So anyways, Sarah and I hired a car when we arrived in Cairns – partly because we needed it to get out and about, but mostly because we wanted to head up to Palm Cove and Port Douglas for a look. We’d been told that we couldn’t come to Cairns without doing that.
I, however, left it until the last minute to book – imagine that, me leaving it until the last minute to book something? While I am a last-minute packer (yep, I’m the one who zips the suitcase up just as we’re due to leave for the airport) I do tend to have the structural stuff ticked off. This time though I left it until the day before we flew out to do something about car hire and to say the coice was limited was an understatement.
‘Here’s the scratch sheet,’ said the girl behind the counter. ‘But don’t worry too much about it. You have insurance so it’s only the big stuff we’re worried about.’
The car, an older model Camry, had plenty of little scrapes on it. It also had cobwebs on the mirrors. Hardly surprising, we figured, the borders had only been opened for a week and Cairns is very reliant on tourism. By this stage, I’m pressing the button on the keyring and nothing is happening. That’s when we realise this needs a key to open the boot. Sarah has never seen such a thing so we laugh and laugh.
It is, however, super comfortable to drive, perfect for what we need and cheap.
Okay, if there’s a place closer to paradise, I’d love to see it.
Palm Cove is just beautiful. Blue skies, swaying palm trees, water gently lapping against a white sandy beach…what’s not to like? At just 27kms north of Cairns, it’s an easy drive if you wanted to fly into Cairns and stay here.
Okay, so you can’t swim in the beach between November and May – on account of the stingers – and there are crocodile signs up near where the stream meets the beach, but the resorts look beautiful and there are plenty of options for eating. At this tie of the year, in what is the middle of winter, I couldn’t think of a better place to be.
We’d decided to stop here for breakfast and chose Chill Cafe.
Sarah had an eggs benedict that she said was almost perfect – except for the Turkish toast (she’s a hard marker when it comes to eggs bennie) and I have avocado with tomato and a poached egg on Turkish toast with, wait for it, a scrape of vegemite. And you know what? It worked.
Afterwards we walked up and down the beach path a little to check out the resorts and the little shops before hopping back into the car and heading up to Port Douglas.
I’m one of those people who doesn’t particularly enjoy driving. I freak out, and I mean really freak out, on multi-lane highways and much prefer to be a passenger.
The road between Palm Cove and Port Douglas is, while a tad twisty, okay for me. We rarely got up to speed, and everyone was taking it pretty easy – mainly because it was so scenic. The road hugs the coast so around every curve is another beach or the great expanse of Coral Sea.
Sarah had a Zoom call that she needed to sign on for – a briefing for the uni course she was beginning on Monday – so we called in quickly at Four Mile Beach for a look before finding somewhere with phone reception.
Port Douglas itself is beautiful – not jaw-droopingly gorgeous like Palm Cove, but more like what you’d expect a tropical tourist town to look like. It reminded us a lot of Noosa – great eateries, some lovely art galleries and shops.
We found a spot for Sarah to do her call – at a cafe attached to the bookshop – so I settled back with a book and watched the world walk by.
We had a fabulous lunch at Watergate – sharing three small plates between us: a tuna tataki, karage crocodile with sriracha and a herb salad, and salt and pepper cuttlefish with a green papaya salad.
I also loved this takeaway place – Dave’s – where they have walls of Daves. If your name is Dave you get your photo on the wall and a discount. Too funny.
On the way back to Cairns we called in at a few of the lookout points and lay-bys and a few of the beaches off the main road.
Another perfect day in paradise.