The Wulguru Kaba people believe the ancient granite Castle Hill, towering over much of Townsville, is a spirit nurturing the people, wildlife and the sparkling Coral Sea; and Townsville's greatest charm is the warm spirit of the people ... as irresistible as the sunny weather.

Townsville and the adjoining city of Thuringowa make up Australia's largest tropical, beachside city of 150,000 people. Boasting more than 300 sunny days each year, the diversity of experiences range from the excitement of bull-riding and 'barra' fishing, through to a tour of the world's largest living reef aquarium, a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef or a visit to the stunning rainforest covering the nearby Paluma Ranges.

In the heart of Townsville city, The Strand is 2.5km of beachfront boulevard lined with restaurants, cafes, bars, picnic areas, swimming enclosures, pools and a water playground, sporting and recreational facilities, walking paths  - all with sweeping views across Cleveland Bay to Magnetic Island.

Just 25 minutes from the city centre by fast catamaran ferry across Cleveland Bay, or 35 minutes by car ferry is Magnetic Island. So named by Captain James Cook in 1770 as he sailed the Endeavour north, this island of beautiful beaches, rocky outcrops and secluded coves is World Heritage listed.

'Maggie', as locals affectionately know it, is a residential island with a true village atmosphere. Over two thirds of the island is national park and more than 2000 people call Magnetic Island their home. Maggie is also home to Australia's largest colony of koalas in the wild.

West 135 kilometres from Townsville is the heritage centre of Charters Towers, a city of history and charm that boomed following the 1872 discovery of gold in the area by an Aboriginal boy, Jupiter Mosman.  At the height of the gold rush in 1880, Charters Towers was turned into a bustling metropolis, which in its heyday, boasted being the second largest city in Queensland.  At the time, the city was believed to have everything a person could ever want and soon became known as 'The World'.

Today it is the perfect example of 'real Australia' where the outback meets life in the tropics.  Charters Towers, big on history and character, boasts brilliantly coloured sunsets, cattle stations, wonderful heritage architecture, complemented by many modern facilities including a magnificent theatre hosting live performances, cinemas, great restaurants and a host of tours. The pace is a little less hectic, with locals able to take advantage of the rich heritage, whilst enjoying an affordable lifestyle and well established cultural, health, educational, sporting and recreational facilties.

To the north of Townsville, Ingham is the commercial centre of the Hinchinbrook Shire. A relatively small town, Ingham was initially established as a result of the district's rapidly growing sugar and pastoral industries, and has continued to develop both economically and socially due to the expansion of these and many other industries.

The Ingham community is rich in cultural heritage and has a strong Italian influence as almost sixty percent of the town's population is of Italian descent. The district's overwhelming Italian heritage is also the foundation for one of the town's most well known festivals - the Australian-Italian Festival, celebrated in May. The Ingham Cemetery has become one of the town's many attractions due to the vast array of intricate tile mausoleums which depict the strong Mediterranean influences within the region.

Lucinda, the sleepy little coastal village at the southern end of the Hinchinbrook Channel, one of the best fishing spots in all of Queensland and is also home to the world's largest bulk sugar loading jetty, which is 5.76 kilometres long. The jetty enables Lucinda to receive the largest ships used in the raw sugar trade. A boat ramp on the beach gives access to the nearby Great Barrier Reef and islands of the Hinchinbrook region.

The seaside village of Cardwell overlooks Hinchinbrook Island - the world's largest island National Park - with a jagged chain of mountains forming its backbone.

Uninhabited except for a resort at Cape Richards, the island abounds lush rainforests, rugged, misty and heath-covered mountains, sweeping sandy beaches, rocky headlands, paperbark and palm wetlands, mangrove-fringed shores and extensive open forests and woodlands, making it one of the world's most outstanding island parks.  The island's mangrove forests are some of the richest and most varied in Australia and an important breeding ground for many marine animals.

For thousands of years, the Bandyin Aboriginal people lived on Hinchinbrook Island; and middens and fish traps are reminders of their special culture.  Hinchinbrook Island is surrounded by marine park waters where fringing reefs and seagrass beds are home to a variety of marine life including dugong and green turtles. Commercial water taxis from Cardwell and Lucinda transfer campers and walkers to the island.

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