Surrounded by tropical islands and warm waters, Townsville is a top-notch diving center. Diving courses, day trips, and multiday excursions tend to be less crowded than those in the hot spots of Cairns or the Whitsunday Islands.
About 16 km (10 miles) offshore, a 60-km (37-mile) boat ride southeast of Townsville, is the wreck of the mighty SS Yongala, a steamship that sank in 1911 and now lies 49 to 91 feet beneath the surface. It teems with marine life and is considered one of Australia's best dive sites. It can be explored on one- and two-day trips. All local dive operators conduct excursions to the wreck.
Adrenalin Dive. This local outfit runs day and live-aboard trips to popular sites on the Great Barrier Reef, including the wreck of the SS Yongala. The Yongala trip includes weight belt, tanks, two dives, and lunch; it's an extra A$40 for dive gear and A$10 for the introductory guided dive that's compulsory for novice divers. A two-night, live-aboard trip includes up to six dives, including one night dive. 252 Walker St., Townsville, QLD, 4810. 07/4724–0600; 1300/664–600 Toll-free in Aust. www.adrenalindive.com.au. 1-day Yongala: A$226; 1-day GBR: A$196 snorkeler, A$226 diver, scuba gear extra A$40; 2-night live-aboard trip: from A$545 snorkeler, A$620 diver. Additional dives A$25–A$80; PADI Open Water Course, A$260.80; PADI Adventure Course A$180.