Car hire in Townsville and Magnetic Island

Headed to Queensland's Townsville or Magnetic Island? You'll want in on these car hire deals.

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There's so much to do in and around Townsville from the tropical playground of Magnetic Island to the nation's pride the Great Barrier Reef.

The trick to seeing it all in record time is by hiring a car - and with our car hire deals you can also see them all on a slim budget.

Here are the deals, as well as popular driving routes and frequently asked questions so you can head straight from the boat to the beach.

Top deals on car hire in Townsville and Magnetic Island


Campervan hire from $5/day

Available on select routes, dates and locations in Australia, including Darwin, Alice Springs, Cairns and Brisbane, and New Zealand.

Up to 15% off Australia car and campervan hires

Verified 2 days ago Expires 26 Nov 2021
Available on rentals until 20 December 2021. Destinations include Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. T&Cs apply.

Up to 10% off car rentals in Australia

Expires 31 Dec 2021
Available until 31 December 2021 when you spend a minimum of $50. Destinations include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns, Hobart and more. Prepayment is required. T&Cs apply.

How do I drive to Magnetic Island from Townsville? Is there a car ferry?

To drive to Magnetic Island, you need to catch the Fantasea ferry from Breakwater Ferry Terminal. This is a 10km drive from Townsville Airport and is the closest airport to the island.

Standard motor vehicle rates on the ferry range from $98 each way in the shoulder season (school and public holidays) and $110 each way in the high season (Christmas week, New Years week and Easter).

As well as standard vehicles, you can take trailers up to and over five metres, motorbikes and bicycles.

Typically, ferries travel in both directions eight times daily from Monday to Friday and seven times daily on weekends. Extra services operate over the Easter holidays.

The ferry ride is approximately 20 minutes long.

Road rules: What to know about driving in Townsville and Magnetic Island

  • On the main road, the default speed limit is 60km/h. Off the main road, it's 50km/h.
  • Slow down for wildlife. Especially at dusk and late at night, it is important to watch out for wildlife, much of which is rare or endangered. If you find an injured animal on Magnetic Island, stop safely, wrap the animal in a towel and call the Magnetic Island Fauna Care Organisation on 4758 1457.

  • Magnetic Island: Townsville is the gateway to the tropical paradise that is Magnetic Island. It's a simple 10 kilometre drive along State Route 16.
  • Paluma: For a taste of the rainforest, Paluma is only a 45-minute drive from Townsville and offers bountiful bushwalks, swimming holes and local cafes.
  • Orpheus Island: One of the Great Barrier Reef's most stunning dots in the ocean, if there's only one thing you do on Orpheus make it a snorkel or dive. Surrounded by reef fringe, it's home to thousands of underwater creatures.
  • Airlie Beach: Drive south to the gateway to the Whitsundays along the east coast of Queensland. This 3.5 hour drive snakes along the coast devouring coastal view after coastal view. From Airlie Beach you can hop onto the ferry to Hamilton Island.

  • Horseshoe Bay. The best beach for watersports, plus opportunities to swim, sail and fish if you’d prefer something more laid-back. Pack a picnic or dine in one of the beachside eateries. Less than 20 minutes drive from Nelly Bay.
  • Arcadia. Just beside Nelly Bay, in Magnetic Island’s smallest bay, you’ll find Arcadia. You can swim in Alma Bay and cook a barbeque on the beach, or head to the protected waters of Geoffrey Bay to explore some pristine marine ecosystems and feed the local rock wallabies. It’s also a five-minute drive from Nelly Bay.
  • Picnic Bay. Heading south from Nelly Bay, the road along the coast will quickly bring you to the aptly-named Picnic Bay. Relax on the jetty for a spot of fishing, go snorkelling, swim, see a shipwreck, or perhaps play a round of golf before having some tucker on the beach.

Frequently asked questions about car hire

What car hire companies are at from Townsville Airport?

Avis, Budget, Europcar, Thrifty, Hertz and Redspot have desks in the arrivals hall at Townsville Airport, which is the closest airport to the island.

You can also rent a vehicle on Magnetic Island through Tropical Topless Car Rentals, MI Wheels Classic Moke Hire and Magnetic Island Auto Rentals & Repairs.

I'm on my provisional licence. Can I drive in Townsville and Magnetic Island?

Yes. However, you will be subject to Queensland’s provisional laws and restrictions.

How does car insurance work?

If you have travel insurance, you may already have rental car excess insurance as part of your policy. If not, your car hire company will likely offer to insure your vehicle, but you can also choose to purchase car insurance through another insurer.

Click here to learn more and compare car rental excess insurance policies.

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