North Queensland's Major City
Day 80 Townsville
Our accommodation is the ground floor of a typical Queensland, white washed beach property directly across the road from the sea. On waking we see a wading bird in the back garden. It has predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long curved bill and black legs. We’re not sure what it is but will ask Marcus later – he has amazed us with his knowledge of the flora and fauna on this trip. Mark and I decide to leave Marcus in bed as we go to explore Townsville. This is a major city with many grand 19th-century buildings sitting alongside modern architecture.
Driving to the marina we are presented with hundreds of boats and yachts of all sizes and styles. There are new, modern homes with berths attached and views of Magnetic Island to die for. The ferry is just returning from ferrying passengers across to the Island and back. The island is a suburb of Townsville and many of the inhabitants’ commute to the city for work. The coast guard station cannot be missed with its bright yellow paintwork.
We stop outside the old railway station (a new one has been built down the road) and pass the closed ticket office to the weed covered railway tracks. Although no longer used the station is well kept with information on it’s past provided. Flower baskets and old station paraphernalia i.e. luggage trolleys are on display. It is kept as a museum to the importance the railways had in opening up Queensland to settlers.
In the distance there are huge white canopies which we drive towards. This turns out to be the almost finished 25,000 seat New Queensland Stadium. Elton John is due to play here on the 29th February 2020. Workmen are all over the site like ant and we both comment that it looks like it might be finished in time.
Stopping on the Strand, Townsville’s waterfront we have breakfast overlooking the sea. Mark says ‘there is something in the water’. I look carefully but don’t see anything but the waitress tells us that sea turtles are seen regularly. Mark see it again and points it out to me. ‘Yes, I see it’, the turtle is about the size of a manhole cover and can be see turning in the waves.
Arriving home, we are told off by Marcus who has got up and was worried as to where we were. I look at my phone and see a number of missed calls from him. We promise that if we leave him asleep in future, we will also leave a note so that he doesn’t worry!
Mark takes his fishing rod as he has seen anglers fishing on the pier. We drive back to the Strand and Mark sets up his line and begins to wait for a bite, admitting that he’s not sure what hell do if he catches anything (he’s scared of fish!!). I’m not sure he has anything to worry about. I’ve been fishing with him numerous times and seen fish caught very rarely.
Marcus and I walk the 2 km along the waterfront into Townsville. The esplanade is interspersed with parks, pools, cafes and children’s playgrounds – with hundred of palm treed and curtain fig trees providing shade. The Tobruk swimming pool is closed for refurbishment but the children’s water playground is open and being enjoyed by lots of kids with their parents.
We wander through Anzac Memorial Park also known as the Strand Park and Townsville Memorial. It was built in 1912 and extends along the foreshore overlooking Cleveland Bay with views to Magnetic Island. There are mature Banyan trees, flower beds, curtain figs and palm trees, which provide much needed shade. It has the feel of English parks with a bandstand and children’s playground. There are also fountains and war memorials. Marcus and I read plinths with the stories of the men from Townsville who were awarded the Victoria Cross.
Walking into the town we pass a street of Victorian buildings which are still as they were when built. Plaques tell us the history of each building and make for interesting reading. Most of these buildings are now restaurants, cafes and bars frequented by the many backpackers in the city.
We buy ice creams and turn to walk back to the pier. Walking on the other side of the Strand we come across a lovely, shaded waterfall which we missed on the way down. Reaching the pier Mark informs us he has had no luck but would like to continue trying. Marcus and I go down to the golden sandy beach where there is a stinger enclosure and spend some time sun bathing and swimming.
On returning home we decide to utilise one of these free BBQ’s on the beach. Packing the ice box, we set off for the nearest BBQ to where we are staying. Oh no! it doesn’t work and we have to make our way further down the seafront to another. This time it fires up and the steaks are whacked on.
Unfortunately, it is really quite windy. This does not mean that it is cold but the salad keeps blowing off our plates. Mark, who once was a scout and keeps telling us he’s prepared for anything, makes a windbreak of the soda bottles and ice box. He’s proved right and this works allowing us to eat our food without it disappearing on the wind.
Suddenly I have the feeling we are been watched or stalked. When we look up, we are surrounded by sea gulls and the white birds from this morning waiting to ponce on any scraps we may leave. We make sure that the grill is washed and all food scraps are binned. Marcus informs us that the large wadding birds are Australian White Ibis, we thought he’d know.