18th – 20th June 2012
After a week in Cairns feeling sorry for myself and bored thanks to my case of tonsillitis, I was pretty eager to get some travelling under my belt. Even if it was only an hour away. Port Douglas was my next destination. It’s roughly 60km north on the Captain Cook Highway on the way to Cape Tribulation, a place I was desperately hoping to visit as its where Captain Cook struck on the reef and made repairs to his Endeavour ship in 1770.
But I was feeling up to the long journey as I was still raging against the tonsillitis so Port Douglas it was.
I booked with Dougie’s Backpackers. I heard about this place from a backpacker who told me in Kuala Lumpur and especially that on Mondays, they offered a free transfer from Cairns to their hostel. I’m not one to pass up on an offer!
At 11am, they came to pick me up and was whisked alongside the stunning Northern Cairns beaches on the highway. I wished I could have stopped off to take a few snaps of Trinity Bay.
An hour later, I arrived at Dougie’s. A beautiful place to stay with its green plumage, a massive open plan kitchen, a wooden bar and a sleek cafe on the corner. Shown to my bed, I was pleased to have come here. It felt fresh and vibrant, just what I needed to finish my battle of wills with the illness. Wandering round the premises with a drink, I bumped into 2 British backpackers called Hannes and Sophie. They had been in Australia for a while and looking to find work outside of Cairns. Soon, I got chatting with them and so pleased to find some proper English speaking people! To make most of the afternoon, we headed down the beaten track to the legendary Four Mile Beach!
It was absolutely breathtaking and the massive beach made me feel like I was on set of Home and Away! Humming the tune to the show, I ran to the sea and did a little paddle but I was more interested in the crabs that littered the beach that ran back into their miniature holes. If you squat down and stay still for long enough, you will see many crabs peeking out with their big claw and then start digging out more of their hole whilst rolling sand into balls held together with their spit. It’s a work of art I thought as each crab would give a different design with their many balls of sand.
Of course, as we felt the beach was stunning, a few posing photos was needed and I think I found my fellow model in the form of Sophie who insisted on having many photos taken…
As we sat on the sand looking at the many forms of activities taking place whether it was cycling, building sandcastles, running, swimming etc, the beach still felt empty and I realised. I was so used to the crowded beaches of SE Asia and many people hassling you to sell something that being on an Australian Beach was unreal!
As the sun set and our stomachs growling, we headed back to the hostel via the supermarket and prepared a BBQ! I have been in Australia for a week and I’ve yet to have a BBQ! How wrong is that?!
Sophie seemed to have brought out the bossy bird in her and took over cooking the BBQ. I wasn’t complaining! With some onions, salad, etc, it was a feast to behold. Later, as we sipped some pints of Pure Blonde and XXXX Gold, we met a few more backpackers also hailing from Britain. One called Josh is a purely talented singer and guitar player. And the other Hannah, a mysteriously independent backpacker looking to work in Port Douglas. Soon, we were joined by an American, Italian and an Australian. Josh played us some tunes ranging from Oasis to (you will be very pleased to read this Alannah, Leonie and Lauren) Ed Sheeran. We carried this on over to Four Mile Beach in the dark where we built a big bonfire and we all chilled out around it with some cheap wine and backpacker natter.
It was so good to feel peaceful and also experience a taste of Australian culture. I felt like I was truly better and finally winning the fight of my tonsillitis as I opened my throat to sing along with others around the campfire.
The next morning, I had some brekkie in the cafe next door with my discount voucher from Dougie’s and met up with Hannah and Sophie there. We spent the rest of the morning chilling out and for the afternoon I decided to help out Hannah getting set up looking for a job as I was intrigued to know how it all worked. Maybe I might want to come back to Australia in future to get a job for a year?
First off, we went to Commonwealth Bank, reputed to be the best bank for backpackers, and set up a bank account. It cost $6 a month to keep it open and there’s all sorts of benefits to gain from it. It’s pretty quick to set up a bank account. You just need a forwarding address to send all the bank mail containing cards and details. You can use the hostel’s if you are planning to stay there for a while.
To celebrate her getting a bank account, we went for a smoothie in the main street and heard Josh busking on the street. He had made $80 in one hour already! Wow! I wish I had a good singing voice and able to play the guitar like he does.
Then we headed off to the Post Office to try and gain a tax code for Hannah. It’s a long form to fill out that will take a while but you do need 2 pieces of identification. Passport, driver’s license that is in English or a bill. Unfortunately for Hannah, she only had her passport on her so we would have to come back later.
On the way back, we stopped off at a second hand store that sold anything. I managed to find a pair of jeans that fit my long legs hooray for the measly cost of $3 (£2) whilst Hannah found some blankets. It’s pretty cool at night.
Returning to the hostel, I chilled out for a bit before finding the holy grail. Josh parted a secret with us. Gaining free Internet through charged Internet. And you can use it for as long as you like!
If you really want to know this secret, I’m afraid I can’t tell you the secret over here but if you really want to know, email me and I’ll tell you…for a price. A pint will do. It’s so devastatingly simple!
Sophie met me afterwards and we cooked some pasta dinner, I was going to have to face having pasta a lot in the next 3 months I’m in Australia. Back to the student days!
Settling on the sofa next to the stage, we prepared for the live music session. Sophie and I were ready to rock out with the blues and heavy rock this performer was offering. Hannah and Josh soon joined us. We loved the Set, he truly knew how to perform ending with smashing his electric guitar over the stage. Nice! Great to hear some Australian Rock!
Still buzzing, we headed into the centre of town to a bar called Iron Bar where it is Karaoke night! There were very good singers, best was Josh, and very horrible singers that probably made possums hang themselves from the roof!
I didn’t sing, I’m not that confident enough a singer. Unless you voluntarily want to make your ears bleed, I’m ready for bookings!
We didn’t stay for too long as I needed to be up early in the morning to get back to Cairns.
But as I crawled into bed, I realised how fantastic the last few days have been and guess what! My Tonsillitis has been truly destroyed. But little did I know it would leave a horrible legacy.
Cairns, here I come!