Townsville is a city on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. Adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef, it is in the dry tropics region of Queensland. Townsville is Australia's largest urban centre north of the Sunshine Coast, with a 2013 population estimate of 189,238, Considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland, Townsville hosts a significant number of governmental, community and major business administrative offices for the northern half of the state.
Popular attractions include "The Strand", a long tropical beach and garden strip; Riverway, a riverfront parkland attraction located on the banks of Ross River; Reef HQ, a large tropical aquarium holding many of the Great Barrier Reef's native flora and fauna; the Museum of Tropical Queensland, built around a display of relics from the sunken British warship HMS Pandora; The Townsville Sports Reserve; and Magnetic Island, a large neighbouring island, the vast majority of which is national park.
Inner city high-density development has also created population growth and gentrification of the central business district (CBD). One significant contributor to CBD development was the construction of a new rail passenger terminal and moving the railway workshops,releasing prime real estate which formerly belonged to Queensland Rail for the development of residential units, retail projects and a new performing arts centre. The skyline of Townsville's central business district has undergone dramatic changes over the last few years, with a number of new highrise buildings, both commercial and residential, constructed.
In the short term, much of the urban expansion will continue to the west and the north, in the former City of Thuringowa. The most significant of these is North Shore Estate, a new A$1 billion 5,000-lot housing estate, located close to the Bruce Highway, just north of the Bohle River. Medium term expansion of Townsville will be focused on two major urban developments anticipated to start soon. Rocky Springs, a satellite city to the south of Townsville, is expected to eventually be home to 55,000 people. Additionally, the State Government announced it will be offering 270ha of State-owned land (the former abattoir reserve), just south of the Bohle River, for future urban expansion.
Townsville has several large public assets as a result of its relative position and population. These include the largest campus of the only university in northern Queensland, James Cook University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science headquarters, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the large Army base atLavarack Barracks and RAAF Base Townsville.
The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is an international chamber music festival held over ten days each July in Townsville, North Queensland. The festival has been running since 1991, and attracts many acclaimed international and Australian musicians. Townsville also has its own orchestra, the Barrier Reef Orchestra, which presents concerts throughout North Queensland. The Townsville Entertainment Centre, seating over 5000 people, is host to many national and international music shows, as well as sporting and trade shows.
The region has many renowned festivals, many which celebrate the international heritage of many that call North Queensland home. The Annual Greek and Italian Festivals are popular with the locals and tourists alike. The Townsville South hotel and restaurant strip hosts an annual Palmer Street Jazz Festival, as does nearby Magnetic Island (The Great Tropical Jazz Party). The Stable on the Strand ( The Styling Stable) is celebrated each Christmas.
The Townsville Civic Theatre is North Queensland's premier cultural facility. Since its opening in 1978, the Theatre has been a centre of entertainment and performing arts, providing an environment to further develop the performing arts in Townsville and the North. The Full Throttle Theatre Company is a professional theatre company based in Townsville. Full Throttle showcases the talents of local actors, designers, directors and playwrights. It presents four major shows a year.
The Perc Tucker Regional Gallery is the public art gallery of Townsville. Located on the eastern end of Flinders Mall, the Gallery focuses on artwork relevant to North Queensland and the Tropics. Every second September the gallery presents sculpture artworks and art festival called Strand Ephemera, exhibited over the two kilometre beachfront strip.
The Townsville City Council and Townsville Intercultural Centre annually organises Cultural Fest in mid August in the Strand. The Cultural Fest showcases the cultural diversity of the city and dance, food, and music from different ethnic groups in the region.
The city has many restaurants, concentrated on Palmer Street in South Townsville, Flinders Street and to a lesser extend along the Strand. The city also has a vibrant pub and night-club scene, many of them located in Flinders Street East.