I could tell I wasn’t at home without closing my eyes. Instead of the usual crows screeching and the sound of old queenslanders being attacked with power tools in the name of renovation, I listened to what Pauline calls the technology bird and Kingfishers. But there was no time for musing over the obvious abundance of nature in Cairns, we had to get in the car for the ride to Port Douglas.
The drive takes us about 45 minutes from Cairns along a sugar cane lined highway that leads you to the rocky and sandy coastline. It’s the tropical version of the Great Ocean Road except that there aren’t that many places to stop and enjoy the view. We contemplated stopping at Rex Lookout on the way up but the general consensus was that it was a bit too busy. We’d check it out on the way back.
Turning off the highway to Port Douglas we passed The Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary. Deb enthralled us with the story about the time she had visited there with her mother. They fed a fruit bat a mintie and it was instantly addicted to the sweet treat. It followed them all over the place and jumped in her sister’s hair. Pretty funny for everyone except the sister. You can pay to go and have breakfast with the birds but you can do that anywhere in Cairns whenever you eat outside so I suspect it isn’t worth the amount of money they charge.
The markets at Port Douglas are held every Sunday in a park between the main street and river entrance. As we entered our noses lapped up the sickly sweet aroma of freshly cut pineapple. You could buy it in pieces or as juice but I resisted the temptation as I wanted to see more of the markets. I didn’t get far though because I tasted some macadamia nut bumble bee nougat (it’s kind of like honeycomb but not honey because it came from a bumble bee). The lady knows what she is doing because as soon as you have a small sample you must buy a whole packet because it is incredibly morish. I bought some antipasto as well but that was more because I was guilty for having a sample – not because it was anything special.
Arts and crafts is the primary focus of the markets and is the place to buy handpainted glass, kangaroo wood toys and attitude gnomes. $55 was the only thing standing between me buying Pauline the one where the gnome is doing the finger. I think it would be perfect for her to put at the front door. That or the one flashing his penis. There were also some excellent faces that had been carved out of coconuts at another stall which also nearly made the wallet come out. Unfortunately there wasn’t a face that said buy me so we passed on that too.
While Deb and Dianne were seeing about getting a massage, Pauline and I wandered down to the pier and then back along the main street. The coffee shops were a bustling with holidayers eating sunday breakfast. The street was pretty similar to Hastings street in Noosa with expensive art stores next to tourist trinkets. We passed a pub that did cane toad racing most nights and across the road was a huge fake croc that made a post bleed.
After Deb had her massage (which was apparently more like a beating) we headed back to the car for a quick tour around the town. Driving up to the lookout we got an excellent view of Four mile beach then screeched out of town heading for Mossman and it’s gorge. Mossman is a sugar cane town so when the mill is working the town is bustling but as it was out of season the place was pretty empty. Heading out to the gorge we passed the interestingly architected hospital and RSL cottages. At the bottom of the gorge there is an aboriginal settlement where you have to slow down to drive through. At the end of the road is a place to park and a picnic spot for lunch. Perfect for us to lay out the table with the provisions kindly supplied by Deb and Dianne. The leftover rissoles and bread tasted even better in the relaxing environment although we were stalked by numerous bush turkeys.
The reason why the place was called Mossman was pretty obvious due to the amount of moss clinging to trees and rocks. The water gushing past the smooth rocks was so picturesque it was hard to stop taking photos. There were lots of people swimming and a simple aboriginal guy who stood alone on a rock saying hello to whoever passed by. I reckon when he got out he must have looked like a prune he was in there that long. We wandered up to the suspension bridge where Pauline freaked out and didn’t make it to the middle (probably didn’t help that I was swinging it). We stopped for water and an ice cream on the way out which was purchased from the singing ice cream van in the carpark. Then it was back in the car for a drive to Newell Beach.
Deb had been coming to Newell Beach with her family since she was a kid and recently her and Dianne had holidayed in a unit at the caravan park. We were here primarily to collect some fresh coconuts (apparently the ones picked off the tree green aren’t as nice). While Pauline and Deb went hunting Dianne and I checked out the beach. A lot of it had been washed away by cyclones so there were a few trees knocked over in the sand. All the palm trees made me think I was in Jamaica or somewhere. When we returned I was summoned to the toilet to inspect something. I was a bit dubious about what I was being called to look out and to my relief there was this beautiful green tree frog clinging to the back of a toilet door. It didn’t mind posing for photos so I took a few. When we emerged Di was complaining about the lady who had just walked by with her dog. She was disgusted that the dog had just done a diarrhea poo and she hadn’t cleaned it up. Deb argued that you can’t really pick up diarrhea. 😀 With that we left Newell Beach and started heading back to Cairns.
We stopped for bad coffee at Turtle Cove resort where naked gay men frolicked in the spa while others with clothing lay about in hammocks underneath the palm trees. The place looked pretty relaxing but the sewer smell at the entrance put us off a bit. This was primarily a scouting stop but Dianne had fun with the guy who made the coffee – he may make a pretty bad drink but he can certainly make quick comebacks. My favourite bit was when a guy with a 70s porn mustache sauntered by in his dick togs. I thought gay men had better taste than that but I guess I’m just going by stereotypes.
Our next stop was at Rex Lookout to watch the hang glider swing back and forth and then land. They actually take off from the lookout then get lifted above the lookout by the wind. Awesome but not something at the top of my list to do. After that we did a drive-by past Palm Cove. It should really be called Paperbark Cove because of the enormous trees that line the street. They are so huge that some of them have had shops built around them so their trunks poke through the ceiling. This place has money dripping from it’s pores and looked like a beautiful place to spend a relaxing time even if you got broke from it. I’m not sure but I think Greg Norman had something to do with the place, maybe he designed the golf course?
Back in Cairns we stopped for a shower then headed off to the Barron pub for steak. I ordered a prosciutto and cheese rib fillet that was the best steak I think I’ve ever had (sorry the Norman and Danielle). It was so easy to slice and consume and all for $17 including salad and chips. Mmmm yum. If you ever go to Cairns you must eat here. It isn’t in town though so you’ll need transportation. It’s fun going to restaurants with Dianne because she is a regular at all the places we went to so the staff like to chat with her. She isn’t afraid to tell them what is wrong if there is anything wrong with the food which can make us cringe but it is better for the establishment so they know what sucks and what doesn’t. She chatted a little with the manager earlier in the evening but as we were leaving we noticed that mothers on mothers day get a free glass of champagne. She asked the manager where our free drinks were and she replied that we weren’t mothers. Dianne quickly responded with the response “Yes we are, we’re motherf**kers” (she mouthed the last word). The manager just cracked up laughing and we left with Deb saying that she would never go back. As we drove in to the night all they would have heard was our car cackling with laughter.