This Tuesday in Townsville is an exploration of Castle Hill Reserve, which is in the centre of Townsville. Whether you climb the hill or drive to the summit, Castle Hill is one of the fun things to do in Townsville.
At 300 m high (997 ft.) the hill narrowly missed being classified as a Mountain. Suggestions as to the origins of it’s name vary, but two suggestions are that it resembled a castle when viewed from the ocean, or a hill near Dublin, Ireland.
The stick figure that adorns the granite rock face, was first painted as a prank in 1961 by university students. Weathering time and differing public opinions, The Saint, whose name hails from the 1960’s detective series, has won out and now gets officially touched up when it’s white paint starts to fade.
We drove on the winding Castle Hill Road, early Sunday evening, to take some photos from the summit. It was about 5 p.m. and the lower reaches of the hill were in shadow. This five o’clock shadow signalled the unofficial starting time for joggers, walkers and cyclists to begin their ascent of the hill – over 3000 people climb it every week. Add to this equation the 500 or so vehicles that use the 2.9 km stretch of road each day and the situation worsens.
There are also walking or Goat Tracks on the hill with some people ascending by the tracks and descending by road. So entrenched in Townsville life is this activity, that the Townsville Bulletin newspaper, suggested that a code of conduct, or as they called it Goat-track etiquette, was required.
Council has put forward a request for funding from State Government to install twenty solar powered street lights on the roadway, to improve safety, as most pedestrians and cyclists use it in the low heat (and low visibility) of morning and evening.
Our ascent by vehicle was a little nerve wracking, with the setting sun shining into our eyes and people and dogs walking and jogging on both sides of the road, encroaching toward the middle even. I sat gripping the door handle and hoping we would not meet another vehicle on the corners.
Once at the summit, it was all action. Tourists were checking out the views, joggers were running around the viewing tracks and after visiting all of the viewpoints I spied a mass of balloons and children in the car park.
Recently I asked B.H. what he thought I could recommend to visitors as a romantic evening out in Townsville. After some thought, he came up with “a picnic dinner on the summit of Castle Hill”. Umm – Nice try dear – but I don’t think so. Maybe he was thinking back to when it was known as a top place for romantic vehicle rendezvous.
The mosquitoes were just coming out as we left three quarters of an hour after our arrival.
I leave you with some photographs taken from the summit.
Suggestions from a Local:
There is a water cooler near the Amenities block at the summit car park.
Use insect repellent in early morning or late afternoon.
Allow 45 minutes at the summit.
Ask a local to point out places of interest.
Entrance to Castle Hill Reserve is Free.