Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Swat Season Walks Around Cape Pallarenda

Cape Pallarenda and Townsville Town Common are two adjacent conservation reserves (it would seem to make sense to amalgamate them but that does not seem to be the Australian way) close to downtown Townsville. Doug had some work to finish up (the project that never seems to end) so I left him sweltering in the caravan in front of his computer and went off to swelter on some walks. 

I decided to do a loop walk west along the Many Peaks trail to Mount Marlow then return via one of the lower level trails that cross back past the wetlands. I gave myself a cursory spray with insect repellent before starting but decided against carrying it with me. The track starts out as a big broad road, and, if you followed the Lagoon track, this is how the track would continue. I, however, took a turn to the north and began climbing a well cleared trail that soon reached a lookout with a view over the extensive wetlands that surround Townsville and go some way towards explaining why Townsville is so buggy. 

After Tegoora Rock, the track deteriorates a bit and plunges into moist forest that is swarming with mosquitoes. It is just under six kilometres to Mount Marlow and the track is below ridge line all the way contouring along the south side of the east west ridge system and alternating between open forest with chest high grass and dense timber. The biting insects are horrendous and I soon came to regret not bringing repellent with me. It was hot and sweaty but I could not stop to drink, admire the view, or take photos for fear of losing a few litres of blood. 

 Freshwater Lagoon

Just east of Mount Marlow, the track climbs up onto the ridge top on a wide grassy hillside. All the way to the top, the bugs were swarming, but, at the very top, the grass recedes from chest high to knee high and enough breeze was blowing over to allow me to stop, drink, take photos and generally enjoy the location.

The way ahead is much clearer as the trail switches down past a large impressive boulder about 15 metres high that could, were the National Park service to allow it, feature some good sport climbing routes. Apparently, there used to be a couple of bolts, but bolting is now banned and the rock has no cracks for natural protection, besides which you'd be hard pressed to get off without a rappel anchor. 

 Looking north from Mount Marlow

At the junction of three trails I decided to take the Freshwater track back as it seemed the one most in the open and likely to have enough breeze to keep the bugs in abeyance. This track crosses along a gravel pad with wetlands on either side. I saw many birds, brolgas, herons, ducks, ibis, sea eagles and other raptors, but got photographss of none. There are two bird hides but these block any wind and were infested with biting insects. 

South to Magnetic Island

There are a couple of other circuit walks you could do, including walking out to Shelly Beach. The tracks are very quiet. I walked on a Sunday when the nearby park was teeming with people and did not see anyone. Tropical strength repellent would make the trip much more enjoyable although the constant whining drone of mosquitoes might still drive you crazy. I'm not sure how much better the bugs get in the dry season. Certainly, at the end of the wet season it is full on swat season.

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