from the followsummer vault: enjoy the beautiful beaches of Port Douglas!
We wake to the surprising sound of the absence of rain – if there is such a sound –
for the first time in many days. Although still cloudy, the sun does make frequent appearances through the day, interspersed with a couple of intense, but brief, downpours. We drive down to Cairns – the radio is full of talk that a tropical depression is forming off the coast, which could bring on a cyclone mid-week – to meet Guy Hays for coffee. Guy is a native of Cairns – he must be one of very few who can claim this honour. Guy is a friend of my sister Ruth’s friend Veda, and Ruth and Guy have consequently become friends.
After a couple of hours of chat, learning about Cairns over the years and about what is going on at Liberty, our hotel (Guy worked there for a bit), we drive north to Port Douglas, a town about 45 kilometres north of Cairns, and generally reckoned as about as far as one can drive up the coast without a 4 wheel drive vehicle. All the way up, driving on the inside of the road, we pass beautiful beach after beautiful beach, and I am filled with longing to be in the water. When we get to Port Douglas, we find a town that is in the midst of a real estate boom – vacation villas and golf courses being built everywhere, taking with them much of the charm that would have made this area attractive.
Port Douglas Beach
After a stroll around the town and a drive up to the Lookout, we head down to the beach. It is hot, and I am looking forward to jumping in. But when we get there, we find the beach closed: in addition to the normal box jellyfish, which nets keep out, the waters are full of a 2nd type, much smaller, with long long tentacles that can come right through the nets, and which, if stung, can render you with permanent neurological damage, if not dead. The nets have even been pulled from the water, but the lifeguard is still there – we guess to enforce the no-swimming rule.
So we walk the beach and discover beach life: everywhere we see these interesting patterns made of little balls of sand. As we watch we realize that when we aren’t looking directly at them, they are full of life. We stand quietly, and these tiny little heads pop out of little holes in the sand. If you move, they go back down; if you don’t they will cautiously emerge and scurry around, disappearing again the minute you move. We can’t get close enough to know what they are, but they look a bit like miniature crabs.
Jellyfish Net-Lines and Crab Patterns in the Sand
Driving back, we pass again the beautiful beaches, realizing now why they are so underpopulated, and wondering about the masochism of the few people who are actually sitting on the beach, knowing they can’t go near the water, not even to stick their toes in.
We meet up with Guy again, and have Sunday night B-B-Q around the pool at one of the hotels in Cairns, gossiping and feeling as comfortable as old friends.