Location - Townsville, North Queensland, Australia
Difficulty - grade 1, easy
Distance - 800 m
Time - Allow 30 minutes

The Rowes Bay Wetlands Boardwalk, also known as the Sand Island Tracks or the Coastal Dune Trails, consists of a vegetated sand island and a surrounding low lying salt flat, which is seasonally a shallow freshwater wetland. The sand island is vegetated with diverse woodland and is a habitat for large species of Burdekin plum (Pleiogynium timorense) and red condoo or Spanish cherry (Mimusops elengi), neither of which are locally common otherwise. The latter species is prized for its flowers, fruit, and wood. Moreover, both of these trees are significant to the traditional and contemporary Aboriginal people of this area, the Manbarra Land of the Wulgurukaba people.

These wetland boardwalks are essentially shorter versions of the Townsville Town Common Conservation Park and Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park trails. So, if you're looking for something different or a bit shorter, check out the Rowes Bay Wetlands Boardwalk. There are informative signposts located throughout the walk where you can learn about how wetlands are important for protecting our precious reefs. Uncover how technology can be used to understand and learn from our environment, and gain an appreciation of native plants and trees. The Rowes Bay Sustainability House and Garden is also located in this area and was created primarily as an educational resource that is available to anyone by appointment. Learn how a sustainable home can reduce your environmental impact, save water and energy, and utilise natural resources available on location.There is a good chance you will have the Rowes Bay Wetland Boardwalk and Sustainability House and Garden all to yourself too, especially on the weekends.

Beach Jasmin Trail - 160 m
This trail takes you past coastal vine thickets.

Turkey Mound Way - 200 m
This sandy walk takes you past the Burdekin plum turkey mound.

Wetlands Boardwalk - 265 m
At one end of the boardwalk, there is a birdwatching hike, and at the other end there is a picnic table. Check out the viewing platforms along the way.

Things to do

  • Nature walks and bushwalking
    Make a circular trip, and take the first left onto the boardwalk. Follow the sandy track through wattle, beach hibiscus, and cocky apple trees.
  • Plant identification
    There are several plants to identify along the route.
  • Birdwatching
    Waterbirds, such as egrets, spoonbills, ibis, forest kingfishers, and herons, can be seen using the wetlands. These wetlands are also known breeding sites for birds of prey.

What to bring

  • Appropriate footwear
  • Sun protection
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Water and snacks
  • Camera

How to get there

The Rowes Bay Wetland Boardwalk and Sustainability House and Garden are located at 56 Cape Pallarenda Road. Turn onto Cape Pallarenda Road, drive past Mundy Creek Bridge and the RSL Nursing Home, and then turn left just before the Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre sign. You will notice the large wind turbine.

Interactive Map

Brief History

Before European settlement, tracks and trails were a common part of the landscape and important in linking natural resources, such as the wetlands of the Town Common and Rowes Bay, with drier camping areas and meeting places. Today we use them largely to enjoy nature.

The Rowes Bay Wetland Boardwalk was constructed in 2011 and extended in 2012. The boardwalk, made out of recycled milk bottles, was funded by Origin Energy and constructed by Green Corps and various work-for-the-dole groups. With the construction of the public car park between the Coastal Learnscapes Centre and Cape Pallarenda Road, the plan is to establish dual purpose walking tracks/management trails, including those that would link the car park to the Rowes Bay Wetland Boardwalk and from the Centre to the entrance to the Town Common.

These new tracks and trails provide an opportunity for people to experience the seasonal variations of the Rowes Bay wetlands. Although quite short, the boardwalk is attractive because it is shaded, predominantly by paperbark trees, and provides excellent views across the swamp and lagoons, now shrinking as the dry sets in, to the enticing Sand Island. When sea levels were higher this was once a large dune and remarkably, given its proximity to airport and suburbia, its vegetation remains relatively undisturbed. While the boardwalk is not needed all year round, because we know wetlands are seasonal and not always wet, when the wetlands are wet, this boardwalk is not only spectacular but also provide a pretty useful track.