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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.