The North - Cairns and Townsville

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September 29th 2010
Published: October 11th 2010
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We left Bob and Lyn's / Alex and Shirley's spoilt and rejuvenated but ready to see some more of Australias' sites. We flew to Cairns and arrived to a slightly warmer, stickier climate. The hostel we had booked into was at the back of cairns town but only a 10 minute walk to the 'lagoon', a huge swimming pool sculpted to look like a beach on the sea front. The bay area itself is one large mudflat so tourists swarm to the lagoon seeking a sunbathing environment. The pool was beautiful but sadly the weather was never quite good enough to entise us in. Uncharacteristic bad weather haunted us for our 4 or so days in Cairns.

The city itself was not what we expected - much smaller with no real industry or business to speak of apart from tourism. Cairns is very much a launching pad for the great barrier reef, drawing huge numbers if tourists. So having gotten our diving acreditations in Thailand we decided to do a trip. Once out on the water and having sped to the outer reef the weather was perfect, blue skys and still water. The major differences between diving here and in the gulf of Thailand is the size of the fish (bigger in Aus) and the presence of sharks!! We did three dives and saw a number of black and White tip reef sharks spanning 4-6 feet and 3 grey reef sharks which were a good 7 feet long and much more weary. Laura also got her wish and saw another turtle. The diving on the sites, aptly named 'Miln' were fantastic with 30+ meters visibility - really worth the trip.

While in Brisbane we had decided on our method of travel from north to south on the east coast. While most backpackers choose the bus (greyhound/ OzExperience) we opted for the trains. Between Cairns and Rockhampton the trains offer a free ungrade to business class meaning bigger seats and the luxury of TV's for some of our long journeys! The only downside is they are no faster than drving as the trains never get up to more than 100kmph.

After Cairns our next destination was Townsville. We had booked a hostel slightly out of the city as it had recently opened and had glowing reviews. We were not disappointed, a huge renovated Queenslander with top guesthouse style furnishings and appliances. We were however in a 10 bed dorm that came with the normal problems, top of my list are the snorers!!

After Brisbane, Townsville is the second largest city in Queensland . With a huge industrial base Townsville has a big population, few tourists and felt vastly different to Cairns. A place where people lived - less toy town. The city has a long beach with a walkway called the 'strand' that has recently been regenerated. On our first day we took a walk from top to bottom before rushing back due to the bad weather that was persistant in following us. On our second day we got in Contact with Bill and Margret, family of Rebecca and Andrea who are good friends of Bob and Lyn's that we met while we were staying in Brisbane. They incredibily kindly asked if we would like to stay with them for the duration of our stay in Townsville, to which we gratefully accepted. Staying with Bill and Margret was great, famous greek hospitality provided more than we would ever expected. We got to see parts of the local area we would never have known about on our own. Both being active, leading members of the Townsville Greek Society they took us to the site of the annual Greek festival and we had the pleasure of meeting a number of the organisers. Despite the largely poor weather we still had a really good time in Townsville thanks to Bill and Margret.

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