A Travellerspoint blog

July 2015

Day Trip to Port Douglas

Wednesday 22 July 2015

It was raining in Cairns this morning, and had rained several times overnight. Consequently quite humid with a temperature range of 20 to 27 degrees.

Today we drove to Port Douglas, a distance of 70 odd km, to have lunch with David's niece Olivia and her husband Al. As we drove north the rain slowly cleared and it was a nice sunny day in Port Douglas. For several years now Olivia and Al have managed an apartment complex Villa San Michele on Macrossan Street in Port Douglas. Earlier this year they bought the management rights to another apartment complex, Garrick House, where they now live. For a while now, Olivia has worked at Villa San Michele, while Al has managed Garrick House. This will all change in the near future, as Olivia will give birth to their second child in 4-5 weeks time.

We met up at Villa San Michele and went next door to Bucci Italian Restaurant for an excellent lunch. We were able to catch up on their news since we had last seen then at Christmas 18 months ago in Hobart. After lunch we left them to return to work, while Di and I went for a walk around the shopping area in Macrossan Street. Di found an interesting piece of amber in a local jeweller, but it was not included in the advertised 50% off sale, so no deal. She also found something interesting in one of the dress shops, and was able to make a purchase. Before returning to our car we walked around to Garrick House to see where Olivia and Al now live and where Al works.

On the way back to Cairns we stopped at Rex Lookout for a photo stop. While we were there a fellow was trying to launch his Para-glider. It took several attempts but eventually he managed to get in the air. While we were watching the Para-glider do his thing, a small tour bus with a load of French tourists pulled up for a photo shoot. We were somewhat amused when 3 or 4 of the French tourists stood at the back of the mighty Navara to take photos of the number plate. I wonder if they know where Tassie is? Back in Cairns there was still a bit of drizzle around the hills including Kuranda. We hope that it clears as we are planning to go to Kuranda tomorrow.


Villa San Michele, Port Douglas.


Courtyard at Villa San Michele.


Bucci Italian Restaurant.


David with Al and Olivia at Bucci Restaurant.


Anzac Park Port Douglas - Market every Wednesday - but where?


Court House Hotel, Port Douglas.


Iron Bar Hotel, Port Douglas.


Central Hotel, Port Douglas, circa 1828.


Blossom in Macrossan Street, Port Douglas.


Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas.


Garrick House, Port Douglas.


Di at the Rex Lookout north of Cairns.


Looking south from the Rex Lookout.


Looking south to Green Island off Cairns.


Untangling the strings - more trouble than a fisherman.


Filling the parachute.


Parachute in the air.


Nearly ready to go.


On the way.




Up, Up and Away.

Posted by TwoAces 18:10 Comments (0)

Cooktown to Cairns

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Cloudy with a hint of rain in Cooktown today, but still a warm 22 to 26 degrees.

As it looked like rain we packed up quickly this morning before we had breakfast. Luckily the misty rain did not last and we were packed up and on the road by 9:30 am. Having reached the northern most destination of our trip this year, we are now on our way home - although it still has plenty of time to warm up. We will not be home until 17 September 2015. So far we have towed the van about 5,000 km and done another 2,000 km touring around. We are averaging 21.4 litres/100km towing and 13.4 litres/100km without the van. Fuel costs have ranged from $1.217 at Glen Innes to $1.545 at Hughenden, with an average of $1.395 - Very respectable considering fuel prices in Tassie. We suspect that the very low price in Glen Innes was the result of Woollies trying to touch up the Caltex Servo across the road.

Our route today involved retracing our route to Mount Molloy where we stopped for fuel before making the descent off the Tablelands to Mossman before turning south to Cairns. The road from Mount Molloy winds along for about 20 km before descending 400 metres in less than 10 km. A very windy and very steep descent. Luckily we were following a fully loaded B-Double cane truck down the hill so we got our braking cues from his brake lights. The advice at the top of the hill is for all vehicles to use low gear - so we did. Very rarely did we apply the brakes and occasionally we had to accelerate to keep up!

The road from Mossman to Cairns by-passes Port Douglas and is very narrow and winding with lots of turn-outs for slow vehicles - we were not always the slowest vehicle. We arrived at the Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort and checked in for three nights. We were allocated a roomy grass "bus site". We did a basic set-up with only the awning out for shelter in case of rain. While it is quite warm in Cairns, 20 to 24 degrees, there is heavy overcast with a hint of rain - humid as well.


A nice grassy bus site (long and narrow) at Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort.

Posted by TwoAces 03:51 Comments (0)

Cooktown - Day 3

Monday 20 July 2015

Mainly cloudy today, but still about 25 degrees and humid.

After lunch we drove south to Bloomfield and the start of the track to Cape Tribulation. The road to Bloomfield and Wujal Wujal, the nearby aboriginal community is sealed for 70 km. Only 32 km remains unsealed between Bloomfield and Cape Tribulation, so I guess that even that will be sealed soon. We stopped for a few photos at Black Mountain, the Bloomfield River and finally at the historic Lions Den Hotel for a quiet little drink. Black Mountain over a period of 260 million years has weathered to be a large pile of grey granite boulders turned black by a covering of lichen.

The Lion's Den Hotel was built in 1875 on the banks of the Little Annan River, surrounded by 100 year old mango trees and tropical landscapes. It is a landmark hotel made of timber and iron, famous for its quirky decorations and walls adorned with visitor’s signatures. The hotel offers powered campsites for $28 per night, as well as unpowered campsites and safari style lodges. They also sell fuel but at $1.759 we thought that it was a little dear, but I guess if you are desperate its any port in a storm. We hear that up the track to the Cape it gets up to $2.50 per litre. Di managed to find a lovely Jack Russell at the pub - she would have liked to take it home.


Di at the Black Mountain Lookout.


Black Mountain - just a pile of granite boulders.


Another pile of rocks near Black Mountain.


Bloomfield River under very heavy cloud.


The historic Lion's Den Hotel.


I think that Di has found a Jack (or is it a Jill)


That Jack Russell - an excellent example of the breed.


Inside the Lion's Den Hotel.


David enjoying a beer at the Lion's Den Hotel.


Powered camping sites at the Lion's Den Hotel.

Posted by TwoAces 03:57 Comments (1)

Cooktown - Day 2

Sunday 19 July 2015

Sunny and warm again today with an expected temperature of 25 degrees.

We started the day with a walk along the Endeavour River foreshore where most of the monuments are related to the early days of Cooktown and Captain Cook's visit in 1770. We stopped at the fish shop but they had sold out of prawns so we will be back tomorrow. We made another visit to the Coffee Kitchen and shared a Vanilla Slice and a Mixed Berry Tart with coffees for lunch.

After lunch we went to the James Cook Museum which is housed in a 19th century convent building, and showcases the early history of Cooktown. In 1872 gold was discovered at Palmer River and Cooktown became a busy transit point for miners heading to the goldfields. In fact 18,000 Chinese miners passed through Cooktown between 1872 and 1878 heading for Palmer River.

The major exhibit at the Museum is the Endeavour Gallery, which features the anchor and a cannon from the Endeavour that were thrown overboard as Cook tried to free the Endeavour from the Great Barrier Reef where they had run aground. These items were recovered in the 1970's. The display included excerpts from Cook's Log of the Endeavour and the Journals of Joseph Banks and others during their time at Cooktown - fascinating reading.

James Cook and the Endeavour departed England on 25 August 1868 with a complement of 96 passengers and crew, to explore the south seas and observe the transit of Venus. On the return voyage they mapped the coast of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. Having visited Botany Bay, the Endeavour was making its way north when they ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef near what is now Cooktown. The Endeavour spent seven weeks from 18 June 1770 to 4 August 1770 in the Endeavour River while repairs were made to the ship.

The ship then continued on to Batavia for further repairs before sailing back to England, arriving on 12 July 1771, almost three years after leaving England. Of the total complement of 96, 38 died on the voyage, mainly from typhoid and dysentery while in Batavia. The final word on Cook's first voyage to the South Seas (he made three voyages in total) comes from a traditional children's poem:

Captain Cook chased a chook, All around Australia, Lost his pants in the middle of France, and found them in Tasmania.


Fountain in an old well at Cooktown.


Captain Cook Memorial - Landed 17 June 1770


Old cannon cast in Scotland in 1806 provided to Cooktown in 1885 for defence against a Russian invasion.


The Musical Ship at Cooktown.


James Cook Memorial at Cooktown.


Inscription on the Cook Memorial at Cooktown.


A typical miner on his way to the Palmer River Goldfields.


Memorial to the 18,000 Chinese miners who went to the Palmer River Goldfields.


James Cook Museum at Cooktown.


One of Endeavour's cannon recovered from the Reef.


Endeavour's anchor recovered from the Reef.

Posted by TwoAces 03:53 Comments (0)

Cooktown - Day 1

Saturday 18 July 2015

Fine and warm today with an expected maximum of 25 degrees.

We started the day with a visit to the local pharmacy and the newsagent, in fact several visits to the newsagency before we managed to get the Weekend Australian which came in just before the shop closed. Next port of call was the Tourist Information Centre for the usual clutch of brochures and info on things to do in Cooktown. Down near the fisherman's wharf we found the Coffee Kitchen for lunch. The restaurant has no signage and hides behind the Laundromat, but was recommended by fellow campers at Mount Surprise. It is a French Patisserie and serves excellent food including their specialty - French Vanilla Slices. We had Caesar Salads with prawns - an excellent meal, but no room for vanilla slices so we will be back tomorrow.

After lunch we drove up to the Grassy Hill Lookout for magnificent views of Cooktown and the surrounding area. All the steps to the Lookout had been sponsored by local residents of Cooktown, including one sponsored by the Cooktown Hash House Harriers. It was very, very breezy at the Lookout and Di was nearly blown over by the wind.


Di at the Grassy Hill Lookout at Cooktown.


Cooktown Hash House Harriers.


Looking south from the Grassy Hill Lookout at Cooktown - very windy out there.


Looking north from the Grassy Hill Lookout at Cooktown.


The Endeavour River from the Grassy hill Lookout at Cooktown.


Cooktown from the Grassy Hill Lookout.


Boats moored in the Endeavour River at Cooktown.

Posted by TwoAces 03:51 Comments (0)

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