Exploring Townsville and Rugby!

Wednesday afternoon (22 September) we went down the dock to have sundowners with Suzy (SV Sofia) who we had met in the Boatworks earlier in the year. Her friend Phil (SV Vivamus, our neighbour) also came along. We had a fun evening with them.

Thursday morning we had booked the marina’s courtesy UTE so headed out to the Cheapa car place to pick up some engine oil then headed to the bottle shop and supermarket for a top up of supplies (for those items we had forgotten last time).

We then had a relaxing afternoon on board before joining Sharon and Chris (SV Watusi) for dinner at the Cowboys Leagues Club where we had the special of the day which was roast beef (sadly with no yorkshire puddings)….and very nice it was too. Afterwards Chris and I had a bit of a flutter on the Pokies (slot machines) while Richard kept Sharon company.

On the way back to the marina we stopped off to see the Lady of the Strand by night – she changes colour with the water temperature apparently. Was another lovely evening with these two friends.

Friday morning it was a bit cloudy and overcast. We first headed down the Strand to the C Bar for breakfast – taking Sharon with us as Chris was working. This had been recommended as having the best breakfast in town, especially the potato rosti, so Sharon and I were on a mission to try them out. Well, they weren’t really potato rosti, they were more like monster potato croquettes made with feta – very tasty indeed – but this meant for a huge breakfast. Oh well, never mind, we were heading out for a long walk anyway.

After breakfast we parted company and we continued walking to the end of the strand towards the Rock Lagoon (another free-to-use public facility) admiring the Strand Art installations along the way. We checked out lifeguarded beach but was a bit surprised to see a few people swimming when we saw the crocodile warning notices!

Moving on we came to the bottom of the hike to the Kissing Point Fort. Well, it was marked up as a ‘Cat 3’ trail which involves steep ascents etc. So that wasn’t going to work for me but I noticed a sign for an easier-access entrance – so we walked the long way round and managed to find a way up without having to scramble over rocks etc. We enjoyed our visit to the Fort – especially the views back towards the port – and learnt lots about the large American Air Force contingent based here during the 2nd World War to stop the Japanese invading Australia.

Leaving the Fort by a slightly different road we came across a walkway following the coastline around and admired a beautiful property set into the hill.

Returning to sea level we found an Army museum so popped in there for a quick look. Well we stayed there much longer than expected as we wandered around the really interesting well-preserved exhibits and read the stories behind them – through all the conflicts that Australia have been involved in. We felt particularly moved by the Japanese prisoner-of-war exhibits because, as well as well-documented stories, such cruelty and obscene treatment of these brave soldiers becomes so much more vivid when they include names and photographs of those who suffered in this way.

Leaving the museum behind us we headed slowly back down the Strand. I had done a lot of walking and my legs were struggling a bit so I took a seat and watched a large car carrier being piloted into the main port of Townsville.

We spotted some TV crews and three large vans suddenly turned up depositing a single rugby player from each wearing team colours – Richard thought that they were probably actors and were here to do a promotion for the games on Saturday – but then we realised that they were the Australian, New Zealand and South African captains! They were posing by the two cups that were up for grabs in the competition so we jelly-fished into the media crowd and took some photos of our own and then, before the cups were removed, we quickly got a photo of us with one of them too! We then watched the TV crews doing their ‘live to camera’ bit before everyone moved on. Talk about an exciting amazing coincidence!

We then returned to Morphie and decided to investigate a particularly nasty smell coming from the heads. Eventually we found it – the holding tank vent filter was to blame as the fitment had corroded and separated so we were getting the smells through the pipe. Absolutely disgusting! Richard managed to get it off and sealed the end of the pipe up for the time being whilst I investigated purchasing a new one. Of course, these are made in the USA, and timelines for deliveries from the States are pretty slow right now so we checked out whether we could get an alternative made in Australia. Couldn’t find one online that was an exact replacement in terms of sizing so we needed to get our hands on one to see if we could make it fit in the limited space available for the install. Now that the smell had been removed, we chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.

Later on we headed to Molly Molones to listen to the live music set – the same guy that we saw at the Longboard Bar last Sunday – and enjoyed ourselves. There was more live music to come after his set and Richard was keen to see what type of music the goth-looking young woman who was setting up would deliver – but after another hour of waiting, we decided to call it a night and walked back to the boat.

Saturday morning and Chris and Sharon very kindly took us out to the Boating and RV store so we could check out a new filter – we managed to get one that would fit with a bit of modification to the hoses so we came away with a solution to be fitted another day. We then headed to a few other stores with them but, even though one of them was Bunnings, we came back empty handed apart from a new electric toothbrush for me LOL. This has to be a first for Richard not to buy anything in Bunnings!

Once back on board we rested up and headed out around 2pm towards the Townsville CBD admiring the Anzac memorial along the way.

We then headed towards “Eats Street” which was a pop-up festival with food trucks and live music. We had decided we would eat there before going to the stadium for the rugby. Well, there was a bouncy castle, a kiddie ride, a drum band and a few food trucks but not anything we fancied and there really wasn’t anywhere to sit to eat if you bought something anyway.

At this point the streets were getting crowded with both families and rugby supporters – lots of Wallabies and All Blacks – with the occasional Springbok and Los Pumas fan mixed in. It was fun to walk amongst them all with flags flying….

So we decided to continue straight to the Queensland Country Bank Stadium which opened at 3.30 pm for the first match at 5.05 pm. So we walked across the river and along the river front towards the stadium.

By getting there early we thought we could miss the crowds and get something to eat and drink before taking our seats. We arrived and there were lots of people milling around and even some dancing to the DJ playing some loud tunes…. By more luck than judgment we had got tickets which required us to enter the stadium at Gate A which was the first one we came across so we started queuing behind the locked gates – suddenly everyone thought this was a good idea – and we had started a trend LOL. By this time it was getting really busy so we masked up and waited patiently.

On the dot of 3.30 pm the gates opened and, after a bag inspection, we were through. We picked up a snack and a beer each and then found our particular stand and headed towards our seats – OMG it was like a mountain climb up 92 steps to virtually the top! We got into our seats and looked around. Pretty impressive stadium and our seats were great at one end of the pitch. So we settled in for the afternoon. We were in a mixed area so were surrounded by largely Australian and New Zealanders and lots of families too.

The stadium started to fill up and, about half an hour before the start, Richard headed back down to get us some more drinks whilst I stayed put. I wasn’t going to do those steps again until I needed to LOL. Then the players started to come out to warm up and the crowds were pretty quiet – then they all disappeared back inside until they were walked out in teams – first match was part of the championships but this 100th match between New Zealand and South Africa was also for the Freedom Cup. There were fireworks and blasts of flames while they were introduced – then they lined up – and the whole stadium rose for the National Anthems whilst their national flags were unfurled. Sadly the line ups were facing away from us but we could see the players on the screen as they sang their anthems with gusto and emotions – it was clear that this match meant a lot to each and every one of them.

Then it was time for the New Zealand Haka. The All Blacks looked menacing whilst the South Africans stared them down. OMG this was a bucket list moment – it actually bought tears to my eyes. Absolutely fantastic and the crowd response was just amazing!!

So finally the match kicked off and it was end to end stuff – both teams were brilliant and New Zealand got the win by the smallest of margins with a last minute penalty, although I think that South Africa probably deserved the win overall. Each point that was scored was marked by more flames along the ends of the stadium – such an exciting thing to be part of.

Then it was cup time and the crowds just roared. After the cup had been presented and the teams left the pitch the New Zealand captain was being interviewed by the TV crews when, suddenly, he stopped talking as the New Zealand fans were doing a Haka to their team in the stadium. How amazing was that! Just wow!

We then settled in for a long wait – noticing how many Kiwis decided to leave the stadium at this point and how many Australians had now turned up to watch the second match. We made the most of the interval by having some fish and chips and another couple of drinks and, yes, I did climb those damn steps again!

The second match followed the same process with the Australian and Argentinian teams being led out. The Argentinians had small numbers of supporters in the stadium but they made up for it with their very loud and excited shouting, singing and dancing! We certainly knew they were there LOL. Before the two national anthems were sung and flags were unfurled we also had a spoken welcome from a First Nation player accompanied by some spiritual music played on a didgeridoo.

The anthems were treated with respect and again we had more fireworks and flames to mark the occasion. The interesting thing was the prominence of a Cadbury flag amongst all this – obviously a major sponsor of the Australian team!!!

The match was gritty and a bit bad tempered with some serious clashes between players. The crowd were completely partisan and booed the Argentinians with passion. I think this riled the Argentinians up and tempers flared. Not helped by there being no flames or any type of acknowledgment when Argentina scored a point other than the big screen – unlike the first match where every point was celebrated. Not very sportsmanlike! Anyway, not surprisingly, Australia got a good win and the crowd went mad.

We left the stadium amongst the masses (still masked up), crossed the river, and returned to Flinders Street. We had been hoping for a pontoonie but all the pubs were absolutely thronged with people with long queues back down the street so we called it a night and returned back to Morphie.

Sunday was our final day in the marina so Richard stayed on board and washed the boat down; flushed the watermaker; cleaned down below; and did engine checks. In the meantime I was doing all the laundry and more Netflix downloads for when we got back on the hook. We then rested up for a while before we invited Sharon and Chris on board for sundowners. Was another nice evening in their company. We had included Suzy and Phil but they had a prior arrangement so sadly were unable to make it.

Monday morning we were up early and got everything ready to depart – our personal line handlers Sharon and Chris came by – and we slipped away from the dock with their assistance. Thanks again and see you soon! Unusually we had an upwind sail to Magnetic Island and really enjoyed having two full sails out for a while as we admired the rocky outcrops along the way.

By 12 noon we had the anchor down and spent the rest of the day onboard relaxing. We were surprised to see a boat that had either dragged its anchor or broken from a mooring up on the beach on the opposite side of the bay too.

Overnight it was very rolly so we had to get up a few times to stop things rattling around and both of us had a pretty disturbed night’s sleep. On Tuesday morning it was still rocking and rolling. We looked at other boats around the anchorage to see if there was a more sheltered spot but everyone was moving around quite a lot so no point in moving. The swell is obvious as it comes around the headland into the bay. Not very comfortable to be honest and neither of us had any appetite to get the dinghy down and go ashore in these conditions so we just stayed on board for the day. Although Richard kept busy and installed the new holding tank vent filter in the heads – great job upside down with his head in a cupboard whilst the boat is moving around so much!

There really isn’t another anchorage we fancy nearby so we’ll just sit it out here for the minute as we plan to head south again towards the end of the week when the wind is forecast to turn. During the afternoon there were dinghies on the beach near the boat aground but there didn’t seem to be any attempt at getting the boat re-floated just yet. Shame as the pounding surf is probably going to do more damage all the time it is left there high and dry. After a quiet day we ended up having an early night as we were both shattered.

It is now Wednesday and it is still rocking and rolling. The forecast is for the wind to die down later today so hoping that will make the anchorage more comfortable – we can only hope. In the meantime Richard is relaxing in the cockpit whilst I’m down below blogging. We plan another quiet day on board and hope to get ashore tomorrow, fingers crossed.

The news from home is shocking – from covid to economic woes with lorry driver shortages impacting on supply chains and causing food shortages on top of petrol supply problems – and that’s without the power companies going bust and inflation levels rising. Add to that the idiots who like to shut the M25 on a regular basis and those that like to panic buy at the slightest thing…. Missing you all so very much and sending prayers to our friends who are struggling with some serious issues but, have to say, we are in no hurry to come back to the chaos right now! Anyway, to make you all smile, here is a bush stone curlew and chick cutie.

Bye for now, Jan