Posted by: Rebecca | March 31, 2012

The local entertainment – toad racing!

Welcome to Queensland… now this is the climate I expected. It’s humid, AC and fans on all round, 32 degrees and a slight breeze. I’m hot in next to nothing and the little fluffy clouds have all disappeared. It’s 22:39 and I’m already in bed (eh?) Having explored the local (The Central), tried Roo, Emu & Croc (on the same plate) already things are kicking off – tonight’s entertainment is Toad racing…

A distinct change from Sydney, perhaps I should elaborate.

We touch down in Cairns around 3.30pm. A pre-arranged taxi meets us in arrivals, and drives us up the coast to a lovely sleepy harbour called Port Douglas. The drive itself could almost compete with the Great Ocean Road for beautiful coastline and winding roads. And on the way, our driver is giving us a running commentary of our surroundings, even turing round to go back 200 yards to show us the Wallabies he forgot to point out. So what is the difference between a Kangaroo and a Wallaby? Not much; colour and size – a grey ‘Roo grows up to 6 feet whereas the browner Wallaby only gets to around 4 feet tall. Other than that, they’re pretty similar really, they both graze, bounce, carry Joey in their pouch and look pretty cute. Crocs, however, are a bit bigger. We learnt lots about crocs during our 60-minute journey, but I shan’t bore you to death – basic rules; they don’t actually chase you up the beach (too much effort), they live in both salt and fresh water (two species) and are generally best avoided (no brainer). Simples.

So we arrive in Port Douglas which, until Sheridan built a resort here in the mid 80s, was little more than a couple of houses. These (and a few of the later additions) were unfortunately lost during the cyclones of last year. So whilst quaint and pretty, most of PD is little over 25 years old. You’d expect this to make it a bit too touristy, but it doesn’t. The feel is remarkably still slow, relaxed and behind the times. There’s a local bus which picks up over the road at quarter to and quarter past… it also collects up the road and round the corner… at quarter to and quarter past, plus however long it takes to get from here to there… perfect J

The apartment is just lovely! I have an open space, which can be separated by sliding shutters. The bed is a huge cast iron feature, with loads of white pillows. The bathroom has a spa bath. There’s a little kitchen area, a sitting area and a balcony overlooking the main street in PD. It’s lovely. Just what I’d want for my last few, chilled out, relaxing days in the tropics. Mum & dad have a similar set up, albeit at the other side of the block, overlooking the pool.

So, what do we want to do whilst we’re here? Great, more planning L but I guess it’s a necessary evil; something tells me that, unlike the city where most things are within walking distance, here things will be much more energetic and outdoorsy, with some travel required. And I’m not wrong.

We grab some brochures and head for the boozer to peruse our options. After 3 Tooheys, we decide to decide tomorrow. One things which is a must though, is that in the morning I’m planning to surface before midday (!) and head to the wildlife park so see the crocs, wallabies and Kenny’s cousin Clive’s kid brother Clint. Well, that’s the plan, anyway.

Thereafter, we know we want to go out and snorkel on the reef, head up to Cape Tribulation (where I’ve seen a Tree Surfing adventure, which is basically being harnessed to a wire and thrown between the trees!) and head down towards Cairns to jump out of a plane (well, I’m planning to do that, think the olds might just watch *sensible*). We leave mum with the job of planning the lot, whilst dad and I hit the wildlife park in the morning, and order our dinner.


For starters, we’re offered beer by the jug – happy day, yes please. Then we select our entrée – a mixed platter of Crocodile, Emu and Kangaroo (has to be done), followed by bushman’s steaks all round. Perfect. We agree the Kangaroo is the best of the three meats and sit back to let our food settle. The place we’re in, is just brilliant. There’s a stage at the back, which is clearly hosting something tonight, albeit we can’t work out what? Buckets? A chair? No instruments? But the best thing is the toilets – they’re tagged on the back of the building, as an iron shed! They’re in fact fully functional, entirely sanitized facilities, but the décor is convincingly rough and gives precisely the right impression of an old, derelict, outback bar. Great fun! But as I walk back through the pub to our table, I finally figure out what the stage is for – Bruce is charging $5 per head to come and watch Toad racing! I stopped, did a double take and asking if I’d heard him right and, yes I had, he was racing toads across the pub. At this point,  have to remind myself, this is for our benefit; being less than 25 years old, this whole set-up is not an ancient tradition but a tourist attraction. But it feels old, it feels appropriate and, whilst most of the punters are indeed tourists, it doesn’t feel like we’re overpowering the locals, who seem to be enjoying it as much as the rest of us, so why not!

Already, I’m loving Port Douglas. But I’m determined to get to sleep before midnight – I’ve gained an hour from being in a different time zone, and it’s now 23.18, so I’m going to stop here and write more tomorrow. (Fiver says I’m still blogging after midnight…!)

ttfn /Boxy xx 

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