A simple overnight stay means an easy pack-up before hitting the road. Straight away, heading east, it was totally different – trees, for one!! Hills. Traffic. Towns every little while (and yeah, I totally did a Bee and checked out every public toilet along the way. At least I had an excuse, Miss Beesome!!).
We knew civilisation was approaching when we saw our first overtaking lanes. Not overtaking opportunity, overtaking LANES. What is this madness??
And then. There it was. A Maccas sign. The first golden arches in 2000+ km. Indeed, it seemed, civilisation was upon us. A lap of the main in Charters Towers revealed not only Maccas, but Subway, and Woolies. To be honest, it kinda sucked. I’d only said the night before how nice it was to be away from over commercialised chain store saturation, and suddenly, we were back in the thick of it. But such is life, I guess.
Obviously, Charters Towers is used to travellers coming through, and was well set up for van/trailer parking, which meant just a short stroll to find a cafe for some lunch. I was suckered in by the promise of all day breakfast, I must admit – it’d been a week since my last bacon and eggs hit, and I was an easy mark. But of course, then logic took over, and I wasn’t ready to face a rioting army of small people when they had sandwiches while mummy hoed into the good stuff, so I behaved and went with a sandwich too. The expensive nursing home, my children, remember.
Townsville popped up soon enough, and after a bit of site juggling, we were unhitched and on our way to the supermarket. Shopping centres! Fast food! Traffic lights! People! Holy mega Bunnings batman! I think our week in the outback turned me into a mini-hermit, and I could feel the stress levels rising rapidly. I really didn’t want to deal with people and stuff. Too busy! Too busy! But we tackled Stocklands and successfully replenished the larder, as well as managed a trip to BCF for levelling chocks to stop us rolling out of bed. Between that and the setup, day one was a busy one, and disappeared quite quickly.
Our first night was also a windy one, and that wind hung on for basically our whole stay, though thankfully it dropped a bit during the day. Tuesday (our first full day), we’d planned to just chill and relax for a bit. We headed into the city, and cut a lap of the Strand, before settling on which gelateria looked best, and loaded everyone up with a cone – Viennese chocolate for daddy, tiramisu for mummy, creme caramel for O and mango for Little Fish. Bess, of course, doesn’t eat icecream (strange child – I’m contemplating DNA testing to ensure she wasn’t switched at birth), and was content with a blueberry muffin. We settled ourselves in the park overlooking the marina and ogled the boats for a bit.
Next stop was the tourist info centre to gather some brochures to plot out the next two days, then off to ARB on the way home – checking out bullbars, fridges and roof racks. Then onwards to “home” and a lazy afternoon making plans, catching up on washing (dear goodness, it NEVER ends), and rocking out on the jumping pillow.
Wednesday was still quite blustery, so we decided to check out ReefHQ Aquarium, rather than take a risk on a rough ferry ride to a blowy Magnetic Island. It was quite a nice set up, and we had a lovely time looking at the Nemos and Dorys before heading into the theatre for the shark talk.
There was a very cool interactive lightshow that projected a reef scene onto the floor, and then as people such as our three nutbags ran over it, the water rippled and the fish swam away, which entertained them for a bit before the Discovery Lagoon opened and they got to touch a starfish.
Which left one last day. Again, it wasn’t brilliant weather, so we decided to can the Magnetic Island idea completely and just hang around the campsite. The boys were desperate to hire a pedal car, which entertained them for an hour, we hit the jumping pillow a couple of times, and then mid afternoon, headed up to check out the Castle Hill lookout. Complete with steps to the top.
So up we went, dragging belly and camera bag, and proving how incredibly unfit I’ve become since being unable to run due to the pregnancy. (side note – must get back into swimming and bike riding when we get home). But once up there, it was worth it, with a fabbo view over the bay and island.
Then back down the steps, down the mountain and home to start the pack up basics before one more windy night and then on to Airlie Beach!