by Adventures With Adam
New York, New York
March 23, 2001
After a brief morning stop in Kuranda (see Kuranda journal entry), I headed north on the Captain Cook Highway toward Port Douglas -- about a 45-minute ride away. With its more scenic setting and charming architecture, Port Douglas is Cairns’s prettier sister. It makes a great place to stretch the legs and have lunch. I enjoyed a tasty Malaysian chicken satay at the Peninsula, where you can eat outside and view both the local beach and the exclusive homes perched in the hills above town. The beach in Port Douglas is netted to keep out the stinging jellyfish. But the water there was muddy -- no doubt churned by the previous week’s cyclone -- so I decided to save my swim for Mossman Gorge, another 20 minutes north in Daintree National Park.
Mossman Gorge was beautiful: a pristine, bolder-strewn rainforest river set into the hills of the coastal range. A short path from the parking lot brought me to a small white sand beach. Just offshore a school of jungle perch swished through the ultra clear water. I was quick to strip down to my bathing suit and join them. The water temperature was a tad on the invigorating side. Still it felt great after a morning of driving and walking. The trail from the parking lot continues upstream along the rapids. A local Aboriginal group conducts nature walks along these paths. But instead of the walk, I chose a siesta on the rocks. While dozing there, a turquoise butterfly landed on my towel of the same color. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to mate with it, make friends with it, or chase it out of his territory.
Beyond Mossman Gorge is the Daintree Rainforest. But this is as far as one can travel without the benefit of four-wheel drive, so I turned the rental car south. On the return drive, I got to enjoy all that gorgeous scenery again, and I stopped twice for a closer look at the beaches. As they were unnetted, I resisted jumping in and just let the Pacific lap at my feet before returning to Cairns.
A word about driving here: driving on the left wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. However, you must pay careful attention when making turns. Firstly, you have to concentrate on which lane you are turning into. And secondly, you will likely hit the windshield wipers rather than the turn signal as they are reversed here.
From journal Adventures in Cairns