Townsville is 1363 km north of
Brisbane. It is a thriving international port and Australia's largest
tropical city, with a population of 124,925. It lays claim to having 320
days of sunshine a year and to receiving three-quarters of its annual
rainfall in the wet season, between October and March. Cyclones also
feature in the city's sultry tropical climate.Charters Towers soon followed, establishing Townsville as a
regional centre. Other factors in the city's growth were the railway from
the west, which terminated at Townsville, and the region's first
meat-freezing works, established in 1892 at Ross River. During World War
II, Townsville was a major staging base for US and Australian troops, due
mainly to its strategic position near the South Pacific region. In 1942,
the town was bombed three times by Japanese aircraft, but no damage was
done. There are many historic buildings in Townsville, particularly around
the waterfront park area. The typical Queenslander, high-set on stilts, of
timber construction and with verandas, is very common.
The small settlement on Cleveland Bay at the mouth of Ross Creek had a
slow start, and it was not until John Melton Black persuaded Robert Towns,
from Sydney, to invest in a boiling-down works for the cattle industry
that there was some growth. Thousands of labourers from the South Pacific
worked the sugar and cotton fields and the coffee plantations. Copper was
found at Einasleigh in 1866, and the discovery of gold at Cape River,
Townsville is the northern centre for higher education, being the home of
James Cook University, formerly the University College of Townsville,
which specialises in marine biology, and of the
Barrier Reef Marine
Park Authority and also the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The
city is also home to the North
Queensland Cowboys rugby league team.
In 1986 the city of Thuringowa was officially declared; it shares a common
boundary with Townsville, and the two are promoted as twin cities.
Thuringowa is the fastest growing city in
and currently it has
a total population of around 40,000 living in an area of 1872 sq. km, and
a growth rate exceeding 6 per cent per annum.
The Townsville Town Common Environmental Park is a refuge for brolgas,
jabirus and also other wetland birds during the wet season. They move out
when the swamps dry up and crack. The
Barrier Reef Wonderland, with
its walk-through underwater tunnel, giving a great all-round view of the
coral and the fish, is well worth a visit.