Once you step out of the airport or any air-conditioned place you were lucky to be in, the heat hits you. It’s moist, humid, the sun hit any inch of bare skin and you can’t escape. Welcome to Queensland.
We arrived in Townsville, Northern Queensland, after a three-hour flight from Sydney. Is it a town or a city (ville)? I don’t know. The pace of life is much slower than in Sydney, for sure. There are palm trees everywhere and the streets are empty at noon because it’s hot. Too damn hot to move or to do anything. Just thinking requires energy I don’t have, especially considering we got up at 7 a.m. to catch our flight and that we spent the previous night singing with Bono.
We passed a waterpark on the Strand, the main avenue along the beach. Kids and their parents were playing and I couldn’t help wondering why they were not on the beach instead. I got my answer a few minutes later when I spotted the “no swimming – marine stingers” signs by the water. Australians must love signs: they are everywhere, warning you of coconuts or rocks falling, stingers, koalas, kangaroos, uneven ground and so on.
We stayed a night in Townsville and took a boat to Magnetic Island the following day, where we stayed in a bungalow surrounded by wildlife: kangaroos and koalas are across the road, and parrots eat coconuts above our heads (hence the “watch for falling coconuts” signs I guess). Less pleasant are the bugs, the spiders, the stingers and the damn mosquitoes, apparently attracted by my French-Canadian blood.
We spend the day hoping from one beach to another, and we eat fish & chips on the beach at night. Swimming is a bit challenging because of the stingers—a generic name for all kinds of pretty dangerous jellyfishes. Some beaches have a net that blocks most of them, in other remote areas you have to take a chance or wear a singer suit.
But really, this is the only thing that spoils paradise.