%%factsheet%% With its international airport, numerous hotels, fine restaurants and casino, Queensland's second largest city appears quiet metropolitan. But only a short drive away are long, secluded beaches; lush rainfalls and old goldmining towns littered with historical buildings.
Another historic site serves as a major drawcard for Townsville's diving industry. In 1911 the luxury steamship SS Yongala was battered to death by cyclonic seas, going down with 240 passengers and crew. Today the 110.6-metre, 3,663-ton steamer is Australia's most acclaimed wreck dive, thanks mainly to the marine life now swarming all over her.
Everywhere you look the huge wreck's been bedecked with encrusting corals and sponges, seafans and seawhips, this and that. Then there are the less sedentary sorts. Butterflyfish, sweetlips, stingrays, lionfish, stonefish, Mangrove jacks, tuna, Rainbow runners, turtles, Eagle Rays, barracuba, Queensland Grouper, sea snakes and sharks. Not to mention a healthy population of lobsters, shrimps and nudibranchs.
There's just on catch: bad wather can preclude diving here.
Townsville's next most popular destination would have to be the large Coarl Sea.