The one thing I really wanted to do in Australia was to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. I wanted to do the Quicksilver tour because I thought there was an age restriction on snorkeling in the cruise ship tour. It turned out that the restriction was for Scuba. I did a lot of research and even considered going by plane out to the snorkeling site and then coming back by boat.
But I got sick and couldn't go after all.
I saw my granddaughter's photos, but that was as close as I came.
The excursion we picked was going out to a big stationary platform and snorkeling. Since it was winter, the water was cold, and the sky was overcast so it was hard to get photos. I went with Jean and Sarah from our table since my grandmother was sick and I met my friend Arden there too. They gave us protective suits and the snorkeling gear. There was also a glass bottomed boat. The tours are run by Quicksilver
My mother had given me an underwater camera and I took over 200 photos
we did the quicksilver low island sailing boat and it was special
we struck good weather and the views from the boat back to the rainforest were classic
we didnt take our good camera so missed out on lots of photos, the boat crew said that all our stuff could stay on the boat whenever we got on and off so really we regret not taking the SLR with us
the lunch is very good and very filling, we ate heaps and then just had a drink and small snack at the courthouse hotel after the day sailing
the island looks like the perfect image of a tropical island, no toilets and no facilities, very original
the crew on the boat have the best job - sailing there everyday is special and we're very glad we did it
definitely take sandals as the sand gets hot and its worth walking around the edge of the island to see all the shallow pools
we saw 7 hot air balloons the morning we flew,
in australia they only fly at sunrise so the colors in the sky were brilliant
the pilot was really funny and seemed to know the area super well
they included transfers in the ticket but we wished we had driven to the balloons as then we could have done the kuranda markets,as they are on the same road
had fresh mangoes and local food afterwards and the coffee they grow here that we flew over was excellent
definitely one of the best things to do from port douglas, all our friends loved the photos
Have just come back from Port Douglas and had a great time. They have Four Mile Beach which is netted off from the jellyfish and crocs and is a lovely white sandy beach. Also it's only 25 mins drive to Hartley's Crocodie Adventures which is a fantastic day out. Boat cruise, feeding/shows and a vast array of animals to see. You can even get your picture taken with a python or baby crocodile! There's a little cafe onsite and the staff are really friendly and helpful.
Would not recommend going to Cape Tribulation unless you're a huge fan of lookouts. Honestly just drive to the lookout above Port Douglas (less than 2 mins drive) and it's just as good. We wasted a lot of money driving to Cape Trib (including a 3 minute ferry - no jokes - which cost $22 return for the car!). It's really not worth it and there's not much to see up there. If you do go up I'd recommend the Bat House so you can hand fed the bat, but don't go on their nature walk unless you absolutely love finding new trees. There are some good boardwalks too.
Would definitely recommend the Sunday Morning Markets 8am onwards. Got 3 pineapples for $5 and they were amazing. Also various things to buy from jewellery to fresh produce to boomerangs etc. Fantastic morning out.
Although this attraction is almost half way between Cairns and Port Douglas, we visited from Port Douglas and used a coach service for transfers to/from. Although Hartley’s specify in their web site that they have a senior’s discount, this was not offered through the transport company -
BTS Tours and Transfers, who should include this discount in their pricing.
OK lets be perfectly honest. Very few tourists are ever likely to see crocodiles in the wild and certainly not up close and as personal as you can be to a 5 metre croc with large teeth – they really are not a cuddly type of animal! They are a killing machine that has not changed much since the days of the dinosaurs, around 300 millions years ago and quite frankly the best and safest place to see crocs is in zoos and the like. As was explained to us, in about 80% of the crocodile/people encounters where people are injured/killed, alcohol is involved – and the crocs don’t drink, so it’s drunken guys – mostly guys – who are half or fully tanked and reckon they are unkillable and able to wrestle crocs like they saw in Crocodile Dundee and other works of fiction. No doubt ‘egged’ on by their drunken mates. Perhaps we might applaud the crocs for ridding the earth of some of our refuse.
Some may consider Hartley’s a bit tacky and “touristy,” but I did enjoy most of the time there. The real highlights were the Crocodile Feeding and the Crocodile Attack Show and both led by very experienced handlers and one in particular, Shane, has a very funny and informative spiel. The boat cruise through a man made lagoon was very spectacular and the snake show was quite good.
I found the ‘visit’ to the crocodile farm disappointing. There was quite a crowd and we were lined up around a concrete pen and watched a group of ‘junior crocs’ just lazing around. There was one that we could pat (his weapons of war were taped up), but there was a long queue to do so. My suggestion is go to the photo opportunity shelter and have a chat to the handler and his baby croc. A family of 3 kids was having their photo taken while handling the baby croc and my wife and I watched in mirth as croc let loose with croc-poo – I was reminded of the old saying – “s**t happens.”
There are two conspiracy theories I’d like to share with you:
1. There are no events scheduled between 12 noon and 2pm – lunch time. There is a huge café and undercover eating deck and I’m sure it is Hartley’s well-laid trap to get you to spend up for lunch. We had a filled pita-bread roll each and a very small plate to share of grilled croc meat and cost around $A20. We brought along our own water and I’d suggest you do likewise and sip away while enjoying the various shows and for lunch.
2. The only exit from Hartley’s is through the gift shop and for many that is an invitation to spend on something, anything. OK there are funny tea shirts and other things to tempt the dollars out of your pocket. Be strong and keep nose in the air and walk past all those knick-knacks and other expensive and probably made in China paraphernalia that you don't really need and the day won’t cost so much.
I have a short video: “Never smile at a crocodile” and if you listed carefully, the ‘handler’ calls out to the huge croc, “You’re not looking at the chicken!” as he runs for shelter.
All up a fun and informative day and having been to Hartley’s and all their steel barriers, that’s as close as I want to get to crocodiles.
About the photos.
1. Really crocs don't talk to each other in English, so this photo is not correct - LOL
2. I seem to remember his name is Psyco and he's huge.
3. Although only a baby, he could still shred a finger of more. Jaws taped up, just in case.
4. Sir Gaw getting too close - and I hadn't been drinking either.
5 Other attractions include Koalas, snakes and birds.
Prices - adults $33.00, children $16.50, family $82.50
Note; this page is duplicated on my Cairns page
One of the advantages of Port Douglas is its close proximity to The Daintree, Mosman Gorge, Cape Tribulation and areas – much of which lies in World Heritage listed tropical rainforest.
I had pre-booked a one day tour through Tony’s Tours as they had been highly recommended. Through no fault of Tony’s Tours, I had to cancel the booking as we’d lucked in when the rental car company provided us, at no additional cost, with a 4WD vehicle for our 3 day trip to Cooktown. We travelled to Port Douglas from Cooktown along the famous Bloomfield Track which is only traversable by 4WD. Doing this we covered some of the ground that we would have seen through Tony’s.
The ‘track’ starts (or finishes) at the Mulligan Hwy about 35 kilometres from Cooktown (PLEASE stop off at The Lions Den Hotel in Helenvale) and is a very easy to drive gravel road for most of the distance to the indigenous community of Wujal Wujal. The road travels though a smattering of very small towns and villages and it is strongly suggested that visitors watch their speed. A local VT member tropicrd - better known as Dorrise - has a funny photo of a sign in a front garden “Warning Freerange Children and Animals” Funny, but true, so PLEASE SLOW DOWN.
Immediately after we passed Wujal Wujal is the Daintree River crossing and is NOT SUITABLE for conventional vehicles. Then the real adventure of 4WD driving starts as the road crosses ridges and fords at least 4 creeks – not very deep, but deep enough. There are glimpses of the coast, but not much more, and I would have liked to have seen a couple of areas for parking, so a few of the unspoilt beaches can be accessed on foot (probably best left the way they are – unspoilt). Not always easy to see the tropical wilderness while keeping eyes open wide for on-coming traffic, pot holes, sharp bends, steep bits – both up and down and all the other trials of driving on a track, but it was fun.
Suddenly we were back in ‘civilisation’ and saw well-maintained frontages of eco-lodges and retreats and wondered how much extra it costs staying in a property when the name starts with ‘eco’ and ends with 'retreat'? We stopped at Cape Tribulation (named by Captain James Cook in 1770) and walked to the almost deserted and very beautiful beach – completely unspoilt – and then walked to a nearby lookout for a great view.
The Cape Tribulation road winds through small communities and areas where there are expensive retreats, ice cream shops and almost anything else to tempt money from pockets and then the ferry crossing of the crocodile infested Mosman River - $12.50 for a one way trip by car/4WD - cheaper for two-way travel.
After the ferry we journeyed to the Daintree Village and had a late lunch while tourist watching and then drove through cane fields for another 45 minutes before reaching Port Douglas. It was a great day although, in hindsight, I would have preferred Tony to do the driving and I’d do the looking.
About the photos:
1. Bloomfield River causeway - note river height markers and PLEASE check first.
2. Almost impenetrable jungle - don't wander off on your own.
3. Creek crossing and 4WD only.
4. View of one of the headlands from Cape Tribulation beach.
5. Mosman River ferry - long way around if not working and don't fall in the river!
Are you on a budget but want to view the passing parade of boats? Suggest head firstly to the supermarket and stock up on a tasty range of cold treats and then head on down to Anzac Park and grab a seat as close to the waters edge as possible and then sit back and let them all roll past you. You can even partake in the little local custom of ‘sundowning’ at a fraction of the cost of the nearby hotels and restaurants.
Suggest you arrive around 3.30pm and before the daily tidal wave of cruise boats returning to the nearby marina. Maybe before then head to St Mary’s By The Sea and reflect on a quieter time.
About the photos:
1. Quaint St Marys originally built 1880, partly destroyed by a cyclone and relocated in 1988 to current location.
2. ANZAC park seen from the water
Now here’s a place to head to if it’s too hot or too wet, the fully undercover and air conditioned Marina Mirage. There are lots of shops where they will try and tempt the money out of your pocket – including an oversupply of souvenir shops. There’s also a good selection of eateries overlooking the extensive marina and the expensive boats. Also a Hogs Breath restaurant and all their tasty delights and the marina building is the main station for the little steam train that only runs on Sundays (being a volunteer on Puffing Billy Railway near Melbourne, I can understand the difficulties in getting enough qualified volunteers to fill other shifts – I was disappointed that I did not even see the former sugar cane train given new life with a less sweet load to carry).
The marina is also home to the cruise boats that travel out to the nearby Great Barrier Reef – Port Douglas is one of the closest major land based ports to the reef and there are many who stay in Cairns - 65 kilometres away – and travel to Port Douglas for a reef experience. Quicksilver is one of the major cruise companies and even has a large fleet of branded coaches parked outside and ready for the hoards.
The marina shopping centre was all but deserted when we visited and I would think it really only comes to life with the tidal floe of tourists beginning or ending a day or half day cruise. I’m cynical enough to suggest that the fleet of coaches gives sufficient ‘shopping time’ for the tourists.
About the photos:
1. Shops and more shops.
2. One of the Quicksilver fleet on which you are part of the tourism factory.
3. Millions of dollars worth of boats.
4. Marina complex from the water and some of the boats that do the real work in the area.
At the Coral Sea end of 4 mile beach is a concrete walkway and steps that lead to firstly a great view of the beach and as far as can be seen to the horizon, but also the exclusive and expensive Murphy Street – and to think, we all thought the name Murphy was associated with the poor and downtrodden back in Ireland.
Murphy Street is parallel to Macrossen Street and can also be accessed from Grant, Owen and Wharf Streets. It is also the back door entry to at least one of the super-expensive restaurants that line Macrossen Street. These ‘back doors’ allow the rich and famous to be dropped off without having to face the throngs of ‘plebeians’ at the main entrance.
We dained to tramp that exclusive street and wondered just who could afford the price tag as shown on the real estate advert, which was outside an exclusive home boasting amazing views. The asking price was $A3.6 MILLION. As a further slap in the face to us ‘plebs’ the advert states that the property is a, “holiday home.” If that is the price to pay for the ‘holiday home,’ how much is the potential new owner’s home in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, or maybe all three worth?
There are a number of very exclusive properties available for those who can afford FROM $1250 per NIGHT and during peak season for a minimum of 7 nights. That ‘holiday rental’ property boasts on the web site, “As the large carved timber entrance doors are closed, the rest of the world is put behind you.” $1250 too much, then there is another property available with a lesser view and is a mere $990 a night – wonder if they give a seniors discount?
At the beach end of the street the way upwards and to the better view of the telegraph hill lookout is sadly blocked. To get to that view we would have had to go the long way via Wharf Street. Why??? Because there is no pathway along the cliff tops as there is very exclusive property that has the best views and where for $1250 a night . . . Sigh!!!
After all that expensive looking, we returned to the ‘poverty’ of Macrossen Street.
About the photo's:
1. The Global Financial Crises must have hit the property market in Port Douglas, this was one of many 'For Sale' signs we saw along Murphy Street.
2. The multi million dollar view and yours for nothing if you walk and ignore . . .
3. . . . the sign!!!!
P.S. nearly forgot to add - it was wheelie bin collection day when we tramped that street. The wheelie bins seemed to be the same colour and size as issued by the local council to all the other properties in the Port Douglas area - a great leveller!!!
You might be a little confused at the heading. Port Douglas Yacht Club is straight forward, but W.A.G.S.? (Actually now and in the best interests of equality officially has been changed to W.A.G.L.S).
WAGS (now WAGLS) is an acronym for Wednesday Afternoon Gentlemen Sailing (Ladies is the L part – remember the “best interests of equality” bit above) and is a FREE sail for visitors to Port Douglas. OK not quite free, but very close. It is expected that visitors “shout” (Aussie slang for buy) the skipper a drink and stay in the club and have a meal and whatever they want to drink at FAIR prices. The meals cost around $22 each and serves are hearty. It’s sort of pub grub but better than an average pub. Many different types of beer on tap and plenty of other beers, wines and all the rest – just enjoy.
I tried to pre-book for dinner and was told they were booked out – and yes I was disappointed until we turned up just before 4pm and put our name down on the list (see photo). Over the next 30 minutes or so, we “mingled” with as many of the members of the Yacht Club as we could – then we lucked in and found ourselves aged 65 and never sailed before, as part of the crew of the good sailing ship “Samantha.” With over 40 years of sailing experience I was a natural to be signed up as ballast. (OK my experience is limited to watching the start of the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race on TV every 26th December).
At 5pm we boarded “Samantha” and told to sit on the front section – “Yessumboss,” I replied as I nursed my stubby of beer. Shortly afterwards the ropes were cast off and we motored a short distance and those who knew what they were doing hoisted up the sails and did whatever proper yachtsmen and women do under these circumstances. We journeyed along the river to where some sort of traffic light system ended and we cleared terra firma and set off into the Coral Sea – “Gasp,” I muttered, “I didn’t bring our passports and not sure if they’ll let us in wherever we are going to.” Land was disappearing fast – too fast. Not sure if we actually reached the edge of the continental shelf and therefore outside Australia, but the coast line was sort of a blur. As we hadn’t eaten the skipper took pity and turned the vessel around. We really lucked in when a sharp eyed crew member yelled, “WHALE.” We actually saw a whale and that was a real bonus to a great afternoon.
Light was fading as we made our way up the river and berthed at the yacht clubs pontoon. We walked into the open air dining area and saw there was a table reserved for each boat – plenty of room for everyone and we had a great meal washed down with our choice.
To me the afternoon and evening at the Yacht Club was a real highlight to our stay in Port Douglas – and the slogan for that club – “This club was built to have fun” and from our memorable night it was fun.
To the club and members and in particular the skipper of “Samantha,” thanks again.
We visited Palm Cove which is a beachside resort and residential area located approximately 40 minutes drive south of Port Douglas. Promoted in advertisements as a high end holiday destination it offers a beautiful tropical beach, nice coastal scenery and a variety of accommodation with many beautiful resorts.
Less developed than Port Douglas but very similar in what it offers for for a relaxing holiday.
Flagstaff Hill has a popular lookout with sweeping views along the coast of Port Douglas.
Bring your camera to capture the panoramic coast.
You will see the entire stretch of the sandy Four Mile Beach, the rainforest of Far North Queensland and the calm blue waters and coral cays of the Great Barrier Reef.
The easiest way to the top is to drive, however for those who like waling it is close to town but a tough climb.
This sign at Four Mile Beach warns the public of "Stingers" which could be in the water. The stingers are seasonal and only appear during certain months of the year.
If stung Vinegar will lessen the pain. A bottle is attached to the sign, just dab vinegar on the sting to bring relief.
If visiting the area enquire to find out if it is "Stinger " season.
We visited the club late afternoon for a cold drink on the balcony and watch the sun go down as the dive boats return to port after a day on the Great Barrier Reef.
The balcony gives one of the best views in Port Douglas. This is not an exclusive club for the rich and famous. Any visitor is welcome, you must be 18 years or older and just sign the visitors book to be a member for the day.
The club has a full service bar, restaurant for lunch and dinner.