22nd january - we had a fairly good nights ...

Trip Start Sep 19, 2002
Trip End Sep 22, 2003

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Where I stayed
Townsville YHA

Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, January 25, 2003

22nd January - We had a fairly good nights sleep and didn't have to resort to sleeping outside and it was much easier to put our lenses in without the ground swaying! We nipped off to McDonalds for our free breakfast and boarded the bus to Townsville about 4 hours away. We had another battle over the room when we arrived as there was no air con and we had sepcifically booked that so we could get a good nights sleep. We compromised and got a 6 bed dorm to ourselves but this meant seperate beds again (it's now 5 nights since we shared the same bed!) Townsville YHA declares itself a 5 star but it is far from the best we have stayed in. The advertised lockers and lights in the multishare dorms were non-existent and the kitchen was the smallest and most inadequately stocked we have come across so far. However, there is a wide screen telly, a bar and a spa but these are things we feel we can really do without!

We strolled into town which was fairly pleasant but deadly quiet and we encountered our first groups of Aborigines that all the guide books had told us about. Their deprived socio-economic situation has led many of them to turn to petrol and glue sniffing or drinking and as such they may have been pushed out of their communities, many of which are dry for these very reasons. This means that these groups of Aborigines are highly visble to the population at large, including tourists, and this sadly reinforces the stereotypes. The statistics for Aborigines such as those in work, life expectancy, those in the criminal system etc compared to the general Australian population, make pretty harsh reading and it's no wonder they feel a bit disinclined to celebrate Australia day on 26th which commemorates the anniversary of European invasion.

23rd January - Museum of Tropical Queensland. Most of this museum is dedicated to Australia's most famous shipwreck HMS Pandora. She was sent from Portsmouth (hurrah) to fetch the mutineers from the Bounty (and I thought this was all fiction!!) The Pandora picked up some of the mutineers in Tahiti and imprisoned them in a cell on the ship which they called Pandora's box. Captain Edward Edwards then had to sail through the Barrier Reef to get home after failing to find the Bounty (which was possibly destroyed on purpose by fire to prevent it being found) and in 1791 it hit the reef and sank. Edwards ordered the prisoners to die with the ship but one of the mid-shipmen let them out and some of the crew and prisoners escaped.

In 1977 the wreck was located and diving began but they have only excavated a small part of the ship and have now run out of money. They have so far found 3 skeletons and are trying to use DNA to identify them by testing relatives. There are loads of interesting relics and lots of cool pictures of how they found it and what it looks like, how they clean the items up etc. There's also lots of info on life on the ship and there are some interesting stories about the origins of sayings such as "chewing the fat", "scraping the bottom of the barrel", "a flash in the pan" and "a loose cannon" etc. There are also interesting stories about some of the personalities involved and much about the Bounty story itself, different versions of which have been told ever since the fateful mutiney. One of the best parts was a demo on how they fired the cannon which you could take part in and the kids loved this. The rest of the museum was a bit squashed in and you didn't really know what the point was. They'd do better to do away with all that and just have it as the Museum of the Pandora!

After that we went into town again to scan in the pictures from the last 2 logs. When we came out there was an almightly row outside and it looked like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie as there were hundreds of green and yellow parrots screeching and squawking and flying about at speed. Couple that with the groups of abusive drunks and the lack of anyone else in the dark street and Townsville suddenly became an uncomfortable place to be but after about half hour the calmed down a bit (the birds that it! Townsville is quite picturesque and has lots of nice eating places and bars and lots of access points to the Barrier Reef but it just lacks people and atmosphere and we decided to head off early to Cairns the next day.
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