City Discovery: Townsville – Australia’s Largest Tropical City

Townsville is considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland, Australia. Just 20 minutes across the Cleveland Bay from Townsville, Magnetic Island is the sunniest city in Queensland, with over 320 days annually, due to the city being located within a rain shadow.



Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Attend a local sporting event. Sporting culture in Australia is a big deal. Townsville is no exception. The city is home to a number of sports teams including the Townsville Fire (Women’s National Basketball League), the North Queensland Cowboys (National Rugby League) and the Townsville Crocodiles (National Basketball League).

Experience the Townsville Cultural Festival. This nine-day festival (taking place this year from August 15-23) has 90 performing groups, 30 food stalls, four stages and over 75 art and craft vendors for people to browse, explore and get a better sense of the city and it’s residents.

Attend the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. Another annual festival held in Townsville, this ten day festival showcases musicians from across the globe in over thirty concert performances in a variety of chamber styles.



ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Take a visit to the Museum of Tropical Queensland. This is the only branch of the Queensland Museum north of Brisbane and it focuses on the natural history, archaeology and history of Queensland. The museum is particularly known for it’s research on maritime archaeology and tropical natural history and is recognized globally as a leader in coral research.

Take a tour of the Venus Gold Battery. The Venus Gold Battery is the largest remaining battery relic in Australia and oldest in Queensland. A tour offers great insight into the real-life gold rush that happened in the region during the late 19th century.



Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

ISA students attending James Cook University, Townsville, have the opportunity to join a number of political clubs on campus or be a part of the student government.

Townsville is one of the main government centers outside of Brisbane. Students can volunteer at a number of community events and get more involved in community activities by attending public meetings put on by the Townsville City Council.




Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Join an on-campus club. James Cook University has over 30 clubs on the Townsville campus in which students can get involved. These clubs range from professional organizations to recreational sport clubs. Students  are sure to find a club of interest that may boost their resume.

Volunteer at the Orpheus Island Research Station. James Cook University’s Orpheus Island Research Station is a marine biology research station that provides volunteer opportunities for students throughout the year. This is an incredible experience for any students, but is really beneficial for students studying marine sciences. While students cannot apply to volunteer until arriving on site, they can talk to the Townsville Site Specialist prior to their program departure for additional information.



Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Walk around Castle Hill. One of the most distinctive natural features on the Queensland coast, Castle Hill is a pink granite monolith in the center of Townsville. There are several walking trails and vantage points offering amazing views of Townsville and Magnetic Island. Word on the street is American soldiers used this as a lookout during World War II.

Visit the Reef HQ Aquarium. Home to the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium, the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is the Australian Government’s national education center for the Great Barrier Reef.

It’s not the most well-known city in Australia, but Townsville is filled with things to do and is an incredible place for students.

Learn more about Townsville.


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The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and Discovery Compass activity examples are given, highlighting the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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