Castle Hill is a great vantage point for looking out over Townsville and its environs and I visited it recently to fill in gaps in my knowledge of Cleveland Bay. The top photo (click on it for a larger image, as usual) is a wide-angle view of the Southern half of Cleveland Bay, looking East from the top of Castle Hill. (If you’re not sure where we are, this map will show you.)
Ross River mouth is at the far right and Cape Cleveland is on the horizon. We’re looking over the city centre to Ross Creek marina, with the Breakwater marina to the left and the Port beyond them and extending to the far left.
This image zooms in on the centre of the previous photo to show the Southern shore of Cleveland Bay. The mouth of Ross River (not Ross Creek) is in the foreground, with the new bridge and port access road (aka the Southern Port Rd) clearly visible. The far side of the river mouth is all mangroves with fringing sandbanks which I know well from the South Townsville side of the river (e.g. this post) but I haven’t crossed the river for a closer look.
In the distance we see wetlands between Cape Cleveland and Mount Elliot, with the mouths of Crocodile Creek left of centre (almost in line with the tip of the Ross River spit) and Alligator Creek to its right.
All of that coast is very low lying – mostly “estuarine mangroves, salt flats and saltmarshes” according to this DEHP page and mostly within the Cape Cleveland section of the Bowling Green Bay National Park. The best close views of it from land are from the road between the highway and AIMS/Cungulla, and from the port access road which traverses the northern section (regular readers may recall that its construction has been blamed for the roosting of flying foxes in the Palmetum).
Google Maps’ perspective view (screenshot above) shows the whole area as if seen from above Mt Elliott and makes the extent of the salt flats dramatically apparent (they cover more area than urban Townsville). It also shows how close Cape Cleveland is to being an island like Maggie: a couple of metres of sea level rise would make the difference.
Pallarenda and the Many Peaks range would be an island, too, by that time, cut off from town by the Bohle River wetlands and the flooded Common. But that would be a relatively minor nuisance, since Ross Creek would also be a couple of metres higher – a story which deserves a post of its own sometime.