Port Douglas

“I said Barramundi, not Stonefish Sarah!” Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge
The weekend of the 9th, 10th, and11th of August

A friend in Port Douglas determined it as our next stay. Situated only an hour north of Cairns right on the ocean along the road to the Daintree Forest, we thought it would make a nice pit stop. Hang gliders patrolled the headlands as we made our way up the highway.

You can’t miss the turnoff to Port Douglas, it’s brashly signalled by a tawdry arcade of West African Palm Trees. (Thank you Sheraton Mirage Resort). The town centre has still managed to maintain some quaint shops, milk bars and restaurants, although the sleepy old fishing village has long since been replaced by an upmarket tourist town.

The mountain ranges that provide the backdrop scenery for Port Douglas are absolutely magnificent. They are very similar to parts of the Maui Coastline in Hawaii, although even better (yes…..we do happen to be slightly biased).

Anzac Park in the centre of town is the scene of the Sunday markets-featuring local produce, fruit & veggies, crafts & souvenirs. Eric even managed to purchase a gorgeous crocodile tooth hat band (a la Crocodile Dundee). For all those animal lovers out there……..the crocodile WAS anaesthetised during the tooth extraction with lots of happy gas and he now swims freely in the Daintree River.

Behind the park is a jetty where one will find Ben Cropps Shipwreck Museum & home. This has to be the best position in town. The museum has been lovingly created along an old jetty that extends out into the ocean. It contains trinkets from Ben’s 20 years of diving amongst old shipwrecks…..You can read Captain Cooks exciting journals on navigating through the treacherous reef or check out treasures, bronzed cannons and an infinite selection of bits and pieces salvaged from shipwrecks. There is even a little room that has been constructed on a sharp slant to simulate the feeling of being drowned in a sinking ship….it’s a very disorientating feeling!. There are lots of interesting artefacts and objects. Kids are sure to love it as well as adults….. well worth a visit.

After exploring the museum and the markets we decided to venture out to the famous Mossman Gorge.

The town of Mossman is only 14 kilometres past Port Douglas. Cane trains running between canefields turn and trundle along the main street of this quiet little town. The main attraction actually lies 10 minutes inland- Mossman Gorge. This is your utopian rainforest country! Granite boulders adorn the river as the greenish tinged water flows down. The majestic forest is all-encompassing. Unfortunately even these areas although world heritage listed can’t be saved from development. The roads are surfaced and land is subdivided- features that slightly tainted my initial preconceptions of virgin rainforest. However, the area is utterly splendid.
It ‘s definitely worth a visit if you happen to be travelling in the area. The crocodile free water is refreshing and provides a welcome relief from the intense heat.

We decided the next day that it was time to try our luck again on the water so we headed out on the boat for a spot of fishing! This time (unlike the previous attempts) the trip was most successful. I caught my first two fish of the trip. First up was a baby cod who was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. The second catch proved to be a Stonefish. These have to be the ugliest, biggest and most nastiest and dangerous fish you could ever catch. I felt cursed. Eric was dismayed. “I said Barramundi not Stonefish” he exclaimed. He cleverly managed to untangle the stonefish from the lure, set him free, save the lure, and steer the boat without getting cut from the fishes deadly spikes all at the same time……………………….

Other highlights of the day included spotting two crocodiles (albeit from a safe distance!) seeing lots of brightly coloured glorious chirpy birds, breakfast in the park, cruising along the creek, rollerblading along the golf course of the Sheraton Resort without getting kicked off , slurping a lemon gelato after a day out in the sun, and curling up to watch “Il Postino” after dinner…………….. Perfect Day!

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