Port Douglas

Trip Start Jun 04, 2006
Trip End Oct 06, 2006

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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, July 15, 2006

To quote one of America's greatest heroes, Clark W. Griswold, "This is no longer a vacation, it's a quest, a quest for..." well, for the Griswold's it was "FUN", but for me it's SUN!!!!

My trip to Port Douglas lasted one week and I can count the amount of times I saw the sun on ONE FINGER! And it wasn't just overcast; many of the days were soggy and gross. But, because of it's reputation as an absolute paradise, where southern Aussies come to holiday, I was going to test the water s and perhaps get a job here for a month or so. But, once again, Mother Nature has interfered. Despite this, I still have not given up on Port Douglas. I think it still can live up to it's reputation, but I just won't be here to see it. not in the immediate future anyway.

Port Douglas is a small town about an hour and a half north of Cairns. It is located at the doorway to the Daintree National Park, a rainforest housing such reputable sights as Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge. Bordering the town to the east is a stretch of white sand beach, known as "4 Mile Beach." To the west is Dickinson Inlet, which runs into the Coral Sea to the north, and allows easy access to those looking for the reef. The town has really one main street, lined with quaint boutiques, restaurants and some unique bars. Again, this is a big tourist spot, but they have managed to maintain the towns own identity, unlike it's big neighbor to the south. Flanking the town's northern end is Flagstaff Hill. here many of the nicest houses are tucked away behind the dense facade of palms and other vegetation. Climbing the hill, you begin to realize that you really are on the outskirts of a rainforest. At the top of Flagstaff is a lookout over 4 Mile Beach. A very pretty picture, that must be really something of a perfect day.

The other main feature in town is "Anzac Park." This sits just between the inlet's marina and the start of Flagstaff Hill. On Sunday's the park is home to a big local market. This seems to draw all the people in town, which usually leads to a Sunday afternoon drink up at the bars. On the other days, it's a nice little place to have a rest. on one of the drier days, I found myself in Anzac, sitting against a palm tree reading. From this vantage point, you get a good panorama of the rainforest hills to the north. On this particular day, the scene looked like a Bob ross painting; no fine details, just varying layers of purple.

With the weather acting against me, I wasn't able to do much. I was, however, supposed to spend 3 days in Cape Tribulation, but that had to be cancelled because the roads had flooded over with about a meter of water. Have I mentioned this the DRY SEASON?!? I ended up meeting two girls who were stranded in Cape Trib for a night. They said it was just awful. At least in port Douglas you have a few things to do, but in the middle of the rainforest, there's just nothing. Now, some may say, "Well, it is a RAINFOREST after all!!" Well, the girls who were stranded said their bus driver has been in the area for years and has never seen rain like this!. It's too bad, because I'd really like to see it. perhaps I can get back here in my swing back through Cairns in late August.

The other event I had the pleasure of taking part in is a Port staple known as "Cane Toad Racing." Cane Toads are these pests introduced to Australia around the first half of the 20th century, as a means to eliminate another pest: the cane beetle. Turns out, the toads did not get rid of the beetles and instead, has steadily been killing off other species of toad. Anyway, here in Port Douglas, they race them on a nightly basis at a local joint called "Iron Bar." And much like Aussie Rules Football, Cane Toad Racing was unlike anything I had imagined.

After introducing the 6 racing toads - each wearing a different colored hair band to distinguish them - "jockeys" are assigned a toad via a raffle with our entrance tickets. Each jockey much then pick their toad out of a bucket, kiss it and place it in a second "starting" bucket on the table. needless to say, this caused quite a stir among the girls chosen as jockeys. The first two were these Scottish girls I was with and their pissing and moaning scared off the few children who were there to help their parents in the race. It was quite comical. Even this Danish guy was acting like a scared little girl. Anyway, once all the toads are in the starting bucket, each jockey is given a "whip" - one of those party favors that you blow into, unrolling a paper tube and then it re-rolls. The idea was to coax you toad off the table and onto the floor, using your "whip". Once on the floor, you had to pick it up and place it in another bucket, located across the room. What a mad house!! I don't know how more of these toads don't get squashed.

Luckily, my number was drawn in race 2. I was assigned the Gay, pink colored, toad named "Liberace's Lad." I'm not kidding! I know some of my friends will find this most fitting :) Well, "Lib" and I finished in third. It was a valiant effort, but we came up only a second and a half short.

The third and final race sees jockeys bidding for the chance to race for prizes. Not me though. I just watched. In the end, this Canadian guy was the victor. All in all, good fun and a good laugh.
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