Last Tuesday I visited the Queens Gardens in Townsville at approximately four o’clock in the afternoon. The mosquitoes were horrendous. In true North Queensland style they were shade loving, and without insect repellent I was restricted to the sunlit areas.
This morning I ventured back to the gardens at 8 a.m. and approached them from the Kennedy Lane Entrance, near the Townsville Sports Reserve, surprising a couple who were just waking in their camper van from a free (illegal but private) park under the big trees. Thankfully the mosquitoes were still in sleep mode.
Monitor lizards or Goannas are frequently seen, probably because of the garden’s proximity to Castle Hill. As far as Monitors go this one was of medium size, a little less than one metre in length, and it was rather lovely to find him there only 1.2km from the CBD. This was the biggest lizard I saw on the two days I visited recently.
As I walked through the cacti garden and approached the bird enclosures, the roosters were staging a crowing competition. I am no stranger to poultry (I keep some myself), but one of the enclosures housed the biggest rooster I had ever seen. A young mother and daughter who were taking photos and looking at the birds together, joined me and all of us stared at him in amazement. He stood there, preening his feathers, fluffing himself up like a body builder flexing his muscles and posing. Transfixed I forgot to photograph him until he turned his back, but even then he could not resist looking back to make sure I was still watching him.
The bird enclosures were a profusion of plants and housed ducks, hens, roosters, peacocks and sulphur-crested cockatoos. From between the enclosures you could either rejoin the main path or continue on a gravel path that led to a picnic table amongst the tree ferns.
I was momentarily side-tracked by the enormous flower of the Ivory Nut Palm, a traveller from the distant shores Ecuador. The nut of this palm provides ivory almost identical in appearance to ivory from elephants. In fact it’s scientific name means Elephant Plant.
Next Tuesday I will show you the other half of the gardens.
Handy to Know:
Townsville is 1300 km north of the Brisbane and 350 km south of Cairns. It has a population of 200,000 and is considered the Administrative Capital of North Queensland. It is in the dry tropics and gets far less rain than Cairns.
The Queens Gardens are one of four public gardens in Townsville and are No. 2 on the list DESTINATION TOWNSVILLE: 30 EXPERIENCES TO SUIT YOUR BUDGET. They are the oldest and smallest (4 hectares). The other three being Anderson Park, The Palmetum and Dan Gleeson Gardens. Dan Gleeson Gardens were under the control of Thuringowa until amalgamation of the two cities in 2007.
The Queens Gardens are within walking distance of the CBD, Strand and Castle Hill. Between the Gardens and the Strand are coffee shops, hotels and a supermarket.
During WWII 100,000 American soldiers were stationed in the gardens.
There are three entrances, one each off Paxton Street, Gregory Street and Kennedy Lane.
Tip from a Local: Take insect repellent, hat and sunscreen.
Budget Travel Tip: Entrance is free and the gardens are close to other free attractions, namely Castle Hill (views) and the Strand Water Park.