Townsville's CBD viewed from Central Park, with Castle Hill in the background.
|Population||180,333 (2015) (13th)|
|• Density||259.025/km2 (670.87/sq mi)|
|Area||696.2 km2 (268.8 sq mi) (2011 urban)|
|Time zone||AEST (UTC+10)|
|LGA(s)||City of Townsville|
Townsville is a city on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. It is in the dry tropics region of Queensland, adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef. Townsville is Australia's largest urban centre north of the Sunshine Coast, with a 2015 population estimate of 180,333. Considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland by locals, 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; Castle Hill or as it was originally known Cootharinga, the most prominent landmark of the area and a popular fitness destination; The Townsville Sports Reserve; and Magnetic Island, a large neighbouring island, the vast majority of which is national park.
- 1 History
- 2 Urban layout
- 3 Geography
- 4 Governance
- 5 Economy
- 6 Demographics
- 7 Education
- 8 Culture, events and festivals
- 9 Media and communications
- 10 Sport and recreation
- 11 Infrastructure
- 12 Defence facilities
- 13 Notable people
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Such indigenous groups as the Wulgurukaba, Bindal, Girrugubba, Warakamai and Nawagi, among others, originally inhabited the Townsville area. The Wulgurukaba claim to be the traditional owner of the Townsville city area; the Bindal had a claim struck out by the Federal Court of Australia in 2005.
James Cook visited the Townsville region on his first voyage to Australia in 1770, but did not actually land there. Cook named nearby Cape Cleveland, Cleveland Bay and Magnetic(al) Island. In 1819, Captain Phillip Parker King and botanist Alan Cunningham were the first Europeans to record a local landing. In 1846, James Morrill was shipwrecked from the Peruvian, living in the Townsville area among the Bindal people for 17 years before being found by white men and returned to Brisbane.
The Burdekin River's seasonal flooding made the establishment of a seaport north of the river essential to the nascent inland cattle industry. John Melton Black of Woodstock Station, an employee of Sydney entrepreneur and businessman Robert Towns, dispatched Andrew Ball, Mark Watt Reid and a detachment of 8 troopers of the Native Police to search for a suitable site. Ball's party reached the Ross Creek in April 1864 and established a camp below the rocky spur of Melton Hill, near the present Customs House on The Strand. Edward Kennedy, a member of the surveying party, recalls the native police chasing local tribesmen into the ocean and 'pumping lead' at them. On the return journey to Port Denison, the group 'dispersed' another aboriginal clan, rounding up fifteen women 'who remained at the scene of combat' and abducted them back to the barracks. No mention is made of the fate of any children. The first party of settlers, led by W. A. Ross, arrived at Cleveland Bay from Woodstock Station on 5 November of that year. In 1866 Robert Towns visited for three days, his first and only visit. He agreed to provide ongoing financial assistance to the new settlement and Townsville was named in his honour.
Townsville was declared a municipality in February 1866, with John Melton Black elected as its first Mayor. Townsville developed rapidly as the major port and service centre for the Cape River, Gilbert, Ravenswood, Etheridge and Charters Towers goldfields. Regional pastoral and sugar industries also expanded and flourished. Townsville's population was 4,000 people in 1882 and grew to 13,000 by 1891.
In 1901 Lord Hopetoun made a goodwill tour of northern Australia and accepted an invitation to officially open Townsville's town hall, occasioning the first ever vice-regal ceremonial unfurling of the Australian national flag. With Brisbane, in 1902 Townsville was proclaimed a City under the Local Authorities Act.
The rural land surrounding the city was initially managed by the Thuringowa Road Board, which eventually became the Shire of Thuringowa. The shire ceded land several times to support Townsville's expansion. In 1986 the Shire became incorporated as a city, governed by the Thuringowa City Council. The cities of Townsville and Thuringowa were amalgamated into the "new" Townsville City Council in March 2008, as part of the Queensland state government's reform program.
In 1896, Japan established its first Australian consulate in Townsville, primarily to serve some 4,000 Japanese workers who migrated to work in the sugar cane, turtle, trochus, beche de mer and pearling industries. With the introduction of the White Australia policy, the demand for Japanese workers decreased, causing the consulate to finally close in 1908.
Second World War
During the Second World War, the city was host to more than 50,000 American and Australian troops and air crew, and it became a major staging point for battles in the South West Pacific. A large United States Armed Forces contingent supported the war effort from seven airfields and other bases around the city and in the region. The first bombing raid on Rabaul, in Papua New Guinea, on 23 February 1942 was carried out by six B-17s based near Townsville.
Some of the units based in Townsville were:
- No. 3 Fighter Sector RAAF, Wulguru & North Ward
- 1 Wireless Unit, Pimlico & Stuart & Roseneath
- North Eastern Area Command HQ, Townsville, Sturt Street (now the Federation building)
- Castle Hill, Townsville underground tunnels & bunkers
- Green St. Bunker, West End, Sidney Street West End, Project 81 (now the SES building)
- 96th Engineer Battalion (which mutinied in April 1942.)
In July 1942, three small Japanese air raids were conducted against Townsville, which was by then the most important air base in Australia. Several 500-pound (230-kilogram) bombs were dropped in the harbour, near the Garbutt airfield and at Oonoonba, where bomb craters are still clearly visible. No lives were lost and structural damage was minimal, as the Japanese missed their intended target of the railway and destroyed a palm tree. Although the Japanese aircraft were intercepted on two of the three raids, no Japanese planes were shot down.
Two very significant hotels on Flinders Street were lost. Buchanan's Hotel was regarded by architectural historians as Australia's most significant building in the Filigree style was lost to fire in 1982 and the Alexandra Hotel to demolition in the 1970s.
Eddie Mabo, who later became famous for his involvement in overturning the legal fiction of terra nullius, worked as a gardener at James Cook University in the 1970s and 1980s. It was here he first learned of the implications of the terra nullius doctrine and decided to take on the Australian government. The James Cook University Douglas campus library is now named after him.
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. Elliot Springs, a satellite city to the south of Townsville, is expected to be home to 26,000 people by 2057. Additionally, the Queensland Government announced it will be offering 270 hectares (670 acres) of State-owned land (the former abattoir reserve), just south of the Bohle River, for future urban expansion.
Townsville lies approximately 1,350 kilometres (840 mi) north of Brisbane, and 350 kilometres (220 mi) south of Cairns. It lies on the shores of Cleveland Bay, protected to some degree from the predominantly south-east weather. Cleveland Bay is mostly shallow inshore, with several large beaches and continually shifting sand bars. Magnetic Island lies 8 kilometres (5 mi) offshore, to the north of the city centre.
The Ross River flows through the city. Three weirs, fish stocking and dredging of the river in these reaches has resulted in a deep, stable and clean waterway used for many recreational activities such as waterskiing, fishing and rowing. Thirty kilometres from the mouth (at the junction of Five Head Creek) is the Ross River Dam, the major water storage for the urban areas.
The historic waterfront on Ross Creek, site of the original wharves and port facilities, has some old buildings mixed with the later modern skyline. However, the central city is dominated by the mass of red granite called Castle Hill, 292 metres (958 ft) high and just 8 metres short of being a mountain. There is a lookout at the summit giving panoramic views of the city and its suburbs, including Cleveland Bay and Magnetic Island. There are a number of parks scattered throughout the city, including three botanical gardens — Anderson Park, Queens Gardens and The Palmetum.
Townsville is characterised as a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). Owing to a quirk of geographical location, Townsville's winter rainfall in particular is not as high as elsewhere in the eastern coastal tropics of Queensland, such as Cairns. The winter months are dominated by southeast trade winds and mostly fine weather. Further north the coastline runs north/south and the trade winds are lifted to produce rainfall right through the year. Townsville, however, lies on a section of coastline that turns east/west, so the lifting effect is not present. As a result, winter months are dominated by blue skies, warm days and cool nights, although at times significant rainfall may occur.
Kenneth Wade Robinson summarised the climate as follows:
The sunshine attracts many tourists; but the high temperatures, bright sunshine, lack of moisture in the winter, and the prospect of flooding in the summer have a profound effect on all aspects of life and landscape. Special techniques are required for successful farming, sub-tropical crops are important items of production, pastures grow only in summer, and transport may be dislocated when it is needed most. Since the onset of white settlement, pastoralists and farmers of the North-East Coastlands Region have faced problems for which there are no answers in the agriculture practices of temperate lands.
The average annual rainfall is 1,143 millimetres (45.00 in) on an average 91 rain days, most of which falls during the six-month "wet season" from November to April. Because of the "hit or miss" nature of tropical lows and thunderstorms, and the powerful influence of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, variation from year to year is almost uniquely large for so wet a climate, being comparable only to a few cities in the Brazilian Nordeste (e.g. Fortaleza). Since records at various urban locations started in 1871 twelve-month rainfalls in Townsville have ranged from a mere 217.9 millimetres (8.58 in) between December 1901 and November 1902 at the peak of the Federation Drought, to as much as 2,956.2 millimetres (116.39 in) between March 1990 and February 1991. On average, the driest year in ten can expect only half the mean rainfall, compared to around 64 percent in Brisbane, 68 percent in Sydney, and 72 percent in Darwin.
Rainfall also varies considerably within the metropolitan area; it typically ranges from 1,136 millimetres (44.7 in) at central Townsville City to 853 millimetres (33.6 in) at Woodstock, a southwestern suburb. The wettest 24 hours on record was 11 January 1998, with 548.8 millimetres (21.61 in) falling mostly in a 12-hour period after dark, which has since been dubbed the "Night of Noah" by Townsville residents.
December is the warmest month of the year with daily mean maximum and minimum temperatures being 31.5 °C (88.7 °F) and 24.1 °C (75.4 °F) respectively. July is the coolest month with daily mean maximum and minimum temperatures being 25.1 °C (77.2 °F) and 13.7 °C (56.7 °F). Townsville experiences an annual mean of 8.5 hours of sunshine per day, averaging 120.8 clear days per year.
Like most of North Queensland, Townsville is susceptible to tropical cyclones. They usually occur between December and April, forming mainly out in the Coral Sea, and usually tracking west to the coast. Notable cyclones to affect the Townsville Region have been: Cyclone Yasi (2011), Cyclone Tessi (2000), Cyclone Sid (1998, in particular damaging The Strand), Cyclone Joy (1990), Cyclone Althea (1971), Cyclone Leonta (1903) and Cyclone Sigma (1896).
Townsville and Thuringowa experienced major flooding in January 1998 due to Cyclone Sid.
Townsville is governed by a City Council, comprising an independently elected Mayor and 10 Councillors who each represent a separate division within the local government area. Following local government reform undertaken by the Government of Queensland prior to the March 2008 elections, the previous entities of NQ Water, The City of Townsville and the City of Thuringowa were amalgamated.
The Mayor of Townsville is Jenny Hill, a member of the Labor Party. Hill was elected in April 2012, replacing the retiring Les Tyrell and defeating main opposing candidate Dale Last. Tyrell was the immediate past Mayor for 17 years of the former local government authority, the City of Thuringowa. The previous Mayor of Townsville for 19 years was Tony Mooney (Australian Labor Party). Hill faced a largely hostile chamber in her first term, with 'Townsville First' candidates winning the majority of divisions. When local government elections were held in March 2016, Jenny Hill was re-elected as Mayor of Townsville while all ten of her Team Jenny Hill candidates (which included two sitting councillors) won in their respective divisions.
- Electoral district of Burdekin (southern suburbs): Dale Last MP (Liberal National Party of Queensland)
- Electoral district of Hinchinbrook (northern suburbs): Nick Dametto MP (Katter's Australian Party)
- Electoral district of Mundingburra (central/southern suburbs): Coralee O'Rourke MP (Australian Labor Party)
- Electoral district of Thuringowa (western/northern suburbs): Aaron Harper MP (Australian Labor Party)
- Electoral district of Townsville (CBD + Magnetic & Palm Islands): Scott Stewart MP (Australian Labor Party)
The majority of the population of Townsville is represented in the Australian House of Representatives by Cathy O'Toole of the Australian Labor Party, first elected as the member for the Division of Herbert at the 2016 federal election. Historically a swinging seat, it is only held by a small margin. Some of the suburbs on the southern fringe of the urban area are part of the Division of Dawson and are represented by George Christensen, representing the Liberal National Party. Christensen is based in Mackay, about 400 kilometres (250 mi) south of Townsville, but he has a part-time office in Wulguru. Some of the northern suburbs of Townsville, known collectively as the "Northern Beaches", are included in the Division of Kennedy which is represented by Bob Katter (Katter's Australian Party), who is based in Mount Isa about 900 kilometres (560 mi) west of Townsville.
Economic growth in the region was "not restricted to heavy industry growth attributed to the resources boom under the Howard Government, [as] the region's tourism growth also outstripped neighbouring regions."
- Residents in Townsville have average household incomes about 10% above the state average: in 2003/04 it was closer to the New South Wales average than the Queensland average. [needs update]
- The city remains popular with tourists, and backpackers are particularly drawn to Magnetic Island and the Great Barrier Reef. The city has excellent diving and snorkelling facilities, with a variety of vessels using the port as a home base for their reef tourism activities.
In 2004, there were 11,762 businesses in Townsville and 4,610 in Thuringowa. There were still "lots of well-paying job opportunities" in the city itself come mid-2008, when the number of unemployed had risen (nationally) by 100,000 workers, including "considerable employment requirements" in the trades (280 job vacancies), engineering (117), administration (100), sales (97) and hospitality (90). Townsville hosted the head office of $4 billion financial advice company Storm Financial, until its collapse in early 2009.
The city also has its own manufacturing and processing industries. Townsville is the only city globally to refine three different base metals — zinc, copper and nickel — and it is currently in strong contention for an aluminium refinery. Nickel ore is imported from Indonesia, the Philippines and New Caledonia and processed at the Yabulu Nickel refinery, 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of the port. Zinc ore is transported by rail from the Cannington Mine, south of Cloncurry, for smelting at the Sun Metals refinery south of Townsville. Copper concentrate from the smelter at Mount Isa is also railed to Townsville for further refining at the copper refinery at Stuart.
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 at Lavarack Barracks and RAAF Base Townsville.
Townsville has a younger population than the Australian and Queensland averages. The city has traditionally experienced a high turnover of people, with the army base and government services bringing in many short to medium term workers. The region has also become popular with mine workers on fly in/fly out contracts. In 2005–06, the Townsville Statistical District grew at just over 3 per cent and was the fifth-fastest-growing district or division in Australia. Between 2000 and 2005 the annual average population growth in Townsville was 2.5%, compared with 2.2% for Queensland overall. However, growth has slowed in more recent years with population growth over the 2014–15 period being 1%, compared with the state average of 1.2%.
|1991||114,063||figures from 1991 census|
|1996||122,415||figures from 1996 census|
|figures from 2001 census|
There are over 60 private and State schools of primary and secondary education within the Townsville area. Townsville Grammar School is the oldest co-educational school on the Australian mainland. The Townsville State High School opened on 7 June 1924. 
James Cook University
James Cook University (JCU) is a public university based in Townsville. Established in 1970, the main campus is located in the suburb of Douglas. JCU was the second university in Queensland and the first in North Queensland. The University has a strong and internationally recognised expertise in marine & tropical biology. The JCU Medical School was established in 1999 and is linked with the adjacent tertiary-level Townsville Hospital. The Veterinary Sciences undergraduate facility is the newest in Australia.
The city is home to the Pimlico and Aitkenvale campuses of TAFE Queensland North — a Technical and Further Education College, a campus of Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges, and Tec-NQ.
Culture, events and festivals
The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is an international chamber music festival held over ten days each July in Townsville. 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 more than 5,000 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 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. The festival has been held in various locations across the city over its history, and is currently held on the grounds of James Cook University. 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 several museums. The Maritime Museum of Townsville, also known as the Townsville Maritime Museum, is located as part of the Port of Townsville. Its features include HMAS Townsville, the SS Yongala, and lenses from current and former lighthouses. The Museum of Tropical Queensland (abbreviated MTQ) is a museum of natural history, archaeology and history. In addition to housing artifacts from the wrecks, the museum administers the shipwreck sites for the HMS Pandora and the SS Yongala.
The city has many restaurants, concentrated on Palmer Street in South Townsville, Flinders Street and to a lesser extent along the Strand. The city also has a vibrant pub and night-club scene, many of them located in Flinders Street East.
Townsville is the stunning setting for the state-of-the-art futuristic city in the 2015 novel, 'A Tango with the Dragon.'
Media and communications
Townsville is the media centre for North Queensland, with four commercial and five narrowcast radio stations, North Queensland ABC radio station, three commercial television stations, one regional daily newspaper and one community weekly newspaper (both owned by News Ltd). There are no local Sunday papers although The Sunday Mail (Qld) — based in Brisbane — does have a North Queensland edition. Media distributed on the World Wide Web include the Townsville Bulletin.
Sport and recreation
Townsville hosts several sporting teams that participate in national competitions. These include the North Queensland Cowboys (National Rugby League), and the Townsville Fire (Women's National Basketball League) who play at the Townsville RSL Stadium. The city also formerly hosted the Townsville Crocodiles, (National Basketball League) who played out of the Townsville Entertainment Centre, known as The Swamp during Crocs home games.
1300SMILES Stadium is the home ground for the Cowboys. Built in 1995 the stadium has a capacity of 30,302. 1300SMILES Stadium was an official venue the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup, with three matches played in Townsville. Townsville hosted the popular Japanese national rugby union team.. Tony Ireland Stadium, in the suburb of Thuringowa, has an international standard cricket and AFL stadium.
Townsville also hosts two Touch Football associations. The Townsville/Castle Hill Touch Association (TCHTA) conducts competitions annually at its grounds at Queens Park, Townsville. Thuringowa Touch Association (TTA) also conducts competitions at Greenwood Park, Kirwan. Both competitions have produced a host of regional, state and national representative players and officials.
Townsville and its surrounding suburbs host a number of junior and senior rugby league sides in the successful Townsville District Rugby League, including A-grade sides: Bindal Sharks, Brothers Townsville, University Saints and Centrals ASA Tigers. The junior league has produced a number of Australian internationals such as Gorden Tallis and Gene Miles.
Townsville and District Rugby Union run a successful Winter Junior and Senior Rugby Union competition including teams from Ingham, Charters Towers and Ayr. Townsville has produced a number of Wallabies in past including Peter Grigg and Sam Scott-Young.
Several Australian Test and ODI cricketers have come out of Townsville including fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, Andrew Symonds and James Hopes. In 2012 Townsville hosted under 19 cricket World Cup preliminary matches, semi finals and the final featuring Australia and India.
Townsville also has a go cart track and motocross track, Townsville had a 1/4-mile dragstrip, but it closed its gates on 25 August 2012 due to urban development.
Rowing occurs at Townsville & JCU Rowing Club and Riverway Rowing Club. Both clubs cater to competitive masters, social, learn to row and school-based rowing programs. In 2009 the Townsville & JCU club won its first Queensland Club Premiership and in 2010 Riverway club claimed theirs.
Townsville has 3 Tennis Clubs. The Western Suburbs Tennis Club Inc, Tennis Townsville Inc and Kalynda Chase Tennis Centre. Each year Tennis Townsville host the NQ Open Championships and Western Suburbs Tennis Club host the Townsville Open. These tournaments see Australian and international players competing for up to $10,000 prize money and the opportunity to improve their Australian Tennis Ranking.
The Townsville Hospital is a 580-bed university teaching hospital in the suburb of Douglas. The Townsville Hospital was formally located in North Ward whose main building serves an example of the Streamline Moderne style of architecture. It is co-located with the James Cook University School of Medicine. The hospital caters for the city of Townsville, as well as people in the north as far as Thursday Island and Papua New Guinea, west to Mount Isa and south to Sarina. During the year 2010, the hospital admitted 54,941 patients, and had 60,676 presentations to the emergency department. The hospital is also the major tertiary maternity centre, with 2,308 babies delivered in 2010.
The Townsville Hospital is undergoing a $437 million redevelopment as of 2011, delivering an additional 100 beds, a four-storey expanded Emergency Department, expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and expansion of oncology services. The Emergency Department will be the largest in Queensland.
There are four other public health campuses in Townsville: the Kirwan Health Campus, the Magnetic Island Health Service Centre, the North Ward Health Campus and the Townsville Hospital Dentist, located in North Ward.
Townsville is the intersection point of the A1 (Bruce Highway), and the A6 (Flinders Highway) National Highways. The Townsville Ring Road, planned to become part of the re-routed A1 route bypass, circumnavigates the city.
Townsville has a public transport system contracted to Sunbus Townsville, which provides regular services between many parts of the city. Public transport is also available from the CBD to Bushland Beach. Regular ferry and vehicular barge services operate to Magnetic Island and Palm Island.
The Tilt Train service connects Townsville railway station to Brisbane in the south and Cairns in the north. Townsville is a major destination and generator of rail freight services. The North Coast railway line, operated by Queensland Rail, meets the Western line in the city's south. Container operations are also common and the products of the local nickel and copper refineries, as well as minerals from the western line (Mount Isa), are transported to the port via trains. The Port of Townsville has bulk handling facilities for importing cement, nickel ore and fuel, and for exporting sugar and products from North Queensland's mines. The port has three sugar-storage sheds, with the newest being the largest under-cover storage area in Australia.
The city is served by Townsville International Airport. The Airport handles direct domestic flights to Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, as well as direct regional flights to destinations such as Cairns, Mount Isa, Rockhampton and Mackay. Airlines currently servicing the airport include Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, Tigerair Australia, Regional Express, Qantaslink, Airnorth and Skytrans. In 2015, Jetstar began regular international flights from Townsville to Denpasar, Bali.
The Australian Army maintains a very strong presence in the north of Australia and this is evident by the basing of the Army's 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. The 3rd Brigade is a light infantry brigade. The brigade consists of three light infantry battalions — the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment (1, 2 and 3 RAR) — and a cavalry contingent — the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. It also has integral Artillery, Engineer, Aviation Reconnaissance and Combat Service Support units. It is a high-readiness brigade that has been deployed frequently at very short notice on combat operations outside mainland Australia. These include Somalia, Rwanda, Namibia, East Timor, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to the 3rd Brigade, a number of other major units are based in Townsville. These include the 5th Aviation Regiment, equipped with MRH-90 and Chinook helicopters, co-located at the RAAF Base in Garbutt and the 10th Force Support Battalion based at Ross Island. 10 FSB is a force logistics unit that provides back up logistic support to deployed units. The battalion provides specialist transport (including amphibious) and supply support. Along with this there is also the 11th Combat Service Support Battalion and the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment.
The Army also maintains an Army Reserve brigade in Townsville designated the 11th Brigade. This formation is similar in structure to the 3rd Brigade but comprises reserve soldiers only. There is also two active cadet units, 130 ACU located within Heatley Secondary College and 15 ACU located on Lavarack Barracks as of 2010, previously located at Ignatius Park College.
As with the Army, the Royal Australian Air Force also maintains a presence in Townsville. RAAF Base Townsville, which is located in the suburb of Garbutt, houses the Beech KingAir 350 aircraft from No. 38 Squadron RAAF. This unit operated the venerable DHC-4 Caribou aircraft until late 2009; however, it has re-equipped in the short term while protracted analysis for a more appropriate Battlefield Transport and Utility aircraft continues. This detachment provides support to the Army units in Townsville. The base is also a high readiness Defence asset and is prepared to accept the full range of RAAF aircraft types as well as other international aircraft including the huge C-17 Globemaster III and the Ukrainian Antonov transport aircraft.
Townsville is also the staging point for the movement of personnel and materials to the remote parts of Northern Australia and many overseas locations. The Australian Navy's two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ships visit Townsville frequently to exercise with the 3rd Brigade and other troops and formations from the area and deploy them when tasked.
- Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks
- Jarrod Bannister, Australian athlete and Olympian
- Ben Bennett, Australian singer
- James Cannan former Australian major general
- Clem Christesen, journalist and editor of the Australian literary magazine, Meanjin
- Natalie Cook, Olympic beach volleyball player
- Tony David, professional darts champion
- Billy Doolan, Australian Indigenous artist
- Rick Farley, Australian activist for Indigenous Australians rights and former CEO National Farmers Federation
- Renita Farrell-Garard, Australian hockey player and dual Olympic gold medalist
- Rachael Finch, Miss Universe Australia 2009 and 3rd Runner-up at Miss Universe 2009
- Charles Raymond Gurney, Australian aviator
- Rob Hammond, Australian field hockey player
- Bill Heatley, former Liberal senator
- Valentine Holmes, Australian Rugby League player, playing for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
- James Hopes, Australian cricketer
- Mitchell Johnson, Australian cricketer
- Laurie Lawrence, Australian Olympic swimming coach
- Luke McLean, Italian Australian Rugby Union player
- Gene Miles, former Australian Rugby League player
- Jack Miller, Australian Moto3 and MotoGP rider
- Greg Norman, former golf number 1
- Aaron Payne, Australian Rugby League player
- Ralph Douglas Kenneth Reye, Australian pathologist who first described Reye's syndrome.
- Madge Ryan, Hollywood film actress
- Yvonne Sampson, Nine Network sports journalist
- Russell Skerman, Supreme Court judge
- Jake Spencer, Australian Football League player
- Patricia Staunton, Australian magistrate and former NSW politician
- Francis Stuart, Irish writer born here in 1902
- Andrew Symonds, former Australian cricketer played for the Wanderers club in Townsville
- Gorden Tallis, former Australian Rugby League player
- Sam Thaiday, State of Origin and Australian rugby league player
- Pud Thurlow, Australian test cricketer in the 1930s
- Johnathan Thurston, first North Queensland Cowboys NRL Premiership winning co/Captain with Matthew Scott
- Libby Trickett (née Lenton), Australian Olympic swimmer
- John Vause, CNN reporter and anchor
- Air Vice Marshal Ellis Wackett, Australian military aviation pioneer
- Sir Lawrence Wackett, Australian aircraft industry pioneer
- Natalie Weir, Australian choreographer
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