Tuesday 18 February – From Julia’s Creek, we reached the last outback town before the coast – Charters Towers an old Gold mining town. It had no flies! A dream. And green was now part of the landscape. But the weather had turned. We watched on the news a few days later as a town in the outback we had passed through called Hughenden, had completely flooded. The locals were celebrating with kids dancing in the street, as they had been in drought for about three years. They were loving it, us not so much. We’d reverted back to old times in Europe, when we have to pack up camp in the toilets or kitchen. The American theme continued in Charters Towers. It had arenas for cattle sales, like those you see on TV for a rodeo in America. The houses too were very Louisiana style looking with intricate lattice trimmings and verandas around the entire outskirts. The town was a bit of a mish mash. Looks like they have tried to conserve that look and blend in the new stores but it doesn’t quite work and it looks a bit of a mess.
A week after we left Darwin we made it to the coastal town of Townsville and were now heading south on the Bruce Highway. We drove straight through Townsville towards Bowen.
There was nothing of particular interest this time of the year, it was just a small seaside town with camping near the beach. It did however have a giant fibreglass mango taking pride of place as you approach the town. The giant mango has since been ‘stolen’ (apparently a publicity stunt by Nandos). If it had been summer we could have gorged on Mango, which is according to a local magazine the most consumed fruit in the world. At the same time, I’m glad we’re not here during the summer – I’ve read it gets brain-deadening hot, such intense heat you want to tear your face off. Not sure it gets hotter than Darwin though, so maybe the Queenslanders are just exaggerating. On the way to Bowen we passed through a lot of sugar cane fields and fruit farms, most of which were flooded. We’d been excited about reaching the coast but at the same time forgot we can’t swim in the sea. Its ‘stinger’ season, lots of box jelly fish in the waters. Also, theres lots of rules about not camping on any government parks or beaches which happen to be the best spots. They do however provide public bbqs nearly everywhere. They are kept really quite clean, so we made our dinner on the beachfront that evening.