Townsville, Australia, a magnificent cruise destination

the Coral Sea near Townsville, Australia
the Coral Sea near Townsville, Australia

Australia has many fascinating areas along its coastline, but none so beautiful as the medium sized city of Townsville. Located at the point where the Coral Sea meets the zone known as the Dry Tropics, this part of the country offers a plethora of interesting terrain features. Visitors on a Princess Cruise will have to make tough decisions on whether to spend time near the region's pristine beaches or venture into the mainland to experience Australia's Outback.

For a spectacular look at a realm of intense beauty, travelers can go west into the Paluma Rainforest Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Area. This park is part of the wet tropics zone of Australia's Queensland province, and includes sweeping mountain ranges and dense jungle. Those who choose to come here may see one of the great feats of human achievement in the Mt. Spec Tourist Road, a large, scenic path built mostly by hand during the 1930s. Although the road is steep and may not be accessible with certain vehicles, portions are available for hiking and provide trekkers with spectacular mountaintop views.

Another great natural area is the Billabong Sanctuary, an Australian Native Wildlife Park and Function Center for those who want to see the country's rare animals at home. The facility also functions as a petting zoo, and guests are encouraged to handle a wide range of critters, from koalas and wombats to young crocodiles and non-venomous snakes. The baby koalas are especially enticing as they are quite docile, snugly and have not yet fully developed their adult claws.

Of course, one great reason to visit this part of the world is to see the Great Barrier Reef. This part of the Indian Ocean can cater to nearly any water oriented activity. Vacationers can charter a boat to go fishing or simply sit by the beach and relax. The main attraction to the reef, however, is the fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving. With thousands of species of fish and coral, the underwater world here is a sea of color, teeming with rare specimens. Numerous tours can be given here where aquatic enthusiasts can be dropped off near a coral island and feel free to go on their own or be accompanied by a guide. Townsville, heralded as the unofficial capital of North Queensland, can be a place for serious adventure.