After having our expectations for Townsville managed by our new friends in Brisbane, it was actually a pleasant surprise. Well, it was better than Rockhampton anyway.
Our plan was to get in, see the Great Barrier Reef and get out, but the wind had other ideas and the boat trip was off. So what do you do when you've driven 850 miles in two days to go snorkelling in the world's largest coral reef and your tour gets cancelled? Go to the aquarium! Not quite the experience we had been hoping for, but we did get to see the hammerhead shark feeding (always look for that silver lining!).
After a couple of days we headed west along the Overlanders Way, 950 miles of highway across Queensland to the Northern Territories.
There isn't too much to see along this route (unless you are particularly interested in the history of mining towns), but the landscape is really something else and we hadn't got totally bored of driving yet (that came later), so we loved our long drives through the arid Queensland outback.
Things get quiet pretty quickly along the highway. There are a handful of small outback towns in the middle of nowhere to pass through (literally hundreds of miles from the next town), where the people are friendly and the petrol is expensive. On the second day, driving from Cloncurry to Three Ways, we would drive for hours without seeing another car.
And this sign in Cammooweal (great name) gave us a laugh. The coffee in Brisbane is good, but we didn't try any here to verify so couldn't possibly comment.
It took us two (long!) days to get to Three Ways, a roadhouse on the junction of the Stuart Highway, where we then headed south to Alice Springs. I'm not sure if it's because we have nothing similar in the UK, or if it's because we were the only people camping (or maybe it was something to do with all the news stories about outback serial killers that I read on the way), but there was something a bit creepy about our night here.
Next up is my favourite part of Australia ... the rocks!