Tourist Park, Townsville
Situated in Townsville, this park boasts a range of facilities, including a camper's kitchen, free park wide WIFI, a car wash bay, complimentary barbecues, a tropical swimming pool, and fire pits for a cosy evening. Powered sites start from $46 per night, a more comfortable choice for visitors to Townsville.
Ingham Tourist Park
This park provides 42 large drive-through powered sites shaded by trees. Clean amenities, including hot showers and a camp kitchen with free barbecues available. Guests can also make use of the coin laundry, free WIFI, a saltwater pool, and a kiosk. Pets are welcome, and powered sites start from $36 per night.
Charters Towers Tourist Park
Notably dog-friendly, this park offers free WIFI, a pool and spa, a camp kitchen, a laundry facility, and a shop/kiosk. One of its unique features is the diverse range of native birds you can spot around the park, making it a nature lover's paradise.
Without a solid power system, you will not be able to run fridges, heaters, and water pumps. More importantly the fan and AC!
Townsville has a hot and humid climate, so it’s important to feel safe knowing you have a system you can trust. REDARC can power your adventure, from coast to coast, no matter what lies between, with rugged, outback-tested battery chargers, battery management systems and customisable vehicle management allowing you to control every device from one central screen or your smartphone.
When deciding on a set up to tie your battery and solar together, the REDARC TVMS Rogue makes managing and monitoring your accessories simple. The TVMS Rogue provides real time and accurate state of charge, power input/output and can be paired with a range of temperature, voltage, or water tank sensors.
Go the next step with the new Alpha150 Battery and RS3 REDARC Pure Sine Wave Inverter, the whole setup is neatly wired up and tucked away under the bed in the back of the van. In a van with limited room inside, having small and concealed electronics helps make the most of the space for other things like cabinets and storage. A reliable power system, also means you’ll always have your phone, camera, GoPro, drone charged and access to google maps or any electrical appliance.
If you’re looking for a more portable option, REDARC’s GoBlock is an easy choice. This system offers flexible charge options, so your phone and other electronic devices can maintain charge even if you do not have enough room under the hood to install a traditional dual battery system.
What To See
There are two easy routes to take to get to Ingham from Ayr, the first is shorter and starts at Ayr, through Townsville, all the way up North to Ingham. The second is longer and more scenic to Charters Towers, on Harvey Range Road.
Over half the population of Ingham is of Italian descent, around 80%. The town is often referred to as, ‘Little Italy’ and is renowned for its authentic Italian heritage and cuisine. Scroll down to find out more about our recommendations for places to eat.
Mount Inkerman or Inkerman Hill is a 10min (11km) drive south from Home Hill or a 90min (110km) trip from Townsville. Park your van and start the ascent either near the Inkerman Shop, or next to Mount Inkerman Road. The track is dog and family-friendly, offering a breathtaking panoramic lookout. Read more about its significance on the interpretive and directional signage and information boards. Enjoy newly upgraded barbecue facilities/shelters and toilets.
Achacha Local Tropical Fruit Plantation
Achacha is a fruit that is native to the Amazon basin. Owners Helen and Bruce moved to Burdekin Shy, 20 years ago, to establish the world’s first commercial achacha plantation. The trees were planted in 2003, with their first fruit appearing in 2009. Not only do they operate the only commercial plantation in the world, but their farm is certified biodynamic and organic!
Located 17km South of Townsville on the Bruce Highway Billabong Sanctuary, Townsville, is accredited as an advanced ecotourism attraction by Ecotourism Australia. It’s a great place to experience the very best of north Queensland’s native wildlife in action! See the crocodile feeing, hold a koala, wombat or even a baby croc, if you’re up for it. Watch the free reptile shows or bird flight shows, hand feed the kangaroos, cassowaries, and more.
Castle Hill Lookout
This giant pink granite monolith stands proud in the centre of Townsville. The 360-degree at the top are well worth the journey, especially at sunset. It offers great van access and several popular walking tracks. Facilities include car parking, public amenities, drink fountains and shaded seating.
Pop in at this locally owned and operated cinema that has been screening movies since 1966. Tors is the only local cinema to screen the latest movies in 4K Digital, and one of the few drive-in cinemas in the world to regularly show movies on 16mm and 35mm film. Have a bite to eat at the café that sells hot meals, drinks, and snacks with great prices.
Charters Towers Venus Gold Battery Mill
For over a hundred years, the Venus Battery has stood on the outskirts of Charters Towers. It played a crucial role in processing gold-bearing quartz from mines across North Queensland during the colonial gold rush era. Charters Towers itself is a place steeped in history and is entirely listed as a heritage site. You can delve into this rich history by joining a 1 hour and 15-minute guided tour.
Follow the road to uncover the stories of the hill, from the interesting and informative storyboards. Discover 30 different World War II bunkers, one of which is a restored bunker, located approximately halfway up the hill. Another track at the summit leads off to the ruins of the Pyrites Works. Appreciate the wildlife living on and around Towers Hill. You can see several species of macropods throughout the walk. Watch the Wedge-tailed Eagles hunt their prey. Ghosts after Dark film and presentation is also screened at night in the Amphitheatre (admission fees apply).
Hop on the ferry and cruise across Cleveland Bay to Magnetic Island, known as 'Maggie' by the locals. This island is a hot spot within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and it's also a national park. To make the most of your adventure, it's a great idea to bring your van along. Explore the island's unique ecosystems and native wildlife through eco tours. Magnetic Island is renowned in the region for its fantastic opportunities for snorkeling, hiking, and diving. In fact, it's considered one of the top ten snorkeling spots in Queensland.
Big Chrystal Creek Swimming Hole
This swimming hole is located approximately an hour and 70 km north of Townsville. You'll find the starting point for the waterhole adventure near the barbecue and cooking facilities at the Big Crystal Creek campground. Follow the trail, and it will lead you to a rocky outcrop where you can soak up the sun after taking a refreshing dip in the deep, crystal-clear pool.
Situated some 20km east of Ingham, Forrest Beach (Allingham) is a great place to unwind. Enjoy the long sandy beach front that overlooks Orpheus Island and the Palm Island group. Take a swim at the patrolled beach, which also features stinger net protection during the summer months. It includes nearby facilities such as, a playground, barbecue, toilet, and shower facilities. The boat ramp on the beach gives provides easy access to the nearby Great Barrier Reef and islands of the Hinchinbrook region.
Located 51km south-west of Ingham, about 1hr drive through rural properties. Travel west from Ingham along Abergowrie Road to Trebonne. The route is well signposted from here and conveniently sealed with bitumen, making them suitable for van travel. It’s the highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia. Wallaman Falls is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, home to some of the oldest rainforests on earth and many endangered plants and animals.
Where To Eat
- A Touch of Salt - This upscale restaurant offers modern Australian cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. It's known for its elegant atmosphere and an extensive wine list.
- Shaw and Co - A trendy eatery with a focus on using fresh, seasonal produce. The menu features dishes with global influences, and the cocktail bar is a highlight.
- Jam Corner - Offering a diverse menu with a focus on shared plates, Jam Corner is known for its relaxed atmosphere and delicious food. The cocktails and wine list are also noteworthy.
- The Pier Bar - This waterfront bar and restaurant on the Townsville Marina offers a laid-back atmosphere, live music, and a menu featuring seafood and pub favourites.
- JK's Deli - Located in Ingham this café is a local gem known for its delicious sandwiches, fresh ingredients, and friendly service.
- Frosty Mango - This ice cream shop is a beloved spot for those seeking a sweet and refreshing treat serving a variety of mango-based delights, including ice creams, sorbets, and smoothies. Mango lovers will find this place to be a must-visit, as the fruit used is locally sourced and incredibly fresh.
- Hoi Polloi Café - A popular spot for coffee, breakfast, and lunch, Hoi Polloi serves up a range of delicious sandwiches, salads, and baked goods.
- Shamrock Hotel - If you're in the mood for traditional pub fare and a friendly atmosphere, the Shamrock Hotel is a local favourite.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this comprehensive guide on Vanlife in Townsville. Let us know how your travels went by tagging REDARC on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re keen to read more Australian travel blogs have a look at the other blogs from our Vanlife series Around Australia. For more info on what REDARC products you'll need to kickstart your vanlife adventure, visit the REDARC website.