Townsville to Cairns
We spent our last day in Townsville taking in the scenic views from the top of Castle Hill (just shy of being called a mountain). This glorious pink hill is smack dab in the center of Townsville and offers stunning 360 degree views. It was a nice way to end our time in Townsville, the town so nice they named it twice.
Castle Hill and views from Castle Hill, Townsville, Queensland
We really liked this little town/ville. Like Port MacQuarie, it was a great balance of tourists and locals and it hadn’t lost its authentic feel as a working class coastal town. Its port is not very active these days but it used to be a major port for supplies during World War II. There are quite a few war-related sites in town as well, although we didn’t explore those.
We left Townsville on a sunny afternoon (that’s right I said sunny, yay!) to head a little further north towards Cairns for our last night in the camper van. When we arrive in Cairns we will be upgrading to an actual house with an actual bed and an actual kitchen and a BATHROOM! But most importantly, AIR CONDITIONING. I fully accept that we are wimpy Americans for whom 80 degrees Fahrenheit simply isn’t a comfortable sleeping temperature. We are both pretty darn excited, although the last two weeks have been incredible.
I respect the folks who do this camper van thing for months at a time, who see a lot more of Australia as a result, but I’m not sure I could manage van-living for that long. I will say that many of the caravan parks in Australia are much nicer than the ones we have been to back home in the US. They usually have camp kitchens with all the appliances (and tv’s!), onsite bungalows, pools, beautiful landscaping, and well-maintained bathrooms.
Crystal Creek Caravan Park in Mutarnee, Queensland. Notice the quaint white cabins behind the trees.
On our final drive to Cairns, we made a few side trips, trying to squeeze the last bit of adventure from this epic, once-in-a-lifetime road trip.
We stopped for coffee and a yoghurt and granola concoction in Cardwell, and to check out the beach and the pier, which were well-marked with crocodile warnings. We are definitely glad we enjoyed so much beach time further south because the further north we go the less swimmable they are.
Although I am certainly happy that Trent wasn’t whisked away by a killer croc as he neared the water’s edge, I am a little sad that I haven’t spotted one in the wild. But I can live with that. It’s called risk management.
When we finally made it to Cairns after 3,400 kilometers (don’t you hate how I switch back and forth from US measurements to how nearly everybody else in the world does it?), we liked it immediately.
Again, Cairns is a town that is just big enough to have everything you could possibly need without being so big that it eats away at your soul and makes you feel like you should be doing something productive. It’s just small enough to retain that hometown feel, with a nice mix of locals and backpackers and other tourists there to see the Great Barrier Reef or explore the Daintree Rainforest, the oldest in the world.
Fresh seafood, the boardwalk, pubs and shops are all walkable, even from where we are staying in a quaint little Queenslander home in North Cairns, which we found on Airbnb. Side note: Airbnb has been the way to go on this entire journey through Southeast Asia and Australia.
We are lucky enough to be here during the Commonwealth Games, a big event every four years where the former British territories compete in Olympic-fashion over the course of about two weeks. It’s taking place in Australia and towns all over the country are hosting festivals. Cairns has a particularly big festival and we have already enjoyed free concerts, art displays and fireworks on our first day here.
Machine Machine, band featured at the festival in Cairns
Trent playing the didgeridoo Light and Love art installation on the Esplanade in Cairns
Tomorrow we head out to the reef on a full-day cruise. That will surely be the highlight of our time here, although I still haven’t given up hope for a crocodile sighting.Or a Prince Charles sighting since he is here for the Commonwealth Games!