Cycle a Rail TrailView trips
Introductory to Moderate

Traveller Rating


  • 4 days guided cycle
  • 1 day self guided cycle/walk
  • 6 nights motel accomodation


7 daysfrom


Trip Code: TRR

Reef and Rainforest Cycle Trip highlights

  • Hike, bike and swim in the wet tropics World Heritage Area rainforest, Paluma National Park
  • Enjoy the tropical climate of North Queensland and escape the winter chills
  • Head off from your accommodation for guided cycles of Townsville and Magnetic Island
  • Cycle a loop route along the north and south bank of the Ross River and Riverside Lagoons
  • View the relics of gunner forts and discuss the WW2 history of Townsville and Magnetic Island
  • Explore Magnetic Island on foot, bike or boat with many options available
  • Cycle along the stunning coast north of Townsville and spot a variety of wildlife with morning tea at Pallarenda Wetlands

This tour captures the wonder of the World Heritage Paluma National Park, the beauty of the North Queensland coast, the vibrant city of Townsville and the tranquil beauty of nearby Magnetic Island with opportunities to explore the amazing World Heritage Great Barrier Reef or head off on a self guided cycle or walk along the east coast of the island. On a series of guided cycles, explore the wetlands, river systems and coastal landscapes of the Townsville surrounds including a cycle/hike tour into the rainforest on day two. Back on the coast sample the growing culinary scene in Townsville's Palmer Street and take in the balmy evenings while based in hand picked accommodation. Cycling in the Townsville region, the Ross River flows through Townsville, separating the granite outcrops of Castle Hill and Mt Stuart before meeting the Coral Sea. With dedicated cycle ways along the river, there will be opportunities to spot birdlife, visit gardens and swim in the Riverside Lagoons. Other cycle days take in WW2 sites, the Pallarenda wetlands and the trails and tracks of Magnetic Island. Arriving at the port at Magnetic Island which is accessed via a short ferry ride from the mainland, cyclists will be immediately transported into a tropical paradise of palm tree lined sandy beaches fringed by coral reefs. Together with the planned biking routes there will be time to walk on trails to scenic vantage points and the opportunity to join a snorkelling trip to explore the undersea wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. This cycle trip will appeal to those seeking a combination of active exploring, relaxation and swimming.


The North Queensland coastal metropolis of Townsville is in an enviable position. In the heart of the tropics its access to bountiful seafood on one side and the rich farmland further inland, makes it a great place to explore a thriving regional cuisine. Take a walk down the Strand, a 2.2km long waterfront parkway where many of Townsville's cafes are located or explore the city’s historic and art trails, where murals are painted on many of the buildings. Being a tropical city there is plenty of opportunity to explore this city even when the sun goes down. Overnight: Townsville.

Meals:  Nil

Explore Townsville’s Ross River area with your cycle guide along a loop ride of 40km. If you're travelling during Autumn or Spring the day will start at 7:00am, while travellers in Winter will start at 8:00am. Ross River is a defining aspect of Townsville itself, shadowed by Castle Hill the dominant rock formation rising out of an otherwise flat surrounds. The ride is a scenic sealed trail with plenty of freshwater wildlife and an abundance of natural beauty. You’ll stop for morning tea at the Palmetum Gardens Café with a walk around the gardens if you choose. There is also an option for a swim at the Riverway Lagoons halfway around. Your guide will get you back onto the Strand around 1-2pm and you’ll have the afternoon to explore Townsville independently. Overnight: Townsville. Ascent: 62m; descent: -63m

Meals:  Nil

Today is a full day trip, starting at 7am. The Indigenous Nywaigi people of this region called Paluma Munan Gumburu, which means ‘misty mountain’, an apt description as mists are common with the area having a distinctly different climate, and generally cooler than the coastal plains. Today we’ll cycle 20-30 km depending on conditions and take a rainforest hike, a cooling swim and have morning tea at a waterfall. We return to Paluma village for lunch and then to Townsville in the late afternoon with plenty of time to freshen up and head out to the restaurant strip or simply stroll along The Strand and take in the warm northern evening, looking out across the bay. Overnight Townsville. Ascent: 286m; descent: -286m

Meals:  L

Start the day cycling north along the coast to Pallarenda and detour via the wetlands area as well as the ‘Town Common’. This is a great morning of cycling with stunning coastline, WW2 history and bird watching in the Town Common wetlands. You’ll stop for morning tea at the Wetlands and be back on the Strand for lunch before continuing your journey with a short cycle to Townsville’s ferry terminal then off to Magnetic Island. You will catch the ferry that departs Townsville at 2.15pm. You’ll spend three great tropical days on this unique island with opportunities to cycle and explore the shops, cafes, restaurants and the unique island natural environment or just sit on a beach and listen to the gentle waves and breathe the fresh air from the ocean. Overnight: Magnetic Island. Ascent: 64m; descent: -69m

Meals:  Nil

Your guide will meet you at the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal to begin the ride to West Point. The first part of the ride takes along the scenic coastal cycle trail of Nelly Bay before the punchy but short hill to Picnic Bay. While detouring through the quiet back streets of Picnic Bay keep your eyes peeled for koalas. Magnetic Island is 75% National Park and home to a healthy population of approximately 1000 koalas. Just out of Picnic Bay, the journey takes a little detour to the quaint Cockle Bay, which is steeped in WW2 history and is the beginning of a 10km stretch of mangroves. Continuing on from Cockle Bay, the road turns to gravel. Yes, there are a few pot holes, but they are easily avoided and cars are seldom seen along this section. The road to West Point immerses riders in mangrove and melaleuca swamp, both of which are critically endangered and important environments. Arrival at West Point is welcomed by views over the strait between the island and the mainland, Castle Hill and the great Dividing Range. On the return journey your guide will take you down to the pristine Picnic Bay foreshore and prepare a well-earned morning tea of home baked goodies and drinks. There is also an option to do a short walk to a granite boulder lookout before the quick up-and-over ride back to Nelly Bay. Overnight: Magnetic Island. This afternoon you will have some free time to explore the Island. Pilgrim Sailing offer afternoon Sunset and Sip sails that depart from Nelly Bay marina. (This is not included in the trip and you will need to pre-book). Ascent: 218m; descent: -219m

Meals:  Nil

More cycling, walking or a reef/island boat tour? Today you have a choice to either take off on a self guided ride, catch a bus to the Forts Walk or head out on the water on the ‘Aquascene Discovery Tour’ (fees apply and we recommend booking this at least a few weeks in advance). If you join the Aquascene Discovery Tour you will have plenty of free time in the afternoon for more self discovery and exploration and it possible to spend your last day on the island being active. The boat tour includes morning tea, snorkelling, visits to a number of bays and comprehensive commentary. The Forts Walk is the #1 attraction on the island and the 4km return walk takes you to a high point with stunning views around the entire island and all the way back to Townsville. You’ll visit WW2 Forts that were constructed as early warning and defence facilities when the possibility of Japanese bombers where a real threat to northern parts of Australia with Townsville actually bombed on two separate occasions. To get to the Forts Walk we recommend taking the local bus, which leaves close to your hotel. While you can cycle to the Forts Walk this road is windy and has no verge, so we only recommend cycling for very competent road cyclists. The bus also goes to Horseshoe Bay should you wish to explore the other side of the Island. Another option is to hire a car and drive yourself around the Island. Or if you're feeling very energetic you can walk 6km from Nelly Bay to the Forts Walk, and then join the Forts Walk before catching the bus back to the hotel. Another option is to cycle along a dedicated path to Arcadia and Geoffrey Bay where you can see the local rock wallabies. Overnight: Magnetic Island.

Meals:  Nil

This morning you’ll return back to the Townsville Wharf on a morning ferry from Nelly Bay. The ferry that we usually book departs from Magnetic Island at 9.30am. It is a short but pleasant trip back to the mainland as Townsville slowly comes into view leaving the peaks of Magnetic Island behind you. On arrival your guide will collect your bikes and can drop you at the airport or nearby accommodation.

Meals:  Nil



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.


  • 6 nights accommodation in motels on a twin share basis with private facilities
  • 6 days electric bike hire. A helmet can be provided with the bikes (on request), along with a bike lock, hand pump and repair kit
  • Lunch on day 3, morning tea on guided cycle days
  • 4 days guided cycling with a local guide (days 2-5)
  • Route notes & maps provided with a navigational App
  • GPS information
  • Return ferry transfer Townsville to Magnetic Island
  • Bike return on last day

  • Travel to/from Townsville
  • Accommodation before or after the trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals
  • Phone handlebar mount
  • Extra tours on Magnetic Island (ie. Aquascene Discovery Tour: *we recommend booking these in advance as they do book out.

Bike information

Trail Surface



Introductory to Moderate  

The trip is graded introductory to moderate. The the terrain on Magnetic Island has a number of steep inclines but the use of electric bikes makes these easier to manage. However, the areas around Townsville along the Ross River and north along the coast are fairly flat and make for easy cycling. There are four days of guided cycling on this tour that range from 20km to 55km yet your guide works with the groups interest and desire and has ride extensions available on each day if you wish to extend your ride. If you choose to do the trip with a hybrid bike (not the included electric bike) the grading will increase to moderate to challenging, particularly the cycles on Magnetic Island.

Departure dates


Prices are based on standard category rooms. Supplements may apply where the standard category is not available or an upgraded room is required.
Please note, when we book your accommodation some hotels may request a deposit/full payment to secure your booking. This amount will be payable, in addition to the Australian Cycle Tours deposit. Any extra payments, along with the $400 AUD deposit, are non-refundable.
If you are travelling on your own a single suppplement will apply to secure your own room. We can try and pair you with another participant of the same gender, however if we cannot match you up a single supplement will be applicable.

Want to organise a customised tour?

School groups, friends, family trips, corporate events or just tailoring a trip to suit your own needs - learn how you can tailor your own Customised Tour.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Discount to use a hybrid bikeAUD$-70
  • Island Boat and Reef TourAUD$170
  • Single SupplementAUD$690
*Prices listed are per person and also from

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Townsville, Rainforest and Magnetic Island Cycle trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Flight: Townsville has a international airport with all major Australian airlines and a number of regional airlines flying to the airport.

The airport has online shuttle service booking to transfer you directly to your motel.

Train: There are five services a week from Brisbane to Townsville on the 'Spirit of Queensland' tilt train making the epic journey in just over 18 hours and five services a week south from Cairns, completing the journey in around 6.5 hours. Heading to the tropics out of Brisbane on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train is a great option if you have the time and passion for train travel.

Coach/Bus: Greyhound Australia have an extensive east coast coach network as well as services to north, west and to central regions of Australia. Long journeys may be gruelling for some but to join a tour from a regional town or region along the east coast this may be a viable option. Greyhound also have some great travel passes which can be great value if you have ongoing travel plans.

Your cycle tour finishes on day 6 when you arrive back at Townsville Wharf from Magnetic Island. Your guide will meet you to collect the bikes, and they are happy to assist with taking you to a hotel in Townsville or the airport.

You need to have some level of fitness yet much of the cycling on the first two days is around Townsville which is fairly flat. Magnetic Island has a few climbs but the distances are fairly short. We provide hard tail mountain bikes, or you can pay a supplement for an e-bike.

Yes, you can use your own bike if you prefer. Let us know at the time of booking and a small discount will be applied. If you are electing to bring your own bike, it is important that you have a bike fit for purpose.

Our minimum group size is 4 and maximum is 8. If you are a larger group of friends please speak with our staff as it may be possible to hire a second bus for the day to the Rainforest (group size TBC).

Reef and Rainforest Cycle Videos

Aquascene - Magnetic Island

Reef and Rainforest Cycle Trip reviews

Why cycle with us


As the pioneers of self guided active travel in Australia you can expect a seamless experience. Our quality tour notes and logistical expertise sets us apart and ensures a quality experience for you.


Our team is passionate about cycling and their extensive knowledge and experience means you get the very best advice - every time. We will help you tailor the right cycling itinerary for you.

Quality services

Expect first-class and flexible support both on and off the trail. We've sourced the highest quality bikes and most authentic accommodations so you can enjoy a stress free cycling trip.

Positive Impact Travel

By joining this trip you are directly supporting positive impact projects in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We’ve offset the carbon emitted by this trip by purchasing credits that support important projects that address the UN’s seventeen SDGs, like reducing poverty, affordable and clean energy, reducing hunger, clean water and climate action.

Proceeds from this adventure purchase carbon credits through the world’s largest and most awarded carbon project developer, South Pole, which are invested into projects accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources in developing countries.

Supported projects are based on internationally recognised standards and are third-party audited. They entail a series of positive impacts on the ground, which benefit local communities and ecosystems, that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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