Michele: So you are wondering 'Townsville'? Which clever Aussie came up with this name? Well it turns out that one of the founders of the city was a Mr. Town. Yup, you got it.
We found Townsville to be a mixed bag. On the one hand we really enjoyed many of its 'big city' features. Lots of diverse take away food and more than one shop to choose from when buying kids sneakers etc. Townsville has a delightful strand and the people, like all the Aussies we've met, are great. Our hotel was in the residential North Ward and, I kid you not, there were Frangipani trees in every yard. I guess the Townsvillians didn't get the memo about Frangipanis being out of fashion for Aussie gardens. Good on ya' Townsvillians! But in addition to all these great features there is a creepy side to Townsville too.
Creepy trees: All along the strand are these uber-creepy trees. The Curtain Fig trees have tentacles (ok they are really roots) that come down from the branches to the ground and then grow strong as trunks. They look straight out of middle-Earth as Megan would say. I kept expecting one to uproot itself and start speaking Entish. To get a nice photo, I tried to get Robin and Will to hide amongst the 'trunks' but they wouldn't go near the trees.
Creepy birds: Walking along the strand one night we heard eerie noises. A hollow whistling that grew intensity for 30 seconds until it sound like children screaming under torture. The sort of noise that makes you want to rip your hearing aids off. This noise was coming from, no kidding, 3 birds along the shore. These birds call at night to each other and I'm telling you that there is no mistaking this bird call for any other bird. I haven't had a chance to look up more information on this bird but I 'm sure Tim or uncle Larry will know it. Not, that I want to seek these birds out again.. *shudder* Robin says that she's heard some at South Mission Beach but I'm keeping my hearing aids off at night from now on.
Creepy sand flies: Well the sand flies themselves are not creepy -- they are minuscule and their bite stings. But what is creepy is that the welts from their bites linger and itch for freakin' days. I thought nothing was worse that Wisconsin mosquito bites -- I was wrong! Days later, poor Gavin still has ugly red welts from the bites of these tiny flies. The beach didn't have the sand flies but the pool area of our hotel was unbearable.
Creepy huge spider: The one in this photo is a sculpture hanging on wires over a street downtown BUT we saw two of these St. Andrew's Cross spiders in the female toilet on Magnetic Island. The ones we saw were about 10 centimeters across -- wikipedia says that the females are much larger than the males so I'm hoping the ones we saw in the female toilet were females. Otherwise, this one above the street might be life-sized. Their aerodynamic leg spacing is both beautiful and a little creepy.