Port Douglas

Trip Start Jun 24, 2008
Trip End Oct 17, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hi all,

The last outback journey went well. Taking turns to drive eased the boredom on long flat stretches and the 1500 mile trip to Port Douglas passed in 7 days with 1 day to rest in Townsville on the coast and 1 extra day on the way up the coast road due to a 5 hour delay to clear a 4 vehicle pile up, which blocked the only road through.

The last day out of the Northern Territory took us past our final roadhouse and, thankfully the last petrol price rip-off. The actual fuel price here is currently 99c/litre and  roadhouses generally charge from $1.45 - $1.80/litre. I estimate the additional cost of hyped fuel to be over 400 throughout our drive so far.

The outback terrain of dust, red soil and bush slowly changed as we turned east. Nearing the border region the land turned to huge cleared fields for crops and grazing stock.
We drove over the state border on the third day. 'Queensland, the sunshine state' the sign proudly proclaimed and shortly after was the last we saw of that. Since then every day bar 1 has been overcast and damp. As we approached the coastal region the terrain changed dramatically to big hills then mountains, mostly all thick with vegetation or forest.  

It was a relief to rejoin the coast as vehicle worries are now largely behind us. The wagon has actually performed very well since Perth and we are confident that it is in a much sturdier condition than when we bought it.
Having to break our journey up to Pt Douglas we chanced on a tourist trip into the Wooroonooran National Park just west of our unscheduled stopover at Innisfail. A 100 mile detour took us into rainforests, across rolling green hills to three different water falls and down mountain terraced roads back to the coastal valley. We saw sugar cane, banana and tea plantations. The most fascinating and varied days drive we have yet to encounter.

We finally got into Port Douglas late afternoon on the 12th and checked into a camp site to prepare for the highlight of this north-east coastal journey - the Great Barrier Reef.

The weather forecast on the 1 sunny day since crossing into Queensland was for more cloud but fairly dry. Since our walk took us past the booking agent we chose to go the next day on the boat 'Poseidon' for an 8 hour visit to the outer reef and 3 different snorkelling locations.  
We boarded with about 60 people and set off for a 20 mile trip out to sea to witness the largest coral reef in the world.
We had to don licra 'stinger suits' to protect against deadly jelly fish (no use, however for the sharks and rays).
Gail, hitherto unhappy out of her depth, had conquered her fear at the Ningaloo reef in western Australia and now relished the challenge of deep sea swimming. Better still, the stinger suit was a nice shade of pale blue which she always looks nice in!
By the days end she was swimming down under water (once she knew you have to hold your breath) to check out the sealife beneath the surface, just like a natural.
The views beneath us were stunning and during the days different dive locations we saw giant clams, a vast array of beautiful fish from sprat size to 1 metre long of all colours and (of course), a shark about 2 metres long. The reef protrudes from the ocean floor to about 1 metre below the sea surface and around the edges falls off almost vertically for as much as 100 metres down at the furthest location out.
The coral formations are a visual feast of unique value and we loved every minute of our day. 

We are again, blessed with our good fortune to be here. 
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