Andy: By this time we were really getting into Airbnb stays as opposed to hotels. We both liked the interaction with the hosts, and of course the advice they can give you on the local area. All very helpful.
With that in mind, we’d booked ourselves another Airbnb out in the countryside on a farm 30 minutes drive from Townsville, our next destination north on the Queensland coast. We drove from Airlie Beach to Townsville which took about 4 hours with a quick pit stop which wasn’t too bad at all. We headed straight for yet another free botanical gardens we’d found on a map. We sure do love a free garden to wander around!
It was incredibly hot, but thankfully there were many paths covered by high tree canopies creating a lovely cool shade. This was perfect for my pale English complexion, although Mrs C would have rather been basking out in the sun like a lizard!
Seda : When we left the UK in Mid-May, our heating was still on. Considering I was in a frozen state for the last 15 years I’ve lived in England, forgive me for enjoying my 7 months long summer so far. I’m just about thawing out!
Andy: The gardens we went to are called The Palmetum and I must say they were wonderful. Probably the best ones yet. We started off walking down beautifully maintained paths and all was quiet, until a wallaby came bouncing out of the undergrowth in front of us and darted across the path. It took us both by complete surprise and nearly gave us heart attacks! When we’d calmed down we were just smiling at each other not believing what we’d just seen.
As we continued around the gardens we saw a few black turkeys with yellow and red heads wandering about the place, and fighting with each other which was interesting, if a little noisy. When we came to the edge of the gardens Seda spotted something on the ground next to a few tall trees out in the open.
Seda: It looked like a little duck or something small but surely I though it couldn’t be a bird snoozing on the ground but turns out it was. Head down so oblivious to the world was a beautiful blue winged kookaburra. What a delight to see so close! This is why botanical gardens are so amazing.
Andy: I managed to get quite close to it before it looked up and took off as you can see. We’d seen loads of laughing kookaburras since we arrived in Australia, but never a blue winged one. Wonderful.
Seda: Another amazing sight for us was a fluorescent blue butterfly that looked impossible to take a picture of because it seems to never stay still. But here we photographed it in the end.
Before it got dark, we had to find our rural retreat and settle in. After a short drive we arrived in a mango orchard and our host told us it was “over there”, on the other side of their 50 acre property. We didn’t realise that our place was a whole self contained open plan unit with everything you can possibly need plus a few luxuries such as a curved, giant screen tv and large comfy sea grass sofas. The fridge had cold water, milk and a bowl of chocolates too. I was already liking the place!
It was an absolute delight to stay there and we would have paid more than twice for a tired sea-side unit. Our host came on her quad bike soon after we arrived and gave us loads of information on the area and the house. Oh and brought us these gorgeous freshly picked mangoes, yummmm!
I won’t lie to you, this farm life was not without it’s challenges! For instance half way through shampooing my hair, I realised that I wasn’t alone in the shower….
My scream was more out of shock than fear. But I tell you this there is nothing funnier than watching Andy try to catch a frog, pretty much like in the comedy films…the frog jumping forward, Andy chasing behind…hilarious!
Andy: I heard a scream coming from the shower, and the next thing I know, I’m chasing a frog around the house! It was not easy to catch either let me tell you. It should be an Olympic event!
Seda: I did ask him to leave it saying the frog probably leaves there but Andy said “not when I’m staying here!”. He did catch the frog eventually but guess who was back in the shower the very next morning sitting there happily.
When we could tolerate the heat, it was quite enjoyable to sit outside and take in the view.
I would have happily stayed there all day watching the mountains, mango trees and wallabies but we wanted to see a bit more of the area, so we headed into town (sville!) for a day of sightseeing. We went to Castle Hill lookout which overlooked the town with amazing views…
…then the local marina and surrounding parks.
Even though it was around lunchtime on 14th December – as you can see below – the streets were literally deserted. Knowing how it is in the UK at this time of year, it was quite strange for us to be on empty streets.
We loved Townsville and the mango orchard that gave us us such tranquility over two days. Whilst making our way back to Mackay we made sure we stocked up on local mangoes though!
Andy: Reaching Townsville was as far north as we would go on our little Aussie road trip. We wanted to go further, past Cairns to Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation’s rainforests but we just didn’t have the time. So that was it, apart from the drive back again of course…
Continuing with our Aussie observations…
- Most houses seem to have a large “pantry” hidden behind a door somewhere in the kitchen.
- There are some really funky geometric shaped hills on vast bare fields.
- Aussies like saying “no worries”.
- Hotel means pub in Australia. We went into a hotel and asked for a room to which the lady behind the bar said “we don’t do accommodation”. We said “but your sign outside says that this is a hotel” and she just looked at us like we were two idiots and said “yeah?”. So we said “hotels have rooms right?”. “Not here, hotels sell drinks” was her response. “But there is a motel down the road if you wanna check it out” she added. So hotels are pubs and motels are hotels…hmmm ok, not complicated at all!