31st May 2009 - Port Douglas & Cape Tribulation
From Cairns we motored the short journey up the Captain Cook Highway to Port Douglas driving through, not only sugar cane but also banana plantations. On the way we stopped at Ellis Beach (yet another beach) which is popular with the locals. Dozens of the local boys & girls were having surfing lessons – all in their little "stinger suits" - quite cute.
Port Douglas is supposed to be 'up market' but I think that only applies to the many exclusive Resorts lining the road into town. The town itself is nothing special, even the stretched limo that I saw was a Ford !
Port Douglas is however, an ideal launching pad for Mossman Gorge, the Daintree tropical rainforest, Cape Tribulation & of course the Great Barrier Reef.
The stunning Mossman Gorge, just 80km up the coast from Port Douglas, has a fast running river which tumbles over huge rocks as it runs through dense rainforests. There are crystal clear swimming holes where, if you are lucky, you can see turtles swimming. I watched a basking turtle for several minutes before I realised it was a couple of rocks pretending to be a turtle. We then went to Daintree Village, the hub of the Daintree Forest National Park. It comprises a tourist office (selling local tours), a caravan park, a cafe & a boat slipway on the river Daintree.
We took a trip up to Cape Tribulation by the coast road which crosses the “crocodile infested” Daintree river by cable ferry, an exciting voyage which takes about 3 minutes - we didn’t see any crocs.
There were several boardwalk viewing areas off the main road where you could walk amongst the huge tropical trees & ferns way below the leafy canopy. The forest was strangely silent; we saw very few birds & no animals at all. They are very eco-conscious here, they cut holes in the boardwalks rather than cut down obstructing trees. On the road, we passed a tea plantation – is there nothing they can’t grow in Queensland ?
Cape Tribulation is at the end of the tarmac coastal road, you have to have a 4WD to go any further as there are only dirt roads from there on. Here the rainforest goes right down to the sea & the mangroves even grow in the sea - there is, of course, a lovely beach to walk along.
Back at Port Douglas we went for dinner at the Yacht Club which we were told, served very good food & reasonably priced wine. The trouble was that everyone eats at about 7:00 o’clock & we turned up at 8:30 when they were just packing up. They did serve us & it was very nice but we ate most of our meal alone watching the band pack up their gear.
The next day we went on a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef but more of that later.