Our birthdays are very close. Since 2011 we have decided that, where possible, we would spend them on a nice trip instead of ‘stuff’. So far the destinations have been; New York City, Brighton, Morzine (France), Goa and Tasmania.
This year we decided to add the No. 3 Town in Australia – Port Douglas, to that list.
On the Friday night we arrived in Cairns Airport and jumped into a hire car. We had been given a Silver Fiat 500 hybrid manual-automatic. At 1.2 Litre it was a very slow car. So we ‘dubbed’ it Quicksilver.
We had a night time drive up to Port Douglas but we had not appreciated beforehand how meandering the Captain Cook Highway was. In pitch black conditions we took our time negotiating the route and trying not to knock down any wildlife.
Safe and sound we arrived in Port Douglas after 10pm and we were greeted by a welcome letter at our accommodation with the room key. When we got into the apartment reception we were pleasantly surprised to see balloons, a card and bottle of fizz – compliments of management. (The benefits of mentioning Birthdays when booking!)
The next morning we struck out for Breakfast. As we were staying on Macrossan Street we had plenty of choices and soon we were sipping our coffee and juice in front of Betty’s Bohemian Beach Cafe (what a name!). Port Douglas is a small enough town and Macrossan Street is the main artery in it linking the main quay on one side to the Four Mile Beach on the other. This tree lined boulevard contains the majority of the shops, restaurants and pubs so we walked the length of it to get our bearings.
Within an hour of that breakfast we had…
- Booked a Day Trip to the Daintree National Park for the Sunday
- Booked a sailing and snorkeling trip to the Barrier Reef for the Monday
- Made a picnic.
- Booked Karen’s Birthday Restaurant for that night.
The benefits of staying in a local apartment complex with an amazing tour office.
With that all booked it was decided to drive to the nearby Mossman Gorge and check it out. The road north changed landscape as the winding cliff roads gave way to fields and fields of sugar cane, with tons of railway track either side of the highway and intermittent siding cars. Around 90% of all the sugar cane in Australia is grown in Queensland and a lot of that is situated in the Mossman area.
Mossman Gorge is a very accessible and scenic section of the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. Here the Mossman River forces its way over and around huge granite boulders that line the gorge creating cool clear freshwater swimming holes. Looking up from the river one is surrounded by tree-clad mountains towering above.
The Mossman Gorge is home to the Kuku Yalanji people, the area’s traditional Aboriginal landowners who strive to protect their natural heritage as they share its unique qualities with visitors. We were lucky to arrive on time to take part in a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk,an intimate guided walking tour with one of the native guides.
We were welcomed with a traditional ‘smoking’ ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits. The walk then meandered through stunning rainforest with a stop at a traditional hut (or humpie). Our guide – Rodney demonstrated all of the traditional hunting and cooking tools – many of which were created from the very Mahogany trees surrounding us. He was very expressive and seemed to be a natural story teller…
As we continued on into the jungle we were treated to various kinds of bush ‘tucker’ (food) and shown the differences between all of the various plants and trees…
The mass overcrowding of plants on the rainforest floor makes for a pretty grim fight for survival with competing trees growing skywards in search of the sun’s rays. This struggle for survival resulted in some very interesting plants to view in the rainforest such as the strangler fig. The strangler fig often begins its life as a seed deposited by a bird at the top of a tree or in a trees crevice. It then develops roots and grows down the host tree, essentially strangling it all the way down to its base. Once the host plants dies, the strangler fig stands alone.
Dendrocnide moroides – such a long name for such a small shrub. It is a small green plant that is fully covered in stinging hairs. Each of those hairs is full of a deadly neurotoxin – one of the most toxic in all of Australia. Some say that the burning pain can drive people mad!! We were most fortunate that our guide pointed it out as it looks innocent enough.
Rodney demonstrated traditional ochre painting before we were treated to a traditional bush high tea back at the base. Luck seemed to shine on us again as we walked back to the huts as we happened across a very quiet customer in the form of a Boyd Forest Dragon.
After the tour we spent some time swimming in the Mossman Gorge itself and trying out the waterproof-ness of our GoPro Camera. The water was freezing, or ‘Baltic’ as Karen would say but is meant to be one of the purest sources of water in the world so was quite refreshing.
That evening we enjoyed some sundowner drinks on the nearby Four Mile Beach – a palm tree lined piece of heaven. You can actually walk onto part of the Reef, Alexandra Reefs, from the beach.
A day of sightseeing left us hungry and since it was Karen’s birthday we splurged on the tasting menu at Nautilus Restaurant. Captain Nemo himself didn’t enjoy Nautilus as much as we did that night.