Usually when I mention Townsville to an Aussie all they say is ‘Bogan central’. Being a Brit, I had no idea what that meant so I ignored it. I had pre-organised a month housesitting a parakeet and a bearded dragon for a lovely Canadian couple who were off to introduce their baby to their family back home.
I’d managed to organise this via Trusted Housesitters where for a small fee you can create a profile and contact people who need sitters. This is a great way to get free accommodation somewhere whilst living in a normal house setting and having the wonderful company of all sorts of animals.
Townsville itself is relatively quiet. The town is formed around the base of a hill, and has Magnetic Island just a ferry ride away. Whilst I’ve been here I’ve been to Reef HQ and Billabong Sanctuary, two great places that help teach people about all the different kinds of animals found in the area.
Reef HQ is more of an education centre than an aquarium. It’s been created to teach people all about the Great Barrier Reef; from what lives there, to how it’s being damaged by us.
It’s main tank is a man-made reef with natural sunlight, and it contains a large variety of fish and sea creatures. They also have a turtle sanctuary which you can go around on a tour at certain times of the day.
The Billabong Sanctuary is also very educational but not like Reef HQ. Where Reef has lots of things to read, Billabong has constant talks and shows on each animal.
I spent all my time there hopping from one talk to the next whilst checking out other animals in between. I learnt all about native birds to the area, wombats, koalas, dingoes, crocs, and turtles.
You can also buy packets of food for the kangaroos and birds that live on the billabong and hand feed them.
Housesitting in Townsville was a great month for me. I got to chill out with some beautiful animals, see the local wildlife, and bask in the sun whenever I wanted. It may be a quiet town with a few boy racers, but I wouldn’t let that put you off stopping there on your way up/down the coast.