Here we are approaching Port Douglas. According to the Captain's Log, the Sun Princess anchored approx. 2 miles off the nearest coast in Trinity Bay. Passengers were taken ashore on local boats and ships tenders. The Log says it was overcast with showers but I don't recall getting wet.
Port Douglas is lovely, lots of mangroves and fancy yachts.
Once ashore, we boarded the bus for Cairns. The first part of the trip through Port Douglas seemed to entail passing the resort built by Christopher Skase. The bus driver told us all about how his wife Pixie (or Trixie, can't remember exactly) had the place repainted a couple of times as she didn't like the colours; also had it re-floored as she didn't like the marble ... oh my, how pretentious.
Of interest, this is where, in 2006 Steve Irwin (crikey) - the Crocodile Hunter - died at the Batt Reef, out from Port Douglas. He was injured by a stingray while filming a documentary.
The road from Port Douglas to Cairns follows the coast. The bus driver was loquacious going to Cairns but nary a word coming back. The trip takes over an hour through rain forest on the shore and beautiful coast on the seaward side. Cairns is another place that surprised me in size and sophistication. We spent a couple of hours roaming around and in places it seemed much like parts of Fremantle. This is another city that both Roland and I would like to revisit one day. The city centre is tourist oriented and the demographic young and international. If we had had longer to explore I think a visit to the museum and art gallery would have been interesting. As it was, there were a number of drunken locals fighting near the train station (NOT a good look!) and we had to retreat into a pharmacy for a few minutes.
I think it was in Cairns that I first saw the beautiful Bismarck Palm and have decided that this is the next plant I will get for my garden. Since we've been home I've seen at least one Bismarck Palm nearby so I know they can grow here - even if not as luxuriantly as in Far North Queensland.
I nicked that photo off the Internet. I just love the blue-green colour of the foliage.
We spent a lot of time at the stern of the ship watching the wake; this is hypnotic and the noise is wonderful. Talking of noise, the entertainment on the deck was sometimes fairly/very loud - and I don't like loud noise so would take refuge on the balcony of our stateroom with a book and a glass of wine.
The Library on board was well stocked and one of the quieter places to sit and relax. I enjoyed reading The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies (one of my favourite authors). I also read two books by Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler's Wife - both of which really mess with your mind (well, my mind!) I'll be looking out for more books by Niffenegger for sure.
From the Captain's Log: "At 5.49pm once all passengers were back onboard from the last shore boat we commenced heaving on the anchor (don't you love the language ... 'heaving on the anchor' ... as though they were dragging it in manually! I don't think so, I saw it and it was HUGE and green). At 6.00pm the anchor was aweigh, and a Northerly track was set; as Sun Princess commenced her passage inside the Great Barrier Reef toward the Torres Strait".
The following day 'at sea' the Sun Princess continued through the reefs inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and early in the day we passed Cape direction. Our noon position was Lat: 11 degrees 346'S, seas - slight.
I guess this is as close as I'll get to the Torres Strait Islands and certainly to the northern tip of the Australian mainland at Cape York. In the early evening "... we were abeam of Booby Island on the Portside after transit of the Torres Strait ... Once clear of the strait we set a Westerly course which was followed for the rest of the evening, crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria".
to be continued as we cruise into the Arafura Sea heading for Darwin.