Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Townsville to Mission Beach

October 11

Whatever we expected of Townsville we didn't find it. The beach wasn't much, the landscape uninspiring, the housing stock ditto. If there was an area of historic interest we missed it.
Their reef museum, a huge tank of coral and fish with an artificial wave motion to keep it all alive was interesting, and would probably have been more so if we hadn't seen it all already "in the wild" as it were during our cruise in the Whitsundays. Certainly, if you didn't want to go snorkelling or didn't have the time, it offered a very fair illustration of what the real reef is like.
What struck me most during our time in Townsville was the wind, blowing hard and ceaselessly. It is a reminder that this coast has been devastated at least twice by huge cyclones that wiped out all but a few sturdy brick or concrete buildings.

The road north was not very interesting either, although there were a few vistas over canefields that were pretty.
We stopped in the tiny town of Cardwell to have lunch at a picnic table on the beachfront, sheltered from the hot sun by a spreading fig. The wind was still blowing hard, whipping the fronds of palms lining the beach.

This was our lunch table - without our clutter of dishes on it:

Shortly afterwards we came to Tully, another tiny township whose claim to fame is that it has the highest rainfall per annum in Australia, about 4,000 mm. On the door of the information centre (closed because it was Sunday afternoon) was this sign:

At Mission Beach we secured a spot in the municipal campground. Cheap, shabby, but right on the beach and right in town.

As we approached the town there were many signs along the road alerting us to the presence of Cassowaries,

but sadly we didn't see any. We had to wait until the following day for that. (See next post.)

However, the palm-fringed beach was beautiful:

"Town" consisted of a small supermarket, one other, high-end, campground at twice the price, two backpacker lodgings, three bars, and about 5 restaurants ranging from hole-in-the-wall to white linen tablecloths and a wine list.
The whole place had that kind of not-yet-discovered funky aura that trendy spots like Noosa and Byron Bay must once have had.

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