Qantas flies frequently from Townsville Airport to Brisbane, Cairns, Cloncurry, Mount Isa, and Mackay, as well as to capital cities around Australia and overseas destinations. Jetstar has services to Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne; Virgin Australia connects Townsville with Cairns, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Rockhampton, Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra. There are no air connections to Magnetic Island; you need to take a ferry from Townsville (one way, it’s A$14.50 for a walk-on passenger; A$89 for a vehicle with up to six passengers). Townsville Taxis are available at the airport. The average cost of the ride to a city hotel is A$22, more after 7 pm.
Townsville is a flat, somewhat dull 1,358-km (844-mile), 16-hour drive from Brisbane. The 348-km (216-mile), 4½-hour journey from here to Cairns, with occasional Hinchinbrook Island views, is more scenic. Greyhound Australia coaches travel regularly to Cairns, Mount Isa, Rockhampton, Brisbane, and other destinations throughout Australia from the SeaLink Terminal on Townsville’s Breakwater, also the departure point for Magnetic Island ferries, day cruises, and dive trips. Regular long-distance Queensland Rail services, most offering sleeper berths, connect Townsville with Brisbane, Cairns, Mount Isa, and dozens of towns en route.
Traveling to and from Townsville via rail is a low-stress, surprisingly comfortable option. The Sunlander plies the coast between Brisbane and Townsville three times weekly in each direction, taking just under 24 hours. You have the choice of economy-class seats and single, twin, or economy sleeper berths, as well as chef-cooked meals, premium Australian wines, and informative commentary from the maître d'. From Brisbane to Townsville a one-way ticket is A$235 in an economy seat, A$315 in a triple sleeper berth, and A$449 in a single or double berth.
On the smooth, state-of-the-art Cairns Tilt Train, business-class passengers can watch movies and kids’ shows on individual TV screens during less scenic segments of the journey, and every second seat’s passenger can plug laptops, chargers, and consoles into seat-side 240-volt AC sockets. From Brisbane to Townsville, a business-class seat is A$298. The new, super-modern Spirit of Queensland has reclining budget seats, and pod-like fold-flat RailBed seats with numerous mod cons: reading lights, entertainment consoles, USB and AC power plugs, bedding, towels, and toiletries; from Brisbane, a RailBed ticket is A$442.
Once in town, you can flag Townsville Taxis on the street, find one at taxi stands, hotels, and the island's ferry terminal, or book one online.