Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Part 1 of the 3rd installment of the Travel Diaries.

From Kununurra (WA), Mum, my sister and I drove to Mataranka (NT), Mt Isa (QLD) and then ended up in Townsville (QLD). Before I go on to describe Mataranka, please take this as a disclaimer that I was prejudiced against this town from an incident that occurred in December 2011, which involved a road trip to Alice Springs for New Years with some ‘friends’, who after a toilet stop in Mataranka, FORGOT me there, and left me all alone for about half an hour before they realised I wasn’t on the bus. I guess at least they did turn around and get me eventually… 🙂

Evil Kangaroo in Mataranka

In Mataranka we stayed at the ‘Homestead’ which was pretty gross and way too expensive/cheapest we could find (a cabin for $130 a night). For dinner I treated myself to a Caesar salad, which made up for the fact that it was made out of shredded iceberg lettuce by containing lots of bacon bits. The highlight of the area is that they have these nice natural springs right next to the camping area that you can visit, even after dark. What they don’t tell you is that you have to share the area with about 1000 cane toads.

Ewww – we were walking down the path in the dark, with only the light from our phones to guide us (the new ones have these inbuilt torches now). Covering the path, and hopping in all directions were big, fat, ugly cane toads. The walk was less than a 100 meters, but took about 10 minutes and a lot of screaming before we got to the springs. Once there, we tried to tell ourselves that we would be safe in the water – I mean, why on earth would a toad enter the water – honestly…. After about 10 minutes in the water, we decided to go back and go to bed. I won’t bore you with the details, but let me tell you that the walk back has scarred me for life, and if you value your sanity, you will not visit these springs after dark. It was horrific. I probably need therapy (now even more than before :P).

The open road

We only stayed in Mt Isa for a night, so nothing to talk about really except that it was kind of weird how they priced things. Motel rooms were about $150 for 3 people (kind of expensive for what you get), but the food is so cheap! We went to the restaurant across the street and had a piece of leathersteak and vegies for $9, and a massive, delicious Greek salad for $16. What we found though is that in Queensland, you can gamble pretty much in any pub you go, which I find off-putting, especially how they pretty much shove it in your face wherever you go. I’m very anti-gambling so if you like to have a bet of two, or love to play the pokies, you’ll love QLD pubs.

We left my sister in Townsville (she gets kinda annoying after a few days), so we just left her at a backpackers, gave her $100 and told her to find her own way back. Just kidding. She moved to Queensland in anticipation of getting accepted into Uni, either at University of Queensland in Brisbane, or Griffith University in Southport (Gold Coast). Mum and I are currently staying in Southport for a few days to rest up and explore the region, so we decided to have a look at Griffith Uni. It is so massive, it has its own hospital and traffic lights. Also, it looks like they took the architect who designed Edith Cowan University, gave him some LSD and let him loose to design Griffith. To describe the Uni in one word, I’m tossing up between ‘Interesting’ or ‘Special’ (heavy inflection required).

waiting for the eclipse

waiting for the eclipse

My sister’s friend lives in Townsville, so she decided to move there for a few months to find work and get used to living in a Queensland city – which Townville actually is, much to my surprise. I thought it was just a ‘big’ town, kinda like Broome or something. We didn’t end up going to Magnetic Island, even though a few people recommended it to us. I think once you’ve been to Rottnest Island off Perth, you’re pretty much spoilt for any other island. Also, I walked up Castle Hill at 5am to see the eclipse, so was happy to have an easy day and go to the Townsville Aquarium instead (I think it has the largest living reef in the world or something). While we were in Townsville, we helped my sister buy a car, and the girls got a new three bedroom apartment. Once my sister was all set up, Mum and I continued our journey south.