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Free, fun and active things to do with kids in Townsville

Whether it’s school holidays or another weekend has rolled around where you’re out of money and ideas; we have put together this list to help you to get outside with the kids and do something active and fun — the stuff childhood memories are made of!

P.S. We’d love to hear your ideas! Please tell us what active things do you do with the kids in Townsville that cost either nothing or very little and we’ll add it to this list so the potential for fun keeps growing.


Scooting at Riverway. Image credit: Cheeky Monkey Photography

ONE ) Grab your skateboard, rollerblades or scooter and hit the local skate parks. You’d be surprised at how many there are. From Horseshoe Bay on the Island to Bushland Beach, Deeragun and Kirwan to Annandale and Garbutt, hopefully you’ll find one close to you.

TWO) Who could resist jumping on the flying fox at the Rockpool at The Strand, then hopping in the water to cool down? There’s plenty of grassed area nearby to dry off on.

THREE) With features for all ages and levels, take your BMX or mountain bike to one of Townsville’s BMX tracks. There’s one in Garbutt at Harold Phillips Park behind the Castle Hill PCYC. This track features table tops, step down and step up, berms, and a rhythm section. In Annandale there’s the Townsville Dirt Jump Park at Murray Sports Complex, Murray Lyons Drive. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced level features so everyone can get out there and give it a burn!

FOUR) Unleash your inner swashbuckling scallywag at Rowes Bay’s Soroptimist Park (corner of Cape Pallarenda Road and Primrose Street). The fantastic ship-themed playground is designed to be commanded. There are two separate areas – one for toddlers and one for school-aged children. Have a look at Townsville Kids’ report. For those new to town, there’s also the famous Waterpark on The Strand. At the end of Fryer Street, it has a very cool tipping bucket and is open all year around (kids don’t seem to feel the cold!). Please note: The Strand Waterpark is closed for a renewal until late 2016.

Sanctum playground.

Sanctum playground.

FIVE) Speaking of playgrounds, in the northern beaches’ Sanctum has one of the region’s largest. The massive 430sqm children’s paradise sits within a new three hectare park and features a number of pieces of super-cool equipment, including a pendulum rope swing and five-child spinner bowl. Adjacent to this is a 5000sqm purpose-built dog park so you don’t have to leave the four-legged family members at home. This purpose-built facility features obstacles, mounds and designated areas for dogs of all shapes and sizes. The Sanctum community is on Bonnet Road, just off Mount Low Parkway.


Cape Pallarenda and the glorious view. Image credit: Captain Active.

SIX) Go for a bush walk at the Cape Pallarenda and Townsville Town Common conservation parks. These picturesque trails range from easy walks to challenging hikes, so consider the age of your kids, give yourself enough time and bring heaps of water and snacks. Have a look at National Parks’ website for the trails, the distances, duration and difficulty. There are some beauties!

SEVEN) While at Pallarenda (or perhaps on a return trip) head to the rock wall at the end of the car park and go rock hopping. Be careful, but it’s fascinating climbing over the boulders and exploring this world. See what creatures, shells and other treasures you can find. When back on the beach or in the park across the road, a suggestion from Nature Play QLD is to place a small rope or string on the ground and count or identify the number of living things that can be found in the loop – it can be plants, ants, beetles; whatever you like. Do this the next time you’re out and compare the results.

EIGHT) A great activity to do with family or friends, head to one of the many basketball courts we have. Parents can either shoot a few hoops with the kids, or bring a group of their friends to have a proper game. Quite a few of these courts have barbecue facilities nearby so you can have a nice bite to eat after and make an afternoon of it. Check out TCC’s Outdoor Facilities page for a full list of the full courts, half and quarter basketball courts in Townsville.

NINE) Spend the day on one of Magnetic Island’s stunning beaches. If you have or hire a boat you can get around to the secluded Five Beach Bay; but if you’re relying on your car or public transport, Alma Bay and Horseshoe Bay are fantastic for kids with facilities like toilets and food nearby. Swim, play games in the sand, and even venture onto some of the island’s fantastic walking trail networks. From Horseshoe Bay, there is the easy Horseshoe Bay Lagoon trail, which is 200m return; or for a bigger challenge, try the Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay Track, which is 2.5km return, graded moderate and takes about an hour. Best to do this one with older kids as it involves climbing. Have a look at National Parks’ website for more information.

TEN) Pick an easier Castle Hill track and take your time getting to the top. Some good options are the Cudtheringa Track or West Ridge Track; but if you’re not too fussed about getting to the summit and just want a chance to explore; the Maidenhair and Triandra Tracks are fantastic flatter options. For distances and start and finish locations, see TheGo’s Castle Hill Map. Remember it’s not a route march — Stop to admire the view and bring plenty of snacks to enjoy.


Always remember those active snacks! Image credit: Captain Active.

ELEVEN) Do a half-day trip south to Alligator Creek or north to Crystal Creek. Kids will love exploring these imagination-fuelling areas, having a dip and even doing some of the shorter walks. The more adventurous can set up camp and spend the night under the stars. Visit National Park’s website for more information about Crystal Creek and the easy Rockslides Walk at Big Crystal Creek. Plus there’s lots of info about Bowling Green National Park at Alligator Creek.

TWELVE) Hit the trails for a family mountain bike ride. Choose a track that suits your kids’ age and ability. The Freshwater Lagoon Loop is good at Pallarenda, while Douglas has a dedicated Mountain Bike Reserve, with Scrub Pythons and Fruit Loop offer fantastic beginner’s mountain bike track options for kids to try. There’s also a skills park with various obstacles which is fantastic for the little dare devils.


There are plenty of MTB options in Townsville.

THIRTEEN) If you prefer bike riding on the pavement over the dirt; head out on the Riverway bike paths, which have some brilliant loops involving the bridges. Plus there’s the beautiful 2.2km stretch of The Strand, and now the opportunity to extend the ride via Jezzine Barracks to Rowes Bay and Pallarenda (if little legs will allow). Check out Townsville City Council’s website for information about local walks and trails, and download the Active Travel Guide, which shows the bikeways and walking trails. Also the bridge circuits on Ross River are worth investigating, including the Wetlands Circuit (5.9km), Aplin’s Weir Circuit (5.3km) and Federation Circuit (7.2km).

FOURTEEN) Bait-up and go fishing! You don’t need to spend much at all, just grab a basic handline and head to the Breakwater, Pallarenda, the Rockpool, South Townsville bridge or The Strand Jetty. Or head further north to Saunders Beach Creek. There’s so much to see and learn with a fishing rod and kids will love discovering nature (and are guaranteed to show you up!).


Get the kids into nature for incidental exercise. Image credit: Captain Active.

FIFTEEN) The Bohle and Bushland Beach are great spots for pumping yabbies – just watch out for the potential dangers associated with being around our river systems (yep, crocs).

SIXTEEN) Explore the city’s botanic gardens: Anderson Gardens in Pimlico, Queen’s Gardens in North Ward (which have aviaries for kids to learn about birds), Dan Gleeson Gardens in Kirwan and the Palmetum in Annandale make for lovely walks, plus have lots of grassed spaces to throw around the frisbee or football, or play something a bit different like bocce or quoits, in a secluded and scenic location. Find out more about each botanic garden and their location. A full list of Townsville most popular parks and their facilities can be found here.

Jezzine playground. Image credit: Department of infrastructure local government and planning

Jezzine playground. Image credit: Department of infrastructure local government and planning

SEVENTEEN) New to this guide is Jezzine Barracks Stage II, which was officially opened in August 2016 and includes a very impressive military-style playground. Featuring climbing nets, a flying fox, a fort with observation slits and a climbing wall, plus seating, barbecues, drink fountains and shelters, it’s the perfect spot for a morning or afternoon outing, or to host the next birthday party.

Thanks to our resident superhero Captain Active for many of these suggestions.

A good reason to make an effort:

Active Healthy Kids Australia recently released its first report card on physical activity levels for children in Australia. The result? A very ‘could do better if only they applied themselves’ D-. The scary part: Just 19% of Australians aged 5-17 years meet the recommended daily exercise guidelines*. Make sure you are not one of those families!

* Australian physical activity guidelines: accumulating at least 60 minutes of MVPA every day of the week.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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