Monthly Archives: August 2013

Townsville to Conway Beach

We got up bright and early this morning and got ready to hit the road.  We had taken down the awning and put away the outside furniture last night so there wasn’t too much to do.  After farewelling our new friends at Townsville and suggesting that we’ll possibly see them next year, we hitched up and headed for the Bruce Highway.   We had been considering going further north to Mission Beach but in the end decided to head South in a vaguely homeward direction.  Apparently by the start of September it starts getting really sticky up here, so heading South seemed a better option.

The condition of the Bruce Highway has been a real topic of conversation locally and has even hit the federal political arena.  It wasn’t too far out of Townsville when the roadworks began and remained a feature of our travels today.  For much of the way traffic was one lane only so we faced considerable delays waiting at temporary traffic lights.

Our first stop was for morning coffee at Ayr, about 90 kms from Townsville.  Ayr is in sugar cane country and it is quite fascinating to see the cane being harvested and loaded onto cane trains.  It seems to be something of a continuous crop as there were fields being prepared for planting of cane as well as other fields contains cane in various stages of growth.  At one stage the sky was full of embers from a cane processing plant and we wondered if that in fact posed a fire risk.

Harvesting Sugar Cane

Harvesting Sugar Cane

Embers in the Air

Embers in the Air

Sugar Cane Plant

Sugar Cane Plant

Welcome to Ayr

Welcome to Ayr

Burdekin Bridge

Burdekin Bridge

Great Idea - But What Sort of Fruit Is It?

Great Idea – But What Sort of Fruit Is It?

Outside Ayr all traffic came to a dead stop In both directions and banked up for kilometres.  We turned on the CB radio and heard that a car and a large truck had collided and that police were in attendance.  When we finally got to the crash site we could see a truck carrying sweet corn had overturned on the wrong side of the road and there was a damaged car as well.  There was a mini Dingo digger moving the sweet corn off the road.   These situations are really frustrating but at least by having the CB we had some idea as to what was going on.  No matter how serious these situations might be the truckies’ batter is often quite hilarious.

Traffic ahead of us

Traffic ahead of us

Rolled Truck

Rolled Truck

Traffic behind us

Traffic behind us

We finally arrived at Bowen, where we made our way to Queens Beach near the surf lifesaving club and we had a late lunch.  From our seat under what appeared to be maccadamia nut trees we had a wonderful view across the water to places further around the coast.

From Bowen it was down the highway towards Proserpine before turning off to Conway Beach.  The last 20 kilometres or so were quite “interesting” with lots of curves and up and down some quite steep hills.  Going back the other way might also be “interesting”.  Finally we arrived at Conway Beach Tourist Park, which basically appears to be “it” at Conway Beach – the Park’s shop is the only shop in Conway Beach.  This is a very brightly coloured park and appears to be somewhat reserved as a hidden treasure by a small band of regulars who come back here every year and who seem reluctant to share the location of this park with anyone else for fear of spoiling their little piece of paradise.  That being said, they really are a friendly bunch of people here.  We were quite surprised at the facilities that this park has for kids.  There are two jumping pillows and a huge water playground with water slide and more.

After unhitching the Ute and setting up – we didn’t need the awning – we sat outside enjoying the calm and had a cup of coffee.  Then it was off on a walk down to the beach to explore.  The sand here isn’t white but there is plenty of it and huge potential here for long walks along the sand.  Many of the other campers in the caravan park have boats and there is quite good fishing here, apparently.  It certainly smelled great at dinner time!

Welcome to Conway Beach Tourist Village

Welcome to Conway Beach Tourist Village

Unhitched and ready for a cool drink

Unhitched and ready for a cool drink

Colourful bar area and shop

Colourful bar area and shop

Colourful amenities block

Colourful amenities block

Colourful amenities block

Colourful amenities block

Colourful kids water playground

Colourful kids water playground

View of Conway Beach

View of Conway Beach

View of Conway Beach

View of Conway Beach

View of Conway Beach

View of Conway Beach

After a light tea we will have an early night.  Today we drove further in one day that we had driven in the last three and a half weeks, and it took us over an hour and a half longer to get here than we expected.  There is plenty to look forward to tomorrow!

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags: ,

Townsville – An Overview

As today is our last day in Townsville, and we’ve been here for several weeks, it’s about time that we gave a bit of an overview of our impressions of Townsville and what we’ve done and seen. [Don’t forget you can click on any photo to make it bigger]

Townsville:

It goes without saying that we have loved it here in Townsville.  The weather has been absolutely perfect with every day in the mid or high twenties.  Nights have been a bit chilly but it’s easy to pull up a blanket.  Due to its location Townsville misses out on some of the weather extremes of other nearby towns.

Townsville has a population just under 200,000 and like most regional towns it faces a range of economic and social challenges from drought, the decline in the mining boom, and so on.  Still, there’s plenty happening around town.  For instance, we just missed the V8 Supercars before we got here but there has been the Townsville Races, the Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim, Mini Car Club Show ‘n’ Shine (click here for photos), Townsville Running Festival, Cyclones Hot Rod and Custom Car Club Show (click here for photos), a 3 day Jazz Festival, a Seafood Festival, Sunday Markets in town, Friday Night Market on The Strand, and the Townsville Cultural Fest next week.

Architecture wise Townsville is a mix of old and new, with typically older inner suburbs and newer outer suburbs with more modern facilities.  The CBD still has many heritage properties but also many high-rise apartments and newer office buildings.  There are plenty of traditional “queenslanders” up on stilts, many very nicely restored and updated.  Up on the rocky areas there are some spectacular houses built on nearly vertical land.

Flinders Street Townsville

Flinders Street Townsville

Palmer Street Townsville

Palmer Street Townsville

Water Tank in Townsville

Water Tank in Townsville

Some spectacular buildings in Townsville

Some spectacular buildings in Townsville

Changshu Pavilion - Sister City to Townsville

Changshu Pavilion – Sister City to Townsville

Flinders Street is basically the main street in the CBD but there are other areas to visit including the Palmer Street restaurant and port precinct and the Flinders Street East nightclub area.  On Sunday mornings, Flinders Street is closed off for a farmers and artists style market with all the traders open as well.  We found some very exotic fruit and vegetables there.

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Sunday Market in Flinders Street

Castle Hill:

One of the features of Townsville is that it seems to be surrounded by hills and mountains, and in fact parts of the city appear to have been built into the hills.  Castle Hill looms over the city and a 2.9 km drive up a very steep and twisty road rewards you with spectacular panoramic views of the city and across to the nearby islands.  Motorists have to watch out for pedestrians who walk or jog up and down the hill.

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

View from Castle Hill Lookout

 

The Lakes Holiday Park:

One of the best things about our caravan park is its location.  We are bounded by the Mercure Resort, the Lake, and a large Rugby complex, and we are 4 kms from town, 5 kms from The Strand and about 6 kms from the airport.  It is less than a 5 minute walk to Red Rooster, Pizza Hut, Sizzler, Maccas, Subway, plus kebabs, Chinese, a convenience store, a fantastic butcher, and more.  Castletown shopping complex is less that 1 km away and it has pretty much everything we need.  Bunnings, BCF, Spotlight, Kathmandu, Harvey Norman, Joyce Main, Officeworks and just about any other store you need to visit is reasonably close by.

That said, each site at the caravan park has an ensuite, and has a double concrete slab with grass areas between sites, so there is plenty of room.  There are even chains incorporated into the slabs so that vans can be chained into position during the wet season – how thoughtful!  On weekends, there are model yacht races on the Lake behind our site.

We’ve done a full set-up with side-wall and both ends to add privacy and protection from the hot sun.  Most meals are eaten outside under the awning and many are cooked on the van’s pull-out BBQ.

We have a great bunch of neighbours and have enjoyed many happy hours on the grassy area behind our vans by the Lake.  There is also a Friday night BYO BBQ at the park’s swimming pool which is a great way to meet fellow travellers and assist in fund raising for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Set Up at The Lakes Holiday Park

Set Up at The Lakes Holiday Park

Set Up at The Lakes Holiday Park

Set Up at The Lakes Holiday Park

Grassed Area to the Lake Behind our Site

Grassed Area to the Lake Behind our Site

Remote Controlled Yachts on the Lake

Remote Controlled Yachts on the Lake

 

The Strand:

We have spent a lot of time at The Strand, which is a palm tree studded promenade along the main Townsville beach.  It is several kms long with a nice “Rockpool” swimming pool at one end and finishes in town at the other.  It’s a beautiful shady and protected place to walk, run, cycle, skate, or whatever and is very busy at weekends.

On the beach side, every several hundred metres is a kiosk selling coffee, gelato ice-cream, fish & chips, or a bistro/bar, etc.  There is also a fantastic water park for the kids, plus showers, toilet facilities, exercise stations, impressive kids’ playgrounds, barbeque areas, the Tobruk Memorial Baths, and more.  On the opposite side of the The Strand are apartments, motels, restaurants (we especially liked Harold’s Seafood and Gelatissimo), more gelato places, coffee shops, and so on.  Best of all there is plenty of space and shade to simply sit down and relax.

The vegetation is very tropical and there are some amazing trees along The Strand, including huge fig trees with their magnificent root systems.  Some of the buildings along The Strand are built on almost sheer cliff faces, and there is even a waterfall from the top houses to street level.

A bit further on from The Strand is a busy marina with a good variety of yachts and boats, Jupiters Casino, the Entertainment Centre, the port area, and departure points for ferries to the nearby islands.

Rockpool on The Strand

Rockpool on The Strand

Rockpool on The Strand

Rockpool on The Strand

Patrolled Beach along The Strand

Patrolled Beach along The Strand

Patrolled Beach along The Strand

Patrolled Beach along The Strand

Kids' Water Fun Park

Kids’ Water Fun Park

Kids' Water Fun Park

Kids’ Water Fun Park

Tobruk Memorial Baths

Tobruk Memorial Baths

Views from The Strand

Views from The Strand

Views of The Strand

Views of The Strand

Harold's Seafood

Harold’s Seafood

Harold's Seafood Basket

Harold’s Seafood Basket

Gelatissimo

Gelatissimo

BBQ Facilities along The Strand

BBQ Facilities along The Strand

Magnificent Trees Along The Strand

Magnificent Trees Along The Strand

Waterfall by The Strand

Waterfall by The Strand

Marina with a View to Jupiters Casino

Marina with a View to Jupiters Casino

Views of The Strand

Views of The Strand

War Memorial WW1 & WW2 on The Strand

War Memorial WW1 & WW2 on The Strand

 

Magnetic Island:

Magnetic Island is a simply spectacular place only 20 minutes by ferry from Townsville, and you can even take your own vehicle or hire a car on the Island.  We caught the ferry – oldies’ return costs $16 – which lands at Nelly Bay and then simply caught the local bus to Horseshoe Bay – oldies’ day pass costs $3.60.  At Horseshow Bay we had a good wander around town before having a light lunch at the Marlin Bay Tavern.  Another walk up the beach in the opposite direction then it was back to Nan’s Tea House for dessert and coffee.  By then we decided that it was time to catch the bus and then the ferry back to Townsville.

Next time we will make sure to arrive earlier and get on and off the bus at various stops and have a much better look around the island, as we only saw a small part of it.  Or we might hire a Mini Moke and drive around, or we could do an island tour in a stretched jeep, or do a cruise around the Island in a boat or on a jet-ski, or catch the Red Baron biplane for a flight around the Island.  Choices, choices, choices.! We will go back to Magnetic Island for sure.

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Mountainous Outcrop on Magnetic Island

Mountainous Outcrop on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island

Marlin Bay Tavern on Magnetic Island

Marlin Bay Tavern on Magnetic Island

Our Ferry Back from Magnetic Island

Our Ferry Back from Magnetic Island

 

Overall Conclusion:

We are so glad that after having owned the fifth wheeler for nearly four years that we have finally done a really good job of escaping Melbourne’s winter.  This is more than just a holiday – this is a great lifestyle – and we love it.

We both love Townsville and we plan on coming back next winter – why wouldn’t we?

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure | Tags: , ,

Still Chilling in Townsville

We’re really taken by Townsville.  The weather has been absolutely fantastic and there are still lots of things that we want to do.

Currently we have extended our stay to 12th August.

Please check back to see where we decide to go on the 12th!

Thanks for your interest.

Categories: 2013 Big Adventure

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