FRIDAY 12 JUNE CHARTERS TOWERS TO TOWNSVILLE 135kms
We did not get up until 8.30am. One of us was feeling somewhat seedy – and it wasn’t me.
Left the park at 10.15, after having a final, breakfast chat with H and M.
The drive to Townsville was pleasant and interesting.
Only a few kms out, the highway crosses the Burdekin River, on the high-up Macrossan Bridge. Downstream from the current road bridge are the spans of both the old and new railway bridges, elevated high above the river. Just before the bridge was a display marker that showed the heights and dates of all the floods, We were past that before I realized, and the driver was not prepared to turn around, or stop for photos.
The highway passed through some hill country but was a great one for driving and towing – absolutely no dramas. Given the dicey brakes, that was a relief. We had not come down to the coast that way, before, and decided it was definitely the best way through the Great Divide, north of the NSW Hunter Valley route, and south of Cooktown.
The hills of the Bowling Green Bay National Park, to the right as we neared Townsville, were quite dramatic in the distance.
We drove straight to the brake service place, because John wanted them to check the van brakes, while it was still attached to Truck and thus mobile. Finding the place, with just a map in an information brochure, was a bit fraught. Then we had to do a couple of circuits round the block, before John found a place he could park the rig.
He spoke with the brake people. They had a mobile service that could come to the caravan park to look at the van brakes, if necessary, but they were too busy, right then, to do anything. It was also lunchtime! However, the man John spoke to seemed to know immediately what the problem would be, with the Truck brakes. He said getting parts might be a problem!
Thus, to the Lakes Caravan Park. More navigating! We had not stayed here before, and I had chosen it as being fairly central, in the event of being without transport for a while. It was close to the Castletown shopping complex and a whole strip of fast food outlets. There was the usual traffic noise, as it was on a main road.
All the sites here were en-suite ones. They cost $40 a night, but the seventh night was free, so our ten nights cost $360. The park contained a mix of permanent residents and tourists – not always an easy mix. It had frontage – fenced off by a high fence – to a series of man made lakes. Sites with an outlook over these were very pleasant, indeed, but ours was not one of them. One probably needed to book further ahead than the day before, to get one of those, at this time of year, especially as Townsville is a centre where a lot of southerners come for two or three months, over winter.
We looked out on a couple of permanent set ups and a little laundry area. But there was some grass behind us. The en-suite was showing its age, but clean and adequate. Overall, it was comfortable enough, and would serve our purpose, while things got fixed.
After we had set up, John was straight onto the internet and phone, chasing the Truck brake part the brake service man had mentioned as “probably” being needed. He found out that our former Landrover Service Centre in Melbourne could supply it, as could a place in Brisbane that a friend once told John about. So, at least that would not be a problem – if it was what was wrong!
I navigated John to the West End Bowls Club which, on my very limited map, was closest to where we were staying. It was closed, kaput, defunct – all cemented over!
From there, we continued across through town, with me frantically trying to match up little map with the reality outside Truck. Our goal was the fishermen’s marina fish co-op shop, which we’d visited back in 2002. It was across the Ross River and the railway lines, almost to the mouth of the Ross River, through one of the older sections of the town. I bought red emperor for tonight’s tea, some crumbed whiting for John for tomorrow night, and a piece of barra for me. All up cost, $23. Very reasonable. I resisted their attractively priced prawns – for now. I was given a loyalty card that would get me 10% off my fifth purchase made. We expected to be back – several times – before we left here.
Had our happy hour sitting outside. There were bush curlews calling from by the lake – wonderful and unexpected right in town.
The day here was warmer than any we’d had, to date. and quite humid. The night was a very comfortable temperature.
Later in the evening, as we were watching TV, there was a series of sirens heading past. I missed the bush noises!