Do it like a Digger: 5 historic things to do in Townsville
Did you know that during World War II there was this idea going around called “The Brisbane Line”? If Japan invaded Northern Australia, the government would concede the territory above Brisbane in order to better protect the industrial centres of Brisbane and Melbourne.
We love North Queensland so we’re glad that never happened. Good thing too, because Townsville played an integral role in the war of the Pacific.
Step back in time and see what Townsville provided Australia with throughout its military history, so when you visit you can do it like a digger.
Light it up
Magnetic Island played an important role in Townsville’s military history. Not only was it a great buffer to shelter huge amounts of ships, its high hills supplied some great lookouts.
It’s all good to have a view and a pair of binoculars but what if they come at night?
If that happens you’re going to need at least 3,000,000 candle power. That’s enough to spot planes at over 30,000 feet. These impressive lights were set up along Horseshoe Bay and Florence Bay.
Check out the remnants of these by tackling the Forts Walk. Through the 1.5-hour hike you’ll see snoozing koalas and sweeping views, but you’ll also get a sense of what the diggers had to keep an eye on while on duty. Mostly just a gorgeous ocean and beautiful beaches.
If it’s a hot day and hiking seems too much work, slap on your wetsuit and go on a snorkel trail around Geoffrey Bay to see the wreck of a WWII aeroplane propellor.
Kissing Point seems like a great name for a place to put huge 155mm guns, doesn’t it? In 1885, these big guns were installed and in 1891 the barracks were built. This was important at the time because there was fear that other international powers with ships in the Pacific would invade.
Paranoia saved us and today the Jezzine Barracks is a great place to go for a walk and check out some of the artwork on display to the public. A $40 million renovation of the area has created a landscaped masterpiece for you to enjoy.
While you’re there check out the Royal Australian Air Force Military Museum where ex-servicemen are on hand to give you a personal view of the RAAF history in Townsville.
That huge hill
At 298 metres tall it’s only three feet shy of mountain status, but unless you want to stack some boulders Castle Hill will remain just that, a hill. So if you’re starting to get tired on your way to the top just remember it could be worse. You could have to climb a mountain.
You won’t have to worry about that though because on the way you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Australian and American soldiers who used the hill for communication purposes. Remnants of the observation post remain on the top of the hill to this day.
Count yourself lucky you still have the chance to climb it because in 1942 US soldiers offered to demolish the entire hill in order to build a road to Magnetic Island.
In the 1940’s Pallarenda Park was home to a 500-bed makeshift hospital on the beach. Injured soldiers from the battle in New Guinea were treated here before it was destroyed by a cyclone in 1944.
During the time leading up to the cyclone, nurses managed to transfer all the patients onto trains which kept them from further harm.
These days you can have a swim, a barbie and relax and let the warm Townsville night come and give you a big hug at Pallarenda Park – a far reach from its World War II heritage.
The mysterious isle
If you’re keen for an adventure then Hinchinbrook Island is the place to do it. You literally step back in time to something prehistoric. The jungle is thick and nature’s embrace is everywhere.
In 1942, that nature was disturbed when a US B-24 Liberator Bomber crash-landed killing all 12 crew members. The ‘Texas Terror’ as it was known, was not found until 1944 when two Aboriginal men followed a trail of US currency up a river.
A mystery still remains over the fact two Australian women were found among the wreckage and yet were not supposed to be on the plane.
Explore this mystery for yourself when you tackle the Thorsborne Trail.