Friday, July 16, 2010

Going West.

Last weekend Townsville was taken over with a 3-day V8 Supercar race.  That is not something that particularly excites Andy and I, and although we live a good few kilometres from the track, we could hear the engines running all weekend.  To get a few good hours of peace, we headed out of town in a direction we haven't yet been -- west.

View Larger Map

Charters Towers is a small country town about 130 kms from Townsville with a big past.  In the second half of the 1800s it was Queensland's second largest city thanks to its prolific gold mines.  Today, the mines are still there but the wealth belongs to mining magnates, and Charters Towers is now a little town of 8,000 people with lots of fancy old buildings and a cute little shopping strip.

The most exciting part of the day for me came early, when we stopped in at Salvo's (second hand clothing store) and I found two good dresses, one for $5 and one for $1.  But when I got to the register, I was told it was $3 for a bag of clothes, so she would consider the dresses one bag.  Two dresses for $3!  It had me considering whether it is worth it to drive an hour to do all my second-hand shopping from now on...

After that, we had a look at the history on offer in CT.  There is an old Stock Exchange Arcade, where no one buys or sells shares any longer (though there was a cute bookshop).

And then we drove up Towers Hill to the lookout, where we were greeted with an expanse of flat, dry outback, punctuated with the odd hill.

On the Townsville side of CT, there is a big park with a public swimming pool, a rotunda, and lots of picnic areas.  But the reason we stopped is because we noticed most of the trees in this park were absolutely covered with bats.  Big, flying foxes that were squealing and stinking up the place.  There were probably thousands of them gathered in this one park.

Here's a little video of the bats flying around.  You can vaguely hear their squealing in the background (along with our intelligent conversation about being turned into a vampire, or catching hendra virus).

On the way home, we stopped off at the Burdekin River.  It isn't very deep at the moment, but it is wide.

And in the wet season, it has some serious floods.  There is a dam not far below this spot on the river, which is used to irrigate a huge area of farming land south of Townsville, where many of Australia's tomatoes and capsicums and mangoes (among other things) are grown.  The trees, which all lean heavily downstream, are indicative of the power of the water that sometimes flows in this river.

Charters Towers was a pretty cool little town, but Andy is still a fan of the coast so I don't think we'll be spending much time in the outback in future.


Vegyogini said...

I'm pretty sure my grandpa was stationed in Charters Towers during WWII. Thanks for sharing photos!

Vicki said...

There is nothing better than country town opshops. They are always super cheap & you can often find amazing stuff.

Hannah said...

Oh gosh, I definitely need to take you with me when I go opshopping. I almost never go, because I'm hopeless at it. I seem to lack the ability to see past the gungy old stuff to the awesome goodies... I've always been osf people who can find amazing things like you did!

Theresa said...

Ooh, vegyogini, it's a small world! There were army bunkers up on Towers Hill from WWII. Lots of soldiers all around NQ, actually. A lot of locals who grew up then talk about how much they loved the American soldiers. (And if anyone has seen the new-ish Aussie WWII movie, Beneath Hill 60, the main character came from Charters Towers.)

Jessica @ Lima's Vegan Kitchen said...

This looks great. Id love to see all the different pars of australia like this!

Dee said...

I LOVE Charters Towers, it is a grat little town. I also really like the outback, it is special. Keep exploring west.