Saturday, 31 January 2015

Port Douglas

We spent 4 days in Port Douglas at the end of my parents' four-week trip to Australia at the beginning of January. They were flying back to Canada from Cairns, however on the advice of a lot of friends we chose to stay here instead of Cairns itself. And boy am I glad we did! I loved Port Douglas. Basically, it looks and feels like you would expect all of Australia to look like -  lush vegetation and beautiful beaches. It is about an hour from Cairns, and we drove here from Airlie Beach (not recommended!)

January is probably not the best time to visit. It's the wet season, and we did have rain while we were there, although it was warm rain, which is a nice change from the cold and windy rain we get here in Melbourne! It is also extremely humid, and so you basically need to be by water too cool yourself off at all times. Unfortunately January is stinger season, so you are limited to a small section of Four Mile Beach that has a net around it for swimming. We had a pool at our apartment so opted to use that instead of going to the beach one day. The upside is that it is not overrun with tourists at this time of year, so there is plenty of accommodation and it was pretty reasonably priced (less than $200 per night for a really nice apartment for six).

The main street has plenty of very good bars, cafes and restaurants to choose from, along with some decent shopping. But the main draws are two beautiful World Heritage sites: The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.

We did an Outer Great Barrier Reef cruise with a company called Quicksilver. We were on a 45 meter Wavepiercing Catamaran, which has to be one of the biggest boats I've ever seen. They advertise the smoothest ride possible out to the Outer Reef, however we had some quite choppy weather and there were plenty of people looking very green on the way out! My parents, Mike and Ashley decided to do an introductory dive once they got there, and Andy and I opted to go on a helicopter ride as we both have done some diving in the past. The helicopter ride was stunning, however the water was high so it was difficult to see any sea life from above. It was pretty cool, however I'm not sure it was worth the $165 cost!

Learning to Dive
Helicopter ride!




There was an area to snorkel roped off beside the boat. Getting in was pretty crowded; lots of people that didn't seem to know how to swim flapping around everywhere, but once you swam out a bit it was much better. The coral here was pretty spectacular, especially as you swam further out. However there wasn't a lot of fish here, and the water was pretty wavy so I did prefer the snorkeling we did around Haymen Island in the Whitsundays.

Pretty coral
We spent a lazy day around the pool before saying goodbye to Mike, Ashley, mom and dad. Very sad times! However, my mom and dad have already booked flights to come back and visit in August, hooray! (More on that to come!)

Last night together selfie!

Mossman Gorge swimming hole





The last day of the holiday was just Andy and I, and we decided to drive up to the Daintree Rainforest. I don't think Andy could take another day of just laying by the pool. Our first stop was Mossman Gorge, about 20 minutes north of Port Douglas. We actually could have stayed here all day. You get a bus through an indigenous village (or you could walk, but it was extremely hot and humid) to the start of numerous walking tracks and an amazing swimming hole. We didn't stay long as we had already planned to drive further into the Daintree, but this was well worth the stop and I do wish we had brought the others here!









 Leaving Mossman Gorge we headed further north and got the Daintree Ferry to cross over to the Cape Tribulation area. The ferry is not cheap ($23 round trip a pretty short ride) but it is the only way to access this part of the rainforest. Our first stop was to get some lunch at Mason's Cafe. This place was a pretty crappy run down diner, serving all sorts of Australian delicacies such as kangaroo, crocodile and emu burgers. I was not feeling particularly adventurous (partly due to the fact that this place was pretty run down) so stuck to something normal like a BLT. The main reason we stopped here was that this is an amazing swimming hole behind it. This was probably my favourite thing we did on this leg of the trip. The water was clear and cold (again, the heat and humidity was getting unbearable) and there were rope swings into the water. After spending some time here, we drove on to Cape Tribulation and then headed back to Port Douglas for our last night on holiday. There were lots of cool tours advertised for the Daintree, so I think if we went back here we'd check out one of those as you would probably learn a lot about the flora and fauna in the rainforest.

Really??? Ew!!




Cape Tribulation
The next day we flew out of Cairns at 4pm, so we decided to drive into Cairns for the day. What a mistake! Not only was it hotter and more humid than Port Douglas, there was also not much to see or do. We spent sometime in the outdoor lagoon pool on the Esplanade. The facilities around here are great for kids, the most amazing playground nearby and and a safe place to swim, along with toilets and showers which are all free. We stayed for about an hour but it was just too hot! I don't know how people live here in the summer, I was dying to get back to Melbourne weather! (Who would have thought I'd ever say that?) We ended up going to a shopping centre just so we could be in some air conditioning for the afternoon before heading off to the airport. I think we were at the point where we just wanted to get home!

Back in Melbourne we had 2 weeks off until school started, the first of which Andy was ill and spent in bed! We've now been back to reality at work for a week and this holiday seems like such a long time ago now. I loved Port Douglas though and would go back in a heartbeat, however I would probably pick a different time of year next time!

Check out Andy's video of our holiday here:


              

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