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About Townsville Town Common

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Getting there and getting around

Lagoon trail is a scenic ride through coastal woodland with views over Freshwater Lagoon. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Lagoon trail is a scenic ride through coastal woodland with views over Freshwater Lagoon. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Townsville Town Common Conservation Park is 6 km north of the Townsville city centre. Vehicle access to the park is via the main entrance on the turn-off from Cape Pallarenda Road, near the Rowes Bay Golf Club. The gate at this entrance is open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm daily.

Vehicles must remain on Freshwater Lagoon road (see map). Driving is not allowed in all other areas.

Walkers and mountain bike riders can also enter the park from the eastern end of the Lagoon trail, off Cape Pallarenda Road, and from the Shelly Cove trail in Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.

Wheelchair accessibility

The Freshwater bird hide and its access track from Freshwater car park are wheelchair accessible.

Park features

Take a breather and enjoy the view from Smedley's trail. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Take a breather and enjoy the view from Smedley's trail. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Known locally as the Town Common, the park is close to the bustling city centre of Townsville and is a great place to enjoy nature and fantastic coastal views.

Visitors can hike across the Many Peaks Range, enjoy expansive island views while riding the Under the Radar or Smedley's trails or take the trail to the beautiful and secluded Shelly Beach.

Deep-water lagoons, seasonal wetlands, coastal woodlands and sheltered beaches bordered by rocky headlands all feature in this park. Mangrove-lined tributaries of the Bohle River meander across the floodplains that fill each year during the wet summer months.

Up to 280 bird species have been recorded in the area. Magpie geese, brolgas and many others gather here to feed and nest, particularly as the wetlands dry out and food sources become concentrated in the remaining lagoons.

Camping and accommodation

Camping

Camping is not permitted in Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

Other accommodation

There is a range of holiday accommodation in and around Townsville. For more information see the tourism information links.

Things to do

Some of the trails are shared-use, for walkers and mountain bike riders. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Some of the trails are shared-use, for walkers and mountain bike riders. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Ride the Under the Radar trail for a view to Magnetic Island. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Ride the Under the Radar trail for a view to Magnetic Island. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

A pair of binoculars will help spot the more elusive birds in the park. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

A pair of binoculars will help spot the more elusive birds in the park. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Brolgas feeding near Long Swamp, Pandanus viewing area. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Brolgas feeding near Long Swamp, Pandanus viewing area. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

Walking and mountain biking

The Cape Pallarenda Trails are a network of shared walking and mountain biking trails in the Townsville Town Common and Cape Pallarenda conservation parks.

The trails range from short, easy trails to challenging hikes and cross-country mountain bike rides. Consider your fitness level before undertaking the extended trails.

Maps

Key to trail standards

The classification system is based on Australian Standards. Please note that while each trail is classified according to its most difficult section, other sections may be of an easier level.

Australian Walking Track Grading System
Grade Description
Grade 2 walking trackGrade 2 No bushwalking experience required. The track is a compacted surface.
Grade 3 walking trackGrade 3 Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections and a rough surface.
Grade 4 walking trackGrade 4 Bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signs may be limited.
International Mountain Bicycling Association, Australia
Grade Description
Easy mountain bike trailEasy Wide trail with gentle gradient and smooth surface. Some obstacles such as roots, logs and rocks. Suitable for beginner mountain bikers with basic mountain bike skills and off-road bikes.
Intermediate mountain bike trailIntermediate A trail with moderate gradients, variable surface and obstacles. May include steep sections. Suitable for skilled mountain bikers with a good standard of fitness and basic off-road riding skills.
Trails at a glance
Trail name Distance Walking time Classification
Shelly Beach trail 8 km return 4 hrs Grade 4 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail
Under the Radar trail (UTR) 10.1 km one-way 5 hrs Grade 3 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
Smedley's trail 6.8 km circuit 3 hrs Grade 4 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
Many Peaks track 5.7 km one-way 3 hrs Grade 4 walking trackBicycles prohibited
Lagoon trail 4.6 km one-way 2 hrs Grade 3 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail
Freshwater trail 3.6 km one-way 2 hrs Grade 4 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
Jacana bird hide 450 m one-way 30 mins Grade 3 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail
Wetland walk 850 m return 30 mins Grade 2 walking trackBicycles prohibited
Forest walk 1.7 km return 1 hr return Grade 3 walking trackBicycles prohibited

Trail descriptions

Shelly Beach trail Grade 4 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail

Distance: 8.2 km return
Time: allow 4 hrs walking time

Walkers and mountain bikers share this trail.

Following the edge of a large marine plain, this trail leads through coastal woodland before finishing at the western end of Shelly Beach. Trail users must return the way they came. The northern part of this trail, towards the beach, is soft and sandy, and can be physically demanding.

Under the Radar trail (UTR) Intermediate mountain bike trailGrade 3 walking track

Distance: 10.1 km one-way
Time: allow 5 hrs walking time

This narrow two-way trail is for cross country mountain biking. Walkers must be alert and considerate for mountain bike riders approaching from either direction.

At its western end, the trail starts 500 m along the Shelly Beach trail and crosses the western and northern slopes of Many Peaks Range. It provides excellent views of the islands to the north and the Coral Sea beyond. At its eastern end, the trail begins 700 m along the Shelly Cove trail. UTR has rough surfaces and some steep sections. Trail users can return the way they came or may use the other trails and internal park roads to return to their starting point (see the Cape Pallarenda Trails map (PDF, 209K)).

Smedley's trail Intermediate mountain bike trailGrade 4 walking track

Distance: 6.8 km circuit
Time: allow 3 hrs walking time

Accessed via a link from UTR (6.6 km from the eastern beginning of UTR) or 2.8 km from the beginning of Shelly Beach trail. This circuit winds around Smedley’s hill taking in panoramic views over the Town Common wetlands, Bohle River and the Coral Sea to the north. It is a challenging but rewarding ride with steep sections, rock obstacles, rock armoured corners and optional B lines that are rated as difficult.

Many Peaks track Grade 4 walking trackBicycles prohibited

Distance: 5.7 km one-way
Time: allow 3 hrs walking time

Starting at the western end, or 450 m along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail, this challenging walk across Many Peaks Range leads to the summit of Mount Marlow, before descending through vine thickets and woodland towards the wetlands below. The walk has spectacular views over the Town Common wetlands and along the coastline from the Palm Islands in the north to Cape Cleveland in the south. Some sections of the trail are very steep and there are many steps. In some areas the trail can be indistinct and walkers must follow the orange trail markers. Walkers may return on the same trail or via the Lagoon trail.

Lagoon trail Grade 3 walking trackEasy mountain bike trail

Distance: 4.6 km one-way
Time: allow 2 hrs walking time

Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

Starting at the intersection of Freshwater and Shelly Beach trails or opposite Walter Nesbit Park at the end of Cape Pallarenda Road, this trail follows the edge of Freshwater Lagoon at the southern base of Many Peaks Range. The trail can become boggy after wet weather. Trail users can return the way they came or can walk the Many Peaks track or ride the Under the Radar trail to complete a loop.

Freshwater trail Grade 4 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail

Distance: 3.6 km one-way
Time: allow 2 hrs walking time

Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

Starting at the intersection with Shelly Beach and Lagoon trails, or 1.2 km along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail, Freshwater passes through coastal sand dune vegetation, crosses the dam wall of Freshwater Lagoon and provides access to the Freshwater and Jacana bird hides. Trail users can return the way they came or use the Lagoon or Under the Radar trails to complete a loop.

Jacana bird hide Grade 3 walking trackIntermediate mountain bike trail

Distance: 450 m one-way
Time: allow 30 mins walking time

Walkers and mountain bike riders share this trail.

Access the Jacana bird hide from the Freshwater trail—the turn-off to the hide is 350 m from the Freshwater car park. The track leading to the hide is 100 m long. Overlooking Freshwater Lagoon, the bird hide is a good place to spot nesting and foraging waterbirds. Trail users can return the way they came or continue along the Freshwater trail.

Wetland walk Grade 2 walking trackBicycles prohibited

Distance: 850 m return
Time: allow 30 mins walking time

This short walk starts 150 m along the eastern end of the Lagoon trail and meanders through melaleuca forest within a seasonal wetland.

Forest walk Grade 3 walking trackBicycles prohibited

Distance: 1.7 km return
Time: allow 1 hr walking time

Starting beside Freshwater Lagoon Road in the southern part of the park, this walk follows the edge of Barramundi Waterhole and is shaded by melaleucas, eucalypts and acacias. In the cooler parts of the day this is a good area for viewing forest birds such as honeyeaters and kingfishers.

Viewing wildlife

The Town Common is home to many woodland and waterbird species. Five observation points are provided for keen birdwatchers but many birds (including brolgas) are regularly seen from the roads and trails within the park.

The Freshwater and Jacana bird hides overlook Freshwater Lagoon. Pandanus and Melaleuca viewing areas, beside Long Swamp are located on Freshwater Lagoon Road and provide space for a vehicle to pull over on the roadside. A car park and short track lead to Payets Tower in the south of the park. This observation tower looks out over seasonal wetlands.

Sand monitors roam the park and are sometimes seen sunning themselves on the roads and trails. Agile wallabies also live in the area.

Read more about the natural environment of Townsville Town Common Conservation Park.

Things to know before you go

View across Cleveland Bay from Tegoora Rock, Many Peaks trail. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

View across Cleveland Bay from Tegoora Rock, Many Peaks trail. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government

View from Jacana bird hide. Photo: Queensland Government.

View from Jacana bird hide. Photo: Queensland Government.

Essentials to bring

Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable visit. Make sure you bring:

  • enough drinking water for your visit
  • appropriate clothing, sunscreen, hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun
  • insect repellent to avoid mosquitoes and sandflies
  • rubbish bags, as there are no bins.

Opening hours

Townsville Town Common Conservation Park gates are open 6.30am to 6.30pm daily.

Permits and fees

Permits are required for commercial or organised group activities. Contact us for further information.

Pets

Domestic animals are not permitted in the conservation park.

Climate and weather

The Townsville region has a tropical climate. During the wetter months from December to April there is significant rainfall and the average daily temperature range is 24–32 °C with high humidity. The cooler, drier months of May to September are the best time to visit. The weather is pleasantly warm during this time, with reduced humidity and an average daily temperature range of 13–25 °C.

Fuel and supplies

Fuel and supplies are available in Townsville.

Staying safe

If you're on a bike, let people know when you're approaching. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government.

If you're on a bike, let people know when you're approaching. Photo: Fiona O'Grady, Queensland Government.

  • Be alert for management vehicles approaching from either direction on the Lagoon, Shelly Beach and Freshwater trails— these trails are also used by rangers to look after the park.
  • Be alert for mountain bike riders approaching from either direction and show care and consideration for other trail users.
  • If riding, alert other trail users when approaching and slow down or stop to allow them to pass safely.
  • Avoid riding in large groups—keep groups to fewer than 12.
  • Avoid skidding and sliding around turns—this may result in collision with other trail users and damage to the trail surface.
  • Take adequate water, wear sturdy footwear and protect yourself from the sun.
  • Wear protective clothing and insect repellent for protection against stings, scratches and bites. If riding, wear appropriate safety gear.
  • Take care on loose and uneven surfaces, as trail conditions are subject to change. Washouts may occur after heavy rain and trails may be covered by long grass.
  • Be alert for snakes. Detour around them.
  • Do not enter the Royal Australian Air Force Radar Station.
  • Estuarine crocodiles live in the waterways of Townsville Town Common Conservation Park. Crocodiles are potentially dangerous. You are responsible for your own safety, so be crocwise in croc country.

For more information, please read the guidelines on safety in parks and forests.

Looking after the park

View over the wetlands from Tegoora Rock, Many Peaks track. Photo: Fiona O'Grady

View over the wetlands from Tegoora Rock, Many Peaks track. Photo: Fiona O'Grady

  • Stay on marked trails and formed roads to prevent damage to native vegetation and erosion.
  • Keep tracks in good condition and limit erosion by not riding during or immediately after wet weather.
  • Rubbish facilities are not provided in the park. Please take your rubbish with you.
  • Leave your pets at home. Domestic animals are not permitted in the park.
  • Keep wild animals wild. Please do not feed them.

See the guidelines on caring for parks for more information about protecting our environment and heritage in parks.

Park management

Melaleuca viewing area. Photo: Queensland Government.

Melaleuca viewing area. Photo: Queensland Government.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service manages the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park to protect its natural values as an important wetland habitat for a large diversity of bird species and other animal and plant life.

Tourism information links

Flinders Square Information Centre
www.townsvillenorthqueensland.com.au
334A Flinders Street, Townsville QLD 4810
Ph (07) 4721 3660 or 1800 801 902
Email

Highway Visitor Information Centre
www.townsvillenorthqueensland.com.au
Bruce Highway, south of Townsville
Stuart, Townsville QLD 4810
Ph (07) 4778 3555 or 1800 801 902
Email

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland see Queensland Holidays.

Further information

Contact us

Last updated
15 September 2016