Port Douglas

Port Douglas, Impressions. 13th November
On Monday we leave Lake Eacham. We take the road down from Mareeba to the Captain Cook Highway. It is a spectacular descent through dense forest. The highway itself is a very scenic drive with some fine views of the coast.
Port Douglas: luxuriant tropical foliage, heavy and humid. Overall effect of walking through a hothouse. An Australian Santa Barbara though slightly more flamboyant and marginally downmarket. Tiled pavements and shops which aspire to boutiquehood. Pricy craftwork, much of it claiming to be of aboriginal provenance. Australian schools must be offering GCSE Aboriginal Art on the curriculum these days.
Graeme is the owner of our cottage which is well appointed and very well situated. He wears a tweed fishing hat over his long, beach boy locks and is very helpful.
We have a detached, two storey residence. It is surrounded by large tropical trees and plants filled with loud and brightly coloured birds. It is very secluded. It has a plunge pool which we make use of in short order. Greatly refreshed we binge on free and fast Internet access. It is now hot and windy with a few spots of rain. This seems to play havoc with the TV reception. The programmes, as usual, are largely second hand English productions. Quizzes and Stephen Fry seem to be staples. Eventually we locate a suitably sober news channel.
We take a stroll through the hot town. There’s a guy with a dobro-type guitar. He plays random phrases and hits the instrument from time to time with his metal bar. He interjects comments about sunglasses. There’s an oriental girl of very delicate appearance sitting cross-legged and using beautifully graceful arm movements to play what appears to be an electronic gourd. Perhaps a twenty first century gamelan. There are crowds of tourists and rugged looking Aussie holidaymakers up for the eclipse.
We return to the cottage, hermetically seal it as far as possible and turn the air conditioner on full blast which produces a habitable environment in a relatively short time. After dinner we stroll to the beach. There is a first aid kit of vinegar for stingers. Further along the breezy shore is a life guard hut with a poster depicting the various native stinging beasties. Further still is the smart premises of the Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club. We return via the Ice Cream Planet on the corner of our street and sample their wares. The verdict is positive.
On Tuesday we walk to the lookout on top of the hill behind our cottage through a very tropical mix of spectacular palms and other exotic plants and swish holiday residences. At the top there is a toposcope showing us that we are as far from London as we are from New York. There is a sweeping view of the bay and Four Mile Beach and the huge, green hills beyond. It is a steep walk. Some people have hired scooters or used the local trike service which seems to be the Aussie holidaymakers’ vehicle of choice.
Coffee in town. A tropical downpour is in progress as we sit under a parasol. The rainwater is probably stronger than the coffee. Back for a plunge in the deliciously cold pool and a simple lunch. We chill with iPads in front of the news channel on exceptionally comfortable loungers. It’s a hell of a job but someone has to do it.
Later we scan the weather reports for the next morning anxiously. It is not looking great. We take a late and very warm evening stroll through the town to an eclipse market. A live country band is playing in a nearby bar. It is all strangely subdued.

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One thought on “Port Douglas

  1. That does look like you’ve just parked in the jungle (with a little bit of Tarmac there!) – sounds different again, and very pretty- plunge pool must be rather nice though

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