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I have just returned from a trip to Australia, visiting many lovely places including Port Douglas. Having undertaken a lot of research prior to the trip I had decided that I wanted to spend several nights in* the port * as it is known. I really liked the sound of the town as it promised to be a chilled place and far more attractive than its nearby larger neighbour, Cairns.
Port Douglas is about an hours drive from Cairns in the tropical north of Queensland. The coastal road that leads from Cairns is really spectacular and it was hard work keeping my eyes on the road! Just to give an idea of distances it is 1700 km from Brisbane to Cairns, that's about 22 hours of driving! Its then just 70 km on to Port Douglas.
The nearest airport is in Cairns and there are busses to Port Douglas from the airport. Many of the hotels can also arrange airport transfers. It will cost you around 40 dollars one way from Cairns to Port Douglas by shuttle. The airport serves both international and domestic flights. There are several car hire firms located at the airport.
It is also possible to arrive in Cairns by tilt train. Cairns is served by many towns and cities and I really did consider using the train as an alternative to hiring a car. I decided to hire a car and booked before leaving the UK.
Port Douglas is a small manageable town and really does have a laid back *holiday feel*. The first thing to say is that its located in the tropical north of Queensland and so experiences a tropical climate. This means it has warm, dry winters (when we were there) and hot, wet summers. During the summer (November-April) there are often afternoon thunder storms. This is also cyclone season, although the town is well set up for these. The weather is usually warm whatever time of year you visit. We experienced temperatures in the mid twenties and above during our stay in August and had no rain.
Port Douglas has a beautiful beach that stretches for 4 miles. The world famous 4 mile beach has a life guard patrolled area for safe swimming. There are few facilities on the beach but there is a small van where you can hire water toys such as body boards and sea kayaks to enjoy in the surf. There are toilets located at the entrance to the beach where you can take a shower and change. The beach is really beautiful, backed by tropical plants and coconut trees. We really enjoyed riding bikes along the firm sand. The sea temperature during our winter visit was around 24 degrees. During the summer months box jelly fish are present so you will need to wear stinger suits!
If you can tear yourself away from the beach then there is a lot more to do and see! Port Douglas is a good place to access the Great Barrier Reef and several boats leave from Port Douglas to both the outer and inner reef. We took a day trip to the outer reef where you could either dive or snorkel. The trips are very expensive and the trip can be rough. It really is worth checking the weather if you suffer from sea sickness! Another tip is to bring anti seasickness medication with you as it is expensive in Australia. The trip out to the reef takes over an hour and most of the boats serve lunch and snacks included in the price. I think it is a much better option to get to the reef via cape Tribulation further north as the boat is smaller and more personal; it's cheaper and only takes about 20 minutes to the reef. However if this is not an option then a trip from Port Douglas is a must!
Port Douglas is only a short drive from the Daintree river crossing that gives access to the rain forest and Daintree national park on to cape tribulation. There are several companies offering day trips to the rain forest and cape Tribulation but I would strongly advise you to spend several days as a minimum in this amazing area! We spent a week in Cape Tribulation and it was the most wonderful place I have ever seen! However you can visit beyond the Daintree River in a day, although you will miss much!
About a 30 minute drive from Port Douglas is Mossman gorge, the spiritual home of an Aboriginal community. The gorge is situated in the southern part of the Daintree national park and is surrounded by ancient rain forest. There are 2.4 km of easy walking trails with a water hole where you can swim. There is a large, free car park at entrance to the gorge and a newly built visitor centre with an (expensive) café, toilets and information boards. You will need to purchase tickets to take the shuttle bus to the start of the walking trail as cars are not allowed into the gorge area. There are Aboriginal led tours on offer that take you into the forest and explain the culture. However these were prohibitively expensive! When we visited the swing bridge over the river that gives access to the longer walking trails was closed. We did enjoy viewing the numerous bird species (there are over 400 species here) but saw no other wildlife. Overall we were disappointed in our visit to Mossman gorge finding it crowded and the walkways a little too *tame*. If you want to visit then I would allow half a day and take a picnic! There are picnic benches located along the walkways.
The town itself is quite small and easy to explore. If you are self catering there is a large supermarket with underground car park. There is a bottle shop next to the supermarket as Australian supermarkets don't sell alcohol. The town has lots of tourist type shops in addition to tour operators where you can book trips to the reef or rainforest. My favourite shop was the bookstore located at the end of Macrossan Street and then down the road to the left. The store sells both new and 2nd hand books and has chairs for you to sit and read. There are numerous cafes and eating places in the town.
At the end of Macrossan street is the Marina and the area known as the *inlet* where the boats leave for the Reef. The yacht club serves good meals with a friendly unpretentious atmosphere. On Wednesdays you can bag a free trip with members; just turn up and wait to be allocated a crew! We didn't do this but did have a very enjoyable meal at the club and were made to feel very welcome. Another fun place to eat is the tin shack overlooking the inlet. The views from the front tables are lovely! The food is average however, although not too expensive.
We were keen to spot crocodiles in the wild and Port Douglas is a good place to do this. We took a boat tour from the marina with the Lady Douglas and saw several large crocs. We also saw a crocodile from the parking area of the Mowbray River. The river trip was excellent and one I would highly recommend!
Port Douglas also has a golf course, tennis club and horse riding opportunities, all within easy reach. At the entrance to the town there is a large wildlife sanctuary where you can pay to have breakfast with the birds. We didn't visit as we prefer our wildlife to be wild!
Port Douglas has numerous places to stay to suit all budgets, including basis hostels and 5 star hotels. There is a big 4 camping ground just outside the town centre.
We stayed at the Lazy Lizard motel inn owned by Best Western. I have reviewed this separately so won't go into too much detail here. The motel is situated on Davidson street about a 20 minute walk from the town centre. The rooms are very comfortable and there is a small kitchen area to allow self catering. We paid around £100 per night for our room with continental breakfast. I would highly recommend the motel and its lovely friendly managers!
Overall I loved Port Douglas and would love to go back one day! It really does have something for everyone.
Port Douglas is a small and quaint town set amongst the rich green of North Queensland, about 40 miles north of Cairns, Australia. The nearest airport is Cairns International and, although around an hours drive away, the long stretch of the scenic coastal road to take you there is well worth it, as it boasts some beautiful scenery of the forest and out over the sea. It is the only place in the world where two World Heritage listings exist together - the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
Port Douglas was first discovered in 1877 after the discovery of gold and quickly became known as a mining town. Today, the town has become a lucrative tourist destination due to its natural beauty and location. It is now a low-rise resort town containing boutique homes and accommodation, and stylish eateries and stores. Despite the amount of tourism, the locals have managed to keep the town relaxed and welcoming and it has the atmosphere of a small and friendly beach village.
Port Douglas is home to the beautiful white sands of Four Mile Beach which is backed by green palm trees and the mountains of the rainforest and sweeps as far as your eyes will allow you to see. Other attractions include the Rainforest Habitat - a wildlife sanctuary housing native animals where you can have Breakfast with the Birds; take a ride on the little train which travels around the town; pick up food, clothes, and arts and crafts from the great Sunday markets. From here you can do tours of the rainforest in Cape Tribulation, snorkelling or diving in the Great Barrier Reef, view the mountains of Mossman Gorge or try a fishing or sailing trip.
The town really is lovely and very picturesque and a great place to visit in Australia. It's only a small town so, unless you're planning on doing some trips out of the area, I'd say you only needed a few days in Port Douglas. There is accommodation for all budgets including luxurious hotels and apartments or cheap hostels. There are only a few hostels to choose from as the town is rather upmarket and expensive, so backpackers aren't in abundance. Shops, restaurants and even small cafes are pretty pricey but this just fits in with the whole feel of the place. Just a short walk around town looking at the houses of the locals, you can see that you have to have quite a bit of money to live here - but walks are lovely and everything about the town is just gorgeous.
In the evenings, a fun place to go is the local pub where they hold frog races and you can bet on which frog you think will win. It's not a lively place at night but it can be very romantic for eating out or taking a stroll around town. Another fun thing to do is to watch an AFL game on the local team's field which is entertaining.
Being situated in Queensland, Port Douglas has a tropical climate with warm weather throughout the year with rainfall mainly in January through to March, so it's a great destination to visit really at any time of the year.
A wonderful place to visit even, as I said above, if only for a couple of days to spot the beautiful scenery and town.
Some 60 minutes drive North of Cairns in Queensland is what the Rough Guide to Australia terms a "quaint upmarket tourist attraction". It certainly is a pleasant town. The main road into town is lined by more than two thousand palm trees that were specially imported. Along this road there are also many three and four star hotels, some of which have been thoughtfully designed. The Radisson Treetops is one example where there are several accommodation blocks in amongst the trees and palms, giving it a feel of the tropical rainforest. The town itself has been built up around tourism. The main street is very attractive and contains mainly restaurants and bars. There are also souvenir shops, and a supermarket. There is also the long four mile beach. This is very pleasant - as you would imagine on a tropical isle. However beware the box jelly fish. Although there are nets to prevent them coming in I would not like to risk swimming in spring / summer when they are around as they can be fatal. Other attractions in the town are the marina where trips to the reef start as well as containing many pleasure craft. The look out point above the town is also worth a visit. This gives good views of the beach. For eating out, the town itself gives an interesting mix, obviously catering for the evening meal trade from the hotels as well as for the back packer. At the top end of the market is a restaurant called Nautila that has a photo outside of the day the Clinton family went there for a meal. Others who had visited this restaurant felt it was very good, if somewhat pricey, and you need to book at least two days in advance. Other good restaurants include Ilios - reasonable price, good food with a Greek influence. The Inlet - good but again you need to book. For something completely different we were told Going Bananas located on the road into town was a lot of fun. However we found it expensive and not nearly as much fun as we had been lead to be
lieve. There are many trips that can be organised from Port Douglas. The hotels all have the relevant literature. Trips out onto the Barrier Reef as well as those visiting the rain forest. Most seem to pick up from which ever hotel your are staying at. We tried trips onto the reef and to the rain forest. We were particularly impressed by Quicksilver who ran a very efficient trip onto the reef. Although it was efficient it lost none of its friendliness. There were choices of trips to the inner reef, or the outer reef. We took the one to the outer reef. Having been picked up we boarded the 30 knot catamaran to take us tot e outer reef. This took about 90 minutes to reach the floating base on the outer reef about 20 miles off shore. Here we were able to see the reef from a semi-submersible, snorkelling and even take a guided snorkelling swim (Aus $31 extra) where a marine biologist took a group of around eight or none people to see the reef. This was well worth it because many of the features of the reef were shown. For those who wanted scuba diving options were also available. An excellent buffet lunch was also provided. This made for a really excellent day, which came to an end all too soon. Another trip worth trying is a day in the rain forest. We took the Daintree trip. Again there was a pick up from the hotel and we were driven north towards the rainforest towards Mossman. There was a trip on the river. Here we were fortunate enough to see a large (14 ft) male crocodile. However it is quite possible none may be seen as they hide themselves well. It also gives a good feel for the countryside and the plants. After a drive on to a fruit farm for lunch and a demonstration of the vast number of fruits that can be grown here. The afternoon consisted of a walk in the rainforest and then on to see a crocodile farm and feeding of a croc. Here the keeper was in a caged area with a large crocodile and demonstrated how they feed. Their snap is awe i
nspiring, and their death role frightening. I certainly came away thinking I did not want to be the keeper of the crocs! However a very good trip.
Queensland, Australia. A major resort was developed there and the town was transformed to an idyllic holiday destination. Previous names for the town included Terrigal, Island Point, Port Owen and Salisbury. The town is situated adjacent to two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Kitesurfing is popular at the southern end of Four Mile Beach, particularly during the Winter months when trade winds blow from the South.