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Plane, train and automobile - instead of southern Africa it's off to FNQ

bpeteb

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Having only driven in and out to drop off the people we'd gone up to Cooktown with Port Douglas was a bit of a surprise. For a start way too many fancy NSW and Vic cars parked up and down the main street. Ignoring that it was actually really nice. Lots of great looking restaurants and cafes and much more bustling than sleepy Palm Cove. We parked down by the water and then had a wander around

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had lunch at the Central Hotel

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then drove kilometres back out of town to our lodgings Ramada Resort by Wyndham Port Douglas. What a ridiculous name! Ramada Port Douglas Accommodation | Ramada Resort Port Douglas

It actually looked pretty good from the road and it got better as you walked into the lobby and out into the centre of the hotel.

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Best of all there is s shuttle service that runs all around Port Douglas with specific regular stops plus you can call them to pick you up and drop you off. $4pp each way. Bargain

Really impressed with our ground floor room that had a shuttered sliding door that opened out to the garden and the stream that ran down to the ginormous pool. After the rock hard bed at Ferntree this one was like floating on a cloud :)

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bpeteb

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we hadn't even thought about booking for dinner. First place we chose was a big no. Second said come back in half an hour. Salsa was fantastic. Both of us said one of the best meals we've had in a very long time. Excellent service. A beautiful if noisy space. A fantastic night to finish our holiday

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the best espresso martinis we've ever had, and we've had, and made, a few...

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jastel

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Nice pix of my backyard...

Have been going up there for 40+ years, even waay back when the road was dirt, and none of the man made things you photographed existed.
It was better back then I think, much harder to get to...but you could swim anywhere back then as crocs were under control and not in plague proportions like now. We never even bothered about jellyfish back then.
But I have still only seen Cassowaries there about 5 times.
 

bpeteb

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Port Douglas is apparently all about Four Mile Beach so of course we needed to find out if this was true. That's what we did for our last morning walk. The Ramada isn't on the beach but there's a path out of the back of the resort that takes you into the suburban area between it and the beach.

It is a beautiful endless beach. bigal thought it would be much nicer if we were the only people walking on it but that was not ever going to, and will never, happen :)

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we checked out and then had breakfast at the hotel's open restaurant by the pool

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the pool and stream were really beautiful. There were a couple of decent sized barra in the pools closer to reception. The hotel was a bargain. It was originally $119 for the night and with the $30 QF voucher it was $89!

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bpeteb

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When we were in Cairns initially we walked past the gallery and saw that the Ned Kelly series was on exhibition. You couldn't walk in, you had to book a time slot and none were available while we were there so we booked a time slot for our last day.

The two of us are notorious for wandering around galleries and chuckling at art. And this was bigal viewing Nolan's Ned Kelly series. Ned wasn't his thing. I won't post what he found here but while we were sat at the lounge later in the afternoon he showed me a number of copies painted by five year olds that he though were better.

I'll admit that I eventually struggled. Possibly due to the pretentious commentary from Nolan that accompanied each painting. Oh well, it was free...

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we called into Wolf Lane to purchase out bottle of Davidson plum gin

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we dropped the car off and unexpectedly were told a cab had just been called to take us to the airport. Big tick to Jucy!

The airport was super quiet as was the lounge. As QF has advised, the food offerings would be limited. I think I got the same sandwiches after my colonoscopy a few weeks before the trip. Small sangers, jelly trifle, a tomato soup with crusty bread. Bar was open. They wandered round with trays of chocolate mousse and carrot cake.

Everyone socially distance quite well down at the gate but once the flight was called it went out the window. Very few of us stood 1.5, away from each other in the queue but what did that really matter once you got on the plane? We masked up (not sure why bigal's is under his chin?), as did nearly everyone else.

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The food offered was a square of cake and a bottle of water

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Baggage collection at BNE was an absolute joke. Three flights all using the same carousel and people literally crammed around it. We kept our masks on, stood back, and made a dash into the turmoil when we saw our bags.

We had a most unexpectedly great holiday. We'll be back to north Qld again, and are pretty sure we'll go back to PD next time and most likely stay at the Ramada. With the free bikes and the local shuttle why wouldn't we?

Fingers crossed the border between Qld and South Australia are open for our trip to Kangaroo Island in early October.
 

OZDUCK

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Thanks for the excellent photos. You seemed to have a good time and a chance to unwind.
 

jastel

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Believe it or not cars used to race on 4 mile beach back in the 60's...planes have landed on it too.

All those palm trees you see on the drive in to PD came from a plantation in the Daintree, just past the Nerada Tea farm...you wouldnt know where now after 30 years unless someone showed you. They were bought down on trucks 2 at a time, on a dirt road half as wide as what is there now for Skase's Mirage Resort.
 
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bpeteb

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Believe it or not cars used to race on 4 mile beach back in the 60's...planes have landed on it too.

All those palm trees you see on the drive in to PD came from a plantation in the Daintree, just past the Nerada Tea farm...you wouldnt know where now after 30 years unless someone showed you. They were bought down on trucks 2 at a time, on a dirt road half as wide as what is there now for Skase's Mirage Resort.
Wow! That would have been amazing. The bad old days of Skase and the Bjelke peanut govt. We couldn't have done what we did if they hadn't allowed that road to be built but also not saw what we did if it hadn't quickly been declared a WHA.

We saw signs around a group of palms at Clifton Beach that said they were not well and the reason was being investigated. Either a fungal, parastic or insect problem. Some of the trees looked pretty sick. Hopefully they work out what the issue is because if it spreads along that coast and they lose the palms it won't just be the look of the area affected, I'd imagine the ecosystem will be. I was looking at the very healthy palms along the beaches of the Daintree and thought about sourcing replacements from up there but not viable considering it's a national park now.
 

ric_melb

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Most enjoyable trip report. Enjoyed the commentary and photos, especially those of food!
It takes time to prepare and post a trip report, so I thank you for taking that time for us.
 

bpeteb

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Thanks for the kind comments everyone. I write and post these reports as much for me (so I have a record of what we did) as for everyone who reads them. Especially in times like we're in now it's important to us to promote businesses that need our patronage to survive (and those you might be best to avoid).

Thanks again.

ps, I missed a story about bigal stumbling about in the dark at Crocodylus...


When we got back to the lodge after the night walk bigal stayed talking to the lady who took the walk and I headed back to our hut. Lights went off at 10:30 and I didn't want to be out their when they did. I kept listening for him, it got past 10:30, the lights went out and I thought uh oh. He didn't have his phone so he had no torch.

I was already in bed and it is literally pitch black when the lights go out. I knew there was no way bigal would find his way back. So I grabbed my torch (phone) and wandered down the path he'd hopefully be coming up. Nope, so I went around to the common area. Nope. As I headed back to the huts I saw a torch off to the left. There was Al with one of the girls who were staying in the hut in the exact opposite direction to ours.

He'd turned in the right direction, then thought it wasn't, turned the other way, very slowly walked along the path (gravel, so it crunched), saw a dim light ahead and luckily the girls were finishing up a game of monopoly by torchlight on their verandah when he stuck his head around the corner.

When we got back to the hut he explained that he'd been involved in a very interesting conversation about living in the Daintree and why people relied on diesel generators instead of solar. And why is that? Not enough open space to to sit enough solar panels in full sunlight to store the power in big enough batteries.
 

jastel

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The Daintree (and FNQ in general) has always been a fight a between the Hippies and Developers.
The tourists need to come and see it...so they can care about it and then save it...but just by being there they are destroying it...

Is it better to burn 10 million litres of diesel than to clear some trees for an extension to mains power?
Would tourists prefer quiet and bird noises or thumping noisy generators?
Is it better to have bitumen or dirt roads with the trees covered in an inch of dust, and all the associated erosion and water runoffs to the reef?
Should they build facilities or should everyone throw their rubbish out the window and crap in a hole?
Front page of the local paper on Saturday was backpackers illegally camping and "fouling" the serenity along the Capt Cook Highway, the road from CNS to PD. This is how the Daintree used to be. Illegal, unenforced and do as you want.

You are correct in saying solar is not the total answer, it is a rainforest! It rains most days. Batteries are not good enough on their own and then there is the problem of disposing of all the old panels and batteries.

The old debates about power and a bridge and improved access come up every year. Back in the old days there was one Telecom Public Telephone on the North bank to use to call for help after the ferry shut at 6pm. The next one north was at Wujal. A long way to go to get help on those roads. Now tourists want eftpos and wifi to Facebook and instagram their trips...that takes power.

I think they are keeping a reasonable balance, yes - it is more crowded and "suburban normal" than I would like but hasn't been turned into Disneyland yet...

The same argument is also going on for the Cape York road to the tip. If you want to "do the tip" in a 4WD you had better hurry up! The drive time has halved in the last 20 years.
 

drron

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Thanks for the TR.Thinking of FNQ for another domestic trip.
As for the train it sure is speedy compared to the 1960s.In January 3 of us from Uni decided to drive to Cairns sleeping rough on the way.Yes stupid.Wet season and all.Got to Mackay and got cut off by floods.Car got pranged so loaded on a train back to Brisbane where one of the others had an uncle in the car repair business.
'
So 3 soaking young fellows arrived on Mackay Station at 0930 and the Station Master was out in the rain sweeping the platform.We asked him when the train to Brisbane left.He replied-The Sunlander leaves here at 9AM every morning.So a few expletives and then he said-Don't worry.Yesterday's train is due in half an hour.

Over 24 hours to get to Brisbane.The car beat us easily as the Sunlander had to wait until Goods trains passed it.
 

parsonstrish

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I had a lovely stay @ Ellis Beach c/van park. Stayed in cabin on beach. Highlight was sitting on my deck having a cupa & watching 2 dolphins swim past in the sea. I’ve recently been thinking of another visit.
 

Mattg

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Thanks for the detailed report on the train from Brisbane to Cairns. Looks like an interesting trip, and I like the look of the lie-flat bed setup. Almost reminds me of business class on a plane, but without the price-tag.
 

jastel

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I'm madly taking notes - going to CNS in a couple weeks :)

Most things are open...currently...albeit at a reduced schedule.
The only major thing shut is Skyrail.
Not every reef boat goes every day, they share the passengers and the trips.
So if you want a specific tour, you might end up on another similar one instead.
The crowds are down, only grey nomads to fight with at the moment.
 
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