Archive for December 2014

To, in and around Port Douglas   4 comments

The journey continued – “North Mrs TBF, North”

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

Port Douglas is a couple of hours drive north from Mission Beach so we needed something to fill the day. We chose the Mamu Rainforest walkway. It’s something of surprise to find the Rainforest after the approach drive. It looks like normal farming country, albeit with a lot more sugar cane. You park and begin the walk along the forest tracks and then you come to the Cantilever a metal gangway overhanging the slopes.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

You look down and out over the massive and deep gorge of the Johnstone river with rainforest clad mountains towering above. Not at all what I expected to find but stunning nonetheless.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

The walkway was created as a result of Cyclone Yasi in 2011. It tore huge holes in the forest so the landowners decided to use the space to create a way of walking amongst the rainforest canopy rather than at ground level. It really gives a different perspective of the forest and of course being perched above the gorge adds to the effect.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

As I’d been discovering taking decent images inside a dark forest is tricky so again I have to say that it’s one of those places that’s better experienced in the flesh as it were.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

At the end of walkway is an observation tower. Made of open mesh it moves quite significantly in the breeze and is very airy and exposed. The kids of course loved it and it completes the walkway in a dramatic crescendo. It was a Saturday but still extremely quiet so I’m not sure how well-known it is but enjoyed the peace and solitude and the unique experience of walking in the trees rather than under them.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

For lunch we paid a visit to the Babinda Boulders for a picnic. A dramatic spot but alas you can’t swim in these rather inviting pools as the currents are far too strong and dangerous and anyway it was rather too shady and cool for a dip

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

As we headed north the weather cleared into a gloriously sunny day – we breezed through the commercial sprawl of Cairns and on to it’s rather more sophisticated neighbour, Port Douglas. Our home for a few nights was the Cayman Villas (review here) and we arrived in time for a swim in their rather nice (and heated!) pool and a swift sunset stroll on the beach.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

PD has two major attractions. The first is 4 Mile beach/ A glorious 4 mile-stretch of golden sand backed by palm trees and rainforest clad mountains. I settled into a rhythm of long sunrise and sunset walks on the beach and the views were always amazing. Even at 6:30 am the beach is busy with walkers, joggers and cyclists and at times PD feels like an outdoor health club

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

You can walk or drive to the top of the headland where the views down and across the beach are even better

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

I didn’t warm to PD at first. It’s very upmarket and VERY expensive to stay and eat. On our first night we ate outside a rather fine chip shop (Australia does chippies really well) and ate on a table outside next to very quiet and pleasant couple. A group of drunken louts wobbled past and decided it was appropriate to insult the guy next to me purely for their own amusement. It really put me off the place and was nothing like the friendly and relaxed atmosphere we’d seen everywhere else.

I liked PD much better after an explore the next day. The harbour is really well done in an upmarket sort of way but it also has a wonderful park with picnic tables and grassy expanses with wonderful views across to the Daintree rainforest to the north. We even saw turtles a couple of feet from the edge grazing on the algae covered rocks.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

On one our days out we took a visit to Mossman Gorge.

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

It’s a very famous local landmark but I have to say I didn’t warm to it as much as I’d hoped. It is without doubt stunningly beautiful and as it sits within a protected Aboriginal reserve it does need a degree of visitor control. I did however feel they overdid it a little with the protection. There is a huge visitor centre where you have to pay a pretty substantial fee for a 3 minute shuttle bus ride to the entrance. The water is gorgeous and clear but they pretty much tell you not to swim. They mention the currents and in certain places you wouldn’t want to swim but there are others where it’s perfectly safe

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

We managed to find a spot alongside many others where we could swim and have a precarious picnic perched on the rounded granite boulders. The swim was magnificent but I felt all along that I was breaking the rules and it took the edge off the fun

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

As I said it’s a beautiful spot but like many places the need for protection I feel has gone a little too far. You can overprotect some places and make them far too sacred. I completely understand that many parts of this region are sacred to the local Aboriginal tribes and I would be happy to accept that some areas are deemed off-limits to tourists such that the local culture can thrive and survive. But having decided to allow visitors, then the balance between protection and seeing the place through your own eyes needs careful thought. In this case I just thought they had the balance a little wrong and as I said, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped to. I also hoped that the money that the visitor centre was making was finding it’s way to the local Aboriginal people that call Mossman Gorge their home

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

mamu rainforest walkway, johnstone river, port douglas, cayman villas, four mile beach, mossman gorge, babinda boulders, queensland

More posts from our Port Douglas stay to come…..

Everything a Tropical Island Should Be   4 comments

The Mission Beach area has much to see. Rainforest reserves, beaches by the score, the Great Barrier Reef a few miles offshore, inland mountains with tumbling waterfalls and swimming holes. We ignored all this and decided on a day trip to Dunk Island, the very prominant eminence just off the coast where we were staying.

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

The day didn’t look promising. Sun and blue skies had been replaced by dark stormy clouds and we got an absolute soaking walking the 20 yards from the car to the ferry boat with Dunk Island Water Taxi A wild and bouncy ride deposited us on Dunk Island for the day. At least it had stopped raining although looking across to the mainland it looked like the world was ending. All was dark and stormy

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

But who cares, it was warm and promisingly bright on Dunk. The island was completely devastated by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 and the once luxury resort now lies pretty much in ruins. Once you look beyond that it’s pretty much the quintessential mountainous tropical island. Steep slopes covered in lush rainforest dropping down to palm fringed beaches

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

We took the short walk along the coast to Muggy Muggy beach. A shingle strand with rocky outcrops and palm trees it was gorgeous. The sky was bright and cloudy but it was warm and – well – muggy, as you’d expect. The wind had whipped up the silt so the water wasn’t all that clear but snorkelling was still pretty good with lots of fish. I even managed a very close encounter with a Moray Eel and small stingray which gave me something of a start.

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

Best part was just sitting on the tropical beach looking out at the small Robinson Crusoe island off the shore and enjoying having the beach to ourselves, Castaways. Kind of.

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

We went back to the jetty for lunch. Just a portakabin but it served up one of the best meals of the trip. Fresh fish wraps, Calamari and for TJF the “Corona Shell”

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

A huge ceramic shell filled with ice and fresh prawns – TJF loves her fresh prawns – the Corona from the two bottles of Mexican lager that I reluctantly drank. Everything served with a cheerful smile from the proprietor.

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

As we at there on the beach looking at the stormy rainforest mountains on the mainland I have to say I was feeling pretty damn good. Well, drunk anyway. A real standout moment for the whole trip

Back to Muggy Muggy for another brief stay on the beach and a little more swimming and snorkelling

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

As we waited for the ferry home the sun came out and temperatures soared – we had to hide under the jetty to escape the heat. The views were tremendous and it was all too short a visit before we were ferried home

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

The final part of the journey brought some smiles. The Boat couldn’t reach the shore so we had to jump out into thigh deep water for another soaking but at least this was a sunny one

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

While the kids chilled me and TBF went for another long stroll through the coastal forest and mangroves and watch the turtles from Clump Point pier.

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

Restless feet and time to move on? Well we had to but we didn’t want to. Mission Beach and the Ecovillage Resort is a wonderfully quiet, charming and breathtakingly beautiful spot. With lots of large creepy crawlies to admire

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

mission beach, dunk island, dunk island water taxi, muggy muggy beach, clump point, ecovillage resort

Everyone said we’d love it and we did but there was still one more week of Queensland adventures still to go

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