Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Port Douglas, Queensland

The Peninsula Boutique Hotel Pool
If ever there was a "bucket list" portion of the trip... we were now embarking on it. Our early morning flight out of Adelaide and on to the little airport in Cairns was a long one... but it was oh, so worth the wait. Flying from the coast of South Australia to almost the Northeast tip of Queensland would take us about half-the-day...and land us in the quaint little town of Fort Douglas and onto our dream of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

Now, even months after we got back home to is difficult to imagine that here we were...traveling on Christmas Day...and it's HOT! Man, I gotta tell you, it's tropical hot! Northern Queensland in the summertime is really sticky and warm... not exactly the "Jack Frost nipping at your chestnuts roasting by an open fire in a one-horse open sleigh" type of weather we might be expecting back in the U.S. It's quite strange.

From the small airport in Cairns, it was supposed to be about a one-hour drive up the coast. I'm pretty sure it was much longer, but the scenery was nice. We rode in a van with an interesting fellow who it turned out was the long-time and Emmy-winning producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He had really been roughing it during his stay in Oz...and he amazed us with tales of staying on a sheep ranch out in the outback where you needed a small plane to get in-and-out. We figured that we might end up hanging out with him during our Fort Douglas stay, but we really only saw him again one time at a local restaurant on our last night. It seems that we met a lot of fine people on this trip... but people we will probably never see again in our lives. That's what makes traveling fun.... new adventures every day! 

Port Douglas is a town in Far North QueenslandAustralia, approximately 70 km (40 mi) north of Cairns. Its permanent population was 4,772 at the time of the 2011 census.The town's population can often double, however, with the influx of tourists during the peak tourism season May–September. The town is named in honour of former Premier of Queensland, John Douglas. Port Douglas developed quickly based on the mining industry. Other parts of the area were established with timber cutting occurring in the area surrounding the Daintree River and with settlement starting to occur on lots around the Mossman River by 1880.
Previous names for the town included Terrigal, Island Point, Port Owen and Salisbury. The town is situated adjacent to two World Heritageareas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
Port Douglas was No. 3 on Australian Traveller magazine's list of 100 Best Towns In Australia.
If we ever decided to cash it all in and move away to Australia... Port Douglas could be a very, very good choice. But we did grab a few real estate brochures...and - the beachfront prices are quite ridiculous!

While in this quaint little town, we stayed at the PORT DOUGLAS PENINSULA BOUTIQUE HOTEL – and...once again thanks to our wonderful travel agent Eve Wertsch at Fugazi Travel in San Francisco, we got upgraded to a pool view suite! It's Christmas Day...and we were hot and tired from a full day of travel. We really liked the little hotel...but most of all we loved the incredible one-on-one service we got from the moment we arrived. If there is perhaps one thing I have not stressed enough in the prior six blog-posts about our Australian's that the people are just amazing!! The friendliest people I think I have ever met! Just add in a few pints of the favorite national beverage (cold beer) and you've got a great time on your hands!

What we did next was something we had been waiting to do since we started this journey: nothing. We sat by the pool (see photo above-left and below) and drank cold drinks. For a couple of hours! Just what the doctor ordered! The only thing of pressing need was to make dinner reservations (necessary because it was their special Christmas Dinner and it sounded pretty good!)  

Our upgraded room was really quite nice and we could see both the pool below and the beach beyond. And the best part... the little boutique hotel had free washers and driers and - man - were we ever in need of those. We had to keep a tight assembly-line going so we could beat the other guests and not get our stuff taken out of the drier and left on the counter....but we got virtually everything washed (some of which was still carrying dust and dirt from Kangaroo Island and wine stains from the Barossa Valley!!

The Christmas Dinner was all that we could have asked for... we drank champagne and got good and full and retired to our room for the night. Tomorrow we would board the Calypso (no...not Jacques Cousteau's boat...another "Calypso") for our full day of snorkeling on the Great Barrier reef. - - Stay tuned!!

Here are a few of our Fort Douglas photos from the first day:

I think I need one
Probably too sweet!

Ho Ho Ho !!

I think that's a daiquiri 

Australia's national beverage

Amy enjoying the pool

And that is a "Candy Cane"

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