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.
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.
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.