We arrived in Townsville at a very respectable midday on monday after smashing some long hours the few days before. The night previous, we stayed in a motel in Mackay and we were woken rather rudely when Mark’s alarm went off at 4:30am. Unacceptable!! On the way to Townsville we passed through Home Hill and Dad and I laughed our heads off as we heard the local radio weather and news items reporter (Doris as we affectionally named her) reading her items over the airwaves. Firstly, there was the weather. As Doris read a few sentences, you could hear her rustling each page as she folded over the next story. No iPad yet for Doris! Then there was the report about the lost dog. “There’s a lost black dog in the area… If anyone sees a black dog wandering around call Betty on 0415….” and the report about specials at the local fruit markets. “Peaches are on special down at the market for $4.48 a kilo… Apples are also reasonably priced at $2.42 a kilo”. I was laughing so much that I hit one of the controls on my steering wheel and lost the station!
Rolling into Townsville with Dad in the car (who grew up here but had not been back for 40 years) was a lot of fun. There was a lot of pointing and ooh’s and ahh’s. “Wow, I remember that street! Hey, that building used to be a pub! Oh wow, this is the street that I flew down on the motorbike and got air on one night! Dad couldn’t believe how much the place had changed in 40 years and recalled many of the original lay of the land.
The next day we picked up Kerstin, Bella, Rita and Kat at the airport and took them down to Kissing Point where we had planned a unique little ceremony. Some months ago, Dad had the great idea of bringing Nan’s ashes t0 Townsville and scattering them out into the ocean. Many many years ago, 57 to be exact, our grandfather – Harold Kenneth Sterne (known as Ken) disappeared as he set off to swim to Magnetic Island, a swim he had done several times before. On this particular occasion he never came home. As a young boy, this story was a mystery and a legend and I used to ask my nan if he could be living on an island with natives somewhere and he might come home one day. We met a photographer from the Townsville Bulletin who I contacted a few weeks earlier and they covered the story. Mark and I went out into the surf, at the very area where Ken took off that morning and scattered Nan’s ashes into the sea. We toasted her with a bottle of Moet on the beach (before the life guards came down and reminded us it was no drinking!)… So we drank it quicker than planned.
We took in plenty of the Townsville sights and enjoyed many of Dad’s tales before sinking a few cold ones at one of Ken’s favourite pubs… Not sure if they had Rihanna tunes blaring from the speakers back in the day – or wet t-shirt competitions but hey… This was one of his watering holes. As we are now in Queensland, most of us braved the XXXX beer, but I can say I am still sticking to the Coopers for now.
We finished off the day with hours of stories, accents, jokes and good times back at our Caravan park. On wednesday we did plenty more sightseeing and cruising around Townsville. Tomorrow we head off and aim the trucks toward Port Douglass. Great times so far, can’t wait for the next stage of the journey.