Alva Beach to Bowen, N QLD

Monday 25th October 2021
After a slow start to the day, a bit of chatting, some yoga and a bit more chatting. We headed on our way about 10.30am. Today’s destination is Bowen travelling along the Bruce Hwy about 132km.

Along the way we stopped at a WWII Radar Station on Charles Hill near Home Hill which had a lovely view out over the sugar cane farms. We then headed to Mt Inkerman for lunch and then on to Bowen – the northern part of the Whitsundays. We drove around the town and out to Horseshoe Bay, Rose Bay and to the lookout over North Head Island, Stone Island Gloucester Island and in the other direction to the Bowen Town centre.

We will stay at Bowen tonight and move on tomorrow.

‘Constructed by the RAAF in 1943, the No 211 Radar Station on Charlie’s Hill was one of twenty radar installations along the North Queensland coastline. These operated to give an early warning of approaching enemy aircraft during World War II.

When visiting this historic site, igloos of reinforced concrete which provided bomb-proof protection for the radar equipment can still be seen. The wooden towers which supported the transmitting and receiving aerials have been removed. The buildings are listed in the Queensland Heritage Register because of the site’s historical and military significance.’

Townsville to Alva, QLD

Sunday 24th October 2021
Another day in sunny Townsville.

Today we had another swim in the Tobruk Memorial Baths. It is difficult to train hard as the water is so warm, about 29° and we both boil over any time you put in some effort. Although we did manage an ok session today. We then headed back to the hotel to pack up.

Next we went for a walk around the Jezzine Barracks at Kissing Point. This had a lot of history from World War II and also some artworks around the walk. There was also a lovely view out to Magnetic Island.

We then enjoyed a lovely walk along the boardwalk and path along Rowe Bay towards Pallarenda. On the way back we decided to hire some battery powered scooters as David had been wanting to give the a go since we first arrived. It was quite fun (45c a minute) and I handled it a lot better than DB thought I would.

After lunch we went to the Tropical Museum of Queensland. The current features were Ancient Rome and the HMS Pandora, along with their normal showcase of rainforest, barrier reef and north Queensland animals. We spent an hour and a half here, as always never enough time.

Following this we walked the streets of Townsville city looking at the amazing street art. The task to paint such huge artworks on the sides of buildings always amazes me. they were fantastic.

We then headed on the hour drive to Alva for tonights camp. We have headed a little further south again. We are now 6 hours 13 minutes and 515km south of Port Douglas which we left on 17th September. Hopefully we move a little bit quicker so we make it home for Christmas.

Townsville QLD

Saturday 23rd October 2021
Today we explored a little bit of Townsville.

After our swim at the historic Tobruk Memorial Baths we went for a drive to Mt Stuart which overlooks the city of Townsville. Its elevation is 584m above sea level giving a great view of the city. The temperature was hot, hot, hot and I am struggling.

We then went to Palmetum – a botanical garden for palm trees. It was a lovely walk arounf the gardens but still hot, hot, hot.

After this we drove to the western suburbs to Riverview Art and Entertainment Centre which had an amazing free swimming pool or 3 really. It was located right on the Ross River and was heavily populated with families enjoying the facility on this hot, hot, hot day.

We then headed home for a rest before heading out for dinner at a lovely restaurant we found last week. Wild Rice Thai and Laos Restaurant. We walked to the restaurant which is located in the city centre and then after dinner we went for a long walk along the waterfront. We have decided that 8pm is the perfect time to exercise in this hot, hot, hot city in late October.

Townsville is a city located on the north-eastern coast of Queensland. Townsville is Australia’s largest urban centre north of the Sunshine Coast, with a population over 185,000. Townsville is famous for an average of 320 days of sunshine per year and adjacent to the central section of the Great Barrier Reef.’

‘The Tobruk Memorial Baths is a heritage-listed complex of outdoor swimming pools on The Strand, Townsville CBD, City of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. It was built from 1941 to 1950 by Townsville City Council as a World War II memorial. The baths were added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 13 January 1995.’

The Palmetum is a unique tropical experience covering over 17 hectares. It is a botanical garden featuring one family of plants – the palms. Approximately 60 species of palms are native to Australia and most are represented in the Palmetum. The collection contains around 300 species, many rare and threatened in their natural habitat.’

Townsville Swimming

A little bit of swimming history.

Magnetic Island to Townsville, QLD

Friday 22nd October 2021
Today we have to move early as we have a full agenda before we head on the boat at 2pm.

We have had a lovely stay at Bungalow Bay Koala Village for the last 3 nights. I have worked out that if I have a swim just before the pool closes at 9pm, it cools down my core body temp and I sleep a little better. The breeze seems to stop in the middle of the night which usually means I wake hot but it is improving. The temp here has been quite hot between 25° low and 34° high. So a bit tough for me. The Village is geared a lot to the backpackers and seems to be run by them as well. The pool with bar and billiards was busy most nights but they turn all the lights out at 9.30pm so the ruckus goes with it. Thankfully.

This morning we started our walk from Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay and then on to Radical Bay at about 8.30pm. It was a lovely walk – about 5km – with a little elevation – about 3 x 80-90m climbs. The bays were both pretty but the Noreaster definitely gets in causing it to be a little choppy. As the stinger season is getting very close — Nov-Mar— we didn’t have a swim at either bay. We then hike back to Horseshoe Bay, arriving about 11am.

Second activity was a hike down 1km to Arthur Bay so I can have a snorkel. David was not keen to snorkel again as the conditions weren’t good enough for the time of the year risk for stingers. So alone I go out in the water even though some people had just seen a small reef shark. This is a little bit of a struggle for me but I manage to overcome going alone and spend about 45 mins in the water, always checking how far out I was going. It was quite cloudy again and was higher tide today which meant the coral reef was a little deeper. I saw some lovely coral and many fish including the Spiny and Agile Chromis, Scissor-tail Sergeant, Racoon and Threadfin butterflyfish, Spanish Flag, Surf Parrotfish and a blue spotted stingray with a white tip on its tail. I had a lovely time but was a little wary of keeping a lookout for stingers. We then walked back to the car and headed to Alma Bay again for lunch. A lovely shaded park on the beach.

Then on to the harbour to catch the ferry back to Townsville. We have enjoyed a lovely few days on Magnetic Island and look forward to going there again another time when the wind isn’t consistently N/NE and not so close to stinger season. At least we got to use our stinger suits.

We are staying in Townsville for 2 nights in air-conditioned comfort again. Yay!!

Magnetic Island , N QLD – Day 3

Thursday 21st October 2021
Happy birthday to Kristen. Hoping you have a lovely day.

Today is a little overcast and then rain looks imminent but it did not eventuate. We are going to go a little slower today. We drove to Alma Bay and caught the bus up to the start of the walk. A 4km walk from the Forts track through the bush back to Alma Bay. There were a couple of lookouts along the way including Sphinx lookout. It was a pleasant walk with not to much elevation as we were a little weary in the legs from yesterday.

We enjoyed lunch in the park overlooking Alma Bay again and then went for a drive to the SS City of Adelaide shipwreck at Cockle Bay. Unfortunately not to much to see here. We then did a walk up to Hawkings Point, the track winds to the top of a large boulder, affording a spectacular panorama over the island past Rocky Bay to Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay and back towards Townsville.

We then headed back to camp for a swim in the pool and a relax for the last part of the day. Once again we have enjoyed the outdoors, exploring Magnetic Island.

 

Magnetic Island, N QLD – Day 2

Wednesday 20th October 2021
Well what a big day we have had today. We were up early and ready for a walk as it is so hot here, I need to be on my way as I overheat a lot! Today’s first walk is the Forts Walk.

“One of the most popular tracks on Magnetic Island National Park, the Forts walk leads to fascinating historic WWII fortifications and infrastructure. The track ascends, sometimes steeply, to follow a ridge behind the bays before arriving at the ruins of the Forts complex operated during World War II. Along the way enjoy the breathtaking views to the Palm Island Group in the north and Bowling Green Bay National Park in the south. Remember to look upwards as well! Dozing koalas are often seen in the trees along the track. The 360 degree views from the top of the fortifications are more than worth the walk! The Australian Coast Artillery Units operated the Forts complex from 1943 until the end of the Pacific War in 1945.”

We got started just after 8.30am and headed up the track, this was quite easy as it was mainly gravel or road base, so the ascent was a lot easier than if it were a bush track. We continued up and David was looking intently for koalas in the trees and my instructions were to keep an eye out for snakes. I was happy with that as I get a very sore neck looking for the koalas. We were lucky to see a few koalas along the way. A mother and a hidden baby up high and another one just at eye height, which was fantastic. David always happy to see them in their natural habitat. We then continued up to the fort, passing the remnants of time gone by. The viewpoints of the bays along the way were beautiful, especially at the top.

We then headed back down and enjoyed some more time looking at the koalas. This time the baby was out on the tree. We were so lucky.

Next stop was lunch a picturesque Alma Bay with beautiful blue water and golden sands.

“Located in Arcadia, Alma Bay is a popular swimming beach with good accessibility for less mobile visitors. The bay is patrolled by Lifeguards year-round with red and yellow flags marking the safest swimming area for beach goers.”

David is still a little apprehensive about swimming as the stinger season is very close and the earliest recorded Irukandji jellyfish sting was mid October in 2003. As you can see, he has way too much information. “The syndrome was named after the Irukandji people, whose country stretches along the coastal strip north of Cairns, Queensland.” The story goes they learnt not to swim in stinger season as when they did people got sick. A very simplistic but educated assessment of the situation.

So after lunch we headed along Radical Bay Rd which was closed to traffic so we had to walk instead. Along the way we took the side track to picturesque Arthur Bay and then on to Florence Bay. It was low-ish tide so we decided to go for a snorkel. We donned our stinger suits and snorkel gear and enjoyed about 45 minutes in the water. We saw many fish including the parrotfish, oval-spot butterflyfish, spiny chromis, scissor tail sergeant, blue strip sea perch and many, many more. I also saw a lovely stingray which I followed at a safe distance. There were also some tiny, tiny electric blue and orange fish. There was some lovely coral – brain coral and some amazing frilled seaweed. Unfortunately the water was a little murky when you went a bit deeper and it was a little spooky. David lasted a fair while considering he isn’t real keen at this time of year. We then walked back via another WWII lookout and back to the car. It was a very hot walk back and I enjoyed a dip in the pool at the caravan park when we got back. I am planning another one just before bedtime to try and help me sleep better tonight.

Magnetic Island, N QLD – Day 1

Tuesday 19th October 2021
Well, it was an early start today as our preferred times of 11am or 1pm for our departure to Magnetic Island were fully booked, so we had to leave at 9am. I suppose booking at midday yesterday may have something to do with it, but that’s ok. We arrived at the jetty at 8.20am ready to go. It was a beautiful day with blue sky and a little cloud.

We enjoyed a lovely ferry ride to Magnetic Island, arriving just before 10 at Nelly Bay. We then proceeded to drive around the western side of the island, first stop Picnic Bay, where we had a lovely walk along the beach and a chat with a guesthouse owner, who is suffering the lack of tourist caused by border closures due to Covid19. Everywhere we go it is the same sentiment for business owners. It is very sad. Picnic Bay is very pretty with its yellow sandy beaches and beautiful blue water. There is a surf club here and a lovely swimming bay if the stinger season Nov-May wasn’t imminent. We then headed to West Point, another yellow sandy beach and then back to Picnic Bay for lunch.

After lunch we drove to Horseshoe Bay and then found our accommodation at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village. Unfortunately the 30% rain chance forecast came to fruition, so I had to lay up in the tent and read my book for a couple of hours. Shame, oh, shame. The rain only lasted for about 20 mins and then the clouds blew over to a lovely blue sky again. We had a lovely restful afternoon. We are back to our camping lifestyle and enjoyed stir-fry prawns and vegetables for dinner. It is a tough life.

There is a very high backpacker population at the campground and they were in fine form tonight until the lights and music at the bar were turned off at about 9.30pm. They then went away and we now have lovely quiet except for all the nocturnal animals and birdlife. We are looking forward to another lovely day exploring the island tomorrow.

Take care and stay safe at home, we are missing you all. xxx

Ingham to Townsville, N QLD

Saturday 16th to Monday 18th October, 2021
Well we have had a quite restful few days. On Saturday I managed to have my hair done by a lovely girl at Snippers, Ingham. I left DB in Woolworths to finish the groceries and pack them all away. He managed well as it is always a challenge to get 4 or 5 days cold goods in the 47 litre fridge. But he did a great job. My hair was a long process (wash, foils, colour, blow dry and cut) – almost 3 hours but I came out a new woman. Yeehah! David sat happily in the car for a couple of hours. By this time it was 2pm, so after a quick bite to eat we started on our way south.

Along the way we stopped at Jourama Falls in the Paluma Range National Park. We did a short walk to the base of the falls as the upper falls track was closed. It was a pretty waterfall, albeit a bit small at the base. We clambered up and over some smooth rocks to get to the waterfall. After a short break we then headed back to the car as we still had a bit of a drive to get to Townsville. We are booked in to Yongala by the Strand, a motel for the next couple of nights as we need to do our tax. Good excuse for a queen size bed and air-conditioning.

Townsville has amazing facilities along its foreshore – pools, waterparks, tree-lined paths, picnic areas, patrolled beaches with stinger nets in season and lovely views to Magnetic Island. We have enjoyed lovely walks along the foreshore, albeit very hot (daily temp range is 25° – 35°) in the day time, and still warm at 8.30pm when we go for our gelato walk. We enjoyed a lovely Thai meal at Wild Rice Laos & Thai Cuisine. We have had a couple of swims in the Tobruk Memorial Baths – a 50m outdoor lap pool. It is hard to train in the pools up here as the water temp is at least 28° and we boil over any time we put in some kind of effort. All good though, at least we are ticking our arms over at least 2 or 3 times a week. We have had a good rest, a couple of good nights sleep and air-conditioned comfort.

It is now Monday and we have both lodged our tax returns, DB has done his BAS and we are almost ready to head over to Magnetic Island tomorrow for a few days. This afternoon we went for a drive to the top of Castle Hill, a 360° view of Townsville. We passed so many walkers, runners, cyclists heading up and down the hill, it was incredible how many there were – we saw maybe 100 or more. It made me feel a little lazy for having driven up there. At the top there were about 5 different lookout points.

“Just metres short of a mountain, Castle Hill is the giant pink granite monolith that stands proud in the centre of Townsville – a perfect place for visitors to orientate themselves. Castle Hill offers vehicle access as well as a number of popular walking tracks, which are frequented by more than 2,500 locals a day! The 360-degree views of Townsville at the top are well worth the journey. Apart from being an iconic centrepiece for the city and a lookout for spectacular scenic views, Castle Hill has a significant history. The Hill’s vantage was used by visiting American soldiers during World War II. According to local legend, the visitors famously offered to demolish the hill and use the rock to build a bridge to Magnetic Island. A World War II observation bunker sits on one corner of the Hill reminding visitors of Castle Hill’s military history.”

Mt Fox to Ingham, Nth QLD

Friday 15th October 2021
After heavy rain during the night we woke to mostly blue sky. We headed out early  to hike up Mt Fox. Another steep climb (130m elevation) over a short distance (300m). It took 20mins to climb up and a little less to climb down. There was a pretty view at the top. It was a quick 47 mins exercise done before 10.30am. We then headed back to camp at the Mt Fox Cricket ground and had n early lunch, did some yoga and touched base with home.

After this we headed back down the mountain, an 1.5 hour drive down a scenic, winding, narrow (almost single lane only) road. The cliff was quite sheer on my side so I was grateful we only came across one or two cars going the other way, as no-one really takes the sharp bends quite slow enough for my liking. We then had a swim at Ingham Aquatic Centre, another warm outdoor 50m pool. Unfortunately, the thunderstorm cut our swim short.

We then went for a stroll around the TYTO Wetlands where we saw numerous birds, some too quick to photograph. We are staying tonight at the Palm Tree Tourist Park at Ingham. It has the front of the park on the Bruce Hwy and the back along the railway line. Wish us luck with sleep tonight.