Townsville and Magnetic Island

After Port Douglas I took the free courtesy mini-bus back to Cairns. My back was still pretty painful and I considered just catching a flight back to Melbourne. Unfortunately, a long weekend was coming up in Queensland which meant it was impossible to get any affordable flights on short notice. Besides, sitting a few hours in a cramped airplane would probably have been an agonizing experience. Even the lot comfier bus chairs gave me quite a bit of pain whenever there was even a small bump, so in hindsight it was probably for the best I stayed in Queensland.

I felt I had already covered Cairns pretty thoroughly, so I only spent a few hours there and then caught an evening bus heading back South. My ultimate destination was Brisbane, I felt I hadn’t spent nearly enough time exploring the Queensland’s capital yet and besides it would be easy to get back to Melbourne from there. I also wanted to do few stops along the way, as the trip North had been quite rushed. While there were some interesting spots along the way, this first leg of the trip took me all the way to Townsville.

I got there just as the sun was rising and snapped some nice shots while walking along the coastline. After the bus ride from Cairns I was definitely feeling little sleep-depraved, but decided to some exploring anyway. Townsville itself doesn’t really have that many interesting attractions anyway. I started out walking around the city a bit and then headed up to top of the Castle Hill, a large hill (292 meters high) in the middle of the city with great views of the city itself and the nearby Magnetic Island. It was bit of a hike along the walking tracks, especially since I wasn’t wearing proper walking shoes!

On the way down I visited Queen’s Gardens, a nice botanical garden near Castle Hill. After some dinner and some walking along the Strand on the coast it was finally time to get some sleep. The place I stayed in deserves a special mention too: it was the first hostel I have visited in Australia with free Internet!

There were couple more things I could have done in the city itself on the next day, but I decided I’d rather do some bushwalking instead. Magnetic Island is a great day trip destination right next to the city and easily reachable by ferry. There are also some interesting snorkeling sites along the bays on the island, so I packed my mask and snorkel as well. I had planned a pretty extensive walking trip covering most of the Eastern side of the island. This obviously meant an early morning, I was already on “Maggie” at 7 am.

While it’s slightly easier to explore the island with the help of a rental vehicle or using the buses connecting the various towns, my walk plan actually worked out really well. I started

I got back to Townsville on the last ferry which also matched the sunset quite nicely. There were some pretty nice photo opportunities on that ferry.

After one more night in Townsville I continued my trip South. I decided to pay Joey another visit in Alva Beach so that was my first stop after Townsville. Unfortunately, Joey was even busier this time around. With the long weekend they were running double shifts which meant pretty much no free time for her. Alva Beach doesn’t really have much to do if you aren’t diving, so after one night there I decided to move on. I caught a ride to Mackay with one of the guys who had just dived the Yongala and then hopped on a bus after a few hours. Mackay on a long weekend must be one of the quietest city anywhere, streets were almost completely empty and everyone seemed to be somewhere else!

Again, there are some fairly interesting places between Mackay and Brisbane (Mackay definitely isn’t one of them though!). However, in the end I decided to just take the bus all the way to Brisbane. It can be fairly tricky travelling on public transport with all my dive gear, particularly since I still couldn’t really carry anything on my back yet! It was a long bus ride, but at least it was a ┬ánight bus so we missed all the roadworks and big trucks blocking traffic.

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