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Published: December 28th 2008
In the early hours of the morning the rain started heavily and woke me up. It was joined by great flashes of lightening and thunder a few seconds later. Within half an hour the storm was above us and the sound of the rain hitting our roof seemed to echo around our van. I was convinced something in the park was going to get stuck.
The rain poured down all night keeping us awake and it was still there when we got up in the morning. We were pleased to have decided against a visit to Magnetic Island (when we realised we only had three full days left it didn‘t leave enough time), and when we saw Tom and Laura at breakfast they’d had a rethink and were going to avoid it too. The idea of another island trip in the rain just wasn‘t appealing.
We said our goodbyes and set off towards Mission Beach. Tom and Laura were planning to stop there overnight and we were planning on popping in to check it out on our way up to Port Douglas.
The rain seemed to get heavier the higher up north we drove and by the time we got to Mission Beach it was coming down in sheets. Neither of us wanted to get out of the van so we decided not to bother stopping which was a shame. Instead we decided to push on to Port Douglas, an hour north of Cairns.
On the way we met a ‘Slow’ sign that we thought marked the beginnings of some road works. Unfortunately it didn’t; it marked a train crash which had happened the previous day. A train had run straight into a lorry, derailing most of the carriages and mangling the truck. We found out later than two people had died on the train and that apparently the lights at the crossing had been reported faulty by other truck drivers over the past few weeks. Driving across the track behind it and seeing the debris and overturned carriages was frightening. At the time we had no idea how long ago the accident had happened but we could see it was recent as there were lots of people working to clear the area and make it safe.
As we travelled higher up the coast we started seeing mountains and the scenery changed dramatically (and the rain finally stopped!). The fields at either side of the road were filled with sugar cane and sometimes the soil was filled with deep channels of water - I’m not sure if it was from irrigation, creeks or just from the immense amount of rain.
The mountains we’d seen previously on the trip had clouds clinging to the summit, but these seemed to have whispers of cloud vertically hanging up the sides - almost like mini tornados - and streams of clouds curled around the middle. At the base was lots of lush greenery and palm trees - it felt very tropical. We passed some small deserted beaches (due to stingers and crocs) which had inviting arcs of golden sand and greeny blue calm water. It was a shame you couldn’t swim in most of them but some did have lagoons sectioned off by large nets to keep nasty things out.
We picked a campsite near to Port Douglas and checked in with a list of chores to catch up on. One of them was to select a barrier reef cruise from the masses on offer and doing lots of washing.
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