A mental health day(-trip) was in order, and so it was that I set out in a rental car for parts further north.

I discovered that either Australians are the slowest drivers in the world,or that Mr. Google thinks they are. Or that the Aussie govt wants us to think they are.

When I told her I was bound for Cape Tribulation, 140 km north of Cairns, the rental car company rep hemmed and hawed. Google predicts a 2h37m drive. I nodded appropriately as she advised a more sedate approach.

But the roads are ( mostly ) flat and straight, and there are no trucker convoys and suchlike.

Palm Cove - beware beasties
Palm Cove – beware beasties

I also discovered that some Far North Queenslanders – myself among them – enjoy a dip without becoming crocodile lunch.

Palm Cove, about 40 km north of cairns, warns swimmers about jellyfish. But no mention of crocs.

With lifeguards on duty, and swimming flags, and three people in the water at 11 a.m, the temptation was too much, and I hove in.

“Crocodiles? – they’re like mermaids. They don’t really exist,” said one swimmer.

Rex Lookout


Port Douglas

Is a small beach ( and tourist ) community. Wikipedia gives its population at 3,500 . but that has to be wildly off the mark.

It’s pretty much self-contained, with a main centre not much smaller than Whangarei. Lots of cafes, a car rental , tourist shops, and accommodation aplenty. With a patrolled and flagged beach, it’s ideal for swimming. Accommodation prices permitting, I’d stay here in future.


Is little more than a couple of shops, some camping grounds, and river ferries for tourists. I resisted the temptation. Apparently the local delicacy is …. crocodile.

I ventured a little further North, but the roads were starting to look too much like tracks, and with time and rental car bonds in mind, I headed back south.

I got as far south-west as Mareeba. At more than 400 metres above sea level, this area is desert-like, with cooler temperatures.

Then due East, back toward Cairns, around the edges of the Karunda State Forest, where the roads are winding, and it is almost cold. Almost.

I arrived home in one piece, congratulating myself on avoiding the tourist traps, choosing instead to spend the day driving when and where I wanted. Volume up, windows down.

Having travelled 285 km over six hours, it served as a good dress-rehearsal for the bigger road-trip ahead.