We were sad to leave Airlie Beach on Friday since it had so much life but thought that Townsville would be an adequate replacement since it's the capital of northern Queensland. Sadly it was a disappointment. We arrived at about 4pm and after finding a lovely hotel above a pub we wandered into town expecting to see the locals starting their weekend but it was deserted! We ended up back at our hotel for dinner where we shared the bar with about 10 people, this was at 8pm on a Friday night - not quite the environment we used to work in!
The reason for stopping in Townsville fortunately wasn't its great nightlife, it was to go over to Magnetic Island (Maggie to the locals!). We caught the 30 minute ferry early on Saturday morning thanks to our quiet night and as it cost more than Lonely Planet had us believe we decided not to hire bikes as planned but to walk 12kms in the midday sun! It actually turned out to be a good thing as the walking tracks had much better views than the road but the walk up through the middle of the island was exhausting. We walked from Nelly Bay in the south to Horseshoe Bay in the north, via some interesting World War II sites which also had the best views of the surrounding ocean unsurprisingly. We arrived in Horseshoe Bay about four hours later dying for a swim in the sea but of course the stingers put a stop to that as usual. We had some well-deserved lunch and a walk along the beach which was lovely. We caught the bus back to Nelly Bay and caught the return ferry as the sun went down over Townsville, another nice view spoiled by a sugarcane factory.
We are thrilled to be returning to Townsville in a few days for the drive west!