It was time to leave Le Moray, our little “borrowed” home in New Farm and leave it in the loving hands of another guest. Once again, we selected what we’d need for a couple of months and stowed the rest into our storage container with our other worldly goods. Hopefully we’d fit it all in our little red car. Somehow it feels as though it should get easier, but this part is always the most stressful. Once we’re on the road, packing the car is always an art – one that Walter is very good at – but at least by that stage we know what we have and that it does in fact fit.
We had decided to head out to Townsville in time for the Townsville Running Festival. Glenda had seen that the Ulysses Butterfly (the beautiful blue one) was the emblem for the festival and had set her sights on one of the beautiful medals on offer. She established that the same medal was awarded no matter the distance, so decided a 10km would suffice in spite of not having raced that distance in years. Why risk not finishing a marathon (42.2km) or even a half marathon (21.1km) and missing out on the memento?
First stop Bargara
Whilst having driven though Bundaberg and the nearby beachside suburb of Bargara years ago, we had never stopped there. If truth be told, we didn’t remember anything about it. So we decided to make it our first stop. Having explored a few units on the beach for our 3-night stay, we chose instead to stay in a cane growers residence built in 1950. The traditional Queenslander with deep upper balcony at the front of the house is located between the city of Bundaberg and Bargara and is run as a bed & breakfast.
We chose to have lunch in the historic town of Childers, situated on the Bruce Highway, and less than an hour’s drive from our accommodation. Somehow, we managed to discover Insane Caffeine, a local café with lots of indoor and outdoor seating. If you could see what we ate, it was certainly insane! So many cafes these days serve cakes and cookies that are shrink wrapped and days old. This was certainly not the case here. As a result, we could not look past the giant peanut chocolate cookie. Not the healthiest meal option, but definitely plenty big enough. So much so, that they struggled to fit it on the plate and I took a fair portion of mine away in a napkin. The piccolos were pretty good too. We soon understood why it was so popular and in spite of the copious amount of seating, we were limited to a bench at a window outside – which turned out to be great.
After checking in at our new home and lugging everything inside – fortunately the room was loads bigger than expected – we took a drive down to the beach. The black volcanic rocks on the shore were not what we’d expected but made for a unique view. There was hardly anyone else around as all the cafes and little shops were closed for the day, so we had a nice quiet walk along the water front.
The following morning we were awake very early! To be honest, we hadn’t had a lot of sleep. It sounded as though cars and trucks were driving through our bedroom. Being close to the main road meant we could almost feel every vehicle as it drove by, and by 5:30am there was no chance of more sleep. The good thing was that this allowed us to take an early drive and we arrived at the beachfront in time to enjoy a spectacular sunrise and an enjoyable run.
We soon decided that we’d make the most of our day in the area, check out a day early and move on to our next destination. This meant we packed in a full schedule, visiting the port & marina, doing a tasting at the Bundaberg Barrel – home of the famous ginger beer – and wondering around the Botanical Gardens. We squeezed in lunch at one of the beachside cafes and even managed to watch some Olympics on the TV in the guest lounge at the bed & breakfast.
Reliving the past….
In December 1993, before immigrating to Australia, we visited Glenda’s brother in Sydney. As part of that holiday, we took a side trip to Dolphin Heads, a coastal town and suburb of Mackay, one of the gateways to the Great Barrier Reef. In spite of going back to Mackay, we had never returned to the quaint Dolphin Heads Resort, set right on the beach. So for old times sake, we opted to do so. Advertised accommodation on line was short, but having contacted the owner, Lyn, we managed to secure a top floor unit with views of the ocean. As expected, the accommodation was nothing flash (and our neighbour used foul language) but the location was beautiful. It was also fun to sip on a cocktail at the bar, reminiscing that it was the first place we’d ever had a cocktail.
The following morning we were up early for a run – the uphill slog was worth the effort for the views! We then ventured into Mackay to see some of the sites and admire the orchids. We’d been wanting to walk out along the breakwater previously but hadn’t had the opportunity, so enjoyed the stroll before feasting on a steak at one of the restaurants at the marina.
And on to Townsville
We first visited Townsville over 20 years ago, when it was a little the worse for wear. Since then, they have done a fabulous job of developing and maintaining the Strand area along the beachfront overlooking Magnetic Island. For this reason, we love going back for a visit. That, and because we enjoy catching up with our friends Aaron & Shay.
In spite of the running festival the following day, we decided to do a Parkrun on our first morning. It was fun to run it slowly and together. This time Shay was away, so Walter and Aaron caught up for a “boys” breakfast after Parkrun and before collecting our gear. This gave Glenda some time to wonder around the Strand, grab a coffee and just relax. The afternoon was another social occasion as we hopped in the car to have afternoon tea with some friends of Walter’s mother. They turned out to be a very interesting couple, having built a boat in South Africa in the 70s and sailing it to Australia with their children in tow.
The following morning was our run. As Aaron was doing the half marathon, we arranged to meet him. Given the start times of the run, we were able to give him some moral support as he ran along at the beginning of his run and we made our way to the start of ours. As we finished before him – and were handed our blue butterfly medals – we were fortunate to be able to go to a spot a few hundred metres from the finish line to wait for him and encourage him over the line – great result Aaron!! Sub 2 hours!!
The three of us had a leisurely breakfast at one of the cafes on the water. We had always wanted to go there given its location. Suffice to say that we enjoyed our time with Aaron and were glad to tick it off, but we won’t be visiting that café again. Very expensive and the staff really had zero desire to be there. They couldn’t even pretend to care!
Our stay in Townsville was short and soon we were on our way further north. The plan is to stop over again on our way down. Hopefully this time we get to see Shay too.