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.

Down to earth in Cairns

After spending most of yesterday aloft at 30,000 feet, today is a recovery day in Cairns, Australia.

I arrived at the BnB at just before midnight. Exhaustion, and too much rubbish food, meant I slept only about 4 hours.

Nonetheless, the first order of business today, before parking myself on a couch, was a trip to stock up. Recovery equals eating, right?

The AirBnB place I’m staying in provides free bikes, and the lazy 3.5 km trip to Woolworths and back took about half an hour each way.

The BnB I’m staying at is comfortable, an older house large enough for the four guests to easily avoid each other.

The Trip

I left Whangarei ( 5 deg C on waking ) at around 10 a.m., sitting next to a ruddy, chatty type on her way to an automotive convention in the South Island with her husband and son.

Then it was 6 hours at Auckland airport. Auckland turned on a warm day, of course, given that I’d dressed in as much clothing – with as many pockets – as possible. All in an effort to reduce my baggage weight, since it’s fair play for myself and clothing to weigh 80 kgs for the day.

A four-hour flight to Brisbane was next. The plane was maybe 25% full, so there was ample room to spread myself over the spare seat separating me and a young Aussie guy on a short trip back to Queensland to visit relatives.

I did get “taken aside” but breezed through Aussie customs in 10 minutes. There were no requests for proof of the travel declarations ( one for Queensland, one or Australia ) I’d scrambled around to finish at Auckland airport. I’d read that only one was required, but that wasn’t the case, according to Auckland airport boarding staff.

Two hours at Brisbane airport, and lugging everything from the international to domestic airport, followed. The last leg to Cairns was a Qantas flight maybe about 70% full.

I won’t be taking too many taxis here, with the fare from Cairns airport to ‘home’ costing AUD $25 +.

Right, I’m off to find a dark corner and turn on the Tele for a while until that depresses me too much and youtube takes centre stage.