Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Port Douglas - Four Mile Beach

View over Four Mile Beach
Four visits to Port Douglas so far - the last two in 2009 and 2010 for two weeks each time. Why Port Douglas? It is the ideal place for a relaxing holiday. Great beach, warm, sunny days with low humidity in July and August, variety of accommodation available, wide range of restaurants, opportunities to explore the Great Barrier Reef, close to the Daintree rainforests, opportunities for daytrips to Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, Kurranda and other locations on the Atherton Tablelands.
Four Mile Beach

Swimming area at top of beach
The major attraction of Port Douglas is Four Mile Beach, a long wide stretch of firm sand ideal for walking along, jogging and cycling but also for making sand castles, playing beach cricket, beach soccer or any other related sport as well as creating sand castles and moats or sand sculpture. The patrolled area for swimming is at the section of the beach near the town.
Small crabs create sand patterns
Walking along the sand first thing in the morning sand patterns in the sand can be discovered.
Sand banks at low tide
Low tide exposes the mud flats near the mangrove end of the beach. Among the small mounds of mud armies of small crabs can often be seen scurrying across the sand before disappearing into small holes. This is a good time to explore the pools between the sandbanks for shells and small sea creatures as well as viewing seabirds looking for food.
Holes belonging to larger crabs

At the far end of the beach mangroves are at the waters edge. A sign at the beginning of this section warns of the possibility of crocodiles in the area.
Crocodile warning sign on beach

A variety of tropical vegetation lines the beach.

Most mornings we walk along the beach for up to three hours and every time the beach is different. On one morning there was a yoga class with fit young women taking part. Further up the beach a young woman played a guitar. Beach cricket would be the most popular game on the wide expanses of sand but we have also seen families playing beach soccer, Aussie rules and ping-pong. Dogs can sometimes be found playing in the water at the far end of the beach or looking for a passer-by to play fetch. All sorts of sights can be observed walking along the beach in various modes of undress - some bodies definitely having spent too long in the sun. Twice a day the Munch van travels along the beach selling drinks, ice-cream and other refreshments. There are also areas where beach umbrellas and lounges can be hired along with beach cricket sets, boards and other equipment for the water. The beach has been a wonderful place to stroll or relax but on the last visit it was obvious that the ubiquitous mobile phone had begun its invasion of the area. One morning when I walked along the beach it rained for the first hour but, although constant, the rain was light and the weather and water was warm. A number of other people were also enjoying their walk in the rain. Once the rain stopped any damp clothes quickly dried - it was another beach experience.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Cairns, a major city in Far North Queensland, has a population of 100,000. It was founded in 1876 as a port for the inland goldfields. Tourism is now a major industry.

Cairns is a modern city. The airport is the gateway to many other destinations in Far North Queensalnd.
A feature of Cairns is the foreshore. The trees attract hundreds of birds, especially rainbow lorikeets.
Pathway by the beach
At lowtide the seabirds, including the pelicans, look for food in the shallows and on the exposed mudflats. 

Pelicans exporing the mudflats
A large open swimming pool is a feature of the foreshore area.
Public swimming pool
The marina is another feature Cairns feature.
Cairns marina
The Cairns Museum holds many exhibits providing information about the history of the city and surrounding area.
Cairns Museum

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

Lazing in the sun
Want to get up close to a crocodile safely? Hartley's Crocodile Adventures  between Cairns and Port Douglas provides opportunities to have a good look at these animals. Having spent more than a week ensuring that we did not encroach on a crocodile's territory it was interesting to be able to observe these creatures.

This is definitely close enough
Riding in the boat allows a good view of crocodiles in a more natural environment.
Crocodiles jumping for food provides additional viewing opportunities.
Feeding time
This was the final stop on the tour of Cape York Peninsula before returning to Cairns.

Cape Tribulation

Bloomfield Track
The Bloomfield Track through the rain forest is definitely for four wheel drive vehicles only.

Bloomfield Track
The next stop was Cape Tribulation in the Daintree Rain Forest.
Where the forest meets the sea

Cape Tribulation
Captain James Cook named the area Cape tribulation in 1770 when his ship, The Endeavour, hit a reef nearby.
Boardwalk through rainforest
There are a number of walks through the many varieties of rainforest vegetation from the road to the beach.
A number of eco-lodges in the area provide accommodation nestled among the vegetation of the rainforest.
Rainforest vegetation
Cape Tribulation is a great place to explore the rainforest environment.


 Cooktown is a small town on the mouth of the Endeavour River. It was established in 1873 as port town to supply the goldfields along the Palmer River.
Main street in Cooktown
The population of Cooktown is approximately 1,400 people and it is the most northern town on the east coast of Australia.
Another view of the main street
It was extremely windy in Cooktown when we visited the town making walking around the town a challenge at times but it was well worth the effort.
Looking out to the Coral Sea
There are many reminders of Cooktown's historic past. In 1770 Captain Cook arrived in the area to repair his ship, The Endeavour.
Statue of Captain James Cook
Along the foreshore there are memorials to this event plus a statue of James Cook.
Play equipment representing The Endeavour
While in Cooktown we visited the James Cook Museum, a two storey building portraying the history of the town and region.
James Cook Museum
Before leaving town next morning the bus drove to the Grassy Knoll lookout where good views of Cooktown
View of Cooktown
and the Endeavour River can be seen - once again, thought, it was extremely windy.
View of Endeavour River from the hill
On the way out of town we passed the Black Mountain.
Black Mountain

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Road to Cooktown

Leaving Lotus Bird Lodge we then drove through Lakefield National Park experiencing a variety of scenery. The name of the park was changed to Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park in 2011.
Termite mounds
Rocky terrain
The land forming the national park was formerly several properties including Laura and Breeza. The park, from June 2011) will be co-managed by indigenous owners.
Three river systems flow through the park creating wetlands with a habitat for a variety of wildlife. The area floods during the wet season.
Lakefield National Park
In the southern section of the national park is the old Laura Station, a collection of iron former homestead buildings and farm sheds  - reminders of past times.
Old Laura Station
Lunch was once again near the banks of a river.
Picnic lunch - Heritage Tours style

On the peninsula rivers needed to be forded - easier for some vehicles than others. At lunch part of the entertainment was watching vehicles cross the river. Larger vehicles found it easier than smaller ones and sometimes vehicles required a tow when they strayed from the path.
Fording a river
Continuing on the road to Cooktown the vegetation changed, becoming greener until we reached farm lands.
Heading south
Farm land approaching Cooktown
Approaching Cooktown we crossed the Endeavour River.
Endeavour River

Weipa to Lotus Bird Lodge

Road to Weipa
Leaving Weipa we back-tracked to the main road running through the peninsula then headed south. The road to Weipa is a made road but it was not long before we were once again on the dirt roads more common in the outback.
Approach to Archer River
Further down the road we stopped for lunch by a river, a welcome change from the red dirt and sparse vegetation through which we had been travelling.
River ideal for a lunch stop
The next stop was Coen where we stopped to visit the Cape York Heritage House. Coen was originally a goldminig town.
Coen Heritage House
The next stop was the Old Musgrave Telegraph Station, now providing accommodation and camping facilities for travellers. The telegraph station was opened on the 23rd December 1886.
Musgrave Telegraph Station
The final stop for the day was  Lotus Bird Lodge  where we stayed overnight. The eco-lodge is set next to a lagoon inhabited by a variety of birds - a great location.
Cabin at Lotus Bird Lodge
It had been a long day on the road but being able to walk around the lagoon in the evening and wake up to the call of the birds next morning was a relaxing experience.