Australia - Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 309 (119)


Tuesday 11th January (2005)

Even though we were in bed and off to slumber-land quite early last night, I was still surprised to find us both up and active relatively early this morning. By all accounts, we should have slept in till well past noon as a result of all the diving we managed to squeeze in over the past few days. I seem to remember us sleeping in till well into the second half of the day when we came back from the live-aboard trips we did in Thailand. Our backpackers resort charges a AU$5 (€3) per person late check-out fee for check-outs after ten o’clock and a full day’s accommodation for check-outs after noon. If there’s one thing that will motivate us out of bed, it’s the threat of remaining there costing us more money so perhaps that’s the real reason behind the early start. Whatever the reason, we started off Sandy’s thirty-seventh birthday with an early start.

We did our best to find a cheap place to eat breakfast but I remain aghast at the prices here in Australia. Breakfast seems to be around AU$8 (€4,90) per person regardless of where you go. It’s not a huge amount of money in the grand scheme of things but it’s certainly nothing like what we enjoyed in South East Asia either. The place we found just across the road was a nice little out of the way deli that had tables and chairs outside and we took our time enjoying a hearty breakfast ready for the road ahead.

It wasn’t until around mid-morning before we finally made our way to the car and set off to find the main Bruce Highway that would take us back up north towards Townsville again. I had originally thought it might be a nice idea to take our time traversing the three-hundred or so Kilometres up the coast and to perhaps take in some sights along the way whilst spreading the journey out over a couple of days. It just so happens, however, that there is pretty much nothing of interest between Airlie Beach and Townsville – certainly nothing worth stopping and spending the night for. This was based on our trusty guidebook but a fact that was re-confirmed to us by the friendly and helpful staff at the tourist information office just off the main highway outside of Bowen. I can only conclude that this information office is primarily for people heading south towards Airlie Beach, one of the main diving capitals and launching points for the Great Barrier Reef.

On the way down from Townsville, we passed a sign to a lookout point atop a nearby hill but we passed up the opportunity to have a quick look since we were driving too fast at the time and didn’t really take in the sign quick enough. I looked out for it this time and we drove up the extremely steep incline for a kilometre or so to the peak of this hill where several communications towers were perched. The view out over the surrounding countryside was quite stunning. With the coastline in the distance we could clearly see the huge swathes of crops in all directions. Despite the absence of any significant rainfall in recent weeks, the landscape here is quite surprisingly green.

Kim & Judy live just North of Town so on the way to their house we stopped in Townsville itself to shop around for a new watch for Sandy – her birthday present. After an hour of aimless wandering around, however, we abandoned our search and decided to head for Kim & Judy’s house instead. Once again, they spoiled us rotten with a lovely barbeque dinner and some wonderful company.