We had a busy few days when we first got to Port Douglas. We did the Daintree Tour and then followed that up immediately with the Micro Light flight. We had originally only booked 3 nights in Port Douglas but ended up deciding to extend our stay. Ashley and I both felt like we needed a little more time to just relax and not do a lot and the place we were staying was reasonably priced so we’d also be saving money. We ended up extending our stay in Port Douglas to 6 nights. This put a bit of at time crunch on the rest of our time in Australia as we only had 30 days total for Australia.
Overall we really enjoyed the hostel we were staying at. One of the weird quirks about staying here was the air conditioning. They had the air conditioning set up on a different electricity circuit than the rest of the room. They were able to manually control the AC in our room by turning on the power to it each day around 7 PM and then they would turn the power back off promptly at 7 AM each day. Keep in mind we are basically in summer time Houston weather with lots of heat and tons of humidity. At 8 AM each day regardless of how tired we were, we would wake up sweating and there was no way you were falling back asleep at that point. Getting solid AC in Australia was always hit or miss. In Port Douglas the vast majority of restaurants had no AC running so even if we wanted to escape our room for a bit we would still be burning up.
AC aside, we liked our hostel because it had a pretty nice mix of people. We met a lot of fellow travelers most of which who were younger. We ended up going out for a Taco Tuesday night with a group one night which turned out to be a lot of fun. We got to talking to one guy who was working at the hostel and found at that he had been at the hostel for over 1 year now! He began working there part time to get a free place to stay and he’s been there ever since. I asked him if he had any intention of moving on and he said he didn’t have any plans at all!
One of the nights we were there a big group was going out for drinks. We tagged along and ended up with a group of around 10 people. One of the girls in the group was an American in medical school that had just taken a few weeks off to go to Australia. We made our way into one of the local bars that was running karaoke that night. The med student was dead set on signing a song but the rest of the girls just weren’t feeling it. Eventually she coaxed one girl into agreeing and she signed them up. Ashley was in the bathroom at the time and when she came back it snow balled from there and she was up on stage with them. Naturally they sang Brittney Spears.
We spent the next few days just relaxing in Port Douglas. We heard there was a big groper feeding you could attend at a local bar. Basically you show up and buy a drink as your entry into the show. The bar has a large deck with an open area where they drop down some dead fish that are attached to a rope. If you’re lucky, the 400lb groper will take the bait and you’ll get a quick glance of the fish. We got there early and got a good spot right in front. We sat there for about 20 minutes as they threw the fish out there trying to see if it would show up and finally it took a bit! It was a very short sighting and the photo doesn’t do it justice but this was an absolutely huge fish!
We ended up being in Port Douglas for my birthday. We decided to skip the Domino’s pizza for a night and went to a nicer restaurant for a change. We had an excellent time and I had a really good steak which was nice! After that we were back to our normal Domino’s to save cash. By the end we were practically on a first name basis with the workers there. Others at the hostel mentioned they go there all the time too and it was consistently packed! The rest of the time we just walked around town, hung out at our hostel, or checked out a local restaurant or bar in the area to pass the time. It was nice to relax for a while and get away from the bigger cities in Asia.
While we were in Port Douglas we devised our game plan for traveling through Australia. Australia is HUGE and we had a lot of distance to travel to see everything. We basically had 2 options. You can either rent a car which would add a lot of cost and a fatigue driving, or we could take the Grey Hound bus. We opted to go for the Grey Hound bus as the cost was $360/person to get us all the way from Cairns to Sydney which was 1,500 miles of driving. You could stop at any city you wanted along the way at no extra cost so we decided to go this route.
We had to make our way back down to Cairns before we could hop on a Grey Hound to our next stop. We also still needed to purchase tickets and get ourselves booked. We booked a transfer out of Port Douglas that would take us down to Cairns. We planned on staying just 1 night in Cairns and leaving early AM the next day to make our way down the coast. Once we arrived in Cairns and talked with the Grey Hound people, the bus we wanted to take was fully booked already. We had two options to pick from. 1) Leave in a few hours at 1 a.m. in the morning and arrive at 8 am or 2) Leave at 6 PM the next day and arrive really late the next day. By taking option 2 we would effectively lose a day in our next destination. By taking option 1 we could get there without wasting any time but we had already bo0ked a hostel for that night and our stuff was back in the room. We decided to suck it up and go with option 1 and take the 1 a.m. bus.
We went back to our hostel where our stuff was. We had only been there a few hours and it we now had a bus leaving at 1 a.m. There was a free shuttle to the bus stop from our hostel but the last one left at 11 PM. We decided to just hang around the hostel until the 11 PM shuttle which gave us a good amount of time to kill. This particular hostel had a bar within the hostel that was only for people at the hostel. It was a good size place so we sat down there for a drink (or two).
I noticed a sign that said there was a pool tournament that night and it was free to enter. However, there was a catch. If you were eliminated from the pool tournament you had to jump in the pool. We had a 6 hour overnight bus ride coming up but competitive Eric wasn’t thinking about that. I signed up for the pool tourney and we waited around for a while and it started to get busy.
Eventually the organizer wrote all the names down on a board and explained the rules. Each person has 3 lives. If you miss a ball, you lose a life. Lose all 3 lives and you’re eliminated. If you hit the 8 ball in you get an extra life. Last man standing wins. I had no idea how they would handle a pool tourney with this many people but this setup worked really well. You just had to hit any ball in to stay alive and it kept the game moving quickly. A large crowd of 30+ was gathered around watching. The first person was eliminated and crowd starting cheering as the girl jumped in the pool with all her clothes on. As the next person was eliminated I realized that they did not have to jump in the pool. Turned out it was only the first person eliminated that had to jump in the pool.
The tourney progressed and it got down to just a three of us. I got lucky with the order and the two guys ahead of me ended up eliminating themselves on a round before it got to my turn so I won. The prize was a free bungee jump which was worth about $140. We were leaving in literally hours and would be no where near this bungee jump so I had to do something with it. I checked around with a few guys to see if they wanted to buy it for even $50 but couldn’t get any takers unfortunately. I held onto it hoping I’d find someone else along the way who wanted to take it off my hands.
We left our unused hostel room shortly after the pool tourney and went over the bus stop area. We had a little less than 2 hours to kill before we got on the bus. We were both exhausted by the time we got on the bus at 1 a.m. and quickly fell asleep on our way to Airlee Beach.