Port Douglas, Qld

It’s wonderful to be surrounded by lush green rainforest, white sand, aqua blue water and the Great Barrier Reef. Loving Port Douglas.

We stayed at Pandanus Tourist Park in Port Douglas. Set amongst rainforest it is quiet but still walking  distance to town, the marina and the beach. The midges or sandflies were a bit of a pest but it was a lovely spot. Port Douglas is fairly flat, so we could use our bikes again for the first time since Point Quobba, five months ago.

There are three companies in Port Douglas that trim the Coconut Palm trees every 12 months, and there are a LOT of coconut palms. The flowers are removed before they become coconuts and drop on people’s heads, which apparently can be fatal. The young Irish guy climbing “our” coconut palm was a bartender turned coconut palm lopper … hmmm … not sure where the skill sets overlap.

There are several markets around Port Douglas.  The Sunday Market is wonderful, diverse and very large.

The sleepy sugar cane town of Mossman has a farmers’ market: lots of delicious local tropical fruit. Last time we were up this way we visited the Mossman Gorge, but didn’t get there this trip.

The Port Douglas Marina was a short walk from our caravan park. On Wednesdays there is a market although it’s mainly targeted to the P&O cruise ships that come in each Wednesday.

Cane Toad Races at the Iron Bar Hotel in Port Douglas.

Friends told us about a few places in Port Douglas to visit and they were all great and all in the town. The restrooms at Zinc Restaurant have an entire wall of fish aquarium;  Nautilus Restaurant is set amongst the rainforest, beautiful at night when the rainforest is lit with fairy lights: and the RSL which is on the water in The Combined Clubs at the Tin Shed.

Some random pics from around town; there were mango trees everywhere full of fruit, but not yet ripe.

Bought some amazing prawns from a trawler.

Four Mile Beach: with umbrellas and life guards.

Breakfast with the birds at the Wildlife Habitat Park.

Elvis, the red-tailed black cockatoo, had been someone’s pet for 12 years. He was donated to the WIldlife Habitat when his owner passed away. That was 30 years ago, he is now 42 years old. Being domesticated from birth, he would not have survived in the wild. Dixie, the red and blue Eclectus Parrot, was born here as part of a breeding programme.

This is Pirate and his wife Chooky. Pirate was hit by a car and lost part of his wing: he can no longer fly. He was brought into the Wildlife Habitat  to recover 20 years ago, where he met Chooky and fell in love: they have been together ever since.  She laid their first egg two weeks ago, so everyone’s very excited about that. Some fun facts about red-tailed black cockatoos: they live for about 60 years; they mate for life; males have red tail feathers and females orange; they are predominantly left footed (as are most cockatoos); they reach puberty at 4 years old and are fully mature at 8 years old; they are native to Australia; they lay one or two eggs at a time, and if two then only one chick is fed and survives.

The Wildlife Habitat Park has been going for 30 years. Signs around the park tell some of the stories of the animals that arrived here injured or domesticated and donated. They also run breeding programs of endangered species.

Late last year the Park was hit by a tropical storm (ex-Cyclone Owen) and a large section was damaged. This is currently being rebuilt and will be very impressive once completed.

We spent a day on the Outer Great Barrier Reef snorkeling with the same company that we went with in 2015, Wavelength, on one of their new boats. They have marine biologists on board who snorkel with everyone, so you can ask about the things you see. They also take photos and point out interesting things you might otherwise miss, lIke this mesh table where they are researching different corals .

This year we went to Opal Reef, stopping at Mojo, Blue Lagoon and Bashful Bommie. It was still beautiful, but it was not as colourful and had less fish than when we visited in 2015.

Parrotfish are so named because they come in lots of vibrant colours, have a beak like a parrot and their pectoral fins have a very similar motion to birds wings, which they use to swim. Unlike parrots, they all start off female and change to males as they age.

The following photos were taken by one of the marine biologists.

These are Nemo/Clownfish/Anenomefish eggs. You can see their little eyes. The mother lays them under the anenome and the father looks after them until they hatch.

Some interesting facts about the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs  and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres, and can be seen from outer space… the current, living reef structure is believed to have begun growing on an older platform about 20,000 years ago.

By taking core samples of coral (which doesn’t kill the coral) and reading it like the rings of a tree  (more info here), scientists were able to study 400 years of events on the Great Barrier Reef.  They found that  Coral Bleaching has taken place over that time but up until 1998 these bleaching events were minimal and spaced far enough apart (approx every 25 years) to allow the coral to recover.

So far, the Great Barrier Reef has experienced four mass bleaching events due to global warming, in 1998, 2002, and back-to-back in 2016 and 2017. Scientists predict that the gap between pairs of coral bleaching events will continue to shrink as global warming intensifies.

It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.

Bleaching is only one of the impacts of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef; others include: increase in intensity and frequency of cyclones damages the reef; and increased ocean acidification because an estimated 30–40% of carbon dioxide from human activity released into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes.


Cheers til next time, Helen and Tim.