The last week or so has been exciting and full of travel, we have been moving onwards and upwards and have experienced some amazing things along the way. It has been nine months since we left Hampton Park and it is now time for us to see what the tropical north has to offer.
We lived in Townsville for two months and when it came time to leave we did it reluctantly. It wasn’t because we weren’t ready or excited to see other places, trust me, we were… it was just that we had made some good friends and had enjoyed working and living in the area. We would miss the people we had been working with and the people at Coral Coast Tourist Park. We cannot thank them enough for making our stay so homey and easy.
We left Townsville on the Sunday but the Friday night before we had some going away drinks with Marijka, one of the wonderful staff members at Coral Coast. We started off drinking by the campfire and then ended up getting Uber into Townsville city. We spent the night in an Irish bar listening to a decent cover band, playing pool and drinking the night away. We played on a round pool table for a bit and once we decided that it was only something an Irishman could figure out properly we resigned back to playing on the traditional rectangle shaped table.
There was lots of games of pool, lots of drinks and we even met up with Daniel there, who lived next door to us at Coral Coast. After a visit to the kebab shop, it was well past 3am and time to jump in the taxi rank line and go home. It has been a while since we have had that many drinks in one night but it was well worth it and was a great way to say goodbye to Townsville. Hopefully one day we will be back.
We did the slow hungover pack up on Saturday and the staff at Coral Coast helped us out with booking a spot at our next destination, Mission Beach, and set us up in a dog friendly Cabin for the night so that we could pack up completely on Saturday and leave early Sunday morning.
Here are some final Townsville photos… just for the sake of our memoirs. These are of the Bohle River, where Ben was trying out his crab pots, and some of our most favourite times in Townsville.
It took us around three and a half hours to get to Mission Beach on Sunday. While we were in Townsville we barely saw a drop of rain and this, they tell us, is very normal, the rain tends to split when it gets to the mountain ranges and because the city sits on an indent on the coast, rain is a rare and much needed luxury for them. Almost as soon as we were out of Townville a light smattering of rain came down and the green colour of the country side suggested that it had, in fact, seen much more rain than poor dry Townsville.
The first things you notice as you are driving in to Mission are the Cassowary signs and the thick green jungle-like bushland. Nestled on the coast is the small, hip and very cool little town of Mission Beach. The main street is within walking distance of accommodation. It offers good food, live music and a great pub. When you get to the beach it made us think we were back in Fiji. A tropical jungle with palms and coconuts lines the firm sand. This place is one of the closest things to paradise that we have experienced. It is away from airports and the hustle and bustle that many of the coastal towns now have and because of that, it still offers a quiet tropical getaway feel. We hope it never changes, because it is perfect the way it is. We spent our first day there at the pub, which was great value… $1 pool tables, $4 schooners at happy hour (every day 4pm – 6pm) and nice meals. That night we ventured over to a place called The Garage where we chilled out to some live music and had a small but very tasty meals and a couple more drinks. The atmosphere was beachy and relaxed.
Our campsite was at Cassowary Coast Regional Council Caravan Park, it was cheap enough at $21 per night (unpowered) and it was affectionately called the ‘bat cave’ as it was under a few large trees and saw no sun at all. We were camping on the edge of the jungle and the amazing beach was just a few meters from our camper’s steps.
We fished the local pier one night, only getting a few small fish. We took a drive up to Paronella Park one morning. Paronella Park is up in the hills at Mena Creek. It is a castle built in the early 1930’s by a Spanish gentlemen. The concrete work is alive with moss and creepers and it is set in a beautiful part of the forest with natural waterfalls and creeks running through it. It is $45 per person to enter, which Ben and I initially though was fairly expensive but this fee does cover unlimited access to the park for 2 years and a free night of powered camping there if you wish. The park itself is definitely worth a look, it gives you a glimpse of what it would be like living in a jungle surrounded castle and the old buildings blend well with nature. The trees that were planted by Jose in the 1930’s are tall and strong, they create a path that makes you feel so tiny.
The next morning Ben and I collected some coconuts as we walked the dogs along the beach. He then became creative… chopping them open with his hatchet. We drank fresh coconut water, ate fresh coconut (the dogs included) then Ben made a bowl out of the coconut shells and a monkey face.
We could have stayed in Mission Beach for much longer than we did but after three nights and a few visits to the pub we thought we had better move on. We had not yet seen nor heard a Cassowary. We knew that they were quite endangered and the tropical habitat that they need is getting less and less so we were not surprised to have not seen one. Then out of the blue… as we were driving out with the camper hooked up, one wandered out onto the road in front of us. We were going slow at the time and were able to get these pics.
Atherton Tablelands & Cairns
We headed for the hills again. The tablelands has been a highly recommended site for us to see and it is beautiful. It has a totally different climate to the coast, it is cooler and damper. The days are still warm and sunny but it is a couple of degrees cooler than the coast. At night it cools right down and by morning the foliage is wet with dew. The forest is lush and green and is home to our endangered tree kangaroos. A two hour drive into the hills bought us to a place called Genazzano. It is a camp ground on the Tinaroo Lake, which also has a conference centre and some cabin type accommodation. The camp ground pristine and very large, it has great grass, clean amenities and a decent camp kitchen. It is right on the lake and should, in theory, be the perfect place to relax and have a fish. When we got there we were greeted by the caretaker, it is true to say that it is the people that make a place great. In this case, unfortunately, the caretaker was hell-bent on reiterating rules and telling us what we could and could not do during our stay. Straight away, this cast a dark shadow over the place for us. While we were setting up, we were, literally the only campers on the many acres of land and so we let the dogs have a run… only to have the caretaker rush down and ask us to put them on a lead immediately.
We spent most of the next day exploring Cairns. It is a great town. They have great public swimming areas, play areas for kids and it is very lovely there. It is greener than Townsville but has more high rises and a bigger focus on tourism. We walked the board walk with the dogs, got to see some of the local birdlife, then we stopped in at a modern little bar-like eatery called Howlin’ Jays for lunch. This place has a great view of the water from the outside seating area and served up the tastiest and most enjoyable fried chicken we have ever eaten.
We were fortunate enough to get to speak with the manager of the Genazzano the next day, who was lovely and very down to earth. If he had of been our first impression of the place our view of it would have changed dramatically and we would have stayed for longer. Never the less, we spent just two nights in the tablelands before we left and headed to Mossman and Port Douglas. In saying that, the tablelands are stunning and are well worth a look if you are up that way.
Port Douglas and Mossman
Port Douglas is a place we have heard a lot about and so we were very excited to see it. Once we had checked in at Mossman Riverside Leisure Park, which is about 15 minutes from Port and only 5 minutes from one of the main attractions here, the Mossman Gorge, we jumped back in the car and headed to Port for a look. Port reminds us a little of Noosa. It is full of hip boutique and designer type shops and eateries and there are expensive properties and lots of cashed up people.
The city moderately busy for its size but very interesting and inviting at the same time. The coast line is breath taking, it has mangroves and emerald water and everything that you want to see when you are this far north. The people seemed friendly and it was not hard to see why some of them continue to return to Port year after year. It has everything you need for a relaxing holiday.
We will stay in Mossman until Monday and move north from here. Mossman is nice in that it is not as busy as Port and it is still very close to the coast and to The Daintree, which I am looking forward to exploring with Ben tomorrow. Ben is out in the Daintree today with a fishing guide hunting his barramundi. I expect that he is have the time of his life and cannot wait to hear about when he gets back. There is a very important footy match on today between the Tigers and the Cats and I will be watching this while chilling in the caravan park with the dogs.