Kessia Virah-Sawmy: Tips for your first week in Townsville


Flying into Townsville

Townsville does not have such a big airport, but you already feel welcomed as soon as you land. You certainly won’t be spending hours trying to find the right baggage carousel and I can guarantee that you will be out of the airport in no time.

JCU offers free transport from the airport for new international students. You can find the online form on the JCU website. However, be mindful that you need to apply at least 2 weeks before coming to Townsville. Or else, the only other option would be to take a taxi which is very easily accessible in the airport.



If you are living on campus, you will be happy to know that you get to have your own room on whichever college/dorm you are staying at. Most of the colleges are fully catered with 3 meals per day, except for Rotary where residents cook their own food.

For your first night, I would recommend packing just a bed sheet in your suitcase if you are getting in Townsville late at night. You would save yourself the trouble of having to sleep on just a bed mattress for your first night. Have some Australian cash on you in case you need to get something to eat once you land- but normally international credit cards should work fine.

If you still haven’t found a place to stay don’t panic, JCU has a team that can help you with finding the accommodation that suits you- be it on campus or off campus.



Once you get here, you will soon realise that all the shops close very early in Townsville. Most shopping centres close around 5pm except on Thursdays when there is late night shopping until 9pm. The closest and easiest shopping centre to JCU is Stocklands. It is located about 5 mins bus ride from campus. You will find the main bus stop close to the Education Central building and there is a bus timetable that is quite reliable. You can easily find all your beddings and basic necessities at the mall with cheap shops like Big W, K-Mart and The Reject Shop. For any grocery shopping, the cheapest would be at Coles Supermarket or Woolworths which is conveniently found in Stocklands.

There is a grocery shop- Woolies (Woolworth) on campus which is open until 9pm most days of the week so you definitely won’t starve to death. If you get hungry late at night and there are no shops open, you can surely drop to Maccas (Mc Donalds) or Dominos pizza which are open 24 hours. They even deliver which is amazing.

Phone carriers and Banking

 If you want to use your phone in Australia, I would recommend buying a new SIM card when you get here. This will allow you to contact people in case of emergencies and it is much easier to just get a SIM card compared to buying a new phone. If you think you might travel to remote areas around Australia then I would recommend going with Telstra service provider. They have a broader network around Australia and might be the only provider in some regions. If you want a cheaper deal then Vodafone and Optus are two other famous service providers that are quite reliable.

If you would like to open a bank account in Australia then there are various banks around Stocklands where you can drop in. Most famous banks include the Commonwealth bank and Westpac. They have ATMs on campus which makes it easier as well. But if you ever need cash out and can’t find an ATM, then any Woolies shop would let you get cash out with no additional charges.

Getting Around Townsville

Public transport is mainly by bus around Townsville. Places like the Strand, Willows or the City are easily accessible by bus from main campus. You can get a concession sticker from the Education Central Building to get cheaper bus fares.

The other option is to get yourself a bike. Most students choose this mode of transport specially if you are here for only one semester or don’t have access to a car. During orientation week, the bike shop sells some refurbished bikes for $50 (be quick because they get sold out very fast) or you can get second hand ones from other students or else buy a brand new one from Big W or K-Mart which would be a big more pricey. (P.S Just be mindful of Magpies (Black and white birds) at this time of the year. They might swoop at you when you are riding your bike but they are not dangerous, they are just trying to scare you off their territory.)

Class/Enrollment help

If you are still having troubles with your enrollment or anything else, don’t hesitate to drop by the Educational Central building. There are very nice staff members who are more than happy to help or direct you towards the right people.

There is a lot going on during your first week at uni. But don’t stress, there are a lot of people just like you who might have traveled thousands of kilometres and are as jet lag as you are. Embrace all the opportunities you get while at JCU and make the most of your time here. I can guarantee you will love it.

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