G’day, my name’s Catherine and I’ve lived in Tropical North Queensland for the last 20 years. I’m an author and travel journo, so I spend pretty much all my time exploring my backyard. One thing I’ve learned is that if you can do it outside, you can do it around Townsville, Tully, Mission Beach and Tropical North Queensland. And this list of top freebies is oh-so-budget-friendly (ie, they are all free). Packed with plenty of free things to do around from Townsville to Tully, this list will fill your days and mothball your wallet. All you need is a couple of lazy days (or weeks) and a set of wheels.
If these things whet your appetite, grab a copy of 100 Things To See In Tropical North Queensland, which I wrote for people like you. It’s all my favourite places after living here for 20 years.
1. Spot cassowaries in rare Licuala fan palm forest: Buffering Mission Beach’s 14km-long strip of squeaky white sand, Djiru National Park protects the highest concentration of southern cassowaries remaining in the world.
2. Shred your shorts at the Rockslides: Head to Big Crystal Creek (in the Mt Spec section of Paluma Range National Park), signposted off the Bruce Highway between Ingham and Townsville.
3. Get wet at Kissing Point: Wake up and smile with a swim in Townsville’s saltwater Strand Rock Pool. Find it here.
4. Beach-camp for free: Park your rig, pitch a tent and hit the sand to beach comb and build sandcastles from four cool camps around Townsville. We love Toomulla Beach, Bagal Beach, Saunders Beach and the riverside camp at Rollingstone (www.townsville.qld.gov.au).
5. Soak in Cardwell’s Spa Pool: The locals love this rainforested rock pool, located at the base of the Cardwell Range and accessed via an uber scenic Forest Drive (see Attie Falls and Dead Horse Creek en route). To get to Cardwell Spa Pool, turn right off the Bruce Highway at the BP service station in the centre of Cardwell.
6. Hike Townsville’s Goat Track: Climb to the (easy) summit of Castle Hill for endless views over Magnetic Island.
7. Get twitching at Tyto Wetlands: Immerse yourself in crimson finch habitat at this top birdwatching sanctuary, located just off the Bruce Highway in Ingham. Get more information here.
8. Float in an Alligator’s Nest: This stunning, cool, rainforested picnic spot is located 6km north of Tully. Find out why it’s called Alligators nest in my book, 100 Things To See In Tropical North Queensland. Use this map to find your way there.
Planning a big adventure through Tropical North Queensland in 2021, or just want to explore more of your own backyard? Get the guide written by me (a local).
100 Things To See In Tropical North Queensland
Explore Tropical North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef like a local! Created by people who’ve lived in and explored the region for over two decades, this is the only guide you need if you’re interested finding the places locals love. Steer clear of the crowds and get to know the real TNQ.
Want more to do? Here’s my favourite 18 free things to do around Cairns!