Friday, November 14, 2008

Adventure Mondays

With so much of Port Douglas' employment based around hospitality and tourism, it's rare for people to work Monday to Friday. With Jane's two part time jobs and my working week set from Wednesday to Sunday, Monday is the only day off we share. So Monday is the day we try to do the things that you should when living in a place like Port Douglas. So forget the housework and get out there, it's "adventure Monday".

There's an old bullock/horse trail that runs from behind Port Douglas to the top of the ridges to the west. It's known as the "Bump Track" and Jane and I decided a walk to the top would be a suitable adventure Monday activity. It was steep and hot but worth the effort. It took us two hours to make it to the top. This shot is taken at a lookout on the way down. If we look hot, that's because it was bloody boiling!

Mossman Gorge is a great place to cool off after a bush walk. Now the ocean is so warm and the pools are well above 30 degrees, the freshwater streams are the most refreshing place for a dip.

This is running creek which we encountered about halfway along the Bump Track.

The Low Isles are an hour's easy sail from Port and a great place to snorkel. We have had a couple of trips out there. This day provided us with the best conditions so far.

It actually took us a few month to get out for our first dive. I think we are starting to get fussy about the conditions. With the wind blowing mostly from the south east, it can be surprisingly rough on the way out. Above: Jane posing with large soft coral. Below: Jane posing with medium sized, (some would say soft) husband during our safety stop.

Barron falls in the hills west of Cairns, near the town of Kuranda. We can't wait to see them in the wet!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Living Creatures

Port Douglas isn't exactly the wilderness, but it has brought us in a little closer to other living creatures compared to downtown Kensington. Below is a selection of a few of our animal encounters (minus the cane toads, of course).

Spotted and Harlequin Sweetlips are a common sight on the GBR. They are a great looking fish and can get pretty big. Very impressive when they are in shoals.

My favourite living creature putting her head in front of the camera on a recent trip to the Low Isles.

Sometimes on a dive the patterns of the corals impress me as much (or more than) the fish life. I couldn't quite get the colour, but I loved the shapes these made against the other hard coral.

Don't think they're not out there. This fella was about 2 metres long and just gliding into the water near the Daintree River ferry crossing. As it warms up they spend more time in the water and less catching the sun on the banks.

No need for an alarm clock with these guys around. 5.15 am and again in the afternoon they go crazy in the palm trees out the front of our place. Often my first words in the morning are "That's it, get my gun" but I am sure we will miss them when we leave. I took this shot with my 300mm zoom. Bloody hard to get the little buggers to keep still. Anyone who can take good shots of birds is doing better than I.

With my little underwater camera it's hard to capture the amazing colours of the reef. This soft coral was in shallow water with lots of light. It was the most vibrant blue/purple which changed as it moved in the current.

Jane's favourite. We came across this cuttlefish out on Opal reef. He was pretty curious and entertained us with a change of colour, throwing a bit of a light show before blending into the background. They are amazing animals, I especially like them lightly fried with a very cold beer.(sorry Jane). Photo by Jane.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guest Book

That's PB's head blocking out most of the Low Isles on our recent trip with our latest guest. PB's arrival coincided with a change in the winds. The sou' easters fell away and the humidity cranked up. You can feel the wet building, but the lack of wind means it's a great time to be on the reef.

Marion and Susan were first to take up the offer of a place to stay in Port Douglas and it was great to see them in FNQ. The weekend coincided with Marion's birthday and we celebrated on Friday night with a slap up dinner at Salsa. Pleased to say Port turned of plenty of sunshine for our first guests.

Jen Baker joined us for a long weekend in October. As well as taking Janey on a shopping spree for Port summer attire, Jen joined us for a sail and snorkel on the Low Isles.

Mum and Ted made the trip north in Early October and after a wet start cracked some great weather. Highlights of their stay were a trip on the inlet on the Lady Douglas, prawns on the bbq and a great sunset picnic in the park. I should also mention the shark coming right into shore during one of our early morning walks. Well spotted Mum!

We have also had the pleasure of Phil (aka Pipi) and Donna and Simon's company so far. It's been great that so many people have taken time out to come up and see us. We've enjoyed every minute.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Port Life

The only thing better than being a human living in Port Douglas is to be a dog living in Port. This is our friend Lynne's dog, Teddy. Teddy spends his days being fed, patted and walked on the beach by just about everyone in town. Poor thing, just look at him...

There's a kite surfing school at our end of the beach. When the wind is up, the locals come out to play.

Locals know the best view of the sunset is not from the beach, but from ANZAC Park on the inlet side of town. This is from the 3rd of August 2008.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fan socks and cupboard camels

It's Jane here - hope you've enjoyed Geoff's pictures! Little bit of blurbage from me.

Living in fnq is more of an eye opener than I thought it might be. Who knew that fans can wear socks to protect the blades or that you need little plastic containers in your cupboards to absorb the moisture? Another surprise is how little you need to earn to get by and enjoy yourself. Good perspective on life. Hopefully we can make enough to eat out a little and enjoy the occasional adventure.

It's very very pretty here. We looked a living in Cairns but (and I hope I don't upset any Cairns people here) we didn't like the feel of it at all. We spent a day down there talking to people about work and looking at places to live. Driving back into Port Douglas made the contrast between the two just a little too stark, so it's here in Port that we've stayed.

I've got work as a book keeper at the Daintree EcoLodge and Spa and Geoff has landed a job as a pool cleaner at the Sea Temple. Talk about pretty places to work. Have a look:

My mate Lynne is in a play here and has asked me to prompt for them, so am now involved in the local am dram group - performance in a couple of weeks which should be fun! I've also joined the local mobile library, so we're settling in very well.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Port Pics

Okay, here's the postcard shot. This is taken from the hill above town and looks south along Four Mile Beach. The park at the end of our street is just past where the beach bends.

Looking south from the park at the end of our street. This was taken about 7am.

Looking north along the beach toward the headland from the same spot as above.

This is the old sugar wharf taken from ANZAC Park on the inlet side of town. Great sunsets from here.

A shell I spotted on the water's edge being illuminated by the morning sun. I don't have a macro lens so had to do the best with what I have. All good practice.

Villa Tropica

A few shots of our little place which we have christened Villa Tropica. It's located at the southern end of the beach and in the area known locally as Four Mile.

The beach is located at the end of the street and you can walk all the way along the sand to the main shops of Port Douglas which we now refer to as Town.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

SS Yongala

In 1911, off the coast of Ayr, the SS Yongala sailed into a severe cyclone and sank with the loss of all 121 passengers and crew on board.

Today it is regarded as one of Australia's best wreck dives and was our reason for diverting 16km off the highway to spend 2 nights in sleepy Alva beach.

The wreck is renowned for its fish life, but it can be rough and strong currents can make this dive demanding. Fortunately we had calm seas and little currnet to contend with, though visibility was down to about 10 -12m.

All descriptions of the marine life around SS Yongala should be prefixed with the word "big". For turtle, read "big turtle", for wrasse read "bloody big wrasse" and for giant trevally read "big, fast, mean looking fish that would fill your average doorway".

Other creatures spotted were sea snakes, groper, cod, and batish (NB, above prefix applicable to all). One of the highlights for me was finding myself in the middle of a school of Nunnygai (below). I have never been in the middle of such a large school of large fish before. We litteraly had to brush our way through them. Fantastic!

The Drive North

2700kms on the Pacific Highway was not something we were relishing as we chugged out of Sydney early Sunday morning bound for Woolgoolga, just above Coffs to catch up with our friends Sue and Trevor.

The driving was uneventful, (just the way we like it) and we had a great meal with our hosts, who we had finally come to visit after 5 years of saying we would.

After stopping in at their bike shop in Grafton, we cruised on up to Brissie to inspect our little apartment before heading to Mooloolaba and another catch up, this time with Jane's friend Emma.

We pitched our tent at the campground right on the beach and had a great meal at the surf club. The following morning we grabbed the two 5kg weights I had tucked under the driver's seat and gave ourselves a workout on the beach, followed by a quick swim before making tracks to Rockhampton.

Rocky is in the middle of Qld's cattle country, and the 400gm rump we each had for dinner at the Criterion Hotel that night didn't disappoint.

The longest stretch of our trip was from Rocky to Ayr, which is about 80km south of Townsville. We diverted off the highway to spend 2 nights camped at Alva Beach, where we would give our eyes and backsides a rest from driving and take the opportunity to dive on the wreck of the SS Yongala.

Alva beach is on a small peninsula and provided us with great sunsets each night. I couldn't help myself, and wandered into the cane field across the road to snap away.

From Alva it was only two relatively short driving days to beautiful Port Douglas.

Thankfully our trip was uneventful and driver stupidity was rare and minor. The road itself is not too bad, although patience is required at times as the caravan-towing grey nomads are happy to sit on 90kph. It hit home to me that most accidents must be about speed or a lack of patience (or a combination of both).

We were both surprised how little of the coast was visible from the Highway. As as cycling trip goes, I think it would be safe enough, but relatively uninspiring unless you were prepared to make the (sometimes lengthy) detours to the coast.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Off We Go Again

It's only June, but that's enough cold for us. After spending most of last year's southern winter cycling, swimming and eating our way through Italy and Croatia, we have again decided to chase the sun.

As much as we loved skipping winter, we did miss our family and friends, so this time we are veturing a mere 3000km to far noth Queensland. The aim is to combine warm weather and friends by finding jobs and a place to live in the Cairns region, then encouraging you all to make the trip up to hang out, soak up some sun and bob about on the reef.

Unlike our last adventure, bicycles will not play a major part. Instead we will be revving up the old Magna, plugging FNQ into the GPS (yeah right, it doesn't even have a CD player) and buckling up for a road trip that should take the best part of a week.

At this stage we have two week's accomodation booked in Port Douglas and we will use that time to look for work and somewhere to live. Living and working in Port is our blue sky plan, but job opportunities could be fairly limited. No offence to the fair people of Cairns, but we aren't overly keen on living there, but we are open to working in town and living just to the north in Trinity Beach or Palm Cove.

Janey has had one or two leads for accounting contracts and I have been putting the word out to local gyms and fitness centres. If it turns out that we can't find work we will make our way slowly back down the coast and maybe pick up work along the way. If we can not find anything at all, we will return home having had a break, some sun and hopefully another great adventure.