off to townsville…

Our trip to Townsville was fun and relatively swift. Having made it in eight hours, including stops, Imogen says we made excellent time. We had no construction slow-downs… in fact, the only thing that slowed us down was a gigantic shovel… perhaps for a drag-line at one of the mines? We got a glimpse of at least two open cut mines, on the way out, which is something to see.

We had gorgeous weather, and stopped in Charters Towers to have some lunch at a fish & chips shop, followed by a mocha at McDonald’s (well, they were across the street!). The fish & chips shop signs were my first introduction to the idea of “cooked bugs”. I wanted to know if that was code language for something, and was told it was some kind of crayfish (or maybe she said crustacean). No, we didn’t order any, I just saw them listed on the menu.

As we rolled into Townsville, the mountains reminded me of those I’d seen in Hawaii, though surely they weren’t quite as steep. No, they don’t look so huge in the pictures. But since being here, some of the “hills” continue to remind me of Diamond Head, in Honolulu.

We’re staying with family of Imogen’s, and it’s a lovely place, with some beautiful breezes coming in everywhere. Staying in a hotel couldn’t be any nicer. And the lovely Christmas decorations keep reminding me that it really IS almost Christmas.

For dinner, I was introduced to the actuality of eating “cooked bugs”, which turn out to be… hang on, I googled it. The official name, over here, seems to be Balmain bugs, but the U.S. name is butterfly fan lobster. I was curious, as I like most seafood, but I’ve never been a fan of lobster, when crab was available. And aside from shrimp, my family’s never had the occasion to eat cold seafood. But with the hot weather, they do that a lot in Australia.

So, we had some absolutely delicious grilled fish, prawns (I had to experience beheading them and de-legging them, again, but it went better this time), oysters (ok, that’s one of the only types of seafood that I won’t eat), and of course, the bugs. They chop each bug in half, and you use a fork to pull out the meat, quite easily. There isn’t as much meat as it looks like there should be. But it’s definitely yummy. And after coffee and chocolate, I had to wait a while before I had room for any pineapple upside-down cake.

Anyway, we’re having a good time, being taken good care of, and have plenty of plans for the next two days in Townsville. Enough plans for each day, with plenty of time to relax and veg out, as well. I hope you’re enjoying your own Christmas vacation, wherever you are!

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