Castle Hill

Must Conquer the Hill

TownsvilleCastleHill2012 073For years I have been travelling north to Townsville and every visit I promise myself to check out Castle Hill. (I always called it Telstra Hill for some strange reason)

Anyway Castle hill dominates the Townsville landscape with its pink hues and from some angles it resembles a scene from Jurassic Park with the Palms in the foreground and the hill rising from the ground.

 The view from The Strand…

The best view of Castle Hill on the ground in my opinion is from The Strand at the roundabout looking up Gregory Street this huge pink granite monolith is fascinating and you can’t help but wonder how to get to the top.

Here it reminds me of Palm Springs California where at the end of every street there is a mountain to climb.
After conducting some online research and asking some locals how to access the road, I finally decided at the very least I would drive to the top.

The thought of walking up the hill was very appealing, the weather was cool, but unfortunately this wasn’t a holiday break, I was here on business and couldn’t afford to be tuckered out!

How to get up Castle Hill


View Castle Hill Townsville in a larger map

Take a good look at the map to get your bearings, I drove from The Strand up Gregory Street and turned right onto Castle Hill Road. Walking this bitumen road seems the most popular route.

However be careful of the walkers and runners there is a lot of them. Many seem to be unaware that the road is also for vehicles, there are a number of blind corners and you don’t know what will suddenly appear, cars or pedestrians. Take care!
Townsville Lookout

 

Walking wasn’t an option this visit, the walk is 2.6km up a bitumen Road, the same one you drive up.

There are also a number of trails at various points, one named the ‘Goat Trail’, can’t talk much about this until I walk the walk and then I can talk the talk.

This hill is only few metres short of being classified a mountain.Townsville CastleHill Rail

However I was astounded when I started driving up this narrow road late in the afternoon, the amount of people toting their water bottles starting the 286 metre hill climb was amazing.

Is this what the Townsville locals do?

Every shape, size and age was represented; some running others on bikes and locals taking their dogs seemingly for a late afternoon stroll it was a sight to behold.
Driving up and watching the locals take on the hill, my calf muscles instinctively started to ache, if I had attempted to do this, I would have been in agony and my 1,500 kilometres drive home a torturous end to a business trip.

The view is spectacular…

The views from the top of Castle Hill were magnificent the south side of the hill reminded me a little of Cooktown with the Endeavour River below.
What’s so interesting is the amount of lookouts there are, you envision just one, with spectacular views of Magnetic Island, however there are a number of vantage points, all with a unique vista of the location.

If photography is your thing you must come here, the hill undoubtedly will take on a different appearance at sunrise and sunset.

 Townsville will definitely be on my list of walking destination….

Hopefully next time I write about Townsville I will be recounting my experience of taking on Castle Hill like the locals.

Useful Links about Castle Hill

Townsville City Council

Facts about Castle Hill on Wikipedia

 

 

Cooktown – Mrs Mary Watson Story

Mary Watson Story

Cooktown - grave yard

This tragic account of Mary Watson a 23 year old with a four month old infant living on Lizard Island in 1879 still echoes in Northern Queensland today.

Visiting the local cemetery and finding Mary Watson’s grave site was one of the activities we had planned to do while visiting Cooktown in far north Queensland.

This is a fascinating placed filled with history of the early pioneer days of Cooktown and the account of Mary Watson still is alive after 132 years, not a long time in the scheme of things.

Part of pioneer folklore…

Mary Watson is part of the pioneer folklore of northern Queensland, a heartbreaking story of a young woman with an infant son living on Lizard Island with her husband Captain Robert Watson a beche-de-mer fisherman and along with some Chinese servants.

The story goes like this….

While Captain Watson was away, mainland Aboriginals came to Lizard Island, a sacred place for local indigenous people and attack the settlement. One of the Chinese servants was killed, there was an uneasy standoff and Mary Watson along with her infant son and the remaining Chinese servant Ah Sam acquired the only available vessel.

This was a huge metal drum used for boiling  beche-de-mer (sea cucumbers) they set sail from Lizard Island 2nd October 1881 unaware that Lizard Island (named by Captain Cook) is the only island in the group with fresh water.

A tragic end

The dishearten result was that the three of them died of thirst; the metal drum discovered a few months later by a passing fishing vessel on 19th January 1882.

The sad picture of the three  fugitives in the metal drum with the infant still at Mary’s breast, along with a diary of her short life on Lizard Island and documentation of their final days, had a huge impact on the local community and unjust reprisals ensued.
The whole account of this tragic event along with the prejudice that existed at the time can be read here in more detail..Mary Watson's grave in Cooktown

Cooktown Cemetery

After a visit to Finch Bay we followed the Tourist Map in search of Mary Watson’s grave.

It took us a while to find the site, the cemetery had a lonely abandoned feel, elaborate headstones adored parts of the graveyard and other sites were just mounds.

A window into the past I believe where there was a time when folks didn’t even have an equal footing in death.

We reach the grave with a puce coloured bougainvillea to the side, the inscription was hard to read, testament to the 130 years since her death.

This is a fascinating place to visit if history is of interest to you..

In addition I am lead to believe that the ruins of the small stone cottage are still visible on Lizard Island, near Mangrove Creek at the southern end of Watson’s Bay.

Maybe one day I will have the privilege of visiting Lizard Island and writing about my visit to this tragic site.

Grassy Hill – Cooktown Far North Queensland

 The Grassy Hill Cooktown

Cooktown- Grassy Hill

Only having a couple of days holiday in Cooktown limited us to what we could do, however the Grassy Hill over looking Cooktown in far north Queensland was our first port of call.

While researching Google maps online before arriving I had it in mind that you could see it from the town, like a Grassy Hill…all I could see were hills with dense vegetation on them.

None the less it was there and after speaking to a local about its location it was pointed out that it was behind the densely covered hill.

 Magnificent view from the Famous Grassy Hill

View from GrassyHill CooktownSmall

Just a couple minutes drive up Green Street behind the Sovereign Resort Hotel were the magnificent views of Cooktown and home to famous Grassy Hill. Unfortunately the photos and video doesn’t do it justice, it didn’t look real. The soft colours of the Endeavour River and the Coral Sea were quite remarkable. From this vantage point you can see

  • The Endeavour River
  • Cherry Tree Bay
  • Finch Bay
  • Mount Cook
  • Cooktown below

The white and red Lighthouse was apparently built in England and transported to Cooktown and erected in 1885, it was manned many years ago but now it is automated.

While gazing upon this stunning view we saw what we thought was a crocodile in the sea, after seeing crocs basking on muddy riverbanks on the way up from Cairns we seemed to be fixated on them, however after straining our eyes and using the video camera like a pair of binoculars, we came to the conclusion it was a log.

The soft colours of the Endeavour River and the Coral Sea were quite remarkable

The best times to soak up the view on Cooktown’s famous Grassy Hill is sunrise and sunset, where beautiful far north Queensland puts on a wonderful show for all those ready to observe. Unfortunately time didn’t permit us to enjoy this opportunity, which was a little disappointing however it just means another trip to beautiful far north Queensland to see this spectacular view at sunset, perhaps with a picnic.

Walking to the Grassy Hill and LighthouseLight House - Cooktown

You can walk up this stretch of road to the Grassy Hill, however it is tarred road and steep, I wouldn’t be attempting it on a sizzling summer day.

However during the cooler months it would be a great hike for those who enjoy exploring, but if it’s summer I suggest you drive up to the car park.

Hiking to Cherry Tree Bay and Finch Bay were next on our agenda…