After spending our first few Australian days in Cairns, we decided to head north to Port Douglas. We had talked to a lot of people and been researching the best way to see Australia. People generally recommend starting at either the south or north end of the East coast and working your way down the coast. Port Douglas is the most Northern place to visit and just a 1 hour drive from Cairns. We got in touch with a transfer service who would take us to Port Douglas from Cairns for a decent price. The driver came the next morning and he was in his late 20’s. We were his only pick up so it was just the three of us headed up that way. We had a nice chat with him and we noted that he said “mate” all the time! Ashley and I weren’t sure if mate was just something they say in the movies or if it was normal but it turns out it was very normal. He took us on a short tour to show us in the city and then took us to our hostel.
We jumped out of the car and the first thing we noticed is that it was extremely hot. Not only is Port Douglas one of the most Northern places in Australia, it’s also sandwiched between the ocean and a rain forest. This creates a huge amount of humidity so it feels like you’re in Houston Texas (or worse). The heat and humidity were brutal.
Checking out Port Douglas
We got settled into our hostel which felt a lot more like a motel. There was a pool near the entrance, a ping pong table, a pool table, and then a long street in the middle with rooms on either side. The girl brought us to our room and we were both surprised at how big it was! We had tons of room to spread out and we were really happy with it. On top of that it also had a big tv. To top it off we were paying just $52 a night which was perfect for us to save some money.
We decided to go check out the town and made our way down to the main street. The city of Port Douglas is pretty small with a population of just 3,000 people. It’s a quiet little town with just a single main street. The main street was about a 20 minute walk from our hostel. We made out way down there and we were looking for a place called Rattle and Hum that the transfer guy told us about. We found it and made our way inside for lunch.
It’s worth mentioning air conditioning at this point. Note the sign above which says “Come in and cool down”. They did have air conditioning here (lots of them), but in the middle of an extremely hot sunny day they had all their doors open and no AC running at all. We were hoping to escape the brutal heat but it was still extremely hot inside.
We went up to the counter and ordered lunch and then made our way over to the bar to grab a drink. I ordered a pint of something random and it was $8.68. We quickly discovered that beer and eating out in Australia are very expensive. The average price we paid for a pint of beer was over $8 in most places.
After lunch we made our way through the city checking out the various shops. There wasn’t really a lot going on but we were both happy to be in a place with not a lot of activity. We had spent the last few months in mega cities so being in a smaller city of just 3,000 people was a nice change of pace for us.
We made our way back to the hostel and started researching what to do while we were in town. We had heard about two different activities from people we met along the way earlier in the trip. Almost everyone recommended a trip to the Daintree forest. In addition, a couple we met in Fiji had recommended we check out the Ultra light flights. We ended up booking both that night and set up our Daintree tour for the next day. We decided to head back into town and grab something for dinner.
We stumbled across a Domino’s pizza earlier in the day that advertised $5 pizza’s before 9 pm. $5 AUS works out to just $3.50 US so we could get an entire meal for $3.50 which was a huge savings for us. This was the first of and embarrasing amount of trips to Domino’s during our time in Australia. With the price of eating out very expensive and not kitchen more often than not, Domino’s became our go to food to save cash and we were able to find them nearly everywhere.
We made our way back to the hostel with pizza in hand. I looked up and commented to Ashley that there were sure a lot of birds in the area. Wait a second……those are not birds, those are BATS!!! During our stay in Port Douglas massive bats came out each night around dusk and flew directly over our hostel. They make a very distinct screeching sound and you could hear them all over the trees. These bats were massive and they were in such huge packs that you could stand there for 5 minutes watching the huge swarm over head and they would never end! We saw more bats in Port Douglas than we’ll probably see combined for the rest of our lives and that’s probably a good thing. We went inside and decided to call it a night after dinner. We had scheduled our Daintree tour for early the next day so it was time for bed.