Southbound – Days 5 and 6
With a ceiling and standing fan we survived the night and emerged sort of refreshed the next day. The jet lag is finally receding.
The accommodation in daylight was commendable and alongside our room were guests from Germany and French speaking Canada. The latter were impressed with my language skills after all you never know when ‘le stylo de ma tante’ can come in useful. Breakfast was superb up on the verandah and we talked with the landlady, Dawn, originally from County Durham. With all that travel she was very interesting and helpful and we were sorry to say goodbye and head south.
The night before we’d seen some wallabies or small kangaroos in the wild on the grass at dusk. This morning there was one in the undergrowth. Sadly it didn’t photograph well as Mother Nature had enabled the small animal to merge into the trees it was sat amongst.
We set off south for Townsville stopping at Ingham for a coffee. Here we strolled along the parade of shops to stretch our legs.
Peering in the windows and ambling slowly we must have appeared lost as a chap asked us if we needed directions. In the brief exchange I told him we were from England. ‘Oh, where abouts?’ I duly told him and enquired if he had relatives over there or had visited? ‘Nope, I’m 67 years old and I’ve been abroad to Tasmania and New Zealand!’ Clearly not nomadic. We found a cafe, had a coffee and then set sail again.
Over the next few days we have to drive long distances every day. This means less notable attractions but lots of The Bruce Highway. This is a single carriageway with light traffic but a large number of roadworks. It’s an easy if not interesting drive unless you turn off. I cruise at just over 60mph. I spent some time changing all the units of measure on the car to imperial instead of metric. This should cheer the car rental company when they get it back. As we drive we listen to podcasts, my music, the BBC or my moaning about other drivers.
Townsville is Queensland’s second largest town after Brisbane. We got there in 33°C and after checking in I departed to find some trainers. I’d brought a pair from Blighty but found that they were strangling my instep. I needed to be able to walk! Given the adidas discount I can obtain from the Favourite Youngest Daughter the thought of buying any trainers away from England (and the discount) indicated how much discomfort I was in. I ended up in Athlete’s Foot where I was measured, assessed and found some shoes from the Sale! They fitted like Cinderella’s slipper. It was memorably great service. I skipped home a free man.
That night Mrs Ives fancied a curry and across the road we sat outside on the street at a restaurant in the delicious heat consuming a tasty meal before a long stroll to jostle the bhajis, rice and, in my case, Rogan Josh to the bottom of my stomach.
Readers of my previous Australian adventure will recollect that I temporarily lost my passport for a night. This time it remained in my pocket. Unfortunately it was not extracted prior to going into the wash. It is now a sorry sight. If I don’t return or get out of Australia it’ll be down to a non too ‘delicate’ wash.
The next town to reach was Mackay. This we achieved after detours into Bowen, a one horse town without the horse, and Airlie Beach, a grim resort with much residential housing a bustling marina. Bowen was founded in 1861 by the British after they landed, threatened and dispersed the aborigines (who had probably been in this area for centuries.) The town has a mixed economy but I suggest it houses many workers operating a deep water port for the export of coal about 19 miles north of the town. On a sleepy and fiercely hot Saturday afternoon there was little life on the streets. I did however love the murals and my first pie on this trip.
Airlie Beach is further south and is a more bustling prosperous place. It’s a jumping off point for Great Barrier Reef cruises and looks a lively, noisy place with bars and restaurants. There’s a lot of nice houses further out and tourism seems the ticket. Whilst there a bus pulled in and bedraggled millennials staggered off with rucksacks so large and heavy that I couldn’t lift them let alone carry them. One had a Canada patch on his luggage: he’d come a long way.
Eventually Mackay was reached and we checked into another hotel. Again it had a gym and I donned my cycling shorts to spin, and listen to Radio Four on my Air Pods, and Anna took a swim. It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.
3 thoughts on “Australia & New Zealand 2023”
This is all superb; an interesting and amusing account. I can almost feel the heat! Great photography too.
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Thank you Lyndon. Too kind, really. It keeps me occupied. Brisbane next.