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Queensland Explorer 21-day Tag Along Tour days 12 - 14 Townsville, Bluewater CP and Pandoras Box revealed

July 15, 2009
Queensland Explorer 21-day Tag Along Tour days 12 - 14 Townsville, Bluewater CP and Pandoras Box revealed

This is the fourth part of our Queensland Explorer 21-day Tag Along Tour Brisbane to Cairns tour blog, and covers days 12 - 14 of the tour, written today by Alayne Russell, Phil Jones's co-pilot and navigator.

Sunday 12 July - We drove away from the Dalrymple Caravan Park to find a Sunday farmer's market just down the road, so stopped for almost an hour so we women could get our market fix after which we headed off for the 150 km to Townsville.

I drove as far as Reeds Creek rest area about 75 km down the road where we had morning tea, then Phil drove the rest of the way including around the new ring road which by-passes Townsville.

When we got to the Bluewater Caravan Park, we found that it has only been open about four weeks, which explains why our map didnt show it!

We followed our noses and managed not to get lost! Bluewater is about 30 minutes northwest of Townsville along the Bruce Highway. It is a large caravan park where each site is about the size of a tennis court.

Editors Note: Bluewater Caravan Park, GPS South 19 11.40East 146 34.42 has -

Swimming pool shaded with sails, Tropical lagoon with native gardens and wildlife, 7 hole golf course, free for park guests, Camp kitchen, including TV, Free gas barbecues, Kiosk, LPG, Ice, Public phone, Extra large sites, motorhome friendly, Easy to access dump point, three large amenities blocks, Quiet location close to beaches and great fishing. Pets are welcome by arrangement with the managers. Powered sites are $20 to $25 a double.

Townsville is hot and humid, and now I have changed into sandals and three-quarter length pants, and am still too hot.

Before we left Charters Towers we discovered that the fridge had accidentally been turned off on Friday, so all our frozen meat was well and truly thawed. So we spent an hour cooking a number of dishes so that we can still eat the food. That made the inside of the van hotter than outside, at 29 degrees. Phew!

At happy hour, we talked about what people might like to do in Townsville, as some of the group have been here before and may not want to do the same things again.

Last time Phil and I were here, we went out to Magnetic Island, which is a magical place.

We had done a tour in a stretched 4wd, which took us to places that the tour buses could not get to; we spent time on the beach where we had afternoon tea, the driver stretched hammocks out between trees for us to laze in, we fed the rock wallabies, and finished at West Beach for sunset with champagne and cheese and biscuits.

It was great, and we saw that it is still being advertised, so recommended it to the others. Whether they go, we will find out later, and we have decided to see things which we havent seen before.

Monday 13 July - A hot, humid day - well at least to we southerners! I found myself needing another shower half an hour after the first one. We headed into Townsville to the Stocklands shopping centre, to do several chores, but had a most frustrating morning, as all but one of them could not be completed (the Telstra shop didn't want to talk to Phil about his billing issues, and the post had not arrived to the local post office).

So we departed and went into town more frustrations, as the roads into the CBD were still closed after the V8 Supercar races which were held over the weekend. So we had to detour around almost to the Port, then back track to the Ross River and across into the CBD.

We visited the Museum of Tropical Queensland, which we found fascinating.It had an exhibition about the HMS Pandora, which was sent out by the British Admiralty in 1790 to find the mutineers from the Bounty, and the Bounty herself, and bring the pirates back to justice.

Phil and I had never heard about this part of our history. Apparently they found 14 of the mutineers in Tahiti, but despite going to all the islands in the Western Pacific, could not find any others, or the Bounty.

Of course, she had been sailed to Pitcairn Island in the east, an island that was not on the charts at that time, so the exercise was fruitless.

Making her way to Timor, the Pandora ran aground onto the northernmost end of the Great Barrier Reef, also only partially mapped by Cook and Bougainville, and the ship was lost. 99 of the crew and prisoners survived (incl 10 of the 14 prisoners), then spent 18 days in 4 small boats travelling without water to Timor.

The wreck of the Pandora was discovered in 1977 and is still being examined by divers going down to the seabed and the exhibition showed a lot of what has been brought up, which was very interesting.

Twice a day they also have a 'firing' of a 6 pound cannon from the ship, which the kids (both young andmiddle-aged) can be involved in, and which was great to watch.

Plenty of space at Bluewater Caravan Park 30min north of Townsville Queensland
Plenty of space at Bluewater Caravan Park 30min north of Townsville Queensland

Another exhibition showed the fossilised eggs and embryos of dinosaurs which have been found around the world, which I found really interesting. It was a really good exhibition, with hands-on things for the kids to do as well.

Then there was an exhibition of the creatures found on land and in the waters off Australia, including down to depths of 10km.

The amazing creatures found in the deep sea, able to withstand pressure of 130 atmospheres, and no light or warmth from the sun are like aliens!

(Did it put me off swimming in the ocean? well, up here, with sharks, stingers and crocodiles, no, of course not!)

We then went for a walk along Flinders Mall, which was disappointing as it is going through a major renovation and construction is not expected to be complete until the end of 2010.

We decided to stay in town for dinner, and found a wonderful Indian restaurant, called Get India, which had fantastically cooked food which tasted wonderful.

Got back to Bluewater around 7.30pm, so missed out on happy hour and finding out about everyone elses day.

Townsville TNQ Museum dinosaur model
Townsville TNQ Museum dinosaur model

Tuesday 14 July - It was less humid and hot today, which was a relief. We did the washing (again!), then headed back to Stocklands, but again had no joy at the Post Office. We are going to have to go back tomorrow before going north to Cardwell.

We felt the need for a relaxing day today, so we drove about 10km northwards to the beach at Cape Pallarenda at the western end of Cleveland Bay, the bay that Townsville is on.

We had wonderful views of Magnetic Island directly across from us, and we had lunch and went for a walk on the beach, taking photos and I dipped my toes in the water, which was lukewarm!

We came back to the caravan park in mid afternoon and relaxed, reading (me) or computing (Phil), then gathered with the others for happy hour.

Neill and Roberta had been up Mt Stuart yesterday, and to the Air Force Museum today, and they were extremely complimentary about the museum, saying that the staff had been super helpful and friendly as Neill tried to find out some information about his father and his RAAF service.

Townsville from Cape Pallarenda beach
Townsville from Cape Pallarenda beach

Suzanne and Allen had been on a tourist bus along the Strand yesterday, which they also found to be a good way of seeing the area, and today had been for a motorbike ride around the town.

Bill and Helen went to Magnetic Island and were tired and hot after a long day riding on the bus around it, but they had an enjoyable day.

The other three will go to Cardwell tomorrow with Neill leading, and Phil and I will follow when we have dealt with (or otherwise) the Post office.

Hope you are enjoying following our travels, more in a couple of days Regards, Alayne Russell

Disclaimer: none of the businesses referred to herein have supplied any services or discounts to Phil Jones Photography Tours to secure any preferential comment in this travel blog.

Editors Note: For the full tour experienceday by day please see -

Also see:

Townsville view of southern side of river bank
Townsville view of southern side of river bank