For our last two days in Cairns, we decided to rent a car and head north to check out the lovely coastal town of Port Douglas for some golf, hiking and my third dive. The tiny fishing village of Port Douglas is the only place in the world where two completely different World Heritage Sites lie side by side: The Great Barrier Reef and The Daintree National Park.
We woke up after finally sleeping in (something I rarely do on an active vacation) and hit the road for the scenic one drive north to Port Douglas. The first thing on the agenda was a round of golf at the beautiful, tropical links course in town. Being an avid golfer, my dad desperately wanted to play some golf in Australia. I am not that good of a golfer yet agreed to partake in a few rounds of golf for fun and frustration. Golf has always been a family affair as I come from a family of golfers and even had the pleasure of playing several times with my father and ninety-year-old grandfather.
Although I hadn’t played for a long time and was extremely bad, I still enjoyed the gorgeous views of the sensational golf course in Port Douglas. The course was full of exotic flowers and birds singing joyfully. We were surprised to find no one else out on the course. After a few holes in the hot, unbearably humid weather, we understood why: Only the crazy people like us would play in this kind of weather!
Here is the entrance to the club:
Beware! There are live crocodiles lurking in the pond! I wouldn’t want my ball to veer that way. But the flowering lily pads were sure pretty.
Since we were located right near a tropical rainforest, it was sweltering hot and humid. I found it quite uncomfortable and definitely preferred the water activities in the area as opposed to sweaty golf.
After golf, we got on the road again and headed further north to the Daintree National Forest.
The World Heritage Daintree rain forest is one of those unique parks that has remained relatively unchanged for the past 110 million years. Per Frommers (2004), “it is now home to rare plants that provide key links in the evolution story. In the 56,000-hectare park you will find cycads, dinosaur trees, fan palms, giant strangler figs, and epiphytes like the basket fern, staghorn, and elkhorn”. You can even take night-time croc-spotting tours and see the sensational park via 4WD. Unfortunately our time was short. We only had an hour to explore it. But it was definitely worth the trip!
Here are some pictures from the park:
Hiking through the hot, humid and wet tropical rainforest ending up being short-lived. It was too insanely hot to walk much but I’m still smiling!
I loved all the gorgeous ferns and foliage.
It was eerily quiet inside. All we could hear were the sounds of the forest. Yes, it is indeed daytime in this picture! We were surrounded by a huge canopy of tropical forest!
Unfortunately it was way too miserably hot and uncomfortable to venture far. After thirty minutes we turned around and headed back. Oh well at least we tried!
The next stop was the mountain town of Kuranda, a rainforest village located 21 miles (34 km) west of Cairns near the Barron Gorge National Park. It is a touristy, trendy village town located up in the mist covered rainforest that is awash with local shops where you can buy leather goods, Australian wool, pals, crafts, aboriginal art and if you desire, the infamous didgeridoo. We were excited for the cool, fresh mountain air that greeted us and enjoyed the afternoon in this quaint mountain village town.
Lovely Kuranda a nice break from the tropical heat.
Besides shops, the town also had an area for animal preservation where you could get up close and personal with some of Australia’s famous critters. Here are the bats.
Beautiful tropical flowers surround you….
A cute, cuddly (wait not so close….aren’t they mean?) koala bear.
Finally, after all this time I see my first wallaby (looks like a mini Kangeroo). But unfortunately it isn’t in the wild. Oh well…it still was cute!
We shopped around, visiting the local leather shop and then finding this treasure: An aboriginal art store which sold gorgeous aboriginal art and even the much loved didgeridoo, a musical instrument and a work of art. Here is the shop owner giving us a demonstration. It is not easy to play! Believe me, I tried and was unsuccessful at producing the faintest sound besides a load of gurgling saliva!
This is one of the longest didgs ever made. It’s sound was haunting.
Of course, being an art lover, my dad could not resist. He had to have one. So he purchased a beautiful didgeridoo for their home in Tucson, Arizona. It is stil there, laying against the wall and is a gorgeous work out art….yet not a single soul in our family can play it!
Here it is….our own family didgeridoo! Too bad no one can play it…
Stay tuned….next post will describe my third and last dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Then it is off to Melbourne!