Townsville - Airlie Beach
Trip Start Jan 2003
200Trip End Dec 2003
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Having exhausted Townsville's attractions (excluding Magnetic Island which to be honest sounded pretty dull), we spent a loungy day pottering around town. This highlighted the first of Australia's obsessions - keeping fit. All along the beach next to a path are exercise stations. There are diagrams attached detailing correct use of the government-provided apparatus (steps, sit-up benches etc) and while by no means everbody uses them, they are not vandalised and lying idly like they would be in the UK. Having seen something similar in King's Park in Perth we know it's not even a one-off. My belly is growing by the day (at least in my mind anyway).
The second obsession concerns size. Big is good. Or more accurately - big is the only thing that counts. Australians love pointing out just how big their country is (did you know you could fit the UK, Japan and Germany inside Austrlia - yes, I've heard it a hundred times or my favourite - did you know you can fit the USA inside Austrlia - yes, but only when you conveniently forget about Alaska). They also love calling their restaurants things like "The Big Cowboy" and sticking a huge plastic cowboy outside. We've now started taking photographs by these places and today we took the first - us photographed under a giant mango. The nam of the caraven park - you guessed it - The Big Mango. We've also heard rumours of such estblishments as "The Big Prawn", "The Big Banana", "The Big Pineapple" and my personal favourite "The Big Merino Sheep".
We've travelled another 400km south to another Big Four caravan/camping place in Airlie Beach. This is another 4.5 star place and looks as if it deserves every oe. There's a 32m pool, mini golf, swim in spa, badminton, tennis, table-tennis, volleyball, pool facilities and god knows what else. We were already planning to stay here a while (Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef etc) but now we might just stay a bit longer and avoid the inevitability of colder weather further south.