One of the best ways to get to know a new city is by engaging in your favourite pastimes. Here, a cross-section of locals with varied passions share their insider knowledge to save you the legwork.
“I love the North Queensland landscape with all the beautiful strong colours of the tropical plants.”
Landscape Artist, Sylvia Ditchburn
What’s your link to Townsville? I came to Townsville in 1984 from Innisfail with my husband Ken and two teenagers Anna and Adrian. We chose Rowes Bay to set down roots. It’s a lovely small suburb close to the CBD.
Have you always been passionate about painting? From my earliest memories I had a flair for art, colour and drawing. I love the North Queensland landscape with all the beautiful strong colours of the tropical plants. My work usually involves aspects of the Townsville environment from the Great Barrier Reef to the rainforest. I tutor en plein air (outdoor) painting in the winter months when it’s pleasant being outdoors.
What’s your favourite Townsville landscape to paint? Castle Hill. It’s a real icon of the city. Everyone loves Castle Hill and many avid fitness folk use it for their exercise routine.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? What I really like about Townsville is the weather. Townsville is in the Dry Tropics as its location is in a ‘rain shadow’. What that means is heavy rain passes us by, yet we are in the tropics and don’t get the heavy downpours like Innisfail or Tully. With our great weather, a magical day spent on nearby Magnetic Island just lying around on the beautiful beaches and swimming in the Coral Sea is a must.
“What I love most about Townsville is its celebration of the performing arts.”
Actor, Lucy Gounaris
What’s your link to Townsville? I was born in Townsville and live in Fairfield Waters, which is also known as Idalia.
How did you become interested in acting? When I was little I spent my days watching TV shows such as Doctor Who, Mr Bean, Midsomer Murders, Kath & Kim and Little Britain, which all ignited my passion for acting. Currently I’m working on Townsville Little Theatre’s production of Jingo.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? What I love most about Townsville is its celebration of the performing arts. I particularly adore the Townsville Little Theatre (TLT) because of its fun, supportive, encouraging and welcoming members. I recommend TLT to newcomers to Townsville, whether you’re keen to be on stage or get involved behind the scenes. TLT is open to anyone who’d love to gain some theatre experience.
Something else I love about Townsville is the flora and fauna – there’s not a minute that goes by without seeing an animal. The variety of birds in Fairfield Waters is colossal with kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets and bower birds visiting on a regular basis. Every morning I’m wakened by the screeches of rainbow lorikeets outside my bedroom window and every night I relax to the babble of fruit bats. The views are also spectacular, with a tree in every inch of sight.
“As a newcomer to town the social side of meeting new friends through sailing has been awesome.”
Sailors, Diane Armstrong & Vicki Hamilton
What’s your link to Townsville? Vicki: I’m a Townsville native. I live in North Ward, which is close to the Yacht Club and marina.
Diane: I’ve been living in Townsville since October 2012. I moved here from Melbourne to be closer to my family.
Why are you passionate about sailing? Vicki: My family has always had a yacht, so I grew up sailing around Townsville. It’s such a fabulous location for sailing, with the protected waters of Cleveland Bay, Magnetic Island, the Palm Island Group to our north and Whitsundays to our south. Townsville is fortunate to have a very active sailing community both at the Townsville Yacht Club (in South Townsville) and the Sailing Club (on The Strand).
Diane: As a newcomer to town the social side of meeting new friends through sailing has been awesome. There’s a lot to like about Townsville and personally I feel like I’m having the best working holiday I’ve ever had. It’s the outdoor life that I enjoy the most and it has been easy to get involved with sailing and a lot of other activities and sports connected to the water such as scuba diving and ocean swimming.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? Diane: Twilight Sailing every Wednesday night is magical. Contact the The Townsville Yacht Club (TYC) for more information.
Vicki: The TYC is hosting a Discover Sailing Open Day in late February, where those interested can find out about sailing. The TYC also runs Discover Sailing courses throughout the year from their facilities at Pallarenda. Those interested in sailing smaller boats can contact the Townsville Sailing Club for opportunities to participate in dinghy sailing.
“We recommend stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying some of the quirky cafes.”
Michelle Woodward & Karla James
Food Lovers, Karla James & Michelle Woodward
What’s your link to Townsville? Karla: We moved to Townsville (from Darwin) in January 2015 because I took up a position with the Townsville City Council as an Environmental Health Officer. We live in Gulliver, in a quiet street surrounded by old Queenslanders – we love that era of housing.
What can you tell us about your passion for cooking? Karla: Michelle and I started with our first food van Crepes 2 Go Go in March 2015 then our second van Bitchin Burger Bar and our first café, Bitchin Kitchin, on Charters Towers Road followed. Our second café just opened at Warrina. We’re both food lovers and are passionate about delicious homemade food, great service and great coffee.
Michelle: Townsville has been fantastic for us. We’ve been able to build our own food hub and have met like-minded people through going to the local markets.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? Karla: I love that Townsville is growing food-wise. We recommend stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying some of the quirky cafes such as ours and Hoi Polloi in Denham Lane. Our favourite restaurant is Seasoned on Palmer Street.
Another one of our favourite places is the Warrina Arcade in Currajong, with its array of cool boutiques, such as The Renegade Gift Shop with items handcrafted by locals and The Katz Alley with retro rock-and-roll-style dresses. We also like going to the Warrina Cineplex near the arcade. They’re an independent family-owned cinema and play some interesting films compared to the mainstream cinemas.
“Townsville has great weather all year round that allows you to get out and enjoy a downwinder paddle or a social paddle along The Strand.”
Ocean Ski Paddler, Kris Maguire
What’s your link to Townsville? I relocated from the Gold Coast to Townsville in July 2011 for my career in the fire and rescue service. It’s great living in South Townsville as it’s close to the city and The Strand.
When did you become interested in ocean ski paddling? I grew up in a coastal town in southern Western Australia, surfing any chance I could. I’ve found ocean ski paddling a great way to stay connected to the ocean and the waves up here in Townsville. The sport has a great social network Australia-wide and all paddlers are so accommodating of each other. After January I will be picking up training for the NQ Ocean Paddle Series held locally.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? Townsville has great weather all year round that allows you to get out and enjoy a downwind paddle or a social paddle along The Strand. And if you’re up to a paddle to around the bays of Magnetic Island that is always a highlight. Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island to Pallarenda is on top of my list when I’ve got a chance to go.
“I have been fortunate enough to travel around Australia and the world rock climbing and can say the climbing here is definitely world-class.”
Rock Climber, Chris Beric
What’s your link to Townsville? I was born in Townsville and love it here. I have been fortunate enough to travel around Australia and the world rock climbing and can say the climbing here is definitely world-class. It’s pretty rare and awesome for a climber to have a giant volcanic rock (Castle Hill) smack bang in the centre of town with ocean views.
Why were you drawn to rock climbing? I love climbing as it really gets you into the present moment. When you’re hanging off a rock there’s not much else to think about! You can really challenge yourself and push your limits.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? My favourite place to climb is Frederick Peak out at Hervey Range about 25 minutes north of Townsville. There are easy climbs for the newbies and berko hard climbs for the more experienced. Some of the steep overhanging cave routes are simply mind-blowing. There is also a climb up the face of Castle Hill named Vision that is spectacular. It’s awesome to kick back on the summit and watch the sun set over Townsville after a challenging afternoon climbing.
“Hervey Range, about 25 minutes from Townsville, is well worth a visit too, especially the Heritage Tea rooms – yum!”
Rock-and-Roll Dancer, Julie Jansen
What’s your link to Townsville? I came to Townsville in 2002 for a sea change – I live in Bluewater.
How did you become involved in rock-and-roll dancing? I’ve always loved the music and the era surrounding rock-and-roll. I met my husband, Les, through dancing. We discovered dancing wasn’t our only shared passion – we both love Mustangs and classic cars.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? Come along to the Twin Cities Rock and Roll Club. Classes, which run over a six-week course, start on Sunday January 22. The emphasis is on people having fun.
If you learn to dance that’s a bonus. Life is just so busy – people need to let their hair down and have a good giggle.
I would also encourage newcomers to go out and see some of Townsville’s great local bands such as Liquid Revival, Flashback, 45RPM and Midlife Crisis. Hervey Range, about 25 minutes from Townsville, is well worth a visit too, especially the Heritage Tea rooms – yum!
“The most memorable moments are experienced just before sunrise on a winter’s morning on The Strand.”
Ocean Swimmer, Tony Denyer
What’s your link to Townsville? My wife Sharyn and I were holidaying on Magnetic Island in winter seeking some respite from the cold in Hamilton Victoria. We were walking along Geoffrey Bay on the island and I clearly remember saying to Sharyn “What have we got to do to live here?”. So in ‘89 we packed up and headed north.
When did you become interested in open water swimming? Swimming was normal for me because the family home was very close to the beach on Port Phillip Bay. When we moved here I heard about the Townsville to Magnetic Island swim. I’ve done three crossings now.
What should newcomers to Townsville try? The most memorable moments are experienced just before sunrise on a winter’s morning on The Strand. No nets or jelly fish — just the breaching of the sun across the water. Townsville has been a great place to raise a family. We lived on Magnetic Island for a while then moved back to North Ward. Instead of looking over the city we now look out to Magnetic Island and we love this part of Townsville.