Prior to leaving the first time for Australia, I did a lot of planning. I mean a lot, down to the number of nights in each place and what we would be doing each day. This time, we had no plans at all, except for a rough idea, half memorised from what I can remember researching last time and half advice from strangers we meet on our travels. We have found throughout this trip that if someone offers advice on a place to go or avoid, grab onto that tid bid of information and follow it blindly. It always works out for the best. As our plans went out the window so did any stress that comes with travel preparation. Every town has campsites, if it’s good, we stay longer, if its pap, hay lets move on. Freedom was forged through laziness.
Without a plan we had no idea what Townsville had to offer, and we weren’t bothered, this was a stop over to us to break up the drive. It presented us a certain freedom, to not do anything, and not feel guilty. A darling town with a mixture of block tourist shops, opposed by marvellously detailed architecture. With a sweet homely feel we bought birthday cards and some souvineers and sent them hurtling towards the UK.
Today was the first time we had wifi in 48 hours, which by now felt a bit like what I imagine drug addiction to be like. You first get try it and there’s an excitement, a new thing in your life that is better than what you have had before. You get used to it, use it every day and the special feeling dwindles to normality and expectance. Then we have to give it up, loosing our supply. At the beginning, you crave it every moment and try to get it everywhere you go. In a local pub, we approached the waitress “pssst, any wifi here? We’re willing to pay”.
Then the addiction wanes. You begin cope without it and remember a time before that was so simple. Then comes the epiphany, you begin to comprehend you don’t need this luxury to survive.
Fuck wifi, fuck my phone, fuck electricity, I want to live in a tent for the rest of my life, eating only what I can hunt or grow myself. Well, maybe not that far.
But then Townsville tourist information centre comes along. Free wifi. Oh god, that injection of information coursing through your brain. In an instant you are connected to the world and all the knowledge in it and you cram as much in as possible until you are exhausted.
Then, a sense of utter dissatisfaction. The escape we sought in travel, touched upon with our sporadic use of the Internet and using archaic techniques such as tourist centres and ‘winging it’. All that hard work feels lost with a click of the connect button.
But then we’re off again, with our next wifi hit unknown, ready to endure our cold turkey and brave the wild world. Only after checking the football, though.
Houses seemed to hinge off hills at the coastline, giving spectacular views, a site that would become more common as we headed on. Friendly streets and individually styled houses paved the way for us to buy Goon from a local liquor shop.
At our campsite we befriended two couples, one from Germany and one from Denmark, conveniently positioned next to us, across the river of biting ants that polluted our van side. We watched as one of the couples headed off to cook their instant pasta dish, while the other made sausage sandwiches. We were still very much flashpacking and on our menu tonight was steak. We ate our meal a few meters away, no guilt or remorse at all.
Despite our pretentious dining display we were invited over for a drink, this time with the others showing off their beer as we sipped our budget friendly Goon. Because of our no plan rule, even if we were missing out on something spectacular that this town has to offer, we didn’t know about it and enjoyed our night in peace.
As we chatted and drank into the night, we found bonds being formed very quickly. Friends for one night seem like you have known them infinitely longer. We may not have felt the closeness that Dougies brought, but the more people we meet, the easier it gets to say goodbye and wish them happy travels.