Townsville is a pretty boring town – its main attraction is the trips to the offshore islands, such as Magnetic Island, and it acts as a bit of a gateway town. Oh, and curiously its also where some of the World Cup Rugby matches are played, in the Dairy Farmers Stadium – on Thursday night Japan play Fiji. We could get a family ticket for AU$20 (£8) but unfortunately we’ll be up in Mission Beach for Charlotte’s birthday, so we can’t go, even though we think it would be a great experience.
But the girls were over the moon in Townsville, because of the Wet Park on the sea front. It’s a public facility built by the council, and consists of a huge frame of pipes, hoses, sprays, water guns and other water spouting features. As we’ve come so far north in such a short time, we’ve noticed how the weather has gone from 20° to 30° in two days – the days and nights are suddenly just a bit too warm. So the girls really enjoyed playing around in the water park – Charlotte enjoyed it non-stop for 3 hours.
Charlotte’s big thrill was the Big Bucket (oh yes, Townsville’s got its own ‘big’ thing too). This was basically a huge bucket on top of the frame, filled by two big pipes. Every couple of minutes it tipped the entire contents over whoever was standing underneath it. It was absolutely brilliant, and Charlotte didn’t seem to get out from underneath it all afternoon. With global warming perhaps we can look forward to some of these parks being built in England (mind you, I don’t suppose the council will be stumping up for them – c’mon Rick, chance to grab votes for the next Parish Council election!).
Townsville is in the middle of a pretty serious drought at the moment, caused by three very poor rainy seasons, but it doesn’t seem to stop water being used like its going out of fashion. Sprinklers seem to be used 3 hours a day on every patch of grass, and there are no outward signs that the East Coast is fast running out of water. But out in the country everything is dry as a bone – the only green you see is on the eucalyptus trees, or in irrigated fields. The rest of the landscape is just brown. I guess at some point Australia’s going to have a long hard look at its fascination with sprinklers and green grass, but there are no signs that its happening just yet. Two nights ago the campsite we stayed in was in a fairly remote area, and the water situation there was even more dire – drinking water came from rainwater, washing up water came from a heavily depleted borehole, and water for sprinklers and car washing came from recycled waste water. Maybe that’s a sign of things to come in towns – using different sources of water for different things.