After our time in the arid parts of the state, we were looking forward to relaxing at the seaside. We’d also planned to spend some time with friends that live in Townsville. With an apartment looking out over The Strand and backing on to The Marina and hearing the lapping of the ocean on the nearby beach, we certainly managed lots of the former. Sadly, we didn’t get to see Aaron, Shay and Cooper – we look forward to catching up with them on our way down in a couple of weeks.
In our apartment
Our apartment on the water was huge! We’d booked it as we wanted a washing machine and kitchen, but the two bedrooms, two bathrooms, large living area and balconies overlooking the sea and marina were more than we could’ve dreamed of! Whilst we did go out for dinner our first night – we figured that it would be a good idea after our big drive – the kitchen was well-equipped so cooking was a breeze. And our large balcony with views of The Strand, Castle Hill and glimpses of nearby Magnetic Island could hardly be beaten.
We spent lots of time sitting on the balcony watching the turtles, paddleboarders, sailors and fisherman. We were even entertained by a couple of games on the tennis court downstairs.
Along the strand
The Strand is Townsville’s thriving beach foreshore. The two-and-a-half-kilometre walkway offers spectacular views across to Magnetic Island and is popular for runners, walkers and kids with bikes and scooters. There are a few restaurants and cafes along the way – we stopped off for coffee one morning – and BBQs for those that want to BYO. There are also lots of playgrounds and the popular Strand Water Park, although the latter was closed, assuming a Covid casualty. Near the jetty, there is a sculpture titled the ‘Ocean Siren’. This piece has been modelled on a local Traditional Owner, Takoda Johnson, and changes colour based on the water temperature.
At the end of The Strand is Kissing Point Fort and Jezzine Barracks where we saw information on significant military and indigenous history and enjoyed the outdoor art. Further north is Rowes Bay Wetlands followed by the Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park, both of which we enjoyed when out for our Saturday morning run.
At the marina
During our first visit to Townsville more than 20 years ago, we stayed at the hotel at the casino as we were attending a wedding there. At that stage, there wasn’t a lot else out that way apart from a small marina and the ferry to Magnetic Island. Since then, the marina precinct has grown and there are still a lot of buildings going up – it’s getting a little full! Being close to out apartment, we enjoyed an afternoon stroll passed the nearby ANZAC Park to check out the boats and new developments.
Up, up, up Castle Hill
At 286 m, just 14 metres short of a mountain (geological classification), Castle Hill is the giant pink granite monolith that stands proud in the centre of Townsville – a perfect place for visitors to orientate themselves. Castle Hill offers vehicle access as well as a number of popular walking tracks, which are frequented by more than 2,500 locals a day! The 360-degree views of Townsville at the top are well worth the journey.
In spite of the fact that wherever we go in the world, we try and get to the top of something – mountain, tower or building – we had never climbed to the top in any of our previous three visits to the city. So early Sunday morning, we joined the throngs of people making their way to the top – most walking, some running, a couple of cyclists and only two cars!
Just as our Longreach run had made for an interesting Strava map – an almost straight line, the elevation map for this one was a perfect pyramid. And a very definite negative split!
Back to church
One of the things we do when traveling is to visit local churches – we have been encouraged by and had the privilege to encourage so many different people in so many different places around the world. Having attended church online for the last three months, it was pretty weird going back into a space with other people. With all the Covid restrictions, the chairs were spread out across the room and it was a little more challenging to connect with people, but it was good to worship with others.
More of the beach
It’s time to hit the road to go further north….next stop Trinity Beach, just north of Cairns. No swimming there due to crocs!!