We woke up bright and early with a view over Mission beach. I may not completely be a beach person, but there is no denying that the whole beach setting was stunning. It’s just a shame you can’t enjoy swimming in the sea here, the box jellyfish are in season. The beaches in the Mission bay area are world renowned, so our first port of call on our second travel day was to explore them all and make are way a little further south.
Our first stop, once we were packed up and fully charged, was to go to Bingil Bay. We saw it mentioned as a must see in the guide book, and didn’t get to it before we found our camp for the night. We drove up the coast pass the signs for the ‘mythical’ cassowaries and found a sign for Bingil Bay. After getting out at one beach, and the negotiating a gravel road to another, we weren’t really sure what the fuss was about, but it was undeniable that this coastline was going to be beautiful if we thought the still impressive beach was a let down.
Our next stop was Wongaling beach in between Mission beach and South Mission Beach. It was pretty much like all the other beaches we have seen so far on this coast. While we were there we noticed an X on the floor and a guy looking up at the sky. Obviously we looked up too, and saw 9 skydivers floating down to the beach. What a place to do a skydive!
When we reached South Mission beach, we finally found a stinger net that would allow us to swim in the sea box jellyfish worry free. While we were there, we settled on the beach for a while, and got out our nooks, making the most of the chance to use the full beach. I got through a couple of chapters of 1984 while I was there!
We made a stop on the way between South Mission Beach and Ingham. Just South of Cardwell we pulled off the highway at Hinchinbrook lookout. I don’t actually know where it looked out over, but it was a stunning view and a great stop from driving. We really wanted to get some WiFi to go on our computers, so we stopped and had food at a local McDonalds. After eating, we were able to hang round for an hour and sort pictures, download some films, and just go on the internet for a while.
When we arrived at Bushy Parker Park in Rollingstone, the free rest-camp we had found just off the highway, we pulled in next to a lovely elderly couple. The kindly offered us hot water and gave us some advice on what to do the next day when we reached Townsville; they also gave us a map of the town that proved invaluable when we arrived. I set about writing about our time so far in the van, and then we watched an episode of the O.C, the only thing we had available to us except the recently watched Harry Potter films.
The drive to Townsville wasn’t too long, so once there, we set about doing the things the lady had told us about and finding out about the diving options. The beaches were once again attractive and of course box jellyfish filled, so we opted to walk along the front to the information desk, where we collected as much information on diving as we could.
When we returned to the car, we drove the short distance to Castle Hill, a peak in the middle of the town. The roads were windy and steep, the first real test of our driving capabilities, but once we were at the top, it was definitely worth it. The top offered 360degree views of the city, the sea, and Magnetic Island (which was unfortunately too much to visit). A definite thing to do if you ever find yourself in Townsville.
After our visit to Castle Hill, we decided to check out the lagoon. Unlike the previous lagoon we had seen, it was not on the coast but in land. It was a really nice place, and side from being a nice place to relax in for an hour or so, it provided us with an opportunity to get a proper hot shower. Perfect. Afterward, we sneakily drove into the car park of a local McDonalds, after eating our Subway, to make full use of their free WiFi. The information we found let us choose the dive we wanted to do: The SS Yongala from Ayr. We hurried to the info desk just in time to book it, and then set off South stopping in the smallest rest stop ever just North fo Ayr, next to yet another Spaceship.
We have seen Spaceships everyday, and so far stayed on the same site as one every night. There are a lot more of them than I realised, but none of them are as well-names as our Draco!