Sunday 25 Apr
Port Douglas, Australia
Tropical North Queensland
Hi all, we hope everyone is well.
We have been in Port Douglas for nearly a week now, it is a great place to calm right down. Port Douglas is a small affluent classy (read expensive) town, that caters for Australians who want even more sun than they get further south. Trinity Beach was a great stop for us but it was a little quiet, Port Douglas has a lot more going on. For such a small town, about half the size of Hazel Grove, there are dozens of expensive restaurants, confirming Australians' love affair with food and remarkably even reasonably priced beer. The main beach here is called Four Mile Beach, no shortage of space on it I can tell you, four miles of clean generous sand, cloud covered rainforest mountains in the near distance, great for our regular walks. It is off season here and our digs are half price, a great standard and importantly within our budget. You have experienced fall out from the Iceland volcano at home and they have extreme weather here, typhoons are regular, golf ball sized hail stones destroy unlucky cars, we are in the tropics here.
Towns and villages on the Coral Sea coast are hemmed in by tropical rainforests that are well protected by this environmentally conscious country. The vegetation in the tropics is truly amazing, especially where it has been tamed in parks and gardens. The growth of trees, shrubs and flowers are as exotic as the Great Barrier Reef corals below the ocean. Tropical birds chatter and bicker constantly, electric blue butterflies flit around, the diversity of creatures is massive. In Cairns we came across quite a few Aboriginal people, they appear to be another species, separate from mainstream Australian life. In Canada we came across the guilt that Canadians have over what they call First Nation people. Americans have no guilt, they do not know the meaning of the word. Australians have that guilt. Clearly the Aboriginal people were exploited originally and then discriminated against for many decades. In the politically correct world of today Australians want to celebrate the culture and traditions of these people, and there are some aboriginal people working in the tourism industry, but they appear not to have fully integrated into society. We saw quite a few Aboriginal people in and around Cairns (I think Port Douglas is too expensive for them) but we have not seen any in meaningful employment. On reading about a racially motivated crime in Alice Springs the article said that 80% of prison inmates were Aboriginal people, not a healthy statistic.
We have been lazy in Port Douglas so far, enjoying this lovely town, so we are staying for another week. The proximity of the rainforest has been niggling at me and we have a couple of events on, a crocodile spotting river cruise later today and I am doing a rainforest trip on my own later in the week. Liz and the inhabitants of rainforests do not get on very well together. We will let you know how we get on. Love to all from Liz and Andy.