While the rest of the world hibernate in their wintertimes, those in the tropics come out to play all year round.
When I came to Townsville on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, I looked forward to days spent snorkelling in vibrant coral reefs, coconut palms and island hopping. A friend gently reminded me about cyclones, crocodiles, lethal jellyfish and the crushing heat and humidity.
Nonetheless I've come to appreciate many aspects of life in this far flung corner of Australia ... apart from the cyclones and crocodiles.
My top picks : Where to eat, stay and play in Tropical Townsville
1. The Strand
Without a doubt, The Strand is the jewel of Townsville : 2.5 kilometres of coconut palm fringed beachfront with crunchy white sand and Magnetic Island on the horizon.
Majestic black cocktatoos swoop noisily through coconut palms, an annual outdoor sculpture exhibition graces the walkway and a seawater rockpool nestles next to the Surf Lifesaving Club. You can pick up an electric scooter and scoot down to a beachfront eatery for brunch overlooking the Coral Sea, or a cocktail as the setting sun turns the sky crimson.
2. The Ville Resort
Take your scooter further down past The Strand, through magnificent fig trees in the Anzac gardens bordering the marina, all the way to the luxurious Ville Resort. Palm Springs merges with colonial style in Townsville’s most beautiful resort.
Spend a day in the pool enjoying cocktails at Splash Bar, or fabulous cuisine at one of several restaurants - my pick is sitting outdoors in Quarterdeck with a glass of rosé and views across the pink bougainvillea to the Coral Sea.
3. Magnetic Island
More rugged and raw than your typical postcard-style island, “Maggie” (as she’s affectionately known to the locals) is predominantly national park. It’s the place to spot koalas, kookaburras and wallabies while hiking around the headlands and inland trails. My favourite spot is Arcadia beach, where you can snorkel around a sunken wreck before heading into the shade at nearby Peppers Resort for a cooling cocktail or a dip in their expansive lagoon style pool.
4. Longboards Bar + Grill
With a chillaxed surf vibe, I love going here after a morning on the beach to perch myself on a high table overlooking the sea with a chilled glass of rosé and a side of smokey fish tacos.
5. C Bar
Where I like to go after an early morning run along The Strand, to enjoy breakfast right on the edge of The Coral Sea. Beware the seagulls hovering greedily nearby, who have been known to snaffle your breakfast before you can.
Just a few steps from my door, this is the place to take yourself after roasting at the beach. The open air bar overlooks coconut palms and the beach. I like to order an elderflower and gin botanical cocktail accompanied by an upmarket Asian fusion grazing plate.
7. Juliette's Gelateria
A rainbow selection of icy gelato, iced frappes, and baked goodies just a few steps from my door as well. Lounge in adirondack chairs beneath their iconic cherry red umbrellas and watch the sun sparkling on the ocean beneath you.
8. Tobruk Kiosk
This teeny tiny café has become a favourite of mine after an early morning swim at the adjoining Tobruk Memorial Baths. Situated at the quieter, southern end of The Strand, you can sprawl out on beanbags under umbrellas on the lawn, awaiting your breakfast in what is Townsville’s most relaxed and unpretentious café.
See you soon | À bientôt !