Monday, March 31, 2008

DAY 156: Magnetic Island to Rollingstone

Pics in order are of - Townsville x 2; my campfire at Rollingstone; Arcadia Beach magnetic Island; dodgy river works on Mag Island; Mag Island x 2; Townsville x 1

60km at 16.0 km/hr

Fri 28th March 2008

Distance to date 9382 km (5864 miles)

Hot and sunny

Juvenile antics by three Dutchmen until 1AM made sure I was going to have a spoilt night. I made a resolution to try and avoid the younger end, some of whom seem hell bent on getting drunk, using foul language and disregarding anyone else but themselves. It’s not going to be easy though because this (Northern Queensland) is now well and truly young backpacker territory. I asked them politely to take their party somewhere else, and in fairness they did, but the damage was done, this puts me on edge, and I find it hard to sleep. Bush camping is probably the best option, but it’s not always possible or advisable. I mentioned it to the manager in the morning and she sais she was pretty hacked of with it and promised to sort them out, however I’m leaving this morning so it won’t benefit me; maybe others.

It rained heavily for a while at dawn so my washing got a soaking and I had to put wet shorts on again but no big deal; they still feel warm not cold!. Breakfast this morning was with a retired man from Perth, but as he didn’t let me get a word in, and continually tried to foreguess me it wasn’t a very productive exchange.

I updated the website before leaving the campsite and finally got away around 10.

Quite a climb out of Horseshoe Bay for about 2km, then downhill to Arcadia Bay, where I had an iced coffee as I sat on yet another perfect, idyllic palm-tree’d beach. I finished the 7km to Nelly Bay ferry terminal well in time for the 1115 boat, and was back in Townsville by 1145. I couldn’t be bothered going into the shopping centre to get some stuff I needed so as recommended by a guy on the boat I cruised slowly along the promenade / esplanade, which is effectively a linear park stretching for some 3 to 4 km. Very nice it is too - in my opinion much better than the Brisbane riverfront, and from a city of 130,000 whereas Bris is over a million. There are several very smart and well-equipped children's parks, several open air swimming pools, many smart cafes and bars, gardens, old and huge trees, memorials to the war dead, and a nice sandy beach to boot - top marks to Townsville.

Eventually that came to an end and I was into the outer suburbs - in fact these went on for 12km or more - indicative of the sprawl caused by (originally) cheap land - meaning big plots and buildings.

Back on the good old Bruce Highway the traffic was pretty heavy still, but with a good-width shoulder all the way. Apart from stopping at Woolworth's to top up food stocks there was nothing much of interest on the road, straight, flat and noisy with little interesting scenery other than the odd distant mountain. It will get better soon though as I near Cairns.

I stopped briefly at a 24-hour rest area (one can officially camp overnight there) and spoke to a guy who knew the Rollingstone rest area, and who confirmed it was an overnighter too, so that’s where I headed.

It’s a very nice free rest area; I have my own ‘fireplace’ (and there was a pile of logs at hand too) and water supply; there are toilets too but no shower so it’ll be a Wet One Wash tonight. I got the fire started around 5 and it’s still burning now at 9. Funny how a fire adds ambience and pleasure to a campsite - I’ll be able to have plenty of fires when in the Top End or so I’ve been told - it’s not allowed at most of the places I’ve been so far. Only one thing spoils this scenario - rowdies - there’s another gang, this time of foul-mouthed, drunken, continually belching and otherwise very loud ‘lads’ and a girl about 100m away - I recognised the threat to peace and quiet as soon as I saw them, but couldn’t get any further away from them unfortunately. They’ve been at it non-stop since 5 so far. I’m pretty sure they were pulling trees to pieces for the bonfire (this is a kind of public park). It’s tempting to ring the police but I fear possible reprisals. There are about 6 other ‘normal’ families / people camping here too. Oh well, at least it’s free!

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