We said goodbye to the friendly people at Bivouac Junction at 7-30am and headed for Townsville. The road was good, the weather was perfect and Matilda purred along at a steady 90kph.
Robin at Town Automatics was expecting us and he gave the keys to Lockie, a very good-looking mechanic, to take her for a drive and asess the problem. He made us a cup of coffee (to steady our nerves…) and we waited for the verdict.
Twenty minutes later Lockie came in with the gear box innards. Oh dear, what a mess, dirty oil and metal shavings scattered through it. How had poor Matilda kept going…
Yes it was going to be a major operation the gear box will need to be rebuilt. Because of her age it will take time to locate the parts needed.
I ask, “how long?” Robin puts up 2 fingers, ” 2 days?” I say. “No, 2 weeks” Robin replies. I think we will get to know Townsville quite well…
OK next step, find accommodation. Sharon, the receptionist, steps in to help. Together we find in the local telephone directory the motels, caravan parks and even back packers. Sharon shows me where they are on a map and describes the areas for me. How far from town, if they are near the beach, shops, bus services, all invaluable information. Sharon is very busy, with the phone ringing constantly so I really appreciate her help.
Then I start to ring around….
I quickly find two things:
- School holidays start at the end of the week, therefore the budget accommodation is all booked
- In general accommodation is very expensive,it makes us realize how much we save on accommodation costs having our own bed with us.
Eventually I manage to find a cabin at Rowes Bay caravan park that we can rent for a week. It is a small box of a room, but 6 times bigger than the space in Matilda (what indulgence…) with a queen bed and small kitchenette with microwave, fridge, double hot plate and sink, but no en suite, the communal shower and toilet facilities are along the end of the row of cabins. It is just across the road from a very attractive beach, looking across to Magnetic Island. I class it as basic but clean and it is priced at $105 per night. RACQ road assist insurance will pay the first 5 days, thank goodness, then, if we are still waiting, we pay the next lot of accommodation. I have already checked out the back packers and it is $240 per week for a double room and shared facilities, so I have booked in there for the second week…
What an adventure, it is adding a whole new dimension to our trip this time. It is about 10 years since we stayed in Townsville. The last few trips north we have bypassed Townsville because it has been in a state of reconstruction for years, very difficult to drive around. All the main CBD area has been rebuilt. It had become a very scruffy, tired looking city. Now it is revitalised and we are looking forward to exploring and discovering this beautiful tropical paradise.