I've never been a fan of Townsville. I had a bad experience there when I was 19, got food poisoning and had to postpone a flight because of it. I felt desperately ill and was alone. And then the wheels on the second plane didn't come down until the very last moment when we were coming in to land in Richmond, a very small airport in North West Queensland with no emergency services. By that time all the passengers had been drilled in crash landing procedures and had bent forward gripping pillows over our heads, ready to kiss our backsides goodbye. Strange, that experience didn't put me off flying, I just blamed Townsville!
Regardless, I had booked us in for a two-night stay because I have old, old friends who live there, friends who I haven't seen for a very long time.
My friend, Loretta already had four young children when I first met her, when I was pregnant with my first child. I was new to Mt Isa, didn't know a soul - and a long way from home and a mother's advice. What a Godsend she was. She even drove me to the hospital when it was time to give birth. With her third child leaning out the window excitedly shouting, "Pauline's having a baby" to all and sundry. That lightened my mood considerably. Loretta and her children brightened my life for the whole seven years we lived in Mt Isa.
We'd lost touch, as you do. The last time I'd seen her was in the late 70s but thanks to the power of Facebook her daughter, Karen found me. Can you imagine my delight to see the pair of them again? I've come to the conclusion that very few of us change much over the years. Loretta is no longer young and healthy but the essence of her, the spark, is still the same. The gentle smile remains. And young Karen, now a grandmother - it was a delight to see the cheeky little child shining through.
A young friend I also caught up with, the daughter of other old friends from the same era, as luck would have it, practises Reiki and laid her hands on my foot and back. Well, laid them all over actually but they are the bits that were giving me grief. My arthritic accelerator foot had been aching more each day and my equally arthritic back was objecting to the hours at the wheel. That girl has magic hands, the difference she made to my foot was amazing and she definitely eased my back.
Townsville from Castle Hill.
The flowers don't grow there, some previous visitor had fashioned a floral frame, which had mostly fallen apart, And most of the flowers were dead but they still looked pretty. The Hill is basically bare rock and allows great views in all directions.
There were high school children conducting a survey when we visited. These three girls were the charm offensive, seemed to be getting at least three times more interviews than the boys. You can see why. Aren't they delightful?
Townsville seemed to be economically depressed, as if going through tough times. Our hotel was in the middle of the city, just around the corner from what used to be the busiest street in town for socialising. It was practically deserted, shops and restaurants weren't busy, there was very little foot traffic. Apparently, there is a high unemployment rate as a result of a downturn in the Aussie mining industry. Like a lot of places that rely on mining, it seems to be on the wrong end of the boom or bust cycle.
A safe swimming lagoon is at one end of The Strand, along the waterfront
The Strand offers a pleasant walking path - and plenty of picnic tables
Children's water park, along The Strand