From Charters Towers, we went further north to Mt Surprise and stayed at the Bedrock campground. The town has a pub, a few houses and not much else. We met 2 ex-kiwis who have retired here! We were buying some eggs from them. ($4.50 a dozen, and for 50c more a bag of mandarins). The surprise is that there is no mountain.
Actually, a few kilometers down the road there is an amazing series of lava tubes. About 200,000 years ago, a volcano spewed out lava and it ran down the local river beds. The surface cooled and crusted, but the interior ran on for about 160km, leaving a hollow tube. Some of these have collapsed, but the remaining tunnels are huge and fascinating. Lots of ancient volcanic activity in the area.
After a few days, we left the interior and arrived on the coast at Cardwell, about 200km south of Cairns. This was the town hardest hit by Cyclone Yasi in March 2011. The campground lost a lot and their insurance claim was about $2.8million. We spoke to one guy in front of his house on the marina. The front of his house was sandblasted, and a foot
of storm surge through it. Insurance claim: $500,000.
One funny outcome: about 2 weeks before Cyclone Yasi hit, a 25 foot stainless steel sculpture of a flame tree was completed. It was asked for by the aborigines, built by some Americans and the Australians paid $250,000 for it. The cyclone blew it down, and now they are arguing because it’s going to cost more to straighten it. We reckon it should be left as is.
Down to Townsville, where we hooked up again with Terry and Paddy from our desert camping trip last July. (See blog no 16). Had a lovely barbeque at Paddy's with Virginia, his wife, Terry and Terry's sister. Townsville has a hill in the middle of town, Castle Hill, and another to the south, Mt Stuart, so it’s easy to get around. They have nearly 200,000 population and are growing. We went to Magnetic Island, which is a suburb of Townsville, only 20mins away. Very laid back with just over 2,000 people and lots of the island a national park.
Tourism is way down and its affecting the town somewhat. However, they have an RAAF base, an army base and three smelting works,
Some of the wildlife
so the town is pretty resilient.
The waterfront of the town is called the Strand and its fabulous. Rebuilt by the town in the 1990’s it is gardens and a lovely beach. There’s a kid’s wet playground with a huge bucket that tips gallons of water at irregular intervals. There’s a new marina, restaurants and a casino. All very accessible.
We were in a campground on the old main road north of the town, and had very heavy traffic. Then the weekend arrived, so they dug the road up. Nice camp, but noisy and dusty!
We played Townsville Golf Club twice with Terry and Mick (Thursday) and Steve (Sunday). Townsville is the oldest golf club in Queensland, founded in 1893. It has a 27 hole layout. We're on the way south to Ayr for more golf.
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30 July 2012
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