Bay Watch

Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
Trip End Jan 08, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Before planning my trip to Australia, I'd never heard of Townsville, so I was surprised to learn that with a population of approximately 160,000, it is the second largest city in Queensland after Brisbane. From what I’ve seen of it (and it isn’t much, admittedly), it’s not as touristy as Cairns. Apparently, it has its own industry and doesn’t depend on tourism. Therefore, I felt vindicated with my first impression of it being like a town – I mean, a real town, not just crossing two or three roads and then claiming that it’s a city (like Cairns, Darwin and Broome to name just 3).

Anyway, the real reason I was stopping in Townsville was because of an island about 8km away: Magnetic Island. The story goes that Captain Cook was sailing past the island when his compass broke. Blaming the island, he gave it its name (this part of the world seems to have a got a rough deal from dear old Captain Cook; Magnetic Island, Cape Tribulation, Mount Sorrow – it’s enough to give Queenslanders a complex).

It’s a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville; I usually love travelling on boats – I normally find the experience exhilarating – unfortunately, however, I’d been spoilt by the Megablast in Rotto, and I found the trip strangely dull. Never mind, it was only 20 minutes.

On arrival, I had no idea what I would find on Magnetic Island or where to go, so I jumped on the first bus and on the recommendation of the driver, I went up to Horseshoe Bay with the intention of working my way (by bus) back to the port. Horseshoe Bay was beautiful, a huge beach with warm water, however there was a warning sign on the beach (isn’t there always in Oz?). There was an area of the water that was cordoned off by a net, which was supposedly 'safe’ to swim in, however, the sign was disturbing for two reasons,

1)      it warned that bathers needed to be vigilant and wary of stingers and

2)      the UV levels were elevated that day, or in terms I could understand, it would take 6 minutes to burn. Six minutes! I’d been wandering around like a fool for at least five.

With the clock ticking, I rushed off for some shade so that I could pity the fools (all white, I might add. There were some Asians as well as a few black people at the beach, but all of them, like me, were in the shade) who were playing Russian roulette with their skin. I imagined there would be a few red, sore Europeans around that night and the next day.

After a short walk along Horseshoe Bay, I took off for Alma Bay. This was even better than the previous bay. It wasn’t as commercial as Horseshoe Bay, it was also much smaller, but there was no need to cordon off the water as there were no stingers in the area. All the bathers had to worry about was the fearsome sun, or, rather, the radiation. Actually, I did see one Asian girl go into the water, but she went in with her boyfriend, who was the palest person I’ve seen since the WWE’s Seamus! I needed sunglasses just to look at him, but clearly he wouldn’t be staying that ‘colour’ for long, although I use colour loosely as, technically, white isn’t a colour. Not to worry, I was sure he’d be glowing red in a few hours. I noticed that the other tourists of colour (I tended to see the same people all day) were still shade crawling.

After that, I headed off to my final beach: Picnic Bay. It was not as impressive as Alma Bay, although much bigger. There was a large pub on the beach, which seemed to cater for the backpackers up the road, so there was a lot of noise coming out of it, which disrupted the atmosphere of the bay. Even though the bay was pretty enough with a lot of trees and grass, but the water, as far as I could tell, was not for swimming.

After that it was back to the mainland. I got back at about 5:45pm and thought I’d get some food from the supermarket, Woolworths, only to find that it was 5:45pm. I couldn’t believe it, the second largest town/city in Queensland, a major national chain of supermarkets and they have half day closing on Saturday? For the sake of the censors, I can’t repeat what was going through my mind. But, my word, for a city, it is a really provincial outlook. Never mind, considering Magnetic Island was the only reason I was even in Townsville, the island itself didn’t disappoint.
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