I've just had the last few days off work. After two lots of 7 days in a row, broken up by just one day off each time, I was due for a few days off. The new manager arrived on Saturday night, so on Sunday we went through a bit of the work he would be doing, then I headed north for a few days off.
We took the bus to Townsville first, before jumping on a ferry to Magnetic Island. The efficiency of getting off the Greyhound to arriving at the door of the hostel was simply amazing. We stepped off the bus, got on the ferry, then from the ferry we were straight onto the local Magnetic Island bus.
We sat on the outside of the ferry, and just caught the last glimpses of light as we were leaving the dock. We pulled away from the lights of Townsville, then headed for the smaller set of lights not too far off the coast. With the water so still, it was hard to believe we were actually crossing the ocean.
The music on the bus gave new visitors to Australia a real chance to experience Australian culture. Our trip was accompanied by AC/DC "Dirty Deeds", straight into Cold Chisel's "Working Class Man". We checked into the Bungalow Bay YHA, into a double room. Our room was a cosy little a-frame bungalow, it was a really pleasant place to stay.
There is a bar onsite, so we went down and had a couple of drinks and a little bit of dinner before wandering down to the beach. It is just a short walk down to the beach, we saw a little bit of wildlife on the way down, a small wallaby and a couple of birds.
The next morning we got to see a lot more wildlife, as we went on a tour at the koala park which is part of the hostel. The tour includes a wildlife exhibition where you get to handle a number of animals- a black cockatoo, a baby crocodile and a couple of lizards (bluetongue and bearded dragon).
You then take a walk through the reserve nearby, we got to see a koala just hanging out in one of the trees. On returning from the tour, we had a long wait for the bus, so we took the chance to check out the beach in the light. As it is the tropics and we had no cover, the bright sunny day turned on us and we were completely soaked by the time we reached the beach.
The ferry trip back to Townsville was beautiful, yet uneventful. We decided we would hire a car to continue our journey north. We ended up with Avis, as they were right there in the centre of town. Most of the other car hire places were based quite a long way of town.
The lady behind the desk really had no limits to her hostility. I must say it is the absolute worst service I have ever experienced. She had an icy cold glare and I'm fairly sure in her spare time she practises witchcraft.
Due to our last minute booking we had to get one of the bigger vehicles (at great expense to the management), so we were off in a Ford XR6. This was soon to be known as "fantastic car" due to it's ipod connection plug and powerful air conditioning system.
The first note is on this special plug for the ipod, which is a contraption I have not even heard of before. In the box in between the seats, there is a small plug, you plug in your ipod, and all the information from your ipod is displayed on the dashboard. This is probably old hat to all the car drivers out there, but the absolutely beauty is the fact that while you're playing the ipod, it's also being charged.
So we set off from Townsville in a general northward direction. I actually steered us us South before we even begun, but that was more to just get a bit of a feel for the car and have a quick look around Townsville. We quickly set off further north.
I had hoped to get out of Townsvile by around midday, we hadn't really planned on taking the animal tour, but it was definitely worthwhile. Not far along the road we came to a turnoff for Paluma, which according to our leaflets was an old style village up in the rainforest. On the way we stopped at the Little Crystal Creek falls. It was not signposted as waterfalls, rather just as a creek, maybe a swimming hole, so I was impressed with the set of large rapids in front of us. We were able to climb right up to the top of the falls and there were some great photo opportunities. I will do a seperate photo post later on.
We continued the drive up the mountain to Paluma. This road was a very, very narrow road with a lot of hairpin bends, which always made it an adventure seeing another car on the road. I was expecting some sort of old gold town similar to Braidwood in NSW, but thick fog covered most of the town so you couldn't see much anyway, but there didn't seem to be a lot happening in Paluma. We talk a short walk in some lush rainforest, it's pretty amazing all the different types of landscapes you can experience in Australia.
Unfortunately it's not a round trip to Paluma, so it was straight back down the mountains accompanied by Break Even's album "The Bright Side". We stopped for dinner in Cardwell. We had planned a stop in Ingham, but it seemed absolutely nothing was open. We stop at a diner sort of place, Annie's kitchen. My meal was a "Mixed Grill" which contained enough for 9 heart attacks. We had only eaten an ice cream during the day, so this was exactly what I was looking for.
We ended the evening in Tully, home of the Golden Gumboot. We can find out about this in the next post...