ROAD TRIP DIARIES # 28
It was way past midnight but I was still wide-awake inside our camper van listening to unusual sounds and getting a bit anxious every time a car drove past us. We were illegally camping at Trinity Beach, a residential beach just north of Cairns, and were expecting any moment for a police officer to knock on our door and fine us.
Goodbye Trinity Beach
Trinity Beach has a long stretch of sheltered sand with a selection of restaurants, small shops and hotels lining the waterfront. The campgrounds nearby were all booked out and it was rather late to head back to Cairns so we decided to spend the night by the side of the road. It was a mistake not booking a spot in the caravan park in advance. After a full day of adventures at the Great Barrier Reef, driving around the northern beaches to find a place to crash for the night was the last thing we wanted to worry about.
All we wanted was a patch of sand beneath the palm trees to set up our campervan, a stroll along the beach and then to be lulled to sleep by the sound of the lapping waves. Instead, neither of us had a good night sleep. We were too paranoid about getting caught camping illegally on the waterfront roadside. There were signs all around warning of heavy fines for campers found illegally camped by the roadside.
It was the most unpleasant free accommodation we ever had and it wasn’t worth all the worry. Good thing we made it through the night without any drama. In fact another campervan also parked near us later in the night. We woke up at the crack of dawn, drove to a picnic table to have breakfast and hit the road again to Port Douglas.
A common sight along the east coast
We stopped at some lookouts and stunning deserted beaches along the way. The east coast of North Queensland never seemed to run out of lengthy shorelines with amazing views of the wild Pacific Ocean. Weaving our way along the scenic road flanked by rugged coastline and dense forest was even more rewarding than the destination itself.
A gray nomad sun bathing on a gloomy day
We headed straight to the lookout upon reaching Port Douglas and drove down the beach for lunch. The water was a bit rough and too windy to even have picnic outside but the beach was still bustling. After lunch we explored the small shops and market stalls around the town and chanced upon a wedding in this rather intimate small church.
Around Port Douglas Town Center
Port Douglas is the tamer but more sophisticated sister of Cairns. It has a smaller backpacker culture and offers the same tours and activities available in Cairns as well as all the comforts of a true holiday town. But it was the access to a white sand beach that gives it an edge over its more gregarious sister.
Port Douglas from the lookout
Still weary from lack of decent sleep the previous night, we gladly left the modern comforts of the flashy town and drove up north to Wonga Beach. This time we drove past acres of cane fields passing through the laid-back little town of Mossman before making our way to our camping ground.
Horseback riding at Wonga Beach
For 27 bucks, we got our own patch of grass in a vast campground with pool, game room and common lounge room. After setting up our camper van and preparing an early dinner of chicken adobo and stir-fry vegetables, we spent the rest of our time lazing on the beach. Horse-back riding is a popular activity at Wonga Beach but we were just as happy being able to enjoy the scenery in peace.
We ended fulfilling our wish after all – our own patch of grass fronting 7km of wind swept beach and getting lulled to sleep by swaying palms and lapping waves. This time however, it was the thought of seeing salt-water crocs in the wild the next day that kept me awake – the opportunist one that doesn’t mind adding human in its diet if given a chance
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series in 2010)
Australian Road Trip 101: A Vantastic Beginning
Road Trip Diaries # 1 – An Encounter with the Strangest Animal in the World
Road Trip Diaries # 2 – Of Strangler Figs, Leeches and Long Holidays
Road Trip Diaries # 3 - Exploring Finch Hatton Gorge
Road Trip Diaries # 4 – Cape Hillsborough: On Bush Walks Beach Strolls and Star Gazing
Road Trip Diaries # 5 – Cape Hillsborough: Sunrise and Wild Kangaroos
Road Trip Diaries # 6 – Airlie Beach: Beaches Babes and Backpackers
Road Trip Diaries # 7 – Ocean Rafting to the Whitsundays
Road Trip Diaries # 8 – Unexpected Encounters
Road Trip Diaries # 9 – Exploring Bowenwood
Road Trip Diaries # 10 – Townsville: Finding Nemo and the Sunken Pandora
Road Trip Diaries # 11 – A Visit at the Billabong Sanctuary and Castle Hill
Road Trip Diaries # 12 – Magnetic Island: What Captain Cook Missed
Road Trip Diaries # 13 – Paluma Range National Park: A Walk in the Clouds
Road Trip Diaries # 14 – Of Didgeridoo, Exotic Fruits and Why I love Camping in the Bush
Road Trip Diaries # 15 – Jourama Falls: A Gray Nomad Affair
Road Trip Diarues # 16 – The Bird Man of Tyto Wetlands
Road Trip Diaries # 17 – The Quest for Wallaman Falls
Road Trip Diaries # 18 – Hinchinbrook Island: Experiencing the Wilderness
Road Trip Diaires # 19 – The Tully Show: My First Aussie Fair
Road Trip Diaries # 20 - Mission Beach: Where Have All the Cassowaries Gone?
Road Trip Diaries # 21 – White Water Rafting at Tully River
Road Trip Diaries # 22 – Finding Our Way to the Enchanted Ruins
Road Trip Diaries # 23 – Paronella Park: The Dream Continues
Road Trip Diaries # 24 – Exploring Wooroonooran National Park
Road Trip Diaries # 25 – Cairns: Exploring the Urban Jungle
Road Trip Diaries # 26 – Kuranda Village: A Journey Through An Ancient Rainforest
Road Trip Diaries # 27 – Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef