On our arrival in Townsville, the air was noticeably thicker and hotter. In fact, it was so dense and steamy that it is harder to breathe, unless you’re accustomed to it. We walked down the mall for a short while, where the local Sunday markets were happening. They were very sleepy, despite the fact that Townsville is a huge centre. We realised that even if shops look closed, they are usually open. They just have their doors shut to keep the air con in!
We escaped to an air-conditioned cafe right next to the information centre and enjoyed fresh banana smoothies and vegetarian paninis, along with ice cold water before making a plan of action.
From Townsville, you can take a ferry for $32 return over to Magnetic Island (named due to the fact that when Captain Cook passed by this area, his compass went crazy). Last time I visited the area, I enjoyed some nice walks, a great animal wildlife park and some beautiful beaches. However, we decided to just spend the day in Townsville this time, as we need to find work soon and want to make it to Cairns within the week. Still, there are some nice places to see on the mainland.
We drove up to Castle Rock, which is in the centre of town an offers incredible 360 degree views over the entire city, and across to Magnetic Island. You can walk up this steep hill if you fancy a good work out. It takes a good sweaty 40 minutes uphill all the way, but the view is worth it. With a car, of course, it is much more tempting to drive to the top, which is what we did!
Next, we took a stroll along The Strand, a beautiful walk way along the ocean, lined with palm trees. I could spend hours here on the grassy lawns, looking out towards the island, reading books and writing.
We spent that night 30 km North of Townsville at a free campsite, at Saunders Beach. It was wonderful to find somewhere right on the beach where we could stay for free. Not that we would swim at this beach – the stingers are apparently out in great forces at the moment and there are vinegar bottles by the beach entrances, to use if you get stung. We would wait until we had stinger suits for our next swim.
The next day, we drove on North, stopping briefly at Cardwell for some lunch. The drive was absolutely beautiful, with fields of never-ending sugar cane, mountains in the distance and palm trees lining the ocean. There are a huge number of islands off the coast on the way up, which make for some magical views. Hinchenbrook Island was stunning!
The North is calling and I am thrilled to be in the tropics. It feels like a different country up here and, whilst it may not be the place for some, it certainly has its own kind of magic. Let’s see where this journey takes us next!