The mystery of the keys & trip to the rainforest

Trip Start Jul 20, 2011
Trip End Aug 29, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I woke up this morning and remembered that I had this terrible dream that we had lost the car keys. F&@!! It wasn't a dream - I had lost the keys to the rental car.

I walked down to the Avis office which is in ........ Caught you! .... Weaver street. The lady I met there was far less helpful and sympathetic than her colleague I had spoken to on the phone last night. In fact she cheered me up no end by highlighting port Douglas gets "fairly ropey" on a saturday night and there's a good chance that someone has driven off in our car. She reminded me that a lost key is a very serious thing and it causes no end of problems ( very different to her colleague who said she's never heard of it happening (someone finding a key and using it to steal the far) even if it does that's why you have insurance so not to worry just go into the pd Avis office in the morning and it'll all be fine) She then went on to suggest that i shouldn't be so relaxed about it all. A bit rich considering we were in one of the most relaxed places we've been to. Telling me that i was too relaxed caused me to get unrelaxed very quickly. Tempers flared and tense words were exchanged. It calmed down after a few minutes when I realised this crazed little hitler could make my life very difficult and expensive. We agreed a plan of action: I would go and check that the car was still there (thinking about it that was a good start). Then I would check the places we had been and call at the police station to see if anyone had handed the keys in. The car was there, just where we left it, but no sign of the keys anywhere including the police station. Me walking in looking for lost keys was the highlight of the (scottish) constable's morning. I was tempted to start the conversation with an "aye, jimmae" but I thought i shouldn't push my luck. I went back to meet my new best friend back at the Avis office. Just as I arrived Mel rang to say francie had had a shower. Interesting but not exactly up there in importance considering the crisis we were in. It turns out that during his shower it suddenly dawned on him that he may have left the keys in a shop when he stepped out of the restaurant to get gerry's buggy from the the car. Francie got a lift into town from Philip and Lia and we went back to the shop and as we walked through the door the lady in the shop said "...the keys?" there they were, as if they'd never been away. We went back to Phil and I suggested He drop us back to the hotel forgetting of course that we now had a car again . Before you ask I wasn't angry with francie. I was delighted to have the keys and to learn I wasn't suffering early onset dementia.

Phil and Lia headed away to get their flight back and we decided to hang around town. We spent a few hours wandering around the sunday market which takes place near the shore at port douglas. It was vey pleasant. Mostly locally made crafts and clothing. We had delicious coconut. You drink the juice first then bring your coconut back and they split it and grind up the inside and mix the pulp with honey and organic banana. Very nice indeed. There was a lot of hippy types who come into town to peddle their wares. We passed one guy offering shiatsu massage. There was a woman who was just laying down for a 45 minute session as we walked by. We passed back about 20 minutes later but there was no sign of the victim , I mean customer. The masseur was engaged in conversation with the next stallholder, who was just as hippyish offering stuff made out of woven coconut leaves ,. "I don't know man, she just up and left and said she wasn't coming back any time soon....." . Maybe he should go back to coconut leaf weaving. This shiatsu shit is not all it's cracked out to be.

The kids had a play on the swings. We'd been there for 15 mins before I spotted the sign warning that there were crocodiles in the area. It must be the croc equivalent of fast food. Just hang around by the swings until a kid swings too far....

This was by far the nicest setting for a playground we'd ever seen (an believe me I've been to more than a few playgrounds over the years). The park was on the shore, coconut trees blowing in the wind and fanstatic views across the harbour to the Daintree forest.

After lunch francie and I decided to hire some road bikes and we went for a cycle. We were asking the bikeshop guy where we could go :

"You could cycle up the coast and head up mareeba road" he said n",..The road climbs a bit but it's a good ride". "How long is it" I asked. "About 30-40 km" he replied "I meant how long was the climb". "30-40 km " he said. Gulp. We headed out of town then north up the Captain Cook highway. After about 15 kms we turned off on to the Mount Molloy road. The road shot up virtually straight away 12-14% with no let up. We climbed about 5 km before turning around to head home, as it happens into a strong headwind as we road through the sugar cane fields. We did just 25 miles but it was a good spin having discovered there are two road types up here - dead flat and vertical. We did the same climb the following day but cheated by driving to the foot of the climb. We got about 10 km up the climb in about 35 mins. It was like anerly hill with corners and a lot longer.

The following day we decided to take a drive through the rainforest to Cape Tribulation. 40 km north of Port Douglas, after crossing over the Daintree river on the ferry, you're straight into the rainforest. The road twists and turns through the forest. There are lots of signs telling you there are Cassawaries about. The road symbol make them look like harmless litle partridge-like birds but when you read the guidebook you realise they can be as big as a man and, if annoyed,will attack you with their extra hard beak and lethal talons. The advice, if attacked, is not to run and to put something hard between you and the bird, preferably a tree. There are only about 1000 cassowaries left. Quiet a few get knocked down . I'm not surprised . After reading the guidebook drivers decide that attack is the best form of defence so knock the bastards down before they take you out.

It's a wonderful drive through the rainforest. As you would imagine there are virtually no houses and what appear as little towns and villages on the map are just a few cabins gathered together. There's only one road north and that turns into an unmade track just at Cape Tribulation. From there it's 100 km through the rainforest to cooktown only accesible by 4WD. If you didnt fancy that it's a 300 km trek inland through the mountains.

We stopped off at Cape Tribulation beach. A lovely secluded cove with the ever present "crocs here" sign. As we were sitting on the beach an American who looked about 60 with dyed hair with his 19 year old oriental girlfriend bounded on to the beach. He was clicking away as she posed in her high heels. "this is awesome " Mario Testino exclaimed as he clicked his way down the beach. In search of a better shot they wandered over to the mangrove at the far end of the beach. Now I'm no croc expert but if I was a croc and I wanted somewhere low key to hang out I'd opt for the mangrove rather than the middle of the beach. It was the american snapper's lucky day and they emerged unscathed a few minutes later.

We stopped at a cafe at thorntons beach. In a lovely setting just set back from the beach. The food is so so and the prices exorbitant. A slice of orange and almond cake will set you back $6.50, about 4.50. I reckon they get about 20 slices out of each cake. I think we should move to Cape Tribulation and make cakes -they are worth more than Opals.

On our way back we stopped for an icecream at one of the two Ice cream factories. The icecream places in the forest specialise in making ice-cream from local tropical fruit. When asked what flavour he fancied francie suggested chocolate. He needs to bone up on his tropical fruits I think. This place , called flavilla was only ok so we decided to try the other ice-cream joint, the Daintree ice cream company a few miles back into the rainforest. This was much nicer. You weren't given a choice as they offer different servings each day - we had Blueberry /apricot/jackfruit and one other exotic fruit we can't remember the name of. They were advertising organic banana so I asked for some. They said unfortunately they sell out very early each day. I thought it might be rude to point out that we were in the middle of a grove of banana trees so they weren't exactly waiting for the next delivery.

That evening Ally and France babysat and Mel and we went out for dinner. We went back to .Zinc where we had eaten the first night. Very nice meal but just hit a new high on the orange and almond cake slice index. $9.90. It makes Thornton Beach look cheap.

I love the local weather forecasts in the paper. The 3 day forecast for Port Douglas was :

Sat Chance of a shower
Sun. A shower or two
Mon A shower

People here seem very proud of where they live. They refer to it as Far North Queensland, i suppose to differentiate it from a little bit north Queensland and a teensy weeny north Queensland.

Drove down to Kurunda which is set back in the hills behind Cairns. It was to have 'world famous markets' , yes world famous for selling boomerangs that are made in china. Not that nice really and everything shut by 4pm.

We stopped at a place called Ellis beach just north of cairns. Gerry was asleep but Hannah wanted to play in the sand. So we helped her dig a hole. Without thinking I said if we keep digging we will reach Australia, which technically, was correct.

When we got to port Douglas we stopped off at the very far end of 4 mile beach which about 4 miles from port Douglas. Had dinner in a restaurant called the beach shack which isn't on the beach but does have sand on the floor.

Gerry has two new words today - horsey and dirty. So every field we pass he now expects to see a horsey.

We're off to Sydney tomorrow but we'll miss port Douglas we all enjoyed it a lot here.
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Olga Steger on

Hi to you all, really enjoy reading your blogs, better than our local newspaper. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Olga

Shaju Thomas on

I remember these places when I traveled with my family 5 years back. Very good memories to cherish

Have a nice trip

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