Looking north over Townsville from Mt Stuart
Townsville is a city of approximately 150 000 in tropical North Queensland, Australia (see location map, 128K). It is a coastal city with a diverse and therefore robust economic base (mining, industry, defence, tourism, primary production, government, education and more) and a flourishing arts scene.
For a long time the community consisted of the City of Townsville, established in the nineteenth century and centred on the area between Castle Hill and Ross River, and the City of Thuringowa, a largely-rural local government area which became suburban as Townsville outgrew its boundaries. The two administrations were amalgamated in 2008 under the original name.
A quirk of geography means that Townsville is much drier than its neighbour and rival, Cairns, and so attracts fewer tourists; local opinion is divided on whether or not that's a Good Thing. Check here to see whether it's raining in Townsville now; it almost certainly isn't!
After population and climate, the most important influence on our cultural life is the city's isolation. The nearest city of comparable size is Cairns, two-thirds our size and 350 km (200 miles) away, and the nearest city larger than Townsville is Brisbane, 1500 km (900 miles) away.
The result is that we are thrown very much on our own resources when it comes to any live entertainment: if we don't produce it ourselves, we often don't see it at all. Complementarily, we have little competition from outside our own community. Yes, we are visited by touring acts ranging from the state opera company to James Morrison but our situation is far different from that of (for example) Geelong, which is too close to Melbourne to have much cultural life of its own, or that of almost any provincial city in Europe.
Because of this, Townsville has a wonderful line-up of performing arts groups. The theatre scene boasts a professional dance company, a professional theatre company (Shakespeare to Strindberg and beyond), two amateur music-theatre groups (High Society, Les Miserables, etc), an amateur theatre group, and an excellent youth dance company. On the musical side, we have an orchestra, a concert band, two brass bands and a jazz big band (all adult amateur groups led by local professional and semi-pro musicians) as well as school and community youth orchestras, choirs and concert bands -- and those are just the bigger organisations.
A slightly bigger image (approx 250KB) of the panorama above.
Magnetic Island seen from the top of Castle Hill (180 KB) - almost a close-up of part of the panoramic view, though taken a year later and much earlier in the day.
Western Queensland: Ewan, Burra Range, Belyando Crossing (approx. 600K in total).
I might eventually put up some more of my photographs. Meanwhile, here is a collection of 'Reef Snapshots' from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Townsville Arts Links
The new Townsville City Council (2008) has extended the old information service to the new city boundaries. See their Townsville events calendar for events (cultural and sporting) and contact details of organisations.
The Council also funds a free monthly email newsletter, the Arts e-Bulletin, which presents arts information from the events calendar and many other sources.
Townsville Community Music Centre, alternatively known as Music Centre North Queensland for some years. The centre has seen many changes but still presents concerts and workshops.
Australian Festival of Chamber Music annual (midwinter) festival featuring Australian and overseas musicians.
Barrier Reef Orchestra, Townsville's own orchestra, now celebrating its tenth anniversary year.
NQ Concerto & Vocal Competition
North Queensland Opera and Music Theatre and the Townsville Choral Society are the two amateur music theatre companies, each with its permanent choir.
NQ Irish Association, included here because their activities centre on folk music and dance.
Townsville Cinema Group, one of Australia's oldest film societies, might not strictly qualify as 'performing arts' but they put on some wonderful movies.
Last updated October 2012
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