Day 3 – Airlie Beach to Marlborough

Days 3 started very well, and got more bedgraggled as I did.

I stuttered back from my hillside perch to the waterfront to find that the Carnies had come to town. Yes, a Saturday morning market.

Among those selling their wares was Carl, an English chap who’d been here for years. His wife is a journalist, producing an independent local rag in competition with the MordorMurdoch empire.

Airlie Beach is a definite candidate for a return visit – great beach, a smalltown feel, a thriving market, and a parkrun.

Fuelled with a coffee and a full tank, I set off early for Rockhampton.

A couple of detours to Sarina Beach, and Armstrong Beach were disappointments.

Afternoon scramble

With an online afternoon appointment looming, I found myself in a barren wilderness called Clairview. No civilization to be seen here. Except dire signs warning against overnight parking, and a huge dusty campground like something out of Mad Max. No room at the inn there either.

The next stop was a travellers’ rest near St. Laurence, where I parked up and tried in vain to sort an internet connection good enough for Zoom.

After that failed, I consoled myself with a bucketful of chocolate, and decided to push on for Rockhampton.

But late afternoon was upon me, and I went down a sideroad to the township of Marlborough, population 149, altitude 90 metres, apparently.

I meandered around the township, and eventually hit upon a small and likely-looking gathering of campervans in a dusty compound. At $5 for the night, including toilets , showers, and a pub , it was an easy sell.

After again failing to get an internet connection for my laptop, and being laughed at in the pub when I asked about Wifi, I ate a well-rounded evening meal of sardines, tomatoes, and peanut butter, and turned in for the night.

Day 2 – Townsville to Airlie Beach

After today, it’s unlikely I’ll return to stay in Cairns.

The simple reason – you can’t swim in the sea there. This day by way of consolation, started and ended with dips in the Briny.

In Townsville, at 7.30 a.m., the bathing belles on the beach advertised the small bay. They’d already been in, and scoffed off suggestions of Salties. The water was beautifully warm.

Townsville is now my favourite town in Far North Queensland. Its waterfront is better equipped, there is sand in place of Cairns’ mud, and there are cafes and other tourist traps all along the while.

After again wrestling my push-bike in and out of the van for the second of dozens of times, I followed the Coast South-East to Airlie Beach.

Airlie Beach

I arrived mid-afternoon to a breezy little seaside town which has an official population of 1,208 people.

It’s compact, and as with Townsville ad Cairns, the town centre is right next to the seaside. Also like those two towns, I soon discover a large public area close to town, equipped with picnic areas, large open spaces, and toilets.

Again there’s a chlorinated pool labelled a “lagoon” like the ugly sister right next to the beach.

Petrol Prices

Coming into town I discovered an open secret. That is, Liberty fuel. It was selling at around AUD $1.35, competing with prices as high as $1.65 elsewhere.

Since it’s dawning on me that petrol costs won’t be much less than the cost of van hire, I start choosing petrol stations more carefully.

I headed for the higher-up and leafy suburbs this night, looking for slightly cooler temperatures.

I got some sidelong glances from a couple of elderly strollers at dusk, but a cheery “hello” put them at their ease, and I slept a little more comfortably.