Friday, July 06, 2007

Port Douglas and Daintree

On our fourth day we picked up a Hertz car from the Cairns agency, declined the cheap upgrade because I quite liked the little manual Getz, and headed North towards Port Douglas.

For those new to "Blogger", click on any picture to see a bigger version.

Just a side note on rental cars. We’ve found in our travels that insurance is often a major pain for rental cars; either the premiums are excessive, or the excesses are ridiculous or the exclusions can catch you. Eventually I found that it was cheaper for us for short-term rentals like this to take out travel insurance, which covered all those insurances and excesses, and gave the bonus of other travel insurance covers for loss of goods and so on. Check it out next time you need a rental away from home, even if it’s not far away. If you think your Gold credit Card insurance covers you - check carefully.

We wandered up the coast in no particular hurry, taking side trips occasionally whenever we saw interesting signs. There are a number of coastal communities and resort developments. The first photo is Holloway Beach, not a resort, just a nice seaside community; the next few are Palm Cove – mostly expensive resorts and overseas tourists here.

The coastal plain is a very narrow strip as you follow the road to Port Douglas. The large photo at the top of this article is from the Rex lookout about halfway to Port Douglas. It appears that someone liked Mr Rex, but not the politician who opened the lookout.

Port Douglas, to us, was a much more pleasant and more laid back town than Cairns. The shot is from the lookout on top of the headland, an idyllic beach.

Everything was on a smaller scale. While it is obviously a tourist town there wasn’t the same feeling of "tourist central" as Cairns or Kuranda. We only stayed two nights, but regretted not being able to stay longer. We were in a lovely studio apartment at the Port Douglas Queenslander. The price was great, the studio and facilities were superb, the management were friendly and helpful. The only jarring note was the list of charges for "extras", such as a ban on using the room towels for the pool with pool towels for hire for $6. Seemed a bit petty and dollar-squeezing for a place like that; so did the note of possible extra charges if the room didn’t pass inspection after we left. Ours did, of course, and we had no extra charges, but the attitude dampened our enthusiasm for the place a little. But only a little - we did enjoy our stay.

The weather closed in the next day as we headed North to Daintree. The sky was becoming overcast but there were still patches of sunlight. As we entered the cane-growing districts North of Cairns we noticed 2’ narrow-gauge railway lines beside the road, then came across this cane-train. They start harvesting much earlier up here, compared to the Tweed Valley back home. As we passed through Mossman we saw this fascinating tree; I have never before seen so many weird and wonderful trees as I did on this trip; this was just one of them.

It was unusually wet for this time of year, but we happened to choose the period when life-saving rains swept across South-East Australia; hopefully drought-breaking rains but it’s too early to say that yet. In the NSW Central Coast and later in East Gippsland, Victoria, they became flood rains.

Some of that rain came North. But it’s a bit silly to complain about the rain when that is going on down South – and you’re heading off to view a rainforest; I mean – what else did I expect?

It did put a dampener on activities though. So we visited the village, and enjoyed the drive in the country, but didn’t take the boat ride as we heard that the crocs were unlikely to be doing much in the cooler damp conditions. However, if you read the signs you'll see a swim was out of the question, even if George is no longer in the river a lot of his relatives are. The beautiful garden shot was in the grounds of a small shop selling tourist items in the main street.

We had a pleasant light lunch in the "Big Barramundi", pumpkin and leek soup for me and an interesting hot-dog for Lorraine, wandered around the village of Daintree and then slowly wandered back home to Port Douglas. There were some wonderful glimpses of the river on the way back, but only a couple of spots where it was possible to park for a photo.

Cheers, Alan.
next: Mossman Gorge

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