ADVENTURING THE VILLE WITH KIDS ON A BUDGET
In my last blog, I gave some handy hints to parents for how to survive the school holidays without having to declare bankruptcy- Yes, you’re welcome! In this edition, I have been approached to give some recommendations for a range of activities to enjoy in Townsville – our beautiful capital of North Queensland.
As a local lady, I would like to think despite my slight phobia of dirt, creepy crawlies and the great outdoors, that I try to expose my little terrors – sorry, treasures – to the widest range of experiences possible. So, slip, slop, slap, get out the aero guard and wide-brimmed hat and come for a little journey with me.
During the week, it’s inevitable that work, school, dancing and other commitments like, oh I don’t know – buying groceries, take the main spotlight. However, on the weekend, I try to “mix-it-up” cool mum style and look ahead to see what’s on.
Most of the time, event suggestions pop up that capture my interest. I often have friends who share kooky event invites that entice me like a moth to a flame. I have made a fine selection, call it an “entertainment menu” shall we, for those out there who are keen to offer lots to their kiddies on a platter without having to take out a second mortgage or sell an internal organ to foot the bill!
Sporting/The Great Outdoors
Townsville is a wonderful place for outdoor activities. On any school holiday, long weekend or even an afternoon time slot, we often find ourselves at one of the cities beautiful locations.
The Bucket at the Water Park on the Strand is free – YES! I often beach myself under a palm tree – with my “crook back” hehe – and read whilst my little ones play and drench themselves in the gorgeous water.
Another lovely place to visit along the same strip is The Rock pool where there is a “rad” flying fox/zip line and a huge playground. Scattered along this strip are many cafes, restaurants and bars. You can splash out and spend a fortune or get the $3 worth of hot chips and enjoy the same glorious view of Magnetic Island.
Within a short drive from Townsville lie many wonderful camping grounds where the avid Russell Coigt fan can pitch a tent – from Alligator Creek to Jourama Falls, Rollingstone Caravan Park and more, there are many wonderful spots to set up your temporary home and relax under the stars. Most have BBQ and shower/toilet facilities but it always pays to check before you go ladies and gents! Even me, the “camp-o-phobe” has done this and yes, I admit I enjoyed it.
If you venture over to my “happy place”, Magnetic Island, there is so much to do. You can jet ski, tube, horse ride, hire bikes, cars and scooters. You can eat at establishments boasting just about all the international cuisine you can imagine. There is the famous forts walk where tourists can see the famous WW2 defence post – what a magnificent view! The best part for me is watching my two little blonde mermaids toddle up ahead of me on Horsehsoe Bay beach at sunset, bucket in hand, collecting shells or if they’re lucky, poking a dead jellyfish. The Island truly is heaven on Earth, and is famous for attracting visitors who plan to stay a couple of days and two years later, are still there.
Indoor Venues/Cultural Activities
Us Perry girls are ‘market marauders’ who love to fossil and “find treasures”. We love the Strand Night Markets, the Renegade Handmade Markets and of course the North Queensland Baby and Kids Markets – there are also many others that would take too long to mention. These eclectic little sellers gather together sell their wares and on these market days and nights the smells, sights and sensations are wonderful to take in. We love to move from stall to stall tasting, chatting, sampling and experiencing all that our multicultural city has to offer.
We are also theatre lovers and will always attend shows (with mummy being an avid past performer and hopefully future one also when time becomes a bit more available). We buy tickets for local community shows like the Townsville Choral Society and NQOMT who put on world class professional musicals four times a year. Our latest venture was the Deadly 60 Travelling show and Shrek presented by the Townsville Choral Society. We look forward to our next night at the theatre.
Our favourite eating spots include Otto’s on a Friday night where the “Viennese” style alley way dining esplanade buzzes with people. We love Mr. Kon’s fish and chips with their handmade touch – Yummy fresh cut chips and calamari done the traditional Greek way. We have also been known to do a drive out to Balgal Beach to the landing and have a look at their markets and fish shop too. There is also a must-do visit to the Harvey’s Range Tearooms and their heritage listed grounds. The girls love to explore the surrounds, play in the fairy garden and explore the fish pond. It’s such a gorgeous area and well worth a visit – we are regulars there.
Paluma is also worth a gander with the lovely Ivy Cottage teahouse – if you have ever wondered how it feels to be Snow White surrounded by the forest creatures, this is the place to visit! In winter, it’s freezing but those Devonshire teas go down a treat let me tell you and I certainly don’t mind eating the left overs of my fussy sparrows who often leave a lovely round of seconds for mummy! There is also Little Crystal Creek on the way down for a swim, plus lots of walking tracks to explore.
Half Way Between the Whitsundays and Palm Cove
We are lucky in Townsville as we are approximately four hours south of Cairns and its tropical surrounds and the Whitsundays with their rolling beaches and gorgeous bays. As a family trio, we have done many a trip in both directions stopping at Big 4 Caravan parks along the way.
I can honestly say that I love the fact that my little princesses are able to demonstrate awe and wonder as we pass into new places – even if they are literally only a twenty-minute drive apart. From the Big Mango at Bowen, to the Big Gum Boot in Tully, the girls feel a strong sense of identity as North Queenslanders. I was particularly touched during our most recent visit to Paronella Park where my then 8 year old showed complete admiration for Jose Paronella and his exquisite Spanish architecture. There are truly some hidden gems in our part of the world.
So, if I were to sum up living in FNQ in one word, I would say “Adventure”.
Sure, you have to plan slightly ahead to make sure you have somewhere to sleep and that you won’t need to resort to hunting bush tucker for dinner. However, I love that we head off on our ‘adventures’ with a “basic plan in mind” but if we find new places, meet new people and discover new things along the way then that’s just absolutely marvellous! Did I mention that I love being a North Queenslander?! Despite having travelled the world and teaching overseas, I can honestly say there is no place like home – We live in the best place on Earth. I love that I’m raising another generation of proud Townsvillians and I look forward to sharing more experiences from my childhood as they grow – I already get the question every time we try something new “Mummy, did you do this as a little girl?” and I love it. We really do live in a little slice of paradise so do yourselves a favour and get out there and explore what is has to offer!
Stay safe, open your eyes and take in the beauty that surrounds us here in “The Ville” It really is beautiful one day and perfect the next.
Story Belinda Perry
Feature image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland