Home again now, the expedition is over and time to gather our thoughts and memories.
The last post ended at Mission Beach, a long beautiful beach and small, unassuming township. From there we continued south down the coast, heading for Townsville, but came upon a small national park called Big Crystal Creek and decided to have one last bush camp. There was a large rock hole in the creek, finally a chance to swim! The weather was warm, the water was cold, altogether delightful. One last damper on a campfire, then Townsville the next day. We booked into a caravan park right on the beach which proved to be a good choice as we could walk into town along a beautifully set out track, up and over a headland, with lots of information about the military history of Townsville. I knew there was a large army base and an air force base there, but had no idea that the military involvement went right back to the 1860s, and the first contingent of Australian soldiers left from there for the First World War. The Battle of the Coral Sea happened close by in the Second World War. In town we visited the Regional Gallery and found a wonderful exhibition by a local artist Jo Lankester. She had made very large abstract collagraph prints using the rocks and landforms of the area for her inspiration. Each print was made up from between 10 and 15 colour plates. I bought the catalogue, and came away inspired to revisit collagraphs.
Having enjoyed Townsville far more than we expected we were disappointed in Airlie Beach – lots of grey nomads escaping the cold of the south and lots of backpackers crammed into hired campers or old station wagons. The beach was not beautiful, the town was tired with uninspiring cafes and shops, we found it difficult to understand the popularity. So now we were ready to come home. Leaving the warmth of the north, the temperatures dropped quickly – by the time we arrived in Toowoomba it was freezing, out came the blankets, jackets and beanies! Then, straight home, 11 hours of driving, but it was worth it to save camping in wet and cold. Great to be home, but so many great memories!