Crocs in the backyard

Stuss has posted a little bit of news that has been circulating on the local radio today. A crocodile – reported to be between 2.5 and 3 metres – was hit on one of Townsville’s main roads at 3am today. You need to remember that most people* in north Queensland are fishermen so that figure should be taken with a grain of salt and some chips.

One of the things that is particularly idiosyncratic to the North Queensland psyche is this “siege mentality”, or something close to that, regarding how the rest of the world sees us. The rest of the world thinks North Queensland starts at Gympie. When as far as we’re concerned North Queensland (the government statistical region) starts at Ayr and extends to Cardwell. Townsville is the capital of this region. Far North Queensland stretches from Cardwell to Cooktown. Townsville is also the capital of that region.

We, in Townsville, don’t like it that people attribute things, like Port Douglas’ population of crocodiles that regularly “interact” with local children and animals, to everyone in “North Queensland”. And we don’t like it when cyclones hit somewhere more than 200km away and we all get tarred with the same brush. The confusion is widespread.

Greater north Queensland is anything from Mackay North – and again, Townsville is the capital of that region. Confused? Well weather producers around the country are too – so much so that I was once asked to draft a letter to send to them pointing out that Townsville is much bigger than Cairns and has a bigger economy. We don’t have the penetration in the national psyche that Cairns does thanks to its position as a tourism destination.

Much of the confusion was initially created by Townsville’s “twin city”, Thuringowa, which robbed us of vital population statistics for many years. That confusion has not yet been eradicated by the council amalgamations. But maybe one day Townsville will receive the recognition it deserves.

This is particularly likely if we continue to experience phenomenal weather events and have crocs wandering the streets at night.

It’s a problem of capitalisation. Townsville sees itself as the “capital” of all the different nominal definitions of north Queensland. We are the largest city in northern Australia. Bigger than Darwin (which also suffers a “split personality”). The other “capitalisation” confusion comes when describing north Queensland – we describe greater north Queensland with a little “n” but specifically refer to our part of north Queensland with a capital N. North Queensland is at the heart of north Queensland. Townsville is at the heart of the heart of north Queensland – so we are rightfully the capital. Confused? Good.

*gross exaggeration