Sunday, August 18, 2019

Port Douglas - 2019

A cold winter in Melbourne so, at the end of July, we headed north for two weeks of warmer weather at Port Douglas.

Once again we had an apartment at The Regal on the corner of Macrossan Street and Owen Street providing a central location in the town and close to the beach.
View of pool at The Regal from our balcony
One of the features of Port Douglas has to be Four Mile Beach, a popular place at any time during daylight hours..
Four Mile Beach in the evening
As you approach the beach from the main street you are greeted by a warning sign alerting to possible dangers that may be encountered.
The stingers are only a problem in the summer months but the week before this trip to Port Douglas a crocodile from the nearby river was spotted on several occasions swimming parallel to the beach. It had returned to the river by the time we arrived.
View of Four Mile Beach from lookout
Four Mile Beach comprises of firm sand that is easy to walk along and literally stretches for miles.
Most people walk the beach but some hire bicycles to cycle the beach. One day we encountered an elderley gentleman pushing his walking frame and enjoying a stroll.
Coconut palms line the beach. In the past we have seen council officers removing the coconuts for safety reasons.
Coconuts are also washed on to the beach by the tide.

Driftwood can also be found along the beach.
Whenever possible we spent around two hours at a time exploring the beach and enjoying the walk. Proving that we were not the only people from home staying at Port Douglas, one day on the beach we met Arthur Pritchard from the the Victorian Over 70s Cricket Team and Lesley who were also holidaying in the area.

Port Douglas - 2019 - Food

One of the features of Port Douglas is the many restaurants in Macrossan Street and in Wharf Street. These vary from places where you can purchase take-away food to eat elsewhere or restaurants where you can sit down to a quality meal.
Rattle n Hum is busy bar and grill with a pizzeria situated om Macrossan Street. We have purchased pizza from there to eat back at the rooms but also had baramundi burgers there one night while on another occasion enjoyed crumbed chicken schnitzel and chicken parmigiana.
Watergate is a good restaurant to go to for a relaxing meal off the main street. We have passed the entrance to the restaurant on a number of previous visits to Port Douglas but this was the first time we had dined there. For entree we shared duck pancakes plus prawn and pork dumplings with strips of salmon - both delicious. Robin then had prawn and crab ravioli while I had the wild mushroom risotto with vegetables. The area where we sat was in a semi-enclosed area but there are also tables in the garden. The area provides a feeling of dining in the tropics.
Dave's Takeaway, as the name suggests, has a wide range of take-away food. We ordered the grilled barramundi with chips and salad. Unfortunately the fish had been wrapped in foil to keep it war but  the fish kept cooking in the foil and was dry after walking the short distance to our accommodation. It may have been better to have asked for fried fish. Still, we noted tat the number of photos of Dave's who have visited the shop now pass 2,000 (last November).
The Iron Bar is another place where we like to have a casual meal. We shared a selection of prawns and scallops. I then had lamb shank while Robin had coconut coated barramundi.
The Iron Bar is also well known for nightly cane toad races.
The Jade Inn is a licensed Chinese restaurant that we have visited on a number of occasions in the past. This time we shared seafood Holkien noodles and crumbed chicken pieces.
Whenever we needed an ice cream at Port Douglas we wandered down to the Shakes Gelati Bar, a short distance from the apartment.
If you want a coffee there are many places providing coffee and / or snacks. One of these is Cafe Ecco.
Coffee can be purchased at some unlikely sources such as at this clothing shop, Moonshine, which has a small garden out the back where coffee is served.
Whileaway Bookshop and Cafe was the cafe we usually went to for coffee and hot chocolate.  I rather enjoyed sitting inside drinking reasonable hot chocolate surrounded by books. On our last visit to Port Douglas we discovered a cafe, Taste on Macrossan, that sold good hot chocolate but the establishment had closed.
One afternoon, Pat and Ian Crothers, called in to see us so we spent an hour or so at Whileaway having drinks and a chat. Pat and I share a pair of convict ancestors - George Guest and Mary Bateman - so it was good to be able to have a leisurely family history chat while the men talked about family history and sport. (As can be seen from the photo it had been a windy day).

When we first arrived at Port Douglas we wandered around the main streets checking on changes, particularly to the restaurants. Some of the restaurants no longer open included Port Izakaya Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Taste on Macrossan, Lanternfish and Mango Jam are no more. Harrison's has moved to the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort. On the Inlet is no longer on a wharf over the water but is across the road in Wharf Street. We did make a booking for dinner one evening but as I was unwell for the second week we had to cancel. Normally we would also have a meal at the Italian restaurant, Bel Cibo.

Port Douglas - 2019 - Daintree Village

Approximately 55 kms north west of Port Douglas is the Daintree Village, a small settlement on the banks of the Daintree River and near the Daintree National Park. The drive from Port Douglas is primarily through sugar cane country, many sections of which were beig cut and carted to the sugar mill by truck or train.
Daintree River - Daintree Village
A ferry takes visitors on a trip on the river to view the scenery and lok for crocodiles.
Daintree Village
The village itself is small and situated a distance from the river which is probably just as well. During the Wet Season there can be floods with the water covering the carpark and caravan park. Depths of water near the village can reach past the 13 metre mark, especially if a high tide coincides with heavy summer rains. This happened earlier this year.
All this land, on both sides of the river, was under water.
Not surprisingly, there are crocodile warnings on the river bank. A local resident told us that during the floods the crocodiles either retreated to the bottom of the river under the main currents or took cover in river tributaries.
We had a drink and a scone at Croc Expresso Cafe where the table markers were insects and water creatures - in this case a prawn. Lunch, of course, is also available.
Daintree Village is a pretty spot to visit on a morning or afternoon drive.

Port Douglas - 2019 - Kuranda

A drive of just over an hour towards Cairns will take you to Kuranda set in the rainforest in the mountains. Many people take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to the top of the mountain or the train. In the past we have travelled one way via cable car and the other by train but this time we drove.
 On this visit we spent much of our time at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary. A tour had just started so we tagged along.
There is a wide range of butterflies in the sanctuary and we saw many of them during the tour.
Butterflies feeding
Walking through the sanctuary it was not unusual for butterflies to hitch a ride on a hat.
We were taken into an area where we were shown how butterflies breed.
We then returned to the main area to meet the inhabitants.

My favourite tropical butterfly continues to be the Ulysses butterfly.
We wandered around the streets and some of the markets for a short time. When passing an ice cream seller we noticed that he had hokey pokey ice cream so Robin had to buy one and I had a Belgian chocolate gelato.
For years I have been looking for an item to take home relating to a dugong - I just like them. I saw a small scrimshaw drawing of a dugong at Kuranda many years but it was too expensive. This time however, at the Terra Nova Gallery, we found a small print of a painting of a dugong and calf by Melanie Haver which I shall have framed.
We then left Kuranda to drive to Mareeba, 34 km inland. The main reason was to visit Coffee Works who have an outlet at Port Douglas where products, including chocolate, can be purchased. The Port Douglas store does not serve drinks so we decided that as we were in the area we should investigate the factory and restaurant. We arrived just before the restaurant closed their lunch service.
We shared a chicken skewer and scones but the highlight was a wonderful deconstructed hot chocolate. The hot milk and chunks of chocolate come separately and you combine as required. It was delicious. Definitely the best hot chocolate on this trip.

Port Douglas - 2019 - Mossman Gorge

On the Saturday we drove the 22 km from Port Douglas north to Mossman Gorge. Cars are parked at the Visitor Centre and then a bus takes visitors to the entrance of the walk to the gorge.
Mossman Gorge
The walk to the gorge itself is not long or arduous but we decided to then go on the two kilometre circuit walk that we had done before. We knew that there were a couple of difficult sections but I had managed to complete the walk previously.
So we set off. The weather was fine but rain was forecast. Fortunately we did wear wet weather gear.
The terrain was more challenging than I remembered, but with Robin's help and patience we completed the circuit. Towards the end the of the walk the rain had started though there was some protection from the trees. However, realistically, I suspect that this was the last time that I will attempt this walk.

Back at the Mossman Gorge Centre we ordered a drink and damper which was really a scone but quite tasty.

Port Douglas - 2019 - Wildlife Habitat

We have been to the Wildlife Habitat at Port Douglas on a number of occasions including an evening walk and breakfast with the birds. This time we had a look around during the day. During the storms over the summer some of the enclosures were damaged so some of the exhibits were combined while builders created new enclosures for some exhibits. This meant that there was a fair amount of dust in the air.
These colourful parrots greeted us at the door.
It was feeding time but this was one sleepy koala.
Next door the quokka was more active.
The cassowary was in a temporary enclosure.
My favourites - the jabiru.
They are so majestic.
A demonstration of handling a large snake.
A tree python behind glass.
More colourful parrots.
And one more.
There were lots of kangaroos wandering around.
And pelicans.
One sleepy crocodile.
Three hungry wallabies.

A relaxing afternoon.