To go or not to go?
21.01.2017 - 25.01.2017
21-25 January 2017
There was a lot of debate in the planning process of this trip as to whether we should travel to Far North Queensland as January to March is their rainy season with a possibility of cyclones. It was suggested that we should not go further North than Airlie Beach and certainly not Port Douglas. We were warned that we could become trapped for days due to road floods and that we should have flexibility in our plans. I'll be honest and admit that I never quite understood the flexibility comment since you either make plans or you don't and, if you are trapped by floodwater you can't just abandon your hire car. Anyway, foolhardy or otherwise, we decided that it would be ridiculous to visit Australia and not see the rainforest area. The other concern is that January is also in Marine stinger season which means you cannot swim off beaches in Queensland due to the risk of being stung by the jelly fish.
So, We left Adelaide 21/1/17 on an early morning Jetstar flight to Cairns. Transition through Cairns was another easy process. Shuttle bus tickets cost us 11 AUD each and the driver dropped us at downtown Thrifty car hire where we took charge of vehicle number 2 (it's cheaper to have a pick up point outside of the airport). This time we have a Mitsubishi Lancer, very nice car, but strangely it has a rear spoiler and very low skirt thing at the front (which we could well do without as we go over dips in road, etc.) Graham thinks it makes him look like a boy racer! Every time we get to a dip, pothole or speed hump I'm frantically reminding Graham about the AUD 4,000 damage fee being held against my credit card! 😲, and yes, I have taken out insurance for this but not with the rental company.
Anyway, onwards we go. The weather is hot and humid. Our hotel is on the Esplanade in Cairns where we have 2 nights booked; it has a small but nice pool. What can I say about Cairns? It's backpacker territory and no getting away from that. The beach when the tide is out is a mud flat and nothing pleasant at all. The first day we had a very nice late lunch at Villa Romana and the second evening we ate at Barnacle Bill's neither of these was suited to a backpackers budget. Day 2 We decided to have a relaxing day by the pool since there was definitely nothing in Cairns itself to interest us, I also made use of the laundry facilities and got some washing done. We got talking to 2 lovely ladies from Canada who were on a working holiday - nice job if you can get it. And so the day whizzed by with the help of a few beers.
Next stop Port Douglas for 3 nights. We left early morning and went via Kuranda to do the sky rail and scenic railway. Sky rail is a cable car across the top of the rainforest to Kuranda village. Two stops on route where you get out, have a walkabout and admire the scenery. We arrived at Kuranda village with 3 hours til the scenic rail departure at 2.30pm. Here's a link. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuranda,_Queensland you can read more about Kuranda at leisure. We had lunch, looked around the shops (bought nothing as all very touristy stuff at inflated prices) and did a short walk hoping to spot some wildlife. The scenic railway is an hours journey back to Cairns through the rainforest and with spectacular scenery. Of course everyone wants to get a window seat, including me. What they don't tell you at the ticket office is that your seat is allocated at time of purchase and all seats are numbered - did Graham or I have a window seat - nah, not a chance. Our only hope was for the train not to be full and then to move. But, true to form I got myself wound up when the chap with black hair and narrow eyes with the window sets his camera up on a friggin tripod!!! Anyway, he moved and we did get a window seat so could take some pictures of our own. The train was hot and sticky and by the time we got off we felt drenched. A shuttle bus is put on to take self drive visitors back to their cars at the sky rail terminal.
Port Douglas was about an hours drive from the sky rail terminal and we arrived at Outriggers Apartments at just on 5pm. Amanda and Peter were kindly waiting for us to arrive and checked us in. We had a lovely apartment with lounge, bedroom, kitchen, shower room with full Laundry facilities and a very nice covered balcony. That night we had our first experience of the monsoon rain. The following morning there were clouds and spots of rain about but nothing of any major concern.
We were booked on a snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef with Wavelength
who picked us up from Outriggers at 7.50am. More about our snorkelling day in a separate entry.
Day 3 in Port Douglas we went out in the car to explore the area. Our first stop was Mossman Gorge where you can take a dip in the creek if you wish (though there are lots of signs warnings of the dangers, etc etc. However, it seems to me that this is what people go for. Graham and I opted to do the 2.4Km circuit walk through the rainforest, this turned out to be pretty arduous stumbling over tree roots and trying to avoid anything that might have insects or spiders to attack you. Aside from the fact that it was very hot and like walking through a Turkish steam bath, from the difficulty aspect, I would liken it to the Beachy Head lighthouse walk in Eastbourne. We didn't spot any wildlife or birds but attracted quite a few insect bites. We bought a lunch from a bakery in Mossman and then drive on to Daintree village where again, we had a look around down by the Daintree river but didn't spot any crocs.
We decided to take a look at the now infamous Thornton Beach and so took the little car ferry that crosses the Daintree river and from where you can journey on up to Cape Tribulation. We stopped at Mt Alexandra lookout to take some scenic pictures and also saw loads of the beautiful Turquoise and black Ulysses butterfly. We drove on to Thornton Beach and parked the car to get out and have a little look. I stood and read the warning sign about crocs and stingers (with the strategically placed bottle of vinegar should you have the good luck to survive a crocodile attack but get stung by a jellyfish). The beach is beautiful but deserted, except of course for one foolhardy Englishman who was up to his knees paddling in the water. I didn't get a picture - I was too busy running like mad and frantically yelling at him to get out of the water. All he could say when I had reached him was "shame that you can't go in the water on such a lovely beach". That was enough excitement for one day for me I can assure you'll it was back to Port Douglas for dinner and to think about when we should head onto the next day.