One big issue with Townsville – the public buses run fairly small routes and virtually none run at all on a Sunday. This means I had a hell of a walk out to the edge of town towards the highway and Cairns.
An hour took me to a McDonald’s a few kilometres out where I stopped for breakfast and internet access. Around half an hour later a very attractive young lady accompanied by her son (about 8 years old, I’d guess) stopped and drove me out of town to a petrol station. Certainly not the demographic you expect to be picking up hitchhikers and I’m very glad they did so!
Within twenty minutes, a minibus pulled up and two guys and a young girl from the Pacific Islands ushered me on board. They’d just been to a funeral in Townsville and were heading north of Cairns. They shared drinks with me as there was no aircon (other than the open windows) and they dropped me off on the Esplanade at around 3:15. If I’d caught the bus, I’d have been on the road for less than half an hour at that point.
I checked two hostels before I settled on the Esplanade Backpackers (I think one of the Nomad chain) as it was only $15 for the night, including free dinner at the Rhino Bar downtown.
McDonalds was required for free-wifi, and despite buying a meal I was harassed by the manager after some time to pack up and move out. The restaurant was near-empty, nobody was waiting for a seat and the internet policy online states that the time limit is only as long as your laptop battery lasts.
Had they been busy I’d have fully understood, but it just seemed like someone taking their own personal “20 minutes” rule at face value. This is for all customers, not just internet use. So even if the place is dead and you’re enjoying a massive meal and spending a fortune you’re only allowed a short time to eat it. I’ve seen this branch during the busy season and at that point, I’d agree – you need to shuffle people around. But right now, Cairns is dead. All they’ve succeeded in doing is annoying someone who’d not going to pay for food next time. I’ll just sit outside and leach.
Whinge over. I sat on the grass over the road and listened to two very talented musicians play some incredibly relaxing cover versions and ploughed through a couple more chapters of my book. It’s pushing 7pm now, from which time the free dinner is served, so I’m about to pack up and head over to The Rhino.
Hopefully, I’ll get this post online before I leave. Either way, I won’t be online until I get into Darwin – at least I doubt it. I’m hoping to take a route which is very unlikely to take me past a McD’s!