Townsville has been one of our most surprising destinations yet! From its large industrial sprawl to its beautiful esplanade we really enjoyed our short stay and look forward to going back to further explore the region in the future. One of the highlights of our time there and in fact a highlight of our trip so far was our day trip to Magnetic Island. We opted to take a visit to Magnetic as opposed to Hamilton from Airlie Beach based purely on cost for a family and we picked a winner! There are multiple ferry rides out to Magnetic each day and the ferry runs well into the night so your time is your own and there is plenty to do, see and eat! We hired a couple of topless cars to whizz around in for the day and had a ball! Watching Lesley whipping the 1.5L topless Daihatsu to get up some of the steep hills was hilarious and the kids even opted to stay in the car and drive around over playing at the park. This is a big deal considering the amount of time they spend sitting in a car!
The popular 'Forts Walk' explores WWII ruins and gives walkers a 360 degree view of the island. The walk also features a large colony of koalas who live in the trees that line the track. There are patrolled beaches with stinger nets and aquatic equipment for hire in numerous places around the island for those wanting to get wet.
We would highly recommend a visit to Magnetic Island for families travelling on a budget. It's beautiful!
No trip to Townsville would be complete without a drive to the top of Castle Hill to take in the spectacular view over the city and out to Magenetic Island. For those more energetic, you can walk it as we saw many people doing.
Townsville is definitely worth a stop on a trip to Far North Queensland.
Here are some stats that we found interesting after our first month on the road...
Fuel stops: 8
Spend on diesel: $907.15
Most expensive diesel: $1.38 per litre (Coffs Harbour)
Cheapest diesel: $1.17 per litre (Cannonvale, Airlie Beach)
Average per night: $60
Stops (set ups): 8
Powered sites: 29 nights
Resort: 1night (Fraser Island)
Cheapest night: Woolgoolga Beachside CP - $34
Most expensive: Big 4 Adventure Whitsundays - $122
Supermarket visits: 6
Alcohol: $225 (we blame the Bundy factory!)
Tours: 2 (Fraser, Whithaven/GB Reef)
Favourite spots: Adam & Sharon- 1770, Ella- Whitsundays, Ava- Fraser Island, Noah- Big Banana
Most exciting wildlife spotted: whales (woolgoolga), echidna (1770), green tree frogs (Townsville)
BIG things: big banana, big prawn, big mango
Transport: car, overland coach, boat, barge, mini bus
Fish caught: 0
Thongs blowouts: 2
Interested in some other stats? Be sure to let us know and we'll start a tally!
There's one thing we learnt during our stay at Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays: after tropical cyclone Debbie in March the region needs you!
Three months on they have done an amazing job at cleaning up after the deluge but there is still a long way to go. The area was completely smashed. Whilst it's confronting to see the damage there is still so many beautiful things to see. Mother Nature is busting her gut to get things back on track too and she's definitely winning. Leaves are returning to trees looking much like a bushfire has been through. The fish are returning to the reef and the coral is (slowly as it does) starting to regrow.
Many businesses are back in action and things are clicking along however most of the island resorts still remain closed. That said there are so many hidden gems on the coast and around the islands.
One of the gems we found was Cape Gloucester. We had been told that Hideaway Bay and Dingo Beach were worth a look but it was a tip off from a Hideaway Bay local to check out Montes Resort at Cape Gloucester, just a few kilometres up the gravel road from Hideaway that lead us to our favourite spot in the Whitsundays. A true tropical paradise and open to the public. Ava's class was lucky enough to share the experience with us as we did our weekly Skype sesssion beachside.
We can't stress enough how much the area needs your business. The Great Barrier Reef is a desirable travel destination for people all around the world but it's ours and we need to put our money back into it too. Backing your mate is the Aussie thing to do so get up there if you can and give em a hand. We promise you won't regret it!