Exploring Queensland: Cairns to Port Douglas

Thursday morning we packed our bags and checked out of Il Palazzo. They offered to look after our bags for us, so we headed out for a 20 minute stroll to pick up our rental car. It wasn’t ready for us (we were very early) so we went off and had a coffee. On our return our Kia Sportage was ready and waiting. So we headed back to collect our bags and, once stowed, we were driving north to Port Douglas about an hour away. First though we decided to head inland to the Ross lookout to get some views over the city and airport.

Well, what we didn’t really realise, was that they were pretty much what we had seen from the train. Never mind, still beautiful. We back tracked down to the main highway and drove the coast road stopping and starting every now and again to take in the sights.

At one stage we spotted smoke in the distance but thought little of it…..until we found ourselves driving along the highway with flames from the bush fire adjacent to us! OMG didn’t expect that. I guess this was a real Australian experience. Seriously though it was pretty scary to drive so close to the flames.

Moving swiftly on we continued pulling on and of the road to take in the sights – taking note of the recent crocodile warnings on some of the beachy headlands – and then we crossed a river and I spotted wild crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks. We weren’t able to stop as the bridge was single track so missed the photo opportunity but was amazing to see them in their own domain.

Arriving into Port Douglas we found our apartment building (Mantra Aqueous on Port) and checked in. We were given keys to the underground car park so drove around the corner and parked, got in the lift and headed straight up to the top floor to our room. Well, this place was fantastic. Just the right size, fully equipped, absolutely spotless with an added bonus of a spa bath on our balcony which had views down to two of the pools. We were very happy!!!

We unpacked then went shopping in Coles for some provisions. Having secured them back in the apartment we headed out to the marina for a couple of drinks at Hemingways Brewery on the wharf. Was very nice. Then we went back to the apartment for dinner.

Friday morning we packed a picnic and headed to Four Mile Beach. Was simply stunning although the notices about crocodiles are a little off putting LOL. We had a lovely day relaxing on this empty beach – there were very few people around.

Returning to our apartment we decided to relax so had bubbles in the spa on our balcony. Fantastic!

Squeaky clean we headed back out into town and went to Anzac Park to check it out. Lots of families and couples had set up here and were just chilling over sundowners waiting for the sunset. Very nice too. And then drove up to the lookout at the top of the hill – more spectacular views.

Leaving that behind we headed back into town for a drink at the iconic Iron Bar with it’s rusty corrugated iron paying homage to the Australian outback. Very nice place but they were getting ready for dinner service so we moved on. We decided against the Irish bar across the street as it was way too busy for social distancing, so headed up the road to the Rattle and Hum pub for a final drink before going back to our apartment for dinner admiring the illuminated trees along the main drag. Very pretty. It would appear that most tourists come out for an early dinner and then go back to their hotels / apartment for the evening, as very little is going on. Lots of the eateries are fully booked most of the time as there are quite a few that remain closed due to Covid.

Saturday, having had quite a bit of sun the day before, we decided to stay by the pool so we could get some shade. So we just chilled, relaxed and read.

Mid afternoon we got ourselves cleaned up and headed over to The Tin Shed for a drink. This is a Returned and Services League property (a bit like the British Legion) with great views over the water. Unfortunately they had no availability for visitors that afternoon. Never mind. But we did take the opportunity to check out the beautiful old church sitting on the waterfront nearby.

A bit further out of town is the Port Douglas Yacht Club (called The Yachty) so we headed there for a drink overlooking the pile moorings in the river. Was a very nice spot and we enjoyed the ambience and the scenery despite the annoying no-see-ums who decided we were tasty.

Back into town we went to Paddy’s for a final drink as there were very few people around. It was OK but not the best ambience so we headed back to our apartment for dinner and a quiet night in.

Sunday morning we were up early and headed to the street markets. Lots of different type of things on sale here which was interesting. My favourie was the coconut carved heads.

Afterwards we headed back to our apartment to collect our picnic and then onto Four Mile Beach as this was our last day in Port Douglas. When we arrived we had a coffee on the promenade before wandering onto the beach itself. We were pleasantly surprised to see (socially distanced) sunbeds and umbrellas for hire so we splashed out on a bit of comfort. Was a lovely day.

Back at the apartment we enjoyed the jacuzzi again before getting ready to go out for dinner. We went out a bit earlier to try and get into the Tin Shed and they could accommodate us, but only for 45 minutes. That would have been a little quick for a romantic dinner overlooking the water so we declined and wandered the waterfront to check out other offerings.

We were delighted to be able to secure a table in Melaleuca which is rated the no.1 restaurant in the area.

We took our seats at the back of the restaurant in a quiet spot and had slightly over-attentive service to start with whilst we made our choices. The drinks and starter was quickly served and we enjoyed it, although when I ordered crispy wasabi prawns I did not expect them to be whole (including heads and eyes), which, apparently, is how you are supposed to eat them!

The rest of the food was delicious although the service between courses was a bit indifferent. We wanted a leisurely meal but having empty/dirty plates in front of you for up to 20 minutes meant the place didn’t live up to its hype. Nevertheless we had a really nice evening and it was pretty reasonably priced too.

Returning to our apartment we watched the documentary about the real story of the death of Azaria Chamberlain – the dingo baby death. What happened to the family was shocking and a dreadful miscarriage of justice with the mother Lindy jailed for murder despite lots of (unused) evidence to corroborate the dingo story. We remembered this news story breaking back in 1980 so it was interesting to watch the real story of love, loss and redemption told exclusively by the Chamberlain family. Gripping viewing.

Monday morning we were up early to get packed up to return to Cairns. We checked out and headed back along the Captain Cook Highway. Again we had a bit of time so we took it leisurely stopping at a few spots along the way. Thankfully there were no fires this time!

We dropped the car off at Cairns domestic airport and went across the road to the terminal to print out our boarding passes and luggage tags. All went well and we dropped the bags and proceeded through security. Once we were settled airside we had coffee and a sandwich before boarding the Qantas flight to Brisbane.

This plane was packed so we were very happy to wear our (supplied) masks from the gate onwards. We enjoyed spectacular views over Cairns as we left….

Arriving into Brisbane we were picked up by our Uber and then headed back to Morpheus. Of course, by now, we hit the rush hour traffic so didn’t get back onboard Morphie until 5.30 pm. We had a quiet night in after unpacking.

So that’s the end of this adventure, we have had a great time and are really enjoying seeing some of Australia even though we are restricted to Queensland only. But we realise that we are very lucky compared to friends and family who continue to face the many challenges of Covid. Stay safe everybody. Bye for now