On arrival to Townsville we initially went to the caravan site, with it’s basketball and tennis court and pool, which lay across from a beach overlooking Magnetic Island. However, we decided not to stick around and set up the tent like we usually did and instead would head into town, to somewhere with cover, as a big dump of rain was expected to start during the afternoon. No point getting the tent wet and risking more damage to the awning! Steven and I decided to go to the HQ Reef Aquarium, whilst Shawnee and Max decided to go for a couples walk along the beach and have some alone time! The Aquarium was excellent, with local marine life, a shark tunnel and a turtle sanctuary! I particularly enjoyed a corner of the Aquarium where there was a seat facing a coral identification book, in front a beautiful coral tank. I had a go doing some identification, and I think I got a few! We also enjoyed the feeding in the main tank, to the sharks and other fish, as well as a tour of the turtle sanctuary. This facility was separate from the aquarium and only accepted visitors once a day, so we were lucky to be there in time for it! The sanctuary took in sick and injured turtles and nursed them back to health before releasing them into the wild again. Most of them suffer from what they referred to as “floating syndrome”, a condition turtles get from damage to it’s internals from swallowing plastic or general stress that leads to uncontrolled buoyancy. When the turtle is stuck floating on the surface, it’s really a death sentence: it can’t dive down to eat and it can’t escape predators or boats. Luckily for the turtles in hospital they were spotted before it was too late, most of them looking very malnourished and weak, and have given a second chance in life! A wonderful thing, but it’s heartbreaking to think how many turtles (and other marine life) that do not get that chance and are left to such a gruesome fate.
After we had spent a couple of hours at the aquarium Steven and I met up again with the other two and had the best ice cream of the entire trip; caramalised pineapple and apple gelato. YUM. We headed back to the caravan park, set up the tent and then decided to play some tennis before jumping in the pool. We realized quickly that no one in the group had any tennis skills, but it was good fun playing! In the evening we played pictionary before bedtime. I must admit, Shawnee and I were flawless as a team, we crushed them 😛 .