Home' Caravanning Australia : Summer 2010-2011 Contents Queensland
Caravanning Australia • Summer 2010-2011 • 101
Many people head straight for Cairns and its northern
beaches – Port Douglas and Palm Cove – when visiting
the shores of Tropical North Queensland. These towns
are definitely worth a visit, with picture-perfect beaches, and a
multitude of shops, cafes and restaurants to satisfy a traveller’s
every desire. But there are other locales now giving these tried
and true holiday hotspots a run for their money in the attraction
Townsville is lodged firmly between two of the region’s main
tourist attractions – Cairns and the northern beaches to the
north, and Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands to the south.
This flourishing town is often overlooked by travellers arriving by
air, eager to put themselves right in the middle of that brochure
cover shot. But as caravanners, we have the luxury of mobility,
driving until we find the perfect spot to lower the jockey wheel
– and Townsville might be just the spot.
Of course, a great deal of the attraction of Townsville is its
proximity to the water. The city of Townsville dissolves into the
sand of the beach, so you can spend a morning discovering
maritime curiosities in the museums of town, then taking a stroll
down to the water’s edge to see the ocean environment for
yourself. From the beach, take in the water off the east coast,
where you’ll see islands dotted about, and a tube puncturing the
water every now and again that leads to the mouth of an eager
snorkeller discovering the inner edges of the Great Barrier Reef.
Along the shore is the Strand, a beachfront promenade that
incorporates a rockpool, barbeque areas, a water park and much
For a more comprehensive view of where the city meets the
sea, head to Castle Hill. There are many different routes to the
peak, where a number of vantage points offer sweeping views
across the city, and out to sea, where Magnetic Island dominates
the area just off the coast.
Other locales on the coast offer the dazzling luxury of the
Whitsunday Islands. Townsville has its own island to lay claim to,
and although there is luxury on offer at Magnetic Island, it is also
a destination unlike any other island getaway. Two-thirds of the
island are graced with national park, with granite boulders,
eucalypt forest, and the impressive Mount Cook displaying some
of nature’s most impressive work. As the island enjoys an
average of 320 days of sunshine per year, this island is a
fantastic alternative to some of the northern islands, where rain is
more of a common occurrence.
Vehicles are welcome on the island – take your 4WD across
on the passenger ferry. There are camping facilities as well, so
plan for a few days to discover this truly unique north
Arriving back on the mainland, there are countless other
beaches and hamlets to discover. Set out on the Great Green
Way, which will take you from Townsville to Cairns past some of
the most spectacular scenery in Australia. Lush sugar cane fields
on the land side of the road contrast with the blinding blue of the
sea to the east. As you drive, the ocean will advance and retreat
as you wind through forests and townships, but it’s always there,
shimmering all the way to the horizon.
When you reach Ingham, make a stop at Tyto Wetlands,
where lagoons, walking tracks and lookouts provide plenty of
opportunity to spot the incredible wildlife of the region –
particularly the flying variety. Also close by are Forrest Beach,
where a white sand seat is waiting for you to occupy it and gaze
across at the nearby islands, and Taylors Beach, which offers
fantastic fishing in an idyllic setting.
Further along is Cardwell, where the highway meets the sea.
This small township is packed with things to do, including fishing,
golfing, swimming, and learning about the incredible history of
the area. But if all you want to do is soak in the scenery, this area
is perfect – it’s where the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics
meet, meaning that you get the benefit of all that the reef has to
offer, along with the natural features of the tropics. Visit waterfalls
and rockpools, go bushwalking and picnicking, and try to see it
all – but be warned; there’s so much to see that this isn’t as easy
as it sounds.
Mission Beach is perhaps a little more well-known than some
of the destinations on the Great Green Way, perhaps due to the
Farmhouse near Ingham.
IMAGE ©TOuRISM QuEENSLAND
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