Townsville Coastal Plains & Offshore

TownsvilleLocation“Townsville has a great variety of natural and built environments, and community will be supported to use and appreciate them. We recognise how our food and lifestyle choices can impact local produce markets and create pollution. We are rising to the challenges of helping everybody learn from past mistakes in soil and water management so that future generations can experience healthy urban and reef ecosystems.”


Townsville City lies on the shores of Cleveland Bay and Halifax Bay, protected to some degree from weather that predominantly comes from the south-east. Cleveland Bay is mostly shallow inshore, with several large beaches and continually shifting sand bars. The seagrass meadows and fringing reefs are home to rare dolphins, dugongs, migratory whales and turtles. The mouth of the Bohle River and Cleveland Bay are declared Fish Habitat Areas and Cleveland Bay is covered by a Dugong Protection Area.

The sub-region includes the coastal flats of the Ross, Black and Bohle rivers, which flow from the eastern slopes of Hervey Range, through Townsville’s urban and urban fringe areas. The Crystal Creek catchment extends from the Paluma Range’s tropical rainforests.

This sub-region also includes two populated islands within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage Area. Magnetic Island (Yunbenun) lies 8km offshore from Townsville. Nearly three quarters of the island’s 52 km² is national park, with Mt. Cook in the centre rising to 497 metres and the island is a haven for wildlife. Palm Island (Bwgcolman) is 65km north-west of Townsville and about 30km off-shore. It is the main island of the Greater Palm group, and comprises small bays, sandy beaches and steep forested mountains in a wet tropical climate.

Community and enterprise

With a growing population of over 190,000, Townsville is considered the unofficial capital of North Queensland. It hosts many government, community and major business administrative offices for the northern half of the state.

The Townsville region has a diverse economy with no single dominant sector. Townsville is an important service hub, linked to supply chains and value-adding services. The Port of Townsville is the primary sea link to the region’s mineral and agricultural areas, and population centres. The port handles an eighth of Queensland’s international trade (by value). Townsville City and its port are serviced by major national and state road and rail networks to the north, south and west (Port of Townsville, 2015). Townsville is unique as it is the only city globally to refine three different base metals; zinc, copper and nickel. Ross River Dam is located close to the city and provides the main water storage for the urban area.

The Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council manages most of the islands in the Greater Palm group. It has a resident community of about 2,600 people and a strong interest in cultural and eco tourism. Magnetic Island is a suburb of Townsville City with a population just over 2,400.

The Townsville sub-region’s growing population relies on secure water resources for domestic, commercial and industrial use. Expansion of the urban footprint also needs to consider impacts on land and biodiversity at a local landscape scale.

Townsville Coastal Plains & Offshore Community Priorities

Connected corridors and urban green space

“Our region is managed for residential lifestyles which are integrated with, and sensitive to, the natural environment. Our community wants to improve this by creating more natural links between urban green spaces and within agricultural land, identifying biodiversity hot spots, enhancing habitat and riparian corridors, and protecting intact coastal foreshores. The integrity of our coastline is important to protect against storm surges, waves, wind and overland flows, which may require sand and vegetation restoration works.”

Community education and partnerships for transformation

“We want to see more opportunities for the community, including the Indigenous community, to care for and access country, and make a difference for biodiversity conservation. Some people think our environmental problems are being taken care of, but we need large-scale transformational changes, rather than more of the same on-ground activities. We need access to accurate scientific information, and better, more targeted communication and education. We will try to achieve this by building on partnerships between individuals and community groups with local councils, the relevant State departments that are consolidated in our region, industry, and research organisations.”

Catchment to reef water management

“Our community sees water as the most valuable natural asset and we need to take a holistic view on how it is managed to protect the quality of water entering the GBR. Working with stakeholders across our region and with our neighbours, we will strive to collaboratively manage our waterways for low impact use, and diligently control sediments, nutrients and pest aquatic species.”

Strong governance

“Strong governance arrangements are needed for successful regional NRM, including a more ‘bottom-up’ and transparent approach. Our community will celebrate our successes, while implementing strategies to maintain volunteers, skills and funding. We need to find community champions who are strong voices for the environment, and ensure that we acknowledge competing stakeholder interests, while achieving successful social, economic and environmental outcomes.”

NQ Dry Tropics