Life in the Tropics


“Life in the Tropics” is our tagline for tourism and relocation promotion here in the ‘ville. It’s one of those suitably generic lines that is meant to be partly aspirational and partly functional. I don’t like it. I do like life in the tropics. We have water, sunshine and temperate winters. And air conditioning. Suffer in your jocks Melbournians (literally).

There are plenty of bad things that come along with the good. When I moved here an ex-Townsvillian friend from Brisbane warned me of several of them. Lets just call her Donna. That’s her real name. She told me that if the crocodiles, stingers, tropical diseases, cyclones, or sunshine didn’t kill me – I’d probably die due to lack of water. She said “it never rains in Townsville”…

For two many years Townsville was known as Brownsville. See what I did there. Two instead of too. I did that on purpose. Townsville started receiving pretty regular rain, and looking green all round, for a couple of years before the rest of the world caught on. Townsville is actually nice. And we have secured water supply. More than four times the size of Sydney Harbour.

What we no longer have is the 300 days of sunshine we claim in our marketing material. There is no way that’s true. Well, it might be, depending on your definition of “sunshine”… I think it rained on about 90 days in my first full year here. And it has rained pretty regularly since.

But I digress. I can put up with that sort of hyperbolic description of tropical life from a jaded ex-resident trying to scare me. But when the same sort of thing comes from a Channel Ten reporter bundling all of those together in the name of “news” I get upset. It creates work for me for one, and number two – it’s shoddy reporting.

So reporters of the world – you can’t have it both ways. Townsville can’t be “brownsville” on one hand and a flooding tropical metropolis on the other.

I don’t even know why I wrote this post. But it was cathartic.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

5 thoughts on “Life in the Tropics”

    1. Yeah. Particularly misleading given that I arrived two days before Cyclone Larry and we had about a month’s solid rain after that.

      I trust you’ve noticed there’s now a link to comment at the bottom of each post. Thanks for pointing that out.

  1. I wonder if I know this Donna? I know a Donna who mostly speaks in hyperbole.

    The typical rain pattern in Townsville is three or four months were it rains a lot, and 8 or 9 months where it really doesn’t rain at all.

    About 20 years ago, the councils were sick of being known as Brownsville, so they brought in permanent level one water restrictions so that there was enough water year round to keep the median strips and parks looking green and lush and kick the name. It’s taking a while, but getting there.

    I love living in the tropics. Despite crococodiles, dengue fever and 14 months of summer a year.

    In Tabubil, there is an average of 360 days of rain a year. Some of the kids in Steve’s class couldn’t believe that where he was from, you could see blue sky most days.

    1. I’d say you know her relatively well.

      Did you know that the Townsville City Council is currently deciding on the future of Townsville’s palm green look. Apparently they’re concerned that palm trees aren’t native and we should be celebrating only things native to Australia.

      I’d do a post on this but I’m not sure how “public record” it is. And I like my job. The Mayor did say this at a press conference I was at but it was in casual conversation trying to choose an icon of North Queensland we could “bigafy” ala the “Big Banana” et al. A palm tree was suggested and he rubbished the idea and said the council was considering the place of the palm tree in the local landscape. Only slightly related to your point re Brownsville.

      Permanent level one restrictions are also just good policy. Good resource management.

  2. Relatively being the key word in the sentence.

    I hate palm trees. I hate my neighbours palm trees even more than my general hatred for palm trees away from beaches.

    But unfortunately, most of the endemic native species to this area are actually quite ugly.

    I don’t see any reason for not having permanent level 2 water restrictions. All that would change would be that you can’t put your sprinkler on in the middle of the day, which is just commonsense, really.

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