October 12, 2017
Pallarenda has been one of the places on my list to visit in town for quite a while now. There was one Sunday that I was all set to go explore it, to only find out that the bus to Pallarenda doesn’t run on Sundays. But today I was lucky enough to be invited along with three ladies from the bush walking club who always walk together on Thursday mornings.
When they asked me if I was available to go explore Pallarenda, I said yes before even thinking about what classes I would actually be missing. In the end, I missed two morning lectures. But it wasn’t concerning because these lectures are always recorded and posted online a day or two later. And, being that I have attended every one of my lectures all semester long, I figured that missing two this close to the end of the term was something that I could afford to do, especially when my excuse was another incredible bush adventure!
I was picked up by one of the ladies at 7am from the bus stop out front my hall. We chatted the whole way, and literally before I knew it we were already there. The bus ride that I had looked into taking had a travel time of an hour and 15 minutes, but we had made it there in only half an hour! That really goes to show how much extra time the bus takes around Townsville. Not long after we arrived, so did the other two ladies. We were all geared up and headed to the trail by 7:30am, and it already felt pretty warm out.
Pallarenda is one of the few places around Townsville that has true walking tracks, which we were going to hike back on in the afternoon. But first, we took to the beach while the tide was heading out. The specific beach that we were headed to was Shelly Beach, and they assured me that it was a must-visit, especially during low tide. I was stoked. As we hiked along, we had wonderful views of Maggie Island. The tide was out so far, it seamed as though we could walk straight across to Maggie’s shore. As we hiked along, we found these strange tracks in the sand. The sand was heavily treaded on, but there were no human tracks nor horse hoof prints, just the well worn path in the image above, and a couple trails leading up over the dune. One of the ladies said perhaps it was from turtles. But to me that just didn’t look quite right. The trails should have lead straight from the water up to the dune if it was from a turtle. So, I followed the trail up looking for clues of what it may be. I saw little tiny hoof prints along the side and was puzzled. Goats? Why would there be goats on the beach? Then it hit me, these were pig tracks! Australia has a large population of feral and invasive pigs, as well as goats, so the heavy tracks parallel to the water must have been from where the pigs were rooting around. It would have been so crazy to actually see pigs on the beach. As we kept hiking, we passed some large rocks and pretty mangroves. I tried my best to keep up with the group, but I fell a bit behind and I zig-zaged back and forth along the beach looking for shells. I was lucky to find an old brown bottle washed up on the shore. It says “do not take” across the top of it and “Marveer Company Australia” on the bottom. I was not sure at all what the bottle could have originally contained. Since it said to not consume it, so it must have been something toxic.
We stopped for morning tea at this neat mini cave-like rock formation where we had a stunning view of the water, and even a daytime moon. But, I didn’t sit down for long. I had exploring to do and treasures to find! As I was walking along the beach, all of the sudden, the sand in front of me looked like it was moving, like marbles of sand rolling along in a wave. That’s when I took a closer look and realized that it was a whole army of Soldier Crabs! Truly, that is what they are called. As I walked, they parted in front of me and spiraled into the sand for cover when I got to close. As I kept walking, I saw hundreds, thousands, of these tiny crabs. It was so fascinating. I have since learned that Soldier Crabs have both lungs and gills, allowing them to scavenge for detritus in the water and burrow underneath the sand during high tide, as well as walk along the sand in huge swarms. I found a beautiful assortment of shells as I followed the Soldier Crabs around the sand. I was lucky enough the find the largest one wedged between some rocks. I managed to dig it out unbroken. The sea urchin test (exoskeleton) is my favorite find of the day, but I also love the sand dollars here as they look quite different from the sand dollars on Oregon’s beaches. While I truly could have spent hours more exploring Shelly Beach, the ladies were done with their tea and it was time to head towards the track and make our way back across the Many Peaks trail.
We started by walking along a dirt road where the tree leaves were red and brown, but not because of Fall. It was caused by a bush fire, but I am not sure if it was wild or controlled. As we hiked we passed mountain bike trails and large ant hills. Once we came to the official beginning of the Many Peaks trail, the sign informed us it was 5.7km back to the cars. And so we began hiking up the first peak. It was truly hot at this point, but the views were worth it from the beginning. The top left photo above and the bottom panorama are of the Townsville Commons, which is a very popular place for bird watchers to come.
This week there seemed to be a theme of steep inclines on the bushwalks that I had joined. But, compared to Triple Falls, this hike was not so bad. We stopped for lunch at the top of a peak where we had a great view of the beach we had just walked across. I had more pepperoni sticks from the package that my parents sent me. I am getting pretty used to hiking with a heavy pack full of a day’s worth of water as well. As we continued hiking after lunch, the view of the beach opened up at the top of Mount Marlow. Maggie Island can be seen on the right hand side of the image with the sign post. Towards the end of our hike, Castle Hill and downtown Townsville came into view. This really put into perspective how large Castle Hill is, which is somewhere that is also on my “to hike” list before leaving town. By the time we made it back to the cars, we were all dripping sweat and ready for cool showers and a relaxing afternoon. It was only 1:30pm, which was great for me because it gave me time to get cleaned up before my 4pm lecture. In total, I estimate that we walked around 10km (~7 miles) this morning. It was a fantastic way to start my day, and so much better than going to lectures. While I am never one to miss class often, I think I fully justified missing class today.
P.S. After a quick Google Search, I discovered that the bottle I found originally contained furniture polish, which explains the warning stamped into the glass.