Our son Phil, his wife Tracey and their daughters Alex and Emily joined us in Townsville to stay for a week. As we hadn’t seen them for a couple of months it was great to catch up and spend some “holiday” time with them all. The timing was also good as we were able to celebrate Alex’s birthday a week or so late and Emily’s birthday a week or so early.
Over the course of the week we have had a range of adventures including:
Water Park on The Strand
This was actually the first destination for Alex and Emily on the day they arrived. We met the family at Townsville airport and while Phil and Tracey caught a taxi to their apartment with all the luggage to get things set up without the assistance of the girls, we packed Alex and Emily and a bag of clothes etc into the Ute to make a preliminary introduction to Townsville.
First stop was the water park on The Strand and after a change into bathers and hats and sunscreen and the girls were off, shrieking and screaming with delight. By local standards Townsville is enjoying a mild winter, but by Melbourne standards we are practically enjoying a heat wave so the girls stayed under the water until they were a pale shade of blue.
The Water Park is a great place for kids and Alex and Emily have certainly enjoyed the wide range of ways to get wet on offer here.
Our first family holiday dinner was at the Seaview Hotel on the corner of The Strand and Gregory Streets, after the girls had changed and warmed up after their initial visit to the Water Park.
The Seaview had a good and wide ranging menu, including a choice of kids’ meals, and the prices were quite reasonable. So with Angus or rump steaks for the grown-ups and sausages and chips for Alex and Emily, we had a very enjoyable dinner.
Fish Inn and the Rockpool
Ann and I have enjoyed several meals at the Fish Inn and so did Katie and Mick while they were here, and Phil, Tracey, Alex and Emily have similarly decided that this was a great place to eat.
One morning we received a phone call from Phil at about 11 o’clock saying that they were at the Rockpool and would we like to join them for an early lunch. This was a bit of a surprise as their apartment is at the other end of The Strand and they had all walked several kilometres to get to the Rockpool. Fortunately there is plenty to see and do along The Strand so Alex and Emily had plenty to keep them busy and entertained during their long walk.
After a bit of a play on the playground equipment near the Rockpool, we headed inside for a great meal of fish and chips, calamari, salad and more.
Another day, Ann and I took Alex and Emily for a swim at the Rockpool, and I actually donned my boardshorts and bared my body to the world. There‘s a lot more of it now than there used to be and fortunately there weren’t too many bystanders to be shocked! The Rockpool is a well-planned and safe place for anyone to swim with plenty of grassed areas to sit or sunbathe. There are no stingers or crocodiles, and it is drained and cleaned out every week. There is a large area suitable for wading in and much deeper areas for the more adventurous to dive, swim, etc. After a rather long time in the water, the girls enjoyed cleaning off under the outside showers while Ann got some take-away coffees and hot chips from the Fish Inn to warm us all up. After our swim we went for a short walk around to the beach where Alex and Emily enjoyed making sand castles.
We also enjoyed a family dinner at Harold’s Seafood in Gregory Street. Harold’s is essentially a take-away with plenty of tables and chairs outside. There is also a Juliette’s gelato ice cream shop next door and a Coffee Club next to that, so everyone’s appetite can be satisfied. For dinner we shared a couple of fisherman’s baskets amongst the lot of us and the big surprise to Ann and I was that Alex simply loved prawns. Later in the week while we were minding Alex and Emily while Phil and Tracey went out for dinner at Odysee greek themed restaurant, we shouted them fish and chips with a special prawn pack for Alex. Just as well that Emily doesn’t like prawns.
Coffee and Gelato Ice Cream
There are plenty of reasons to have a coffee and/or gelato ice-cream and we have certainly devoured our fair share while we have been in Townsville. No-one really needs an excuse and there are always different flavours to choose from. Alex and Emily needed gelato to warm up after their visit to the Water Park and at another time needed gelato for strength before their long walk home along the Strand after their swim at the Rockpool. There are multiple coffee and/or gelato shops along the Strand and Alex and Emily enjoyed many flavours of gelato with “bubblegum” or “smurf” as perhaps their favourites. They particularly liked the fact that all the gelato shops let them taste different flavours before they had to make up their minds.
Apart from spending time playing at the Rockpool, one morning we bought Alex and Emily back to the caravan park where they had a proper swim in the swimming pool. This is a great facility with a small pool for kids and a deeper area for laps. Alex showed off her swimming skills by swimming across the shallow end of the main pool and both girls had fun playing with the pool noodles.
Tracey also took Alex for a swim at the Tobruk Memorial Pool where she was able to do some ‘proper’ laps.
We took Alex and Emily for a bit of a walk around town one morning. They were very interested in what they could see from the pedestrian bridge over the river and were delighted that that could see some fish in the river. We bought them some buckets and spades to use at the beach and further down the footpath, they enjoyed a game of hopscotch. Townsville streets are quite interesting in that they have play areas like hopscotch and snakes and ladders painted on the footpath.
Townsville does a fantastic job catering for kids and along The Strand and also along the beaches opposite our caravan park are many different pieces of play equipment, much under cover, to keep the kids active. Alex and Emily particularly liked the dragon, fish and pirate ship outside the caravan park.
Tracey also took Alex and Emily for a visit to the reefHQ Great Barrier Reef aquarium and turtle hospital complex where they stayed for a couple of hours. The girls were very proud of their ‘turtle tattoos’.
Phil, Tracey and the girls were all pretty keen to visit Magnetic Island and thoroughly enjoyed the apparently rather fast and bumpy ride over. They had originally thought that perhaps they would just catch the ferry across and back but in the end stayed and caught the bus around to Picnic Bay where they had lunch and explored a bit before catching the bus and ferry home.
Quad Bike Riding
Just to show that they are really just big kids, Phil and Tracey booked a Quad Bike Adventure so Ann and I looked after Alex and Emily for the morning. They were picked up from their apartment and driven out to Herveys Range to the Quad Bike centre, next door to the Heritage Tearooms that Ann and I had visited earlier in our stay. They were the only ones on the morning tour that day so received great attention from their guide. The morning started off with an introductory session on riding a quad bike with laps around a paddock before they set out on their tour. Both Phil and Tracey apparently had their share of “exciting moments” but thoroughly enjoyed the tour through beautiful countryside, up and down some very steep hills and through some old railway tunnels. After a quick snack at the tearooms they were brought back to their apartment. They both agreed that it was “wicked” fun!
Phil and Tracey took Alex and Emily to the Billabong Sanctuary about 17 kms south of Townsville. Tracey said that she had been to quite a few zoos and sanctuaries and that this was probably the best she had ever been to. What sets Billabong apart is that it is truly interactive and that the kids can touch and hold a huge range of native wildlife. Alex and Emily had a great time and handled their fair share of birds and animals, including a crocodile, before having their photos taken with their favourites. A great day was had by all.
The week certainly passed very quickly. It was fantastic to have so much quality time together. We hope that the girls are old enough to remember their Tropical Queensland Adventure in Townsville. Nana and Papa certainly will!