Townsville was a dramatic town, it hits you hard when you first arrive. A rusty rock epicentre against a changing clear blue ocean. The buildings were like a spaghetti western Aussie outback style. The clash of cowboy and city chic. Except there weren’t any people. No people along the esplanade playing in water parks. No people in restaurants boarded up. The city was for sale and no-one was interested in buying. We wandered amongst the colonial ghosts until we found nothing but a bearded woman who’d never heard of the big Brolga.
The cities aren’t really holding us, we much prefer to be anywhere with trees. We went to Paluma National Park which is about 45 min outside of Townsville. We spent the day at some rock slides, sliding our way through the fresh crisp water. Jacob looked 15 again, scaling high rocks and dive bombing into the waterholes. “Look at me, look at me.” Paluma is so beautiful, dense rainforest with hidden waterfalls and swimming holes. It was a long winding road up 3000ft to get to the lookout where we climbed out over the rails and stood on a boulder balancing over the escarpment. Cheap thrills. (Don’t worry Mum’s Bodhi didn’t go with us.) Coming down the mountain was a bit scary too, Jacob howling out the window “Freedom” like he was Mel Gibson in Braveheart, me, white knuckled wheel grip foot thrust on the break.
More swims, then off to a twilight market by the beach that was over before it even began and a free place to camp for the night. It’s the Queen’s birthday long weekend apparently, so all the campgrounds are crammed with locals from Townsville. Its a rowdier bunch than we’re used to. They bring their noisy kids, their utes, their dogs as big as horses and their cases of Bundy and cola.
We pull up at Rollingstone and the place is heaving. We have to park on the outskirts observing the camp at a distance, not completely apart of the circle. There’s a real camp culture. When you first pull up to a spot you have to drive around slowly surveying the area, trying to find the best place to park for the night. The ground needs to be even with enough grass for Bodes to run wild. All the people who have already picked out the best spots sit and stare at you as you slowly do the rounds, and we in turn are also sizing up the neighbours. It’s like a campervan standoff. You have to make some quick decisions without looking like some weirdo stalker. Hmmm, do we want to be next to Fred and his five ferrets, or Ronaldo and his removalist van full of fire twirlers and whip crackers, or Betty the lonely Dalmation lover. These are tough decisions we are faced with everyday and we need to be ready otherwise it could really effect how our night turns out. But seeing as we were so late to Rollingstone we got stuck in leftover lane.
No fire tonight, last night we found a few twigs to last an hour or two. We watched rocket fueled stars zoom by. Some top secret RAAF business from Townsville no doubt. Nothing like a little government conspiracy theory to feed a simmering fire. We also realised that without ‘Today, Tonight’ we have no idea what’s going on in the world, what supermarkets are ripping us off and which neighbour is trying to poison you. Ignorance is bliss, without it I’m just another apathetic radical yelling at the tv. I’d rather get my news from the kids I meet at parks, such wisdom, “why do we need adults?”
Bodhi woke at 5.30 this morning the only way I knew what the time was, was when I pulled back the curtain and it looked like night, a few playful sleepy squirms later and the light cracked through. New people had camped next to us in the night. A heavily pregnant woman in footie shorts with a smoke and a penchants for bourbon. She screamed morning with a throaty F and C to a man child cooking bacon slowly on coals. We packed up fast leaving dust on the leftovers.