NOW: THE TROPICAL NORTH
After surviving a deluge of 180 mills of rain in 30 hours we felt we needed a treat. Travelling south from Mission Beach we made an important stop at Cardwell which used to have pie vans parked on the dirt under the trees along the foreshore. Since Cyclone Debbie they’ve had a revamp that looked lovely but we were worried the pie vans would be gone. We missed the turn in and saw lots of food vans, luckily one was The Cardwell Pie Van so we turned back for our treat! Sounds silly, but we were hangin’ for a pie.
Our next detour was into the hills towards the historic mining and timber settlement of Paluma. The road winds up Mount Spec into a national park. While sealed, the road was really narrow with tight bends that made us wonder if we’d missed a sign warning the road was not suitable for trailers. Luckily the traffic was very light and we stopped at the historic stone bridge that linked Paluma to the coast.
We soon found out why there was no traffic. All the back packers had either camped overnight or driven out earlier to spend the day swimming in the rock holes under the bridge. We’d never heard of Mt Spec National Park but the international tourists had and knew it was free! There were people everywhere.
On our way back down Mt Spec a work crew had an enormous boulder secured to the hill with thick chains. They were trying to deal with it with jackhammers before it rolled down the mountain side taking the road with it. Down on the coastal plain again we headed for Townsville and were greeted by bush stone curlews that scream all night in the gardens of the caravan park.
Townsville has grown up since our last visit (it was a while ago) and become a port for leisure, business, tourism and the military. The Strand was crowded with people walking, jogging, riding and picnicking while looking across the water to Magnetic Island. We also enjoyed some of the best gelato we have ever tasted.
We caught the ferry to Magnetic Island, hired a pink topless car for the day and motored around the island to the snorkelling trails at Nelly and Geoffrey Bays. Unfortunately the water was not very clear for us but we saw some fringing reef and a few fish.
At Horseshoe Bay all manner of watersport was in action, both motorised and paddled. We picnicked in the shade then toured on to Arthur and Rocky Bays before heading back to the ferry.
A little further south there’s another Horseshoe Bay at Bowen where you can snorkel the fringing reef and watch the tropical fish near the rocks on both sides of the bay. We actually thought the coral was more colourful here than at Moore Reef on the outer reef but the fish were more scarce.
While in Bowen we dined where Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman dined while making the movie Australia. Every town has a claim to fame! We also enjoyed the local red throat emperor from the local trawlers.
NEXT: THE WHITSUNDAYS
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David