Meeting Nemo in Port Douglas

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November 8th 2014
Published: November 8th 2014
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We had enjoyed SE Asia but was time for something different so were quite happy to be heading out to Australia. The flights worked out well. Our long, overnight flight, Bangkok to Sydney was our introduction to Quantas. The jury is out, we might just have caught the cabin crew on a bad night. Sydney airport, at 7.15 am was manic. Queues every where. Guess several big overnight flights hit the customs and transfers sections all at the same time. Anyway, after following the advice of ground staff, i.e. just jump every queue ( didn't come easy being a well conditioned British queuing champion) we did make the flight to Cairns. Again on Quantas and fortunately a totally different experience, with relaxed and smiley crew.

Port Douglas is about an hour North of Cairns, on the North Queensland Coast and it is beautiful. A small permanent population swelled big time by visitors. Not quite like Bunn Leisure though. We had booked "By the sea", holiday apartment complex. Bedroom, kitchenette, shower etc, patio bordered by tropical garden. Lovely and not expensive. The beach (4 mile beach, as named by Captain Cook) is just 30 seconds away. The main road through town with shops, restaurants and bars is just 30 seconds in the other direction.

Walking round the main spots doesn't take long, it's all quite compact. The modern history (post native inhabitants) kicks in around the late 1800's. Just a few old buildings remain, e.g the oldest courthouse in Queensland, St Mary's By The Sea (church).

It seems that the place's main claim to fame is to do with its climate and coastal position, with the Great Barrier Reef being a couple of miles off shore. Beyond the resort the sugar cane industry has been and still is a big industry. The goldfields, further inland, have been important too.

There are several providers for all things tourist. We chose a company called Calypso, to take us out to the Reef for a spot of snorkelling. Clearly a big money generating industry. Our boat, shared with about 50 other folks, looked brand spanking new and was purpose built for the job. We got to play on 3 different reef sites. The coral was lovely, the greatest diversity, anywhere. Lots of fish life too, but nothing big like turtles or reef sharks (harmless), this is their habitat, but we were unlucky not to see any. One of the crew on the boat, Sue, was a marine biologist and she gave a wonderfully enthusiastic and informative briefing about all things ecological. Apparently the famous Nemo, the orange and white Clown Fish made famous by Walt Disney, is not that easy to find. We were impressed therefore on our last reef that she led a swim out to one specific anemone that was home to Nemo. After that we had to watch the film, borrowed from the apartments film library. Ah, lovely story, but so much real information within it too.

For a more relaxed excursion we took a trip on a steam cruiser, Lady Douglas, up the Dickson inlet, a tidal mangrove waterway, home to crocs. Again a great feature of the trip was the brilliant commentary of the skipper who painted a super picture in words of the inlet's plant and animal life. Impressively, the skipper did manage to find us a crocodile, not that easy since by and large they lie in the water with just 30cms of head above the water, in this case the remaining 4 metres submerged.

Another great attraction that we got to look at was the wildlife habitat centre. A bit like Cornwall's Eden Centre, but with animals as well as plant life. Fascinating to see so many of the country's iconic beasties, close up. I was impressed with the Koala ( not a bear, but a marsupial). This little chap gets to sleep, hugging the tree, for around 19 hours per day, every day!

Today's fun has been registering for tomorrow's marathon race. The Great Barrier Reef Marathon had dictated the timing and route we took in this leg of the holiday. During the summer we trained quite diligently, but having been away for 5 weeks, with no running at all, it's looking a bit of a daunting challenge. All mental strategies are being explored at the moment in the hope that a DNF can be avoided. There's no escaping the fact that this will hurt!


Tot: 2.362s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 12; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0196s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 2; ; mem: 1.3mb