Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Return to Port Douglas

After three years we returned to Port Douglas for a two week relaxing holiday in July 2016. To our relief there had not been too many changes during that time although some restaurants, such as Finz, had closed and others, such as 2 Fish, had changed location. The Reef Marina is having a face lift and there are now more stores open in this area. Otherwise Port Douglas is as we remembered it.
We stayed again at the Regal in a spacious apartment overlooking the pool. The Regal is on the corner of Macrossan and Owen streets so is centrally located. Close to the beach, close to the marina and close to shops and restaurants.
As usual one of the biggest choices each day is deciding where and what to eat for dinner each evening. Such a variety of food options from which to choose.
We left for Queensland at the end of the school holidays which proved to be a good move as Port Douglas had been very busy the previous two weeks. Melbourne was very cold when we left so we enjoyed the warm July weather with maximum temperatures generally between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius. It rained during part of the second week, usually at night, but even when there were showers during the day it did not stop us from doing anything.
We had hired a car which was kept in the garage under the appartments so we had the freedom to explore the surrounding area - including Mossman Gorge, Daintree Village and Cape Tribulation - whenever we wanted to.
And then there is the major attraction of Port Douglas - Four Mile Beach - which we walked along most days. Every time you walk along this beach it is different. It is also a great way to exercise.
Rex Smeal Park and Anzac Park are a favourite place to visit when in Port Douglas.
This is a most picturesque park overlooking the sea and the inlet.
A number of large fig trees are a feature of the park.
Down on the rocks it looks as if Makka Pakka has been here.
The Port Douglas World War Memorial is located in Anzac Park.
Around the corner is the marina where yachts and other boats are moored and from where the vessels to the reef leave.
We had seen signs alerting us to the train but on this visit we actually saw it. It leaves from outside the marina and as well as a sight seeing vehicle for tourists it is used by some locals to travel to the other side of the town. The steam engine is being repaired but the train still runs regularly.
We regularly wander down to this beautiful part of Port Douglas. It is particularly popular before sunset when the boats are returning to the marina but it is a good place to visit any part of the day.
On Sundays the extensive Sunday Market is held opposite the top of Macrossan Street between St Mary's by the Sea and Anzac Park.
A smaller market is held at the marina on a Wednesday afternoon.
One example of the many things that makes Port Douglas special is the sea themed rubbish bins to be found in Macrossan Street.

Port Douglas - Food

Deciding where and what to eat for dinner is the big decision each day as there are so many good restaurants in Port Douglas. One of the fun things to do during the day is to menu shop as you pass the many restaurants in the street. Needless to say seafood forms a significant part of most menus.
 Below is a selection of a few of the restaurants that we visited during this holiday.
We visited Lanternfish on two occasions, initally for grilled fish - barramundi and coral trout - to eat with salad at the apartment while the second time we tried their street eats - Morton Bay Bugs  and Mushroom Gozleme - very tasty.
Port Izakaya is a great place for sushi. We had lunch there on two occasions, selecting items from the sushi train - delicious. However the highlight was the meal we had there one evening especially the two entrees we shared of calamari and scallops - fantastic. The mixed vegetable tempura was good too.
Dave's Takeaway was a great discovery. The Schnitz Burger was excellent and Robin enjoyed the grilled fish. A special feature of this cafe is the Wall of Daves.
For Chinese food we always visit Jade Inn.
On this visit we shared plates of Hokkien noodles and honey chicken.
2 Fish may have moved location but the food is still good. I enjoyed yellow tail tuna with stir fried vegetables.
For comfort food you cannot go past the Iron Bar. Robin had rissoles and mash while I had the lamb shank pie - the same meal we had three years ago. The food was really good - we are not really in a rut!
One of the special restaurants in Port Douglas is On the Inlet near the marina. We had tried to eat there before on other visits but it was always booked out. This time we booked a table two days ahead.
We had a table on the decking overlooking the inlet and until it was too dark watched the boats returning to the marina. The meal started when we shared a bowl of prawns. We then both ordered spaghetti marinara with lots of seafood including prawns, mussels, pippies, scallops, reef fish and yabbies. From our table we could watch fish swimming beneath the decking.
One of the patrons showed us a photo on his phone of a crocodile which had arrived during a previous visit and took time out to rest on the rocks below.
Bel Cibo continues to be a great restaurant and we had dinner there on two occasions. On the first visit we started with the Italian flat bread with rosemary and parmesan and then shared the seafood taster plate. For the main course I enjoyed the hand made gnochi with pancetta, pumpkin and spinach while Robin had the pan seared barramundi with spinach and hand made gnochi.On our final night in Port Douglas we returned to Bel Cibo and shared a plate of the flash fired calamari. I then had the saffron risotto with Morton Bay bug, spinach and peas while Robin enjoyed the veal scaloppine.
We started visiting Taste on Macrossan for a drink of coffee and hot chocolate. One day we also ordered the barramundi, duck and crocodile spring rolls for lunch which we enjoyed. After checking the breakfast menus of a number of restaurants and cafes we decided to have our final breakfast out at Taste on Macrossan. Robin had eggs with bacon and tomatoes while my breakfast was baked eggs with mushrooms, pumpkin and capsicum.
Although we enjoyed dining out we also enjoyed lighter meals in the apartment. A roast chicken from Coles provided dinner with salad and a couple of lunches.
One night we purchased a smoked salmon pizza from Rattle n Hum while on another occasion we bought a chicken, bacon and prawns pizza from Portica Pizza.
On most nights we ended the meal with a gelati or sorbet from Shakes Gelati Bar. Absolutely delicious. Perfect way to end the day.
There are restaurants in Port Douglas catering for all tastes. Enjoy.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Port Douglas - Low Isles

This was our third trip to the Low Isles with Sailaway. Since our last visit they now have an afternoon cruise to the isles so we decided to go on that one.
It was raining when the bus collected us to go to the marina however after a short time the weather had cleared and some of us sat outside as we travelled to the islands.
A small boat took us to Low Island where most people went snorkelling.
A few of us decided to explore the island. A small museum provides information about the history  Low Isles and its environment.
The grave of the wife of a former lighthouse keeper on the island.
It was low tide so it was possible to examine rock pools and coral uncovered for a short time.
Rounding a corner we came upon a group of pelicans.
There is also some dramatic driftwood to be seen on this part of the beach.
When the snorklers returned there was a short guided tour of part of Low Isle.
Osprey have built a nest on top of the lighthouse.
Back on Sailaway we had afternoon tea and a drink before sailing back to Port Douglas. Another great day.

Port Douglas - Cape Tribulation

On a showery day during the second week of our holiday we decided to drive north of Port Douglas to cross the Daintree River by ferry and then continue on to Cape Tribulation.
Our first stop was at Cape Tribulation Beach.
This is definitely an example of where the rainforest meets the sea.
It was low tide so there was plenty of beach to explore.
We then walked to the lookout for a different view.
Back in the car we drove to the carpark of the Dubuji Boardwalk to explore some of the rainforest vegetation.
In this area we were protected from showers by the large palm leaves.
One of the inhabitants of the area are scrubfowl digging among the leaves and mulch.
As in other areas of the rainforest there is a variety of vegetation.
Fungi and moss also grow on trees and logs.
Only part of the boardwalk was open as the boards are gradually being replaced.
Myall Beach was the next place we visited.
We found this pair of birds on the sand.
On the way back to the car it began to rain again. We had lunch at Mason's Cafe before returning to Port Douglas.