Girl About Town

Trip Start Jun 05, 2006
Trip End May 03, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, July 22, 2006

Okay, so enough of this island hopping nonsense. I'd spent 10 days surrounded by water in each direction so it was time for me to get my feet firmly ensconced on terra firma once again.
And nothing personal to Queensland's second city, but I decided it would only take a day to discover the delights of Townsville. I think just something about the name Townsville put me off, because it sounds like all the people there are kind of related in some way or at least possess webbed feet or deviated septums. Possibly both!
My first port of call was Castle Hill, a cross between a hill and a mountain, 938ft above the otherwise exceptionally flat city. But oh my! Townsville should have blown its own trumpet a little more and opted for Castle Mountain because I kid you not, it was like scaling Everest. I think the fact that it was called a 'hill' rather than a mountain made me pack just a mandarin the size of a large grape as opposed to glucose packs, litres of water and an EKG machine. I followed a well-used path called the Goat Track to scale this thing, where surely the general logic should have applied that if goats can get up there on four stubby little legs, then a lithe long-legged lady lugging meagre provisions could do it no probs. But to say it was hard-going was an understatement. In days of yore I could easily imagine cantering mountain goats galloping up behind me and ramming my butt out of the way as they sped to the top. In latter days though the goats have been replaced by sprightly pensioners skilfully power-walking their way to the top and high-fiving me again on their way back down.

So there I was, with 24 glorious hours to spare in Townsville, yet needing around 24 days to complete the first activity. But my be-soaked back (the only place where I glow) told me that it was time to call upon the mandarin. And a member of the orange family has never tasted sweeter or more refreshing. And at least if I had collapsed and carked it they'd have found me by following a small trail of orange peel to my body, saving the headlines 'Na´ve British Tourist Falls Foul Of Blazing Australian Winter' to something like 'Even an Orange Couldn't Save Her'. Ah yes, it's very important not to shame the Davis name.

But somehow that little dose of vitamin C coerced my leaden legs into dragging themselves right up to the top. And what do I see up there? Big fat trucker dudes tucking into pies and pasties and swilling it down with Coca-Cola. This prompted my by now very dehydrated and confused train of thought to make the following stops:
1.There's a cafe up here? Hallelujah!
2.How did the big fat trucker dudes get up here?
3.My throat feels really tight and my ears are kind of buzzing
But one very lovely thing about Australia is the proliferation of public drinking water fountains and there was one right here. And I wouldn't have traded it for one spouting pure gold at that point. Restored to normality, I set about tackling the trucker dudes. Turns out the trucking twosome quite literally trucked up the road - there's a road! - on the other side of Castle Hill bringing with them their sweet-smelling pies. Bloody cheats. I left them to pat their beer guts as they admired the view with a smug look of satisfaction on their moustachioed faces. Fact! There are a LOT of men in Queensland with moustaches.

That view was so worth it though. I was literally on top of the world. Townsville was spread out below me like a toy town and I could see Magnetic Island clearly off into the distance. From that height you can see just how spread out Townsville is, a bit like one massive Melbourne suburb. The most noticeable landmark is the 'sugar shaker' AKA the Holiday Inn.

I had a wonderful time coming back down to earth and even had a fun little incident skiing/sliding down the side of a bit of the Goat Track a bunch of workmen were working on. That's how steep it is. Luckily I had a big strong gloved hand to steady my balance as there was this one guy whose job it was to aid damsels in distress like myself past the closed-off bit of track.

My whistle-stop tour of Townsville also took in the botanic gardens and the fantastic stretch of sea-front known as The Strand. The council have really gone to town on this - there's a load of benches, monkey bars and ropes scattered along it where you can do all your exercises as you power your way along after a little stroll up and down Castle Hill. As tempting as the al fresco gym looked, I thought that al fresco lunch was probably more my style and scoffed a fabulous calamari salad at C-Bar. I then wandered past Townsville's 'Walk of Fame' (the city has produced a LOT of athletes) and had a look at the Anzac memorial, which was probably the best I've seen out of loads so far.

But getting a one-way ticket out of Townsville to Cairns didn't prove easy. I spent about 15 minutes on the phone to 'Jason' from Greyhound who just loved the sound of my voice and wanted me to say lots of different things. Hmmm...what was that I said about deviated septums and webbed feet?
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