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Five mini-breaks to take in the north Queensland sun

Soak up the sunshine in north Queensland.

Soak up the sunshine in north Queensland. Photo: Townsville Enterprise

Winter chills have arrived and with them, thoughts return of your next sunny escape.

There are plenty of places to take a short getaway in Townsville North Queensland, where the sunshine is warm and the beaches picture perfect.

Here are five destinations – all within a 90-minute drive of northern Australia’s largest regional city – calling your name.

Orpheus Lodge

Blue skies and blue seas at Orpheus Lodge. Photo: Townsville Enterprise

Magnetic Island and Orpheus Island

‘Maggie’ as it’s affectionately known by locals, is just 20 minutes by ferry from Townsville.

The secluded island is a tropical paradise that is relatively untouched when compared with many other Queensland islands.

Wildlife is everywhere to be found on this national park; world-heritage island, including one of Australia’s largest colonies of wild koalas.

Those looking for high-end luxury are drawn to Orpheus Island.

The laidback, yet glamorous lodge there is the ultimate in island holidays. Later this year, this luxury property will be joined by Pelorus Lodge (Pelorus Island) and Ardo in Townsville.

Set on the Great Barrier Reef, the lodge takes just 28 visitors at a time and treats them to all-inclusive gourmet food, a pampering day spa, an infinity pool and a host of seaside activities to choose from.

Museum of Underwater Art

Marine sculptures at the Museum of Underwater Art. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Townsville

Head to Townsville where the sun shines 300 days a year, and offers the amenity of an urban centre on the gateway to two world-heritage ecosystems – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest.

The north Queensland capital barely registers winter – even in June and July temperatures range between 15 and 25 degrees.

There’s plenty to do and see, thanks to the scenic bushland landscapes, World Heritage rainforests and sandy beaches, not to mention the diverse events calendar making it the capital of events in regional Queensland.

Check out the Museum of Underwater Art where an internationally renowned sculptor has created marine artworks and placed near stunning pristine coral reef to support reef restoration.

Try the hatted restaurants, including JAM, A Touch of Salt and Bridgewater Restaurant and Botaniq Bar, and take in the vibrant arts and culture scene, including the street art walking trail.

Hinchinbrook Island

The beauty of Hinchinbrook Island. Photo: Megan MacKinnon

Hinchinbrook

Found just off the coast of north Queensland near Townsville, Hinchinbrook Island is a truly idyllic location.

The island has no permanent residents – limited to only 40 campers at any one time.

It’s the biggest island on the Great Barrier Reef with a pristine environment that’s protected by strict biodiversity rules.

Hikers, kayakers and photographers enjoy the uninhabited natural surrounds with landscapes ranging from untouched beaches, grassy wetlands and waterfalls set amid lush rainforests.

Hinchinbrook Island enjoys a plethora of wildlife with 66 bird species, 22 butterfly species and marine animals including turtles and dugongs.

Known globally for the iconic Thorsborne Trail (multi-day hike), visit this island on a day tour to explore hidden waterfalls and Instagrammable natural infinity pools.

Burdekin

Mount Inkerman lookout, Burdekin. Photo: Sean Scott

Burdekin

Known as the sugar cane capital of Australia, beautiful Burdekin is a great place for explorers with its bounty of unspoilt beaches to walk, boat or fish.

Found on the delta of the Burdekin River, the region is made up of two townships – Ayr and Home Hill, which are linked by the historic ‘silver link’ Burdekin Bridge.

One of Burdekin’s most popular attractions is the SS Yongala shipwreck.

Renowned as one of the world’s best dive sites, the Yongala sank in a cyclone off the coast in 1911. The ship’s coral-encrusted remains make for an excellent underwater adventure.

Above the waves, there is a vibrant boutique shopping scene, and tasty delis and cafes to tempt the tastebuds.

Texas Longhorn cattle

Texas Longhorn cattle will fascinate. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland

Charters Towers

One of the most accessible outback towns, Charters Towers is just 134 kilometres inland west from Townsville.

A historic Gold Rush town, many of the heritage buildings there were built during the 1800s.

Sample the old way of life by panning for gold at the Miner’s Cottage, where you can also see an operational blacksmith’s shop in action.

The Charters Towers Ghost Walk is a two-hour guided tour complete with spooky stories steeped in the town’s history.

Those who want to snap some real country photos can join The Texas Longhorn Tours to see some of the longest horned cattle in the world and take a horse-drawn wagon ride.

The Townsville region’s diversity is its distinction. Up for Unexpected – Townsville North Queensland.

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