Saturday, September 29, 2012

Port Douglas Day one

It was late afternoon before we were ready to take our first walk around "Port". We didn't take long to check out the length of Macrossen Street before heading to the older end of town - portside - where Packers Creek joins the Coral Sea at the narrow Dicksons Inlet.  It seemed such a contrast to the tourist resorts and flash beachy cafes everywhere else, to find the quaint old St Mary's by the Sea - where there was a wedding about to happen!

Lots of kids were fishing off the old timber jetty by the church. One of them caught a large mullet on a tiny hook, much to his mother's dismay. We were watching all the big sailing boats and yachts coming into the marina after their day's outings to dive spots on the Great Barrier Reef.

We walked further along towards the marina and found the famous "Tin Shed", the clubhouse of the old Port Douglas combined services league. It's beautiful position over the water, great views of the inlet and happy hour prices make it a great choice for a cold (draught) Peroni to end off our day of travelling and celebrate our arrival in the tropics.

We're relieved to see "our" Aquarius sailing boat for Tuesday's outing is much smaller than the mammoth Quiksilver cruise liners that transport hundreds of people out to the reef each day.  Tonight Aquarius is taking a select group on a sunset cruise - but unfortunately there's not going to be much of a sunset with this cloud cover.

We found Port Douglas beach this morning.  It's four miles long AND HAS CROCS in the water in the right season (but not at the moment). This morning it's lined with walkers and joggers (including us) but there are no waves for the swimmers and the full length beach is quite narrow and edged with a shady plantation of stumpy palm trees. It reminds us of some beaches in Bali - even to the sun lounges that you hire for the day. 

We decided to visit Mossman Gorge today - only a 20 minute drive from Port Douglas.  In 2007 the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people started to take over the care and management of their traditional lands, which include Mossman Gorge.  Their beautiful new Visitor Centre at the gorge opened in June this year and a new management regime came into effect. So we are all able to walk with much greater respect and knowledge on Kuku Yalanji land when we visit Mossman Gorge now, compared to visitors in the past.

We took nearly two hours to experience most of the accessible tracks through this area of the Daintree National Park: Wet Tropics World Heritage listed rainforest (part of the oldest continuous rainforest in the world); dry creek beds and granite boulder strewn waterways where the Mossman River finds its way down the eastern slopes of the Main Coast Range; amazing rainforest trees and plants and fungi and beautiful butterflies, scrub turkeys and fish, clearly visible in the pristine clear creek beds.

The buttresses on these huge old red cedar trees provided the makings for spears and boomerangs used by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people in the old days.

We've been lucky to arrive in this part of Australia at a time when the weather is very mild - around 29oC, but with very little humidity.  We hardly raised a sweat today in the rainforest.

We loved the contemporary design of the new visitor's centre overlooked by Manjal Dimbi (Mt Demi) which is of great spiritual significance to the Kuku Yalanji people.  We stayed on for a late, delicious lunch.

I was intrigued by the design of the guttering for the pavillion style roof over the Mayi Cafe - obviously designed for the serious rainfalls experienced in these parts.

Back in Port we followed the signs to the fresh caught prawns available from one of the fishing boats moored in the marina.

Half a kilo of the large tiger prawns looks good to have as a "beer snack" this evening, on our balcony overlooking the Shantara Resort pool, with Rob and another Peroni.

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