In 1861 businessman and entrepreneur, Robert Towns (1794-1873), asked John Melton Black to select a suitable site for a port on the north Queensland coast. Towns wanted a port that would serve the whole of region. The site chosen by Black was on Cleveland Bay and would become the port for the mines at Charters Towers, Mary Kathleen and Mount Isa and the pastoral interests of grazers across the Gulf country. In 1865 the town was officially declared a port and named Townsville after Robert Towns.
Townsville is located 1,339 km north of Brisbane via the Bruce Highway. It is 137 km north east of Charters Towers and 347 km south of Cairns.
Magnetic Island was named by James Cook in 1770 when he believed the magnetic compass on his ship the Endeavour was affected by the island. During the 1800s Magnetic Island became a popular picnic area and by the late 1890s the first resort was established in Picnic Bay.
Long before Magnetic Island had its current name, it was known as Yunbenun.
That name was give to the island by the Wulgarukaba people who lived on the island for thousands of years before European settlement.
One of their popular camping spots was Cockle Bay near the island’s southern tip.
The bay provided easy access to the reef, the mangrove system sheltered mudcrabs and grew oysters, and the hunting in the bush behind the bay was plentiful.
Magnetic Island has rock art in some of the caves which has remained quite well preserved despite years of wind and cyclones.
Perc Tucker Regional Gallery
Located on the corner of Flinders Street and Denham Street, at 253-259 Flinders Street, is the Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, once the Union Bank of Australia it was first built in 1885. “Designed by colonial architect F.D.G. Stanley the building was single story until a second story was added in the early 1930s. The Union Bank eventually became the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and in the building was its regional headquarters until 1980 when Townsville City Council purchased the heritage building as a venue for Townsville’s first public art gallery.”
The Gallery holds over 2,000 works of art and has dedicated sections on Contemporary Art of Tropical Queensland, Historical Art of Tropical Queensland, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Contemporary Art from Papua New Guinea, Popular Art and Ephemera. It specifically focuses on art in the tropics.
Townsville Post Office (now The Brewery)
Located at 252-270 Flinders Street, the Townsville Post Office is part of the impressive range of buildings on the corner of Denham and Flinders Streets. It was designed by John James Clark and built in 1886 by Dennis Kellcher. It cost a total of £14,000 with the two story telegraph office being built in 1886 for £6,000 and the residence for the postmaster costing £8,000. The clock tower, imported for England, was added at additional expense in 1891. The building has been described as “The Post Office is a cement-rendered brick building, which displays Renaissance features. Its asymmetric façade has a loggia on the lower level, which shades the building along Flinders and Denham Streets and a veranda along the front and side façade of the upper level. The low-pitched hipped roof of corrugated iron extends into four gabled projections, while a slender clocktower and parapet cupola dominates the corner. On the upper level, French doors open onto the veranda, with sashed windows in all other openings. The interior is not as intact as the façade because of years of alterations.” It has been owned by the Townsville Brewing Company since 2001.
The tropical heart of Townsville is the 2.2 km beachfront known as The Strand. It is a promenade, a walkway and bicycle track, safe swimming beaches, excellent picnic locations and a water park. It is Townsville’s beachfront and is the watery centre of the city. It includes excellent views across the water to Magnetic Island, the Tobruk Memorial Baths, The Band Stand, restaurants which are right on the beach, a section of the beach protected from stingers and a Surf Lifesaving Club.