I had never heard of Port Douglas. So I was a bit surprised that D suggested we go there instead of the more popular Gold Coast. Then I found out that Port Douglas is the gateway to snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and of course, I had heard of that!
We spent almost a week here, of which a couple of days were just for lazing around.
When we went – This was the week before Christmas. Still the low season so not very crowded. Temperature could get quite high at 34 degree in the middle of the day but the morning and evenings were perfect.
Where we stayed – We stayed at the Freestyle Resort serviced apartments, located about ten minutes’ walk from the beach and the main street. It is run by a really lovely lady, Anne, who took an immediate shine to Bobo. We loved the place all the more for it.
Great Barrier Reef – I have never snorkeled before. The one attempt I made in Egypt was a spectacular flop. This time I was determined to have a go and we went about it in an organized way. D had booked a day trip on the Quicksilver tours. They took us in a large ferry to a platform located just where the reefs begin. D and I both tried out the snorkeling equipment from the platform. With a life jacket, it is quite easy to have a go. I then went on a guided introductory tour. This is easily one of the most awesome things I have done. The corals look so different from land life forms. It was very strange looking from above into a colourful and new world. The tour lasted 45 mintues, with our marine biologist-guide pointing at various things for us to admire. They were exotic indeed but not things I had heard of. Still, it did not stop me from being completely gobsmacked.
Daintree rainforest – As if having access to one world heritage is not enough, we could also check out another one. D and I took turns to go on day tours to Daintree rainforest/Mosmann Gorge. This rainforest is 110 million years old and has some of the earliest plant life on earth. The guide pointed out all sorts of interesting trees and lizards. The tour also included a crocodile-spotting boat tour and a stop at Cape Tribulation where James Cook realized it was not all easy-going (and thus the name).
Kuranda – This is a hill station of sorts, accessible by a cable car or a train through the mountains. We did one each way. Both are lovely and offer spectacular views. The village/town had all sorts of attractions. We decided to focus on two – lunch and the butterfly sanctuary. Lunch was at the highly recommended Frogs Kuranda, where we sampled crocodile, kangaroo and emu kebabs. To this exotic fare, we also had the pleasure of exotic company when four Boyd’s forest dragons decided to play on the edge of terrace in which the restaurant was located. Considering our guide had spent considerable time in the Daintree rainforest trying to spot one for us, it was quite hilarious to see them walk about so happily in broad daylight. Post lunch, we went to the butterfly sanctuary which looked like a magical world with thousands of them fluttering everywhere.
Wildlife Habitat (or the local zoo) – This was a trip that the dad-son did by themselves. I have seen the evidence with a photo of the dad holding a cute Koala bear while the son stands next to him looking a bit scared. I believe it has some cute exhibits and obviously a toddler cannot have enough of animals as long as he is not made to stand next to one.
We could have done these attractions, one each day and still finished in three – four days. Infact, we met a lot of Australians who were doing long weekends in Port Douglas. However, the couple of days which we had as a buffer between the sightseeing tours were nice too. Port Douglas’s beach is rather lovely and in this trip, Bobo discovered the joys of dipping his toes in the water, playing with sand and hurling mud clumps into the sea. We managed to cook a couple of meals each. We had slow mornings almost every day, with breakfast in the patio watching the red-breasted parakeets that liked to frequent the tree outside our apartment.We visited the local grocery stores a couple of times. I took Bobo to the second-hand bookshop.
It was not just travel. It was also a vacation.