Fix the Air-Conditioner! (Townsville) – 29th of July

Drip……drip drip…..drip….drip…..There’s water dripping on my toes and sweat down my back. Oh, no…..we’re heading into the far north of the Queensland coast and our air-conditioner has decided to temporarily stop pumping out icy cold air. Instead, it favours something around the 28 C mark(approx 85F). This is not what one wants when it is 26 C outside…..anyway…….now that I’ve set the picture, you have an understanding of the atmosphere and conditions as they truly have been in our car. I think it’s about time to fill you in on what we’ve been up to.

Upon leaving Mackay early in the morning we headed North up the coast. First stop was a quick explore of Cape Hillsborough. This is a little point of land in the Hillsborough National Park where bush turkeys roam the beaches and you can hand feed kangaroos. (No kangaroos when we arrived, unfortunately) The beach is quite MAGNIFICENT. You can see out to some of the islands and the water is perfectly crystal tranquil blue. After some deep sighing and mutual comments along the lines of “GOSH! Isn’t it beautiful” we jumped back into the car and kept on driving.

Following what we thought was sound advice from a local Mackay residence we had decided our next stop was to go and check out what was supposedly a secluded and beautiful spot called Dingo Beach. Our local Mackay source of knowledge (whose name has been withheld for safety reasons) was full of assurance that we would love the beach and surrounding area. Always in search of the ultimate remote and isolated utopian campsite, we eagerly headed off. After turning off the Bruce Highway one follows a gravel road down to the water. There lies not only lovely Dingo Beach, but the whole township of Dingo Beach too…..inclusive of brick veneers, shops, and sub-divisions. Quashed !!! were our visions of virgin and pristine rainforest by the beach. The beach itself, however, is well worth a sticky beak– a quick look– (as is Smalley’s beach just around the corner)….but unfortunately, camping has been prohibited. The only spot to stay is a rather large and incredibly concrete caravan park a couple of minutes up the road….after some deliberation, we decided to push on in search of a better location.

Some hours – and many dead animals by the side of the road – later, we found ourselves in Townsville. It is worth noting briefly here that there is an alarming abundance of dead animals on the highways of Queensland. Much to Eric’s and my horror, every few minutes of highway seems to produce an array of squashed kangaroos, wallabies, foxes, kittens and even dogs. It was of no surprise then that the first thing we spotted on the main street of Townsville was a dead mouse………

The city lay before us. Our first priority was to drop the car off at Davis Auto Electricals for some repairs to the faulty air-conditioning system. He assured us he could locate and most definitely probably solve the problem within twenty-four hours….(By the way if anyone else happens to have a broken air-conditioner he does a great job- 56 Ingham Road, Townsville! The gentleman you want to speak to is LINDSAY) Much much much relieved and clutching rainbow paddle pops in hand, we merrily headed off on foot to explore the town.

The first thing we both noticed as we frolicked down the main street was that every third shop front was either for lease or for sale. The second thing we noticed was that there was a decided lack of people roaming the streets. The third thing we noticed was a dead kitten (of course) ………………………so the fourth thing we decided upon was that something had happened to turn the once bustling Townsville into a near ghost town. Eric had visited the city a few years back and had vivid memories of chilling out down at Fisherman’s Wharf and eating at a restaurant on the shores of the harbour. However, all that remained of that memory were some decrepit looking plastic chairs and more dead mice. Upon querying the locals we discovered that a large mall had been constructed just west of the town centre. Consequently, a majority of the main shops had packed up and moved out there. It is a real pity that this happened to Townsville because the city is indeed quite charming. It has worked hard to retain the old Queenslander architecture. Nearly every building is accompanied by a wide sweeping verandah. In essence, the whole town has had its insides scooped out and is left with a gaping hole in the middle. The advent of the mall in the late ’50s may have initially appeared to be a positive thing, but looking at Townsville it is oh so apparent that it ISN’T all positive, particularly from a sociological and cultural perspective.

All the locals and their stores are disadvantaged by the modern mall complexes that seem to favour the internationally recognised chains such as Woolworths, K-Mart etc. Charging exorbitant rents, local people are often left with no option but to stay in the old deserted part of town that was once the hub of all business. Upon much reflection, Eric and I find this consumer-oriented aspect of modern life and society quite disturbing. Townsville is only one example of numerous towns that have suffered the same fate. This trip around Australia has so far proven that some of the most authentic, magical and uniquely Australian aspects of our country are being destroyed in favour of more commercial and unattractive ventures that guarantee a greater profit. It is a real shame because a lot of unspoilt, simple, and charming aspects of our culture are slowly diminishing.

All of that said……the unplanned stay in Townsville, while the air-conditioner was restored to its icy temperatures, proved interesting. It was greatly enhanced by tea with one of Eric’s old friends David Killalea….otherwise known as the genius behind Killalure fishing lures. On the verandah of his beautiful Queenslander, David and Eric reminisced about their crazy fishing trips for Barramundi from previous years. After an enjoyable and highly entertaining afternoon, we headed north again to our designated campsite for the night, Lucinda Bay.

Starlight….star bright……..the moon is full………The majestic Hinchinbrook Island lies before us………It is tranquil and peaceful…..

With a full belly, I sit here under the light of the moon typing this down. It is very still, and apart from the odd rustling of fruit bats, the humming zzzzzzzzz of mozzies or inexplicable rustle in the bushes all is quiet at Lucinda Bay. We arrived near dark, pitched the tent, grabbed some provisions, cooked up a pasta and now I am starting to get sleepy. It’s funny how your sense of time changes out in the bush. It’s actually only 9:30 pm (which by city standards is very early) yet here all the tents and caravans are pitch black. For us campers the day starts when the sun gets up. It’s kind of a nice routine to fall into. I’ve always thought the morning was one of the most special parts of the day. Up here in the Tropics, it is incredibly rewarding to get up and crawl down to the beach to watch the sunrise…….

So……..my eyes are starting to droop……Time to call it quits for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll put the boat in the water and head off to explore Hinchinbrook Island and do a spot of fishing. Until then……… Cheers……

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