Port Douglas

>> Tuesday, 27 May 2008

We're nearing the end of our Australian idyll, and are now in swanky Port Douglas enjoying some classic southern hemisphere contrasts, along with a mixture of rain and sunshine.

To those of us raised in mild, predictable Northern Europe, this can be a bit of a shock...

We've enjoyed blistering sunshine followed by pelting rain, and back again - all within a period of around 10 minutes. A taxi-driver this evening told us that on one day in February this year they had 11 inches of rain. ELEVEN INCHES! This should give some idea of how northern Queensland can be a land of some extremes. It's hot and damp, but dry. It's sophisticated, but not. It's 5 star, but it isn't. We landed in a downpour, but all the rivers seem to be drying out. Apparantly they've not had rain for 2 months - before our arrival, obviously - but I've seldom seen a greener landscape, more verdant hillsides, or lusher forests. On a crocodile-sighting trip up the river this afternoon, which had Boy #1 giggling with delight whilst viewing a 4 1/2 metre example sunning himself itself on a river bank, the tour guide announced that they did have sharks in the Daintree river - but only little ones. Bull sharks. The ones that measure around 1.5 metres.

A 1.5 metre shark is a little one? I'll not be donning a cossie right now, thanks very much - and that's leaving aside the jellyfish lacing the water with their tentacles of death, meaning all but a swimming pool is off limits for a cooling dip. These jellyfish are known locally, and misguidingly, as 'stingers'. To those of us raised in cooler climates to whom 'stingers' suggests something akin to nettles that can lead to a nasty rash, be warned. These things can literally kill you. Whilst looking very pretty in a north Australia styley, of course.

So, in short, North Queensland. Look, admire, but don't touch...

And here's something of a conundrum for you. You're travelling through an airport, let's say, in Brisbane, Australia. You have the following in your hand-luggage; A bottle of milk (for your 2 year old, to help combat any pain in his ears whilst coming down from altitude when your plane lands). A set of nail-clippers with a potentially 'lethal '2 inch file attached. A 500ml bottle of water - or is it? A tube of mascara. A toy plastic snake.

Which of the above do you reckon will be confiscated by the numpties on the x-ray machine at airport security?

I'll give you a clue.

It's the one that results in your 4 year old bursting into inconsolable fits of tears as you have to tell him that the toy he was bought at Australia Zoo was deemed too dangerous (by the numpties) to take on board an airplane in case it frightens the other passengers.

What is this world coming to?

Note: For the tender hearted amongst you, the snake is long-gone in Boy #1's memory. It has been replaced as the object of his affections by a cuddly shark which he has been waving around at every opportunity, most noticeably in the restaurants where we've had dinner the last couple of nights. As a flirting accessory with women on average 24 years older than him it's been an unmitigated success. With the exception of course of the waitress who he ambushed with a cuddly shark nip as she walked past, who responded:

"Don't be riduculous, it's just a stuffed toy!"

I wonder if that's the first time she's said that?


Expatmum 27 May 2008 at 15:02  

I'm so glad you're near the end of your fab holiday. I was getting very envious and ready to walk out on the family! Talking about ridiculous weather, here in Chicago we were at the pool yesterday, the temp around 82 farenheit. Today I walked to school in jeans, coat, proper shoes and wished I had worn a pair of gloves! Summer!

aims 27 May 2008 at 17:34  

Nooooooooooo! The bag!! How dare she say something like that to one of your cuties!! Give me her name....

Grit 27 May 2008 at 22:54  

it sounds like a great experience. i am v. irritated by the confiscating of the snake and next time we travel anywhere may well equip my kids with one apiece, just to see if we can get away with it. (i could carry the plastic squeaky rat in my handbag and see if that gets through too.)

Tracey 28 May 2008 at 00:47  

There you go, going somewhere else in my country I've never been. (I've not been seriously tempted yet - and the idea of having to avoid the ocean because you might DIE from a jellyfish sting has probably had something to do with it. Wouldn't mind seeing the rainforest etc though.)

The toy snake confiscation just leaves me shaking my head. As does the cranky waitress. *sighs*

Potty Mummy 28 May 2008 at 06:55  

Hi EPM, I know, the weather is not doing what we expect of it anywhere. Thankfully we've finally had a calm and sunny day here - so of course I am currently holed up inside blogging.

Aims, don't worry, he took it well. Plenty more fish in the sea...

Hi Grit, will be interested to see how that little experiment works out. (Make sure the snakes are more than 5" long as that seems to be cut-off point...so to speak).

Tracey, hi, and don't worry. I think either of those incidents could have happened anywhere (or certainly in the UK at any rate). As for the jellyfish, I know you guys don't have those that far south, but you do have the sharks, spiders, snakes etc, right? Though maybe not in the winter... So I think life anywhere in Australia can be pretty exciting.

I just read 'The Secret River' btw. What a brilliant and interesting book.

Mya 28 May 2008 at 07:32  

Keep away from those sharks,jellyfish etc. Have you seen a blue ringed octopus yet? They're pretty too - and pretty deadly, so best given a wide berth. You're making we want to come to Oz again - if only to ask that waitress 'What's your problem?!' Keep on having fun!

Mya x

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com 28 May 2008 at 10:59  

enjoy enjoy enjoy the last days of what sounds like a marvellous adventure; thanks for patiently dragging us all along too. x

Pig in the Kitchen 28 May 2008 at 13:01  

oh pottyM, sympathies with the snake. They wouldn't let my son take his plastic gun thru birmingham airport on Monday...we had to re-pack a bag and rush back down to check-in. They did however, allow a man with a 3 inch kilt pin shaped as a sword saunter thru. He was presumably off to end civilisation as we know it, but at least no-one on our flight had to worry about an orange and yellow Lilo and Stich Gun. So that's a relief.

Come back to Blighty! I miss you!

Nunhead Mum of One 28 May 2008 at 21:56  

Affections are easily traded aren't they when you're that young. Mac's stuffed shark went by the by when he caught five minutes of Jaws during a particulary savage moment. I found Stuffed Shark in the garden under with a plant pot balanced on it "so it didn't get me". Strangely enough, Stuffed Shark was immediately replaced with Furry Wolf.....

Guineapigmum 28 May 2008 at 22:59  

Your next adventure will have to be to the everglades, where we counted 140 (or was it 145?) alligators in 30 minutes. How to win a boy's heart! SOunds like you're having a great time and I'm soooo envious. A marine biologist, with a friend working in Cairns, and I've never been to the Barrier Reef. What am I waiting for?

Potty Mummy 29 May 2008 at 13:37  

Hi Mya, no octopus yet but we're off the the reef tomorrow so who knows? I'm reliably informed that there are no stingers around at this time of year. Still not sure you'll get me in the water though...

Thanks RM - it has been and still is an adventure, and so far no killer ants so things are definitely not as interesting here as they are where you are...

Hi Pig, funny enough I am about redy to come back - I like Australia very very much but it's not home. And sorry to hear about the gun - they can be ridiculous can't they, these job worths...

Hi NH Mum - that's hilarious. Will keep Jaws off the viewing schedule for the moment, I think...

Hi GPM, don't beat yourself up, I think you've had enough on your plate recently - but I have to say, it's so beautiful here, if you get the chance you should definitely come. Especially if the accomodation is free (something we've been quite suprised by is how expensive everything is down here).

icemaidensmellingthecoffee 29 May 2008 at 14:18  
This comment has been removed by the author.
icemaidensmellingthecoffee 29 May 2008 at 14:33  

Great tales of your road trip. What great experiences for your little ones. Amazing how these well-travelled children take so much in their stride. I listened to Matt Frei on the radio last week who said that his children were so well travelled that when someone asked his children where they came from one of them replied "Heathrow Airport". Made me smile anyway. Keep writing the stuff.

Potty Mummy 30 May 2008 at 10:47  

Hello IceMaiden, thanks for the visit, and we're not quite at the Matt Frei stage yet. To be honest, once we get home I'm not sure if we'll be stepping on another plane for quite some time!

Carolyn 31 May 2008 at 07:02  

Great stuff again. And I just noticed that I used the phrase "What is this world coming to" in my last comment and then read this post and found that you'd said it too. LOL. Seriously, what is this world coming to? A plastic snake? Oooooh scaaarry. Come on people! Get real.

Other than the stuff that annoyed me, great post! ;-)

Potty Mummy 31 May 2008 at 11:11  

Hi Carolyn, I know, I mean for heaven's sake. Once upon a time people just had to get on with things. If they didn't like snakes, they kept quiet about it...

Aah well. I guess I wouldn't like it if someone waved a plastic spider at me (though I doubt I would freak out so much they would have to land a plane...)

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