Townsville turned out to be the ‘capital’ of Northern Queensland and is half way between Cape York and Brisbane. As the train came into Townsville, it was surprising to see how large it was and how long it took to get through the suburbs. I had no idea there were over 170,000 people here ,and also in Cairns, but Townsville is the economic hub of the coast with all sorts of industries besides tourism. Here’s the In Townsville site for a useful brochure with plenty of maps and information.
Castle Hill is the red rock monolith in the heart of Townsville and a great place for panoramic views or exercising the calf muscles on the walking tracks. The locals seem to be very keen on this or the 2.2/4.4 km walk along the Strand Promenade with it’s wonderful views of Magnetic Island, especially at sunset. A Ferry takes you out to Magnetic island and runs more frequently in peak hours. Here’s the timetable as well as details and a map with all the island walking trails. Like most places along the north queensland coast the foreshore is beautifully landscaped with pools, beaches and picnic areas but it’s dangerous to swim there at times because of stingers, particularly between October and June.
Imagine how wonderful it would have been to come into this old railway station above. Now Townsville has a new station which is a taxi ride from the city. Here’s an ABC article on the old railway station with pictures. Soon after our arrival, a few of the passengers including myself, were looking a little confused, as there were no taxis anywhere. Eventually we worked out that there was an intercom by the ticket office that allowed you to ask for a taxi to be sent out. Must be a scary lot around here.
My accommodation at the Hotel Ibis was fine and close to everything so I was able to walk my feet off after sitting on the train all day and there were plenty of options for eating. I knew I wouldn’t starve.
Imagine my surprise to find HMB Endeavour here when I thought I’d left it back in Sydney. It’s currently circumnavigating Australia. Imagine learning to sail and being part of this journey! (Wonder how many sea sick pills you can take in a day?) The Endeavour was at Reef HQ, the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium which is the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. I visited the Museum of Tropical Queensland but it wasn’t the same with dead corals when you’ve been snorkelling and seen them alive, perhaps I should have gone to reef HQ. However, the Museum had an excellent display of the HMS Pandora shipwreck of 1790. The nearby Maritime Museum also had a display on the wreck of the Yongala in 1911, which is now a popular dive site off Townsville, and shows how difficult it was for those living by the sea in earlier times too. Now for another walk along the Strand to find a coffee and some food and check out the winter coats on the sculptures. Great fun.