Monday, April 30, 2007
Port Douglas is about one and 1/2 hours by road from Cairns, which is two and 1/2 hours by plane from Sydney. Port is the main departure point for the Great Barrier Reef cruises, and for diving expeditions and sailing. The marina is a large complex with shops and boutiques, very tourist orientated. This part of Queensland is a popular tourist destination especially for overseas visitors and is very popular with holidaying and honeymooning Asian couples. We noticed German, Dutch, Russian, American, British and Japanese people as well as other Asian nationalities on our cruise. One of the biggest attractions besides the coral formations is swimming with or observing the thousands of brightly coloured fish of all shapes and sizes. A large blue groper swims around the pontoon regularly, as well as Maori Wrasse, clown fish (Nemo) and other tiny irridescent schools of fish. We also saw a green sea turtle lolling about, but no sharks were seen this time, whew !! Can you tell I had a great time, and didn't want to leave? Oh well, back home now and trying to catch up with everything left on hold while I was away. I do feel rejuvenated though.
A Lifeguard is positioned to call people back who stray too far outside the marked area, and to rescue anyone if needed. The blue lycra suits are recommended to avoid being stung by box jellyfish or irikandji, both can be lethal. They are not the most flattering of garments, but most people do wear them, so after the initial shock people just resign themselves to looking "interesting" We did see a couple of foreign ladies with their swimsits over the lycra, and a couple of people stripped off and wore them alone !! I apologise in advance if you are in my photos, I tried to take them so faces were not in full view.
This beautiful twin hulled catamaran is the boat which delivered us from Port Douglas to the Agincourt reef on the Great Barrier Reef for a day on a moored pontoon. There visitors can snorkel in a controlled area, free snorkel, dive, take helicopter joy flights over the reef, float over the reef in a semi-submersible (not too claustrophobic, even for me!) or just sunbake. They serve a buffet lunch on the boat too. Most of our group of 14 people donned blue "stinger" suits to snorkel. As I'm a "non swimmer" I went in the semi-sub and the underwater observatory for my reef experience. This is our second trip to this region so we planned our activities before arriving. I still had a very enjoyable day.
The gardens in tropical North Queensland are lush and green straight after the Wet Season and Sea Temple is beautifully landscaped. Plants include palms, crotons, elephants ear, lobster plants, star gardenia, flax and some only grown in this area. The butterflies are huge and irridescent while we also saw bats, tiny bright yellow hummingbirds and colourful lorikeets in the gardens. There was also a friendly baby tree frog in the rooftop spa when we visited my husbands boss for a BBQ dinner. The temperature did not drop below 21 degrees C at night and climbed to 32 degrees C during the day, very pleasant and not so humid as Sydney. I even walked for an hour on the beach one day, very rare for me, but it was very relaxing.
The main pool at Sea Temple resort, and the main terrace dining room set up for dinner, lit by gas torches "a la Survivor". Absolutely gorgeous, we would have loved to stay longer but 5 days/4 nights was a very welcome break anyway.