Port Douglas

17Jan10

We flew out of Brisbane on Sunday morning and landed in the tropical paradise of Port Douglas two hours later. Like any good Gadabout, the first thing I did after checking in to our accommodation (The Port O’Call Lodge – clean, big beds, air con, swimming pool and bar – recommended), was to read the Welcome Pack in our room. I was drawn to one particular paragraph which contained sage advice on the use of fans. I have instructed my people to transcribe it in full for you below:-

“There is no point leaving a fan running when you are not in a room. In fact, the motor in the fan will generate a little waste heat, and could make the room slightly warmer. And if you have a pet that does not perspire (such as a ferret), there’s no point in using a fan to cool it down.”

Also applies to stoats and badgers. But not otters. Never otters.

Ironically, this was the first time on our trip that we had brought our ferret (Amanda) with us. We left Amanda stretched out by the pool on a sun lounger, being lasciviously eyed up by a Yorkshireman and headed into town.

A happy, holiday atmos reigned over the picturesque little streets of Port Douglas. We discovered a New Age market by the sea and wandered around the brightly coloured stalls, desperately fighting the temptation to spend several hundred dollars on crystals. The weather was rather changeable with bursts of hot, hot sunshine followed by a sudden shower, punctuated with gusts of wind which gave way to overcast skies that were burned up by the blazing return of the sun only to be obscured by a torrential downpour which eventually… well you get the idea with that.

As the clouds dispersed once more, we decided to make the most of the opportunity and scampered along to the Four Mile beach. We were met with a golden arc of sand and crashing waves (this wasn’t hugely unexpected as it is after all a beach). Plunging straight into the sea, we bitched up some gnarly air as we leapt on, over and through the powerful surf, whooping and guffawing like a couple of lifers on day release from the big house.

Having thoroughly exhausted ourselves, we tumbled back onto the sand for a bit of a read. I wanted to finish the Welcome Pack from our room as I’d already started the section on ‘Communal Kitchen & Dining Area’ and was desperate to know how it ended. I won’t spoil it for you but there is a twist.

After a while, black thunderclouds rolled overhead, signaling that it was time to return to our lodgings. We strolled back along the shore, looking along the palm trees for the path we had taken on our route down. You will be concerned to hear, my exquisitely dressed reader, that we couldn’t find the blasted thing. Having walked for about five miles which on a four mile beach is almost unprecedented, we were about to give up and accept that this was our life now. With an abundance of coconuts for sustenance and all the sea water we could drink, I felt sure that our new feral existence would be a success.

So Susie brought some sort of weapon with her to the beach. Big whoop. That isn't a problem for me. It really isn't. Doesn't keep me awake at nights wondering about it that's for sure.

I was just beginning to mentally write the screenplay for the inevitable film that would recount our life-changing ordeal (‘Sand Prison’ starring Academy Award Nominee Angelina Jolie and Li’l Louis Theroux) when we spied an opening up ahead. It wasn’t the way we had come but we grasped this potential lifeline and plunged on.

As we emerged warily at the end of a short, palm tree flanked path, the sun broke through with a sizzling vengeance, illuminating an incredible and totally unexpected sight. It seemed that we had stumbled into the grounds of a hotel. Not just any hotel though, this was a luxurious, pampertastic, opulerific, glam-palace of a hotel. The gleaming, white walls of this forbidden fiefdom were completely surrounded by a swimming pool. To simply call it a swimming pool though would be an enormous injustice – a bit like calling the O2 Arena a decent sized lock-up garage. It was the size of heaven with water so purely crystalline that dipping a toe would almost certainly produce the sound of a sweet, prolonged chime. Water lapped invitingly at the softly undulating circumference with the practiced seduction of a geisha. Not a single soul was around.

I drew my gaze away from the pool (please see above for wordy description) and glanced up to see if Susie was thinking what I was thinking. Dare we dip? Fortunately, we decided the answer was yes or this anecdote would come crashing to a judderingly unsatisfactory halt. My limbs breathed a silent thank you as I eased in to the mirrored sky and discovered salt water the temperature of a healthy child’s forehead.

I held this handstand for almost three minutes while Susie yelled encouragement.

We glided, floated and did a nice swim n’ that while trying to give the impression that we were very much used to this kind of thing and slightly bored by the whole experience so as not to draw attention to our commoner status. I was reminded of every post-apocalyptic zombie movie I had ever seen where the few lone survivors frolic in abandoned palatial homes before the whole rabid, walking corpse unpleasantness begins.

We decided not to push our luck and having struck what may prove to be the decisive blow against privileged overlords in the name of Revolution, Comrade Susie and I reluctantly got out of the pool and headed back the way we came.

We were only ten metres shy of the pathway when our hearts leapt to our mouths and tried to scramble past our molars in a cowardly escape. A fully uniformed security guard was striding directly towards us. Admittedly, on the surface she wasn’t the scariest security guard in the world. She was about 5ft, a little bit on the portly side and I think she was smiling. However, I couldn’t have been more alarmed if one of the sun loungers had suddenly transformed into a ‘Killatron 5000’ and attempted to destroy us with laser darts (ok, that would have been more alarming).

The guard was slightly closer to the exit than us and it looked as if there would be an intruder intercept situation before we reached freedom. Under her breath, Susie whispered that perhaps we should just carry on walking past the guard and into the hotel so as to look like guests. I was unable to form much of a coherent reply as by this time I had broken into a nonchalant half-sprint.

It may have been my imagination, but I could have sworn that our nemesis began to pick up speed too. I couldn’t tell for sure as I was staring with some fascination at my Usain Bolt style blurring feet. In that moment, I resolved that if we were cornered and confronted I would face the consequences head-on, take my medicine like a man and confess that it had all been Susie’s idea and she’d made me do it.

As we drew parallel with the path, we veered sharply and began our final escape surge. The sun was behind and I watched our lengthening shadows in front, waiting in trepidation for a third, slightly rounded shadow to appear. It didn’t.

We felt a giddy euphoria as feet met sand and we were safely back amongst the shuffling, ashen faced proletariat. At this point it did occur that security guard Glenda, as she might be known to intimate acquaintances, may simply have been doing her rounds with no idea that our dip was anything other than legitimate. Either way, this illicit, unexpected, swim against the machine (stop me if you feel I’m going overboard) was an absolute highlight of our gadding about so far.

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2 Responses to “Port Douglas”

  1. 1 Jon

    Did you really hold that Underwater Handstand for 3 minutes?!

    • 2 davexxxx

      Yes I did. It would have been four but I’m self conscious about my legs in that bathing costume.


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