Friday, 20 April 2012


After nearly 600 miles over eight days, I was gagging for a rest day. So what did Angela (she had a day off work) and I do first thing? Walk up Castle Hill, a rocky outcrop next to her house. It was worth of it for the all-round spectacular views (Magnetic Island, coastline, CBD, port, marina, mountains) but the road going right to the summit spoilt the tranquility somewhat. It was harder walking down the hill and then I needed a second shower when we got back to the house. Her house is ultra modern and minimalistic, with huge, bare floors, walls and most of their possessions are in cupboards. Both Angela and Dave are into technology; everything is electric (the toaster lowers bread by itself and the convection hob is like an iPad with buttons built into a screen). The afternoon was a more sedate affair, strolling along the shady Strand, swmming in the Rockpool (a sea water pool) and trying gorgeous gelato from a huge selection, such as salty peanut and cappuccino. Angela told me more about her training to be a psychiatrist, which includes flying to remote island Aboriginal communities in the Gulf of Carepentaria. I should have copied the locals, who swam with hats and T shirts, as I got sunburnt. There are signs prohibiting swimming in the sea due to it being 'stinger' (stinging jellyfish) season and there are netted sections keeping them out, where people do swim. Apparently a crocodile climbed over a net recently. Someone told me to always swim in the middle of a group, as then you're less likely to be eaten, bitten or stung. On the way back Angela pointed out utes (utility vehicles) often driven by 'boy racers'. The old, battered ones, that are actually being used to carry stuff by tradies (tradesmen) are OK, but the new, shiny ones have souped-up engines which sound like motorbikes. In the evening we dined at a very swanky restaurant called Salt, where main courses alone cost $30+. The dishes looked as good as they tasted and the service was excellent, although the portions were a bit meagre. The town looked better in the dark with colourful lights, signs and attractive, well groomed young things. Surprised to see how dressed up the women were, with heels nearly as high, and flesh nearly as expansive as their Glaswegian counterparts on a Friday night (although somewhat more subdued and sober). Townsville, the largest settlement in Northern Queensland, is industrial, not particularly touristy, but still moneyed and classy, in a brash, American fashion.

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