2011 Port Douglas and Daintree: Part 1

A kookaburra welcomeAlan wanted a holiday, and I was happy to organise it for him! Originally intended as an extension to a conference he was attending in Cairns in August, it ended up being 5 days in Port Douglas at the end of June. Perfect time to go north.

I was born in Cairns, but had never been any further north, so I was excited and interested to see this part of Australia. I booked Thala Beach Lodge about 15 minutes outside Port Douglas, because it was outside Port Douglas. I didn’t really want to spend time in one of the many resorts, mainly because of the ‘closeness’ of them. Thala had bungalows set in the bush, and while the bungalows were set close together, there was an element of being apart, which was much more appealing.

An uneventful flight (the best kind) to Cairns on Qantas saw us land at lunchtime. We picked up our hire car and headed for Port Douglas. We almost missed the turnoff to Thala Beach Lodge and headed up the winding drive wondering where we would end up. The main lodge is impressive, even though it’s obviously been around for a while. I checked in, and Alan discovered they park your car for you, and take your luggage to your bungalow. We had a welcome drink, and were then walked to our bungalow – which is probably necessary the first time around, given that they are scattered around the resort.

The photo above is taken from the balcony of our bungalow – as I looked around, a kookaburra welcomed us – you can just about make it out in the photo. Alas, it was never seen again, but I took it as a good sign that our sojourne here was going to be pleasant. I confirmed a restaurant booking in Port Douglas for the next evening, and we got ready for dinner at the Thala restaurant.

Unfortunately, dinner risked changing our minds about the potential quality of our stay. We arrived at the restaurant, and were seated…and left alone. After 20 minutes after we sat down, someone came over with menus and water, which was lucky because I was just about to get up and go. The entree came about 30 minutes later, the main about 40 minutes after the entrees were cleared away, and luckily desert came quickly. We decided we’d eat out in Port Douglas after that. I figured that there must have been an issue in the kitchen, because in between entree and mains, we were offered an additional glass of wine  for free – pity the waiter topped up my shiraz with a cabernet!!

Beach at Thala LodgeMorning saw one of those days that you have to describe as gorgeous – blue sky, no wind and perfect temperature (around 20 degrees). We had breakfast in the main restaurant, and then headed down to the beach.  We had a quick walk, and settled down underneath the tree cover, Alan reading and me writing a paper  - perfect environment for that. A hour or so later though, around 11am, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. We retreated to our bungalow.

The afternoon was spent wandering the markets in Port Douglas, and doing some shopping. A duck we saw with its two owners at the market, just wandering along, turned up outside the supermarket when we finished our shopping. It was holding court in the fountain in the plaza of the shopping centre, with a little crowd gathering around it. I had to take a photo. You don’t often see a duck in the shopping centre in Melbourne!

Nautilus Restaurant, Port DouglasWe had dinner reservations that night at Nautilus Restaurant in Port Douglas. The instructions for finding the restaurant were interesting – a street entrance and a foot entrance from the main street. We found the foot entrance which turned out to be a path up a hill, then some stairs and then an open air platform of sort, with tables scattered throughout. It was probably one of the more unusual restaurants I’ve been to, and one of the best. The food was wonderful, the service great, the atmosphere perfect – a balmy tropical evening.

Australian wildlifeWe headed back to Thala, and Alan almost trod on this lovely creature crossing the path just in front of us.

A reminder that we are indeed in the bush.

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