At the end of the Roadstar owners get together, we said our good byes to everyone and headed south for a quick visit to Brisbane. Kylie had made arrangements to go and see Celine Dion with friends of ours, Rona and Phil, while I stayed in the van with the girls. By all accounts, the concert was excellent.
From Brisbane we headed to Inskip Point for a week. We had both been looking forward to this as we'd heard so much about this famous beach campsite. Unfortunately, we didn't find the place in its best state with the main campground suitable for larger caravans closed off for maintenance. We eventually found a site but it was less than ideal. The holiday crowds also took away some of the serenity with 4WDs hooning along the tracks at all hours of the night kicking up heaps of dust as they sped by. We rescued a couple of vehicles from the sand bog near our site.
From here we stared to make our way north towards Townsville where we planned to spend a week visiting some old friends of Kylie's. We didn't want to waste any time so we put in a couple of long days driving stopping at Benaraby Public camp ground on the banks of the Boyne River. This is a pretty good freecamp that we have stayed at before with some good fishing when the river is up. We then had a brief stay in Mackay before continuing on to Townsville.
We arrived at Kiri and Sean's place and unpacked our stuff from the caravan. This was the first time we would spend out of the van and staying in a house since leaving Melbourne in April. Its amazing how big a house feels after spending a few months inside the caravan.
If you're like us and you've never been to Townsville, it will surprise you at just how large a city it is. There's heaps of excellent shopping centres and no shortage of things to do. Its also very picturesque being nestled between dark red coloured ancient towering hills and the bluest of oceans. There's ample photographic opportunities starting with some grand vistas from the lookout on Castle Hill.
Kiri and Sean took us on the ferry to visit Magnetic island which is something you have to do when you visit this area. The ferry takes about 45 minutes and drops you off at the very luxurious looking marina. Its an easy drive around the island visiting all the main sites. We enjoyed Radical Bay, Arthur Bay and Nelly Bay as well as checking our the rock wallabies at Arcadia. By far the best time we had was checking out the wreck of the Queen Adelaide near Picnic Bay. We timed our visit with low tide and managed to walk up to the wreck itself as well as getting the drone out for some amazing aerial shots.
A short drive out of Townsville is the Billabong Animal Sanctuary and this is well worth a visit. They have a fascinating collection of animals on display including some very big crocodiles. If you time your visit right you can see the staff feeding some of these huge monsters. You an also get very close to an array of other native animals including cassowaries, koalas, ducks, geese and, of course, kangaroos. We had a great time here.
Kiri is a talented armature photographer and runs the local camera club. I was fortunate to be able to take part in one of their astro-photography session held at a pineapple farm about 20k outside of town, well away from the glare of the city's lights. At first, it looked like the clouds would ruin the event but they soon cleared and we had near perfect conditions for some really creative photography. Kiri had given me some tips for improving my photos of the night sky and, I'm glad to say, I ended up with some cracking photos. It was a brilliant opportunity.
If fishing is your thing then Townsville wont disappoint on that count either. There seems to be an endless array of fish just off the main jetty including some very big species. I caught a massive toady weighing in at around 20kg. I've never seen a fish of this type grow to such a size. Absolutely amazing.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Townsville. So much so that we are planning to return for an extended stay later in 2019. We said our good byes to Kiri and Sean and continued our trip north to our next destination of Atherton.