Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Crazy Soccer Mum Loves Liverpool FC


Do ya want to speak to her?...It's some Crazy Soccer Mum...
The receptionist forgot to mute the phone as she yelled out across the office...The title stuck.
When did I become a Crazy Soccer Mum? Maybe it was at this moment, when I rang a local property developer, to ask if they'd sponsor the kids soccer club...Na, was the reply... That made me both crazy and mad... If Crazy Soccer Mum was born on this day...
...She came of age, the day we went on the Liverpool FC tour of Anfield, and became a Liverpool Fan...

 
I didn't grow up with football, I just got sucked in through the kids. Moving countries as often as we did, meant we had to adapt quickly. A new country, meant new schools, new house and new soccer club. Having the right soccer team for the kids was up there on the list of priorities, along with buying a new car and learning the language.
An average Melbourne week now involves twelve football (soccer) commitments to be scheduled into the weeks events... In our house we have three players, two of whom coach three teams, one referee and one barista who makes coffees for the parents on Saturday morning... not to mention the rostered jobs of Ground Marshal, Linesperson, BBQ etc...
I never barracked for a soccer team growing up in the UK, nice girls generally didn't. This was the era of soccer hooligans and riots... Anyway our local choices of Swindon, Oxford or Reading didn't quite excite in the way that I can see growing up in London, Manchester or Liverpool would...
 
We liked Liverpool. We went last time we were back in the UK because I've always wanted to do a Beatles tour and it seemed like a fun place for a weekend. The city offered something for everyone and was well placed for my cleverly chosen Christmas present gifts of tickets to watch some of the best English Premier League football teams in action.
The boys were able to do a side trip to watch Manchester United play West Bromwich Albion, at Old Trafford whilst us girls, just back from trip to Barcelona to watch our (now) mega hero Messi and Barca play, went shopping in the newly regenerated fabulous city shopping precinct.

We squeezed in a quick match at Goodison Park to watch Liverpool city rivals Everton v Chelsea. So we knew a thing or two about The World Game by the time we rocked up for the Anfield tour, last December... But my, there is something about the Liverpool Football Club that is unique and special. Crazy Soccer Mum needed a British Football Team to support and Liverpool FC would do just nicely...
 
Melbourne is going off at the moment. Grown men were hyperventilating at the Airport on Sunday when the Liverpool team arrived, like teenage girls waiting for One Direction. The papers are reporting it as bedlam. The Reds anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' will live as true here as anywhere. Everywhere the Liverpool team go on their first visit to Australia, they are being mobbed... Last night 20,000 Fans turned out in force to enjoy free tickets to watch Liverpool train, it sold out, just as the match tickets did, as quickly as you can say 'Will Suarez be playing?'
Tonight Liverpool play A League club Melbourne Victory at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, commentators are suggesting it could be in front of one of Liverpool's biggest ever crowds ever. This is Liverpool's first visit to Australia and a full MCG at capacity will hold up to 100,000 people. By contrast Anfield Stadium holds 45,000, but wow what a stadium. During the tour you get to sit in the Manager's dug out and imagine what it must be like with 45,000 Scousers singing as one.
 
 
For anyone lucky enough to visit Liverpool at their home ground, Anfield, you will find that you can't help but feel in awe of the place. Anfield is in a pretty rough looking area of run down properties. Standing proud in it's midst is this stadium, rising like the true cathedral to the sport that it is. From the moment you walk in past the huge bronze statue of Bill Shankly, you have the sense that you are at the home of something special...
 
Add in the warm welcome each visitor receives from Club Officials who combine of a mix of pride in their Team with a wonderfully self depreciating Scouse humour and it's a winning combination, for one of the most successful teams in soccer history. The Liverpool logo reminds you of the rich Club history, established in 1892. Wow! 121 years ago in Australia's history, we were just working out whether to be kicking a round or oval ball...
 
 
Tours of Anfield run throughout the day starting from the museum. Yes, there is a whole museum dedicated to the clubs history and there is a Liverpool superstore where of every type of Liverpool merchandise you can imagine is on offer from shirts, to mugs to bikinis to birthday cards.
You get to see all the behind the scenes areas like the dressing rooms, media centre and of course to touch the famous 'This is Anfield sign' as each player does without fail before they run out onto the pitch...
 
Just looking at those smart red seats gives you goosebumps, especially when on the Anfield tour they talk about the history of the Spion Kop, where the hardened supporters used to stand. This was in the days before the Hillsborough disaster which claimed the lives of 96 supporters in 1989 and led to the elimination of all standing terraces at all major football stadiums in England, Scotland and Wales. The Hillsborough disaster at Anfield is a poignant memorial and the mood changes as we pause to remember those who went to watch a football match and never returned home...
 
We loved our time with Barcelona FC, but I have to say impressive as Camp Nou is, the Anfield tour was better than the Camp Nou tour which was maybe too big, too commercial. At Anfield you get to feel the heart and soul of the club and that is why they will always be my EPL team of choice!
 
Last week in Sydney Manchester United drew a crowd of over 83,000 at ANZ stadium. Is this the biggest football week Australia has ever seen? Congratulations to Football Federation Australia, 175,000+ spectators in two matches in the same week. That is good for the sport here in Australia. Add in our recent World Cup qualifying for Brazil 2014 and the future of the game Down Under is going well...

There is no doubt we have seen here in Australia this week that the passion for the mighty Reds extends well beyond those able to get to follow and support them in the UK. Melbourne has just been a sea of red this week as supporters arrive from all over the Country, all over the world, to watch one of the giants of global football, both in terms if their on field achievements and their off field support. Welcome Liverpool FC.
 
Our Victorian Premier Dr Denis Napthine has called Liverpool's match as 'one of the Great sporting occasions in Melbourne'.
Liverpool FC very nice of you to visit us, after we came to visit you. Thank you!
We hope you have enjoyed your time in Melbourne,
Have a great match tonight...and may the best team win!
 
Little Wandering Wren

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Jeepers creepers, it's never dull in Tropical North Queensland

Next year we have lived in Australia ten years. Queensland is always a popular 'local' holiday choice for us and I would never get bored of going there. It is so different to my suburban Melbourne life...

 
A walk through the Tropical rainforests is like stepping straight into an Aussie version of Jungle Book - can't you just see Mowgli swinging through the trees, or even (moving jungles) Tarzan arriving with a loud bash on his chest and his famous unulating yell?
 
Everything seems to be on a bigger scale up north! Let's not go there on the spiders, I'm talking bugs. I cheated, I didn't really want to get close to a real life massive flying something or other, but this sculpture gives you the general idea.... HUGE!
 
Beware strange animals
Even the animals are different. This sign warns you of the Southern Cassowaries which are an endangered species. I reckon extinct is a far better word because I've searched and searched, and I've never seen one. They are out there, there are warning signs not to feed them, or leave out food scraps as they can become aggressive and dangerous towards humans...hmmm just like the Unicorn, Loch Ness Monster or the Greater Barrier Reef Mermaid ;)
 
 
Oh, I'm telling porky pies, we did see one on our travels, here spotted together with his friend the plastic Brush-turkey, both animals should be discouraged if they try to join your picnic lunch...you will get a nasty fright and they will get a tummy ache...

 
The plants are different, there are some extraordinary Tropical Rainforest plants. I mean just look at the roots of this tree in the main drag at Palm Cove...
 
 
Or the carpet of orange beside the road on the Atherton Tablelands...
 
 
Depending on the time of year you visit, you may see some magnificent waterfalls, such as the Barron Falls at Kuranda. In fact if waterfall-spotting is your thing, there is a whole waterfall circuit right in the heart of the Atherton Tablelands which will take you to 17 falls within this Wet Tropics World Heritage area... It's the best Wet n Wild day trip you'll ever do...
 
Barron Falls, Kuranda
For those with an icy resolve, or who have completed their family lineage to know their Ursus Maritimus (polar bear) heritage, you also have the chance to swim in the crystal clear waters of various waterholes... Such as at the Babinda Boulders.
 
Babinda boulders
If the cold and wet options do not appeal, there is always the insiders view of the rainforest from the comfort of your own carriage. If you are planning to visit Kuranda, the village in the rainforest, then why not make a day of it and take the colourful Kuranda Scenic Railway from Cairns - I read there is even a Gold Class ticket! There is also a 90 minute Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which takes you on a 7.5km journey above the rainforest...
 
 
If all this sounds a bit dull, there is plenty around to give you an adrenaline rush! Try bungy jumping, supposedly the most beautiful bungy jump in the world, if you are game enough to have your eyes open!...Whitewater Rafting on the mighty Tulley River, widely considered the best rafting river in Australia... How about mountain biking, sea kayaking, four wheel drive adventures, parasailing, the list is endless.
 
Me, my adrenaline rush comes from the simpler things in life such as the chance for free sampling of cheese and yoghurt at the Mungalli Creek Bio-Dynamic Dairy Farm at Millaa Millaa, or to stop off at GalloDairyland to drool at their chocolates counter.
 
 
There is something for everyone on a holiday in Tropical North Queensland, I hope we can come back soon!
 
Little Wandering Wren

Friday, 19 July 2013

Port, Palm, posh meals and pies...North Queensland

Using Trip Advisor to sort out where to eat, rest and play...

Where to stay Port Douglas or Palm Cove? We couldn't decide either, and in the grip of indeciveness we booked one night at Yorkey's Knob, close to the Airport, and then three nights in both Port Douglas and Palm Cove!
Port Douglas has a perfect location to explore the Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, and of course the Great Barrier Reef. It also has the magnificent, but underwhelming, four mile beach, but is expensive, busy, and in our opinion not as charming as Palm Cove.
Oaks Lagoon swim out apartments
Palm Cove is closer to Cairns Airport, (26 kms) and is yet to be over developed. There is plenty of luxurious beach front accommodation and restaurants which compare favourably to those in Port Douglas. From here you can access to The Great Barrier Reef, Atherton Tablelands and if staying put in the village enjoy a fabulous esplanade, jetty and beach area. We found it cheaper than Port Douglas...
So of the two destinations we would choose Palm over Port for our next holiday in the region. Click here for more discussion on where is best!
I find booking family travel (hotels, restaurants and activities) so much easier to fathom these days using Trip Advisor (Click here to see our Queensland reviews). It saves endless hours researching at the computer and we've not yet been disappointed. Just call me sad, but generally I don't look much below top 12 and I get a real buzz at trying out anything ranked in the top three on Trip Advisors recommendations...
In Australia if we are by water we will often try to eat at the local Surf Lifesaving or Yacht club. You don't need to be a member to eat at these venues you just sign in as a guest on arrival. In towns often the RSL (the Returned and Services League of Australia) can be a good bet for a reasonably priced meal.
PORT DOUGLAS

'Ewww! Does that mean that anyone can swim up to our back door?'
Yes, and if they do, we can get our own back and swim up to their's...
That last comment probably won't win me a Parent of the Year award, but what is it with teenagers and their privacy?! I had visions of sitting on the back deck with a bottle of red enjoying the sunset, the kids splashing around in the pool with their new friends...
 
Nah, I should have done my research better. The reality was they needn't have worried. Unless the other guests were descended from polar bears, or came ready prepared with wet suits and waterproof thermals, there was not going to be too much activity in the pool in July... Too jolly cold and very brrrrr...
 

A quick trip to Port Douglas' Four Mile Beach however, reinforces the delights and attraction of a cold hotel swimming pool. Swimming in the local waters come with several warnings; if the Crocs don't get you, the stingers in summer might! Although don't let the jelly fish put you off going to the beach, the area gets netted for swimmers protection during the marine stinger season.
 

Four Mile Beach with it's firm sand is a perfect beach for a long walk or for jogging. The palm trees along the edge mean that even in the height of summer you can always find some shade...
 

What we did love about Port (as the locals call it), were the restaurants...Here are some of the ones we tried...
  • #1 Trip Advisor Salsa Bar & Grill - 26 Wharf St, Port Douglas, Queensland 4871
 

Salsa was booked 10 days ahead, and had three pages of people on the waitlist when we tried making a reservation for dinner. That tells you something n'est pas? However we were able to walk in and get a table for a late lunch at 2pm. This was cleverly timed to judge for ourselves what all the fuss was about and why they won Best Modern Australian Restaurant in Queensland, along with a stack of other awards in 2012...
Salsa Bar and Grill is housed a traditional Queenslander house with views across to the water. To us it was fine dining in a relaxed Aussie way. Our lunch was interesting, delicious, impressive and a restaurant that you would want to return to again and again, it was equally as good as Silky Oaks Lodge Treehouse Restaurant (#1 Trip Advisor Mossman restaurants) which we raved about in a previous blog.

Salsa Bar and Grill, Port Douglas
We also tried out the following
  • #3 Trip Advisor Whileaway Coffee Shop - my sort of place great coffees, milkshakes, smoothies in a bookshop - tick tick
 
  • #13 Trip Advisor Port Douglas Yacht Club - a great setting, nice barramundi & chips and if you turn up on a Wednesday at 4pm there is a chance you get invited out to crew on one of the boats. friendly, good value
 
  • #14 Trip Advisor Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club- food was really very good, and different, great value, need to book in school holidays, very laid back like being at a mates place for a Barbie. Cool wind off the beach, bring a cardi.
PALM COVE
 

We stayed at The Elysium Apartments, Palm Cove (# 2 Trip Advisor) which we reckon should be #1! The apartments are set back one block, tremendous value, the pool is not massive but big enough, we couldn't fault the layout in our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment. We hired a internet modem for the room $12 per day - hallelujah a place that recognises that a modern family needs to be wired 24/7 even on holiday!!
 
View of Palm Cove beach from the jetty
We loved the beach at Palm Cove and walking along the Esplanade could easily over time become one of my all time favourite walks. Palm Cove is big enough to give you choices, small enough to make you feel like you got to know the place.
  • # 2 Trip Advisor Chill Cafe - A warm fabulous welcome, great food and the best coffee we found in Palm Cove, Not sure why we tried anywhere else because this place was perfect, and 2 minutes from our apartments.
 
  • # 3 Trip Advisor Vivo Bar & Grill - We had the $39 two course special which included a glass of wine. Very nice food, nice evening, no complaints but not wow-wee!
 
  • # 18 Trip Advisor The Surf Club - great $15 steak deal on Wednesday nights, steak was better than the one at Vivos the previous night at half the size and double the price.
 
  • # 31 Trip Advisor Portobello - this restaurant was packed every night, so lucky we branched out lower down the Trip Advisor list to find a hidden gem, for fantastic pizzas and all things Italian.
KURANDA
 
# 1 Trip Advisor Petit Cafe - This is where Trip Advisor is brilliant! Tucked away in the market area, we would never have found this gem of a French Creperie without help... The Buckwheat pancakes were the best I have ever had, the tea and coffee less good, not sure whether this was because of the water which can be highly chlorinated but do not miss when in Kuranda.
Crepes to die for at Kuranda!
BABINDA
 
# 1 Trip Advisor Babinda Bakery - fabulous traditional bakery of extremes. The selection of great Aussie meat pies, sausage rolls and pastries make this worth the stop off, the coffee was much less of a highlight but they are forgiven (sort of) because the staff were so friendly.
 
Pies galore at Babinda Bakery
CAIRNS
 
# 6 Trip Advisor Caffiend Cafe Art Music - tucked away down Graffiti Alley, a visitor to Cairns would never find this hole in the wall cafe. It gets my vote for the best coffee on our trip, their barister has just won Barrister of the year for the region.
 
These were just some of the places we found using our trusty Trip Advisor, but don't just go for our choices, have a look for yourself and let me know if you have any other good places to share!

Little Wandering Wren

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Daintree River cruise - snakes, stubbies & crocs

Anyone up for some Croc spotting?

There are a fair few crocs in these muddy waters, buyer beware... These Aussie crocodiles, they proudly tell us, are bigger than the largest recorded American alligator. They will attack anything seen as a threat to their territory (humans included), even in winter when they don't actually eat much...
 
We join Bruce Belcher's Daintree River cruises and slip out on the river for the last sailing of the day at 4pm. This afternoon cruise is packed. Probably because word has got out that Bruce throws in a few stubbies (beers) for the Dads and a glass of chardy for the Mums...The kids are not left out, even our teenagers are grinning as they walk through the tropical rainforest to the waters edge, clutching their choice of Slurpee frozen drink, some snake lollies and chips... Snakes, stubbies and crocs there is something for everyone on this tour!
 
 
Our tour is led today by Blind Freddy, as he introduces himself. "They give you the bevies so that you laugh at my jokes.." His amusing banter combined with his in-depth knowledge of the wildlife in the area, comes from a lifetime of living in these parts...
 
As we chug along the river, looking intently at the muddy mangroves at the waters edge, we are told to yell out if we spot anything interesting...
'Stop! shrieks one passenger, It's a water snake!'
...it turns out to be a Cormorant, partially submerged fishing under water. The bird hops out and proudly suns himself on a low hanging branch, his wings outstretched as if to proudly demonstrate the size of his catch. 'It was this big...'
 
Above Kites circle ominously waiting, they can take out a baby croc, you know... Next is a pretty female Shiny Flycatcher, part of the Willy Wagtail family and then a Mangrove Heron. Did you know they can extend their necks by 400mm to catch their dinner.... it's non stop action on this tour I'm telling you and we're loving it.
 
Bruce Belcher's Wildlife River Cruise
Luckily with the sun fading fast, there is still enough sun on the banks for us to see what we've all really been waiting for, a male crocodile named Scarface, sunbaking beside the mangroves. Apparently there are only four males crocodiles on the river. Each male has a busy life, not only do they control up to 8km's of river, they also have quite a few girlfriends to keep happy... There are around 65 females on the river...
'Ok, hands inside the boat kids' ...
These four males obviously get around a bit as we saw quite a few baby crocs. We were surprised how small a baby Crocs can be. Some were as little as 20-30 cms, basking under the protective gaze of Mum. I am not surprised that many don't make it through to adulthood...
 
Croc spotting at the Daintree river
Did you know that Crocodiles can grow up to 45 sets of teeth in their lifetimes..."Why can't humans be like this?", Freddie asks. "We could all save a fortune at the dentist" He's got a point... Is someone working on this?
 
As the sun retires on the day, we spot a lone hibiscus flower bobbing along in the water, like the ones we had admired earlier in the day. The Aborigines use them for time keeping, telling their kids to return back home when the flowers drop off around 4pm...
 
Hibiscus flower
As more and more four-o'clockers fill the river, it's time for us to head back to Port Douglas and our river cruise to end. What a great day we've had at the Daintree National Park.
 
Little Wandering Wren

Friday, 12 July 2013

Mossman, Queensland the place to be

Wandering Wednesday...

Mossman Gorge Forest Walk, Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

Are you wearing your runners, sneakers, plimsolls, daps, gym shoes, trainers or whatever you call them where you're from? We're off for a walk in the woods...although not just any old woods. Today we've taken the fifteen minute drive through the towering sugar cane fields ready for harvest, from Port Douglas to Mossman. Sorry for the pun but life is sweet as we arrive at Australia's largest rainforest in the Daintree National Park!
 
Mossman Gorge is a World Heritage listed rainforest, home to the Kuku Yalanji people, the areas traditional Aboriginal landowners. Twelve months ago a new indigenous eco tourism site was built here and visitors arriving at the Visitors Centre have the choice of either a self guided tour, or to purchase the Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk with an indigenous guide.
 
 
We take the self guided tour option and board the bus ($6 per adult) which takes us from the car park to the edge of the rainforest. The paths are well marked, there is a short river section which leads us to the fast flowing Mossman river look out and mountain ranges behind.
 
 
Here those willing to brave the crystal clear waters, strip off for a quick plunge, clinging onto the massive granite boulders which look like giant marbles littering the river. They gasp in shock, as the icy waters numb their bodies. I'm sure it's invigorating and for many a must-do part of their visit but I'm not getting in, it is far too chilly ... plus I want to make it round for the rest of the walk without chafing!!
 
There is also a very cool suspension bridge crossing Rex Creek which I defy any adult to walk across, without their inner child coming out, and adding a little bounce to the already unsteady structure for those following behind... Ha! Sorry no photos it was too wobbly...
 
 
There are two sections of elevated boardwalk which take us up into the lower canopy for a possums eye view of the rainforest. Here I am wishing I had paid more attention in my geography lessons all those moons ago, when tropical rainforests of the Amazon, interesting but irrelevant to a British teenager, were the lesson of the day...
 
I remember four layers of a rainforest, but I must admit the details (Emergent, Canopy, Understory and Forest Floor) I had to google...!!! Duh... I should have asked the kids, all Aussie kids do rainforests in Primary school...
 
 
There are many things which strike you wandering around, firstly how big everything is. The emergent giant trees grow much higher than the average canopy height and can be over 60ms high. Some of their trunks will be nearly 5 ms round...
 
 
Secondly how green it all is, here at the Daintree they get around 120 days of rain a year. We are fortunate to be there on a dry day... One of the only dry days of the holiday!!
 
 
It feels like at every point we turn we see something interesting...Whether it is the sheer size of the ferns, or the buttress roots, curtain figs or strangler figs...
 
 
The full walk is approximately 3kms - a fraction of the overall tropical rainforest in the Daintree National Park but its easy accessibility, and clear walking paths make it an ideal introduction to the area. We find as we head away from the water holes we have the path practically to ourselves.
 
Silky Oak Lodge
After all that walking we have built up an appetite and head off to Silky Oaks Lodge which looks a fabulous place to stay. It has a choice of Riverhouses and Deluxe Tree houses overlooking the Mossman river. I'm eyeing up a return trip here 'sans enfants' - quick let's think up some special occasion to celebrate...It's going on my Bucket List. The Healing Water Spa has been a previous World Luxury Spa Award winner. Yep it's perfect...
 
Lush tropical gardens at Silky Oaks Lodge
Today it is the Treehouse restaurant which brings us here. We love the way the restaurant is open-sided onto the river and rainforest. The staff are friendly and welcoming to a scruffy family up for a splurge. Although I do fish out my hairbrush on the way in, and with a 'This looks posh,' attempt to tame my unruly locks. Unfortunately humidity hair resists all attempts of order...the wild look is here to stay and anyway we have reserved and, joy of joys, are shown to one of the best tables. This place is going up my Bucket List right up there with Antarctica and Machu, ok well maybe just below but it was a great place!!
 
The food was beautifully presented, each dish like I imagine from a Masterchef kitchen. Treehouse is truly befitting of it's claim as one of Northern Queensland's premier dining experiences. Just look at the pudding...
One of my all time favourite puddings - and I've had a few!
Anyway, no time to get too comfy, we're off to spot crocodiles next...
 
Little Wandering Wren

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Yorkeys Knob here we come!

Tropical Far North Queensland - Yorkeys Knob, Cairns to Port Douglas 70kms

Where the reef meets the rainforest
It's the July school holidays and we're joining the Melbourne exodus in search of some winter warmth. We've used some long forgotten Air-miles and will support the local economy by staying local... Well not that local! The three and a half hour flight to Cairns will transport us to palm trees, banana plantations, tropical rain forests, Four-mile beaches and the Great Barrier Reef.

Our eldest Wren-let is not with us, Beanz has returned to Europe and is currently studying Apartheid in South Africa before traveling to Rwanda to learn about Genocide. What an incredible degree she is piecing together and what an amazing time to be completing the Seeking Justice course - my Twitter feed, set to CNN and BBC Breaking News is full of daily updates on Nelson Mandela's health...

So it is just the four of us that front up at the Qantas Lounge having somehow arrived way too early for our flight. As the kids have got older it becomes more and more difficult to stretch the accompanying visitor allowance to get a gaggle of leggy teenagers into the lounge, but today they wave us through with a flash of a Gold card and a cheery "Good Afternoon Sir". I tweet a thank you in grateful recognition from my comfy seat, a good use of the free Internet connection methinks, as we settle in to enjoy the facilities...Gotta love Qantas xx


A nice way to start the holiday!
Cairns is one of those regional airports where you can pick up the keys to the rental car, whilst keeping an eye on your baggage arriving on the carousel, have a quick chat with the desk about the best route, and still be on the road quicker than the time it takes to reach the Arrivals Hall in one of our main capital cities...

We're heading to Yorkeys Knob about 10 minutes north from the airport, named after a colourful Pioneer called Yorkey and the knob-like hill he purchased in the 1880's... At least that's the story I heard and the one I'm reporting... As we drive down the main esplanade the place appears deserted. We are delayed by stopping to allow a baby echidna shuffling across the road, a safe passage. Clearly disorientated by the bright lights of the headlights, the little spiny anteater turns in circles... We suspect he has been extremely unlucky with his timing tonight, it is not a high traffic road... We wait patiently to ensure our prickly friend is safely off the road before continuing on...
Looking down to Yorkeys Knob beach
We are staying at A Villa Gail Bed and Breakfast. Never looking much further than the first page of the Trip Advisor recommendations, (A Villa Gail is top of the list) our booking was confirmed after speaking with Gail, who was so friendly and clearly loved having guests to stay that we couldn't wait to meet her.

It was Gail's suggestion to book us in for dinner at the Yorkeys Knob Boating Club and Half Moon Bay Marina and we relieved to arrive to find the car park full and the restaurant packed... So this is where everyone is! We promptly ordered a nice looking pull apart loaf to keep us going, and forgave them the hour wait for dinner... Sitting out under a massive shade sail, on a balmy July evening surrounded by incredible boats, it was a lovely way to start our holiday.


Yorkeys Knob Boat Club
Tim's foot was flat down on the accelerator of our little Budget rental car as we drove up millionnaires row to the top of the world. A Villa Gail is perched at the top of the bluff with spectacular views overlooking the sea. There won't be many places that you will greeted as a long lost friend when you arrive at 10pm at night! We were shown to our own apartment in the grounds, and after checking that the TV reception worked for Wimbledon, we decide on an early night, falling asleep to the sound of the water below. With the alarm set for 5.30am to see the dawn break...



On top of the world...

5.30am was a cloudy start to the day and sunrise not as spectacular as it may have been, but joy of joys, Andy Murray was still playing his semi - final at Wimbledon so all was not lost...


Dawn over the Coral Sea
Later that morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast on the verandah looking out over the Coral Sea towards Green Island, Double Island and the Arlington Reef.


A yummy breakfast with a great view!
The drive to Port Douglas along the Captain Cook Highway is one of the most beautiful ocean drives in the world, where the reef meets the rainforest. We stop off in the aptly named Paradise Palms for a coffee... And can't wait to see what the next few days brings...


Paradise Palms Golf course


Little Wandering Wren