Cairns - Port Douglas - Townsville

Trip Start Jan 27, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From the minute we burned out of Townsville we had blue skies that extended all the way to Cairns and we could not suppress huge grins. Listening to the news on the radio of power outages across Airlie Beach, most likely for some days and flooding predicted for later in the day, we were very happy to be chewing up mile after mile of the Bruce Highway.

We spent the afternoon wandering about the city center of Cairns and swimming in the tropical lagoon, soaking up the big town atmosphere, collecting dive trip information and people watching. The evening saw us perched at the bar of our hostel chatting to the bartender who had naught to do but talk to us all night. With two for one drinks we kept him company for quite a while!

Having seen Cairns (yes, an afternoon is all you need) it was time to head north to the rainforest seeing there was no point doing any diving until later in the week when the visibility would hopefully have increased once the water settled after the cyclone.

About a one hour scenic drive along winding tropical coastline will see you in Port Douglas, where "the stars come to vacation". Although filled with up-market hotels, overpriced restaurants and cafes, there is of course still a thriving backpacker scene. We check into a hostel and head out in light rain to explore Four Mile Beach, well documented in every backpacker magazine as spectacular.

Maybe it was just too built up because when we arrived at the north end of the beach we took in the long vista of sand and jungle and were rather unimpressed. The sand looked more like dirt than silica and the stinger net for safe swimming, complete with lifeguard and flags, would allow a swim of roughly five strokes in knee deep water.

On second thought, it wasn't built up at all…the tourist books were outright lying! One thing I knew though and didn’t need a travel book to confirm, was the Daintree Rainforest the next day would not disappoint.

We set off under ominous clouds to one of the earth’s oldest rainforests. At 110 million years old it is over a hundred million years older than the Amazon. It is one of the planet’s most rare locations where two World Heritage listed national parks come together with the rainforest meeting the marine park of the Great Barrier Reef.

We stop at the first river cruise operation we come across and it happens to be led by a man named Bruce Belcher. After a short wait during which I show much restraint by not buying at least two very unique metal statues on display on the patio of the reception-cum-shop, we are handed rain ponchos for the five-minute walk to the boat.

The next hour sees us cruising along the Daintree River and inlets around such lovely sounding places as Pig Island and spotting more crocs in one cruise than I have in the two previous I have undertaken in this area. We saw a female with babies, two juveniles (one 70 centimetres and the other 1 metre) and a large dominant male called Scarface.

It was awesome!

In the afternoon we went for a hike through the forest, much of it along boardwalks that afforded gorgeous views of the surrounding rainforest, stopped at a very disappointing WWII memorial and took a second walk to the beautiful Mossman Gorge.

We splurged on a nicer hostel and a private room (even had a television!!) and enjoyed a fun evening with great tunes and a couple of beers before retiring to the luxury of our deluxe suite.

The following day we explored the leafy village of Kuranda high above Cairns at the tip of the Atherton Tableland before returning to the big smoke. We took a walk to the Baron Falls, which due to the recent weeks of rain was absolutely spectacular, but our tour was cut short at that due to an afternoon downpour.

So it was back to Cairns to decide what was next, which it turned out the next day was to drive back to Airlie Beach. The smell of work was in the air and we were following it!
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Chelise on

Bruce Belcher - classic!
You in a dress - crazy!

mattandneetie on

Yes, Belcher is class. And me in a dress- necessary with all the heat!

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