A quick hiking guide to the Castle Hill hike in Townsville, North Queensland, Australia.
Compared to other Far North Queensland cities like Cairns, Townsville isn’t my favorite for adventure. However, hiking up to Castle Hill, a 286-meter granite monolith that stands proud overlooking Townsville city is one of the best things to do in the city for those looking for a bit of adventure before heading to Magnetic Island.
From Castle Hill lookout, you will get sweeping 360-degree views of Townsville city, Magnetic Island and even as far as the Great Palm Islands and Cape Cleveland. In this guide, I’ll help you plan your trip up to the top of Castle Hill viewpoint and throw in some photos from my hike.
- How to Get to the Castle Hill Trailhead in Townsville
- Hiking the Goat Track Up to Castle Hill
- Castle Hill Viewpoints over Townsville
- The Return Trip Back to Townsville
- More North Queensland Hiking and Travel Guides
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
How to Get to the Castle Hill Trailhead in Townsville
The hike to Castle Hill lookout begins not far from the city itself. While you can drive nearly all the way up, the best way to reach the viewpoint is by taking the windy goat track (pink markers, roughly 860 meters one-way).
There are also several other routes, marked on the map from the Townsville government site below. These include:
- Cudtheringa Track: Green, 760 m total distance
- Erythrina Track: Yellow, 500 m total distance
- Triandra Track: Purple, 850 m total distance
- Iron Bark Track, Dark blue, 775 m total distance
- Dianella Track, Light blue, 1.2 km total distance
- Maiden Hair Track, Red, 1.2 km total distance
Hiking the Goat Track Up to Castle Hill
While there are a few marked tours, there are two main hiking trails that lead to the top of the granite rock formation.
The best track is known as the Goat Track. It won't take you more than an hour to reach the Castle Hill summit from metro Townsville. This is the track that I took and I highly recommend taking this option for better views and a more scenic route to the top.
The total walking distance is 860 m from the start (Hillside Cres) to the Castle Hill car park at the top.
You can then follow the signs for roughly 5 minutes through some pedestrian streets before gaining entry to the Goat Track Trail.
It's a fairly steep climb to the top of the Castle Hill Lookout. However, the trail is clearly marked and is serviced to cater to hikers with clear tracks and even built-in steps for the steeper parts.
The Goat Track ends, and you'll have to continue the last part of the hike on a steep road for about 5 minutes before reaching the top.
Tip: Beware of Snakes
The hot, exposed sun and long grass that surrounds the Castle Hill track is prime territory for snakes. During our hike, we saw a small Brown Snake, which could easily send hikers to the emergency room quite quickly.
While we didn't see any, there are also signs indicating wild dog populations on the tracks. So, best to keep an eye out.
Castle Hill Viewpoints over Townsville
If you're looking for a lookout that you can have all to yourself, then you're out of luck.
You'll most likely see several people hiking to the top of Castle Hill Townsville, as it's one of the most popular things to do in the city.
However, once you reach the Castle Hill car park, you'll have a few choices for different viewpoints.
Townsville and Magnetic Island View from Castle Hill
The best view is immediately on your right when you reach the car park. You can take the trails and steel steps that lead to some rocky outcrops.
All of the viewpoints on this side offer surprising views of the city and Magnetic Island.
The Summit Circuit - Views of Palm Islands, Townsville Suburbs and Halifax Bay
The Summit Circuit will be directly in front of you when you reach the top of Castle Hill car park.
The summit itself is used as a communications tower, however, you can walk around to get some better views of the distant mountains and far out to Halifax Bay.
Related:Castle Hill in New Zealand
The Return Trip Back to Townsville
Wrap the Castle Hill hike up by heading back down the Goat Track, or take the alternate track down from the base of the Castle Hill outcrop.
Where to Stay in Townsville for Backpackers
Depending on your budget, these are some of the best places to stay in Townsville.
One of the cheapest options available to backpackers in Townsville with several dorm options to choose from. It's also Conveniently located only 500 meters from the Magnetic Island Ferries
2. The Avenue Guest House Top-Choice
One of the highest-ranked places to stay in Townsville. This one is also popular with backpackers with dorm options available. There's also an outdoor pool!
A pool and free breakfast, what more could you want? It's also a highly-rated hostel in the heart of Townsville.
More North Queensland Hiking and Travel Guides
I hope you enjoyed this quick guide to hiking Townsville's famous Castle Hill Track. Before you shoot off, make sure to check out some of my other guides below for more inspiration for your travels in North Queensland.
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.