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See the World | Travel Photography | Port Douglas, Australia

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The day before I arrived in Australia, there was a typhoon. I had followed it a bit, watching The Weather Channel website, hoping I wouldn’t end up in the middle of it. I got pretty damn lucky. I arrived at the airport in Cairns, the closest airport to my final destination, and the man at the rental car counter told me the typhoon had moved through just the day before. Seeing as how my flight landed in the middle of the night, I literally missed it by hours! I had a hotel for the night and planned to drive to Cape Tribulation in the morning. He informed me that probably wasn’t going to happen due to road closures and a stuck ferry. I smiled, ignored his advice, and decided I was trying in the morning anyway (’cause that’s how I roll, peeps).

Leaving that airport was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Let me tell you about Australia. There are about a gazillion roundabouts, and they drive on the wrong side of the road! And, OMG, the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car. (Yes, I totally realize this is a rather biased opinion.) I knew all this, and I did all I could to mentally prepare myself for driving on the left. But, man, when it’s nearly 2am in another country, you’re jet-lagged, your brain is operating at low function, and you NEVER use roundabouts at home — well, that shit is difficult. So when I say leaving the airport was hard, I MEAN it! Literally. 😉

It took me a good 20 minutes, but I finally figured out how to maneuver the roundabouts from the other side of the road. I felt totally ridiculous. I’m fairly sure there was a laughing fit involved. And a complete and total fear that I was most definitely getting into an accident. I didn’t. I probably drove like your 95-year-old neighbor. But I didn’t.

Oh…and then the debacle at the hotel! First, no one answered the call line to give me access to the lock box to get my room key (odd, but that was how this hotel did it in the middle of the night). I called. And called. And called. Finally, after a good 20 minute wait, standing outside in the dark, hoping I wasn’t in a bad neighborhood, someone answered. I got my key. I went to my room. I walked in, and something seemed off. At which point, I realized the room was dirty. It hadn’t been cleaned since the last occupant. I was so tired and disoriented, I nearly decided I didn’t care. But then there were wet towels on the floor and clearly dirty sheets and a couple other disgusting sights that quickly changed my mind. I hiked my ass back downstairs to return to the unending ring of the outdoor phone. Guess what? The whole damn thing happened again. No joke. I don’t even know what time it was when I finally arrived in a room…one that was clean.

By the time morning came, I was rested, feeling better, and ready to take on the road trip up north. Woohoo!! I could feel it was going to be a good day! I gave myself a pep talk about the driving situation, and I headed out.

I was right. It was a gorgeous day. The coast was stunning. I stopped for pictures and to smell the fresh ocean air. I stopped for lunch and lingered a bit, reading my book. I was a little nervous about those potential road closures, but I was determined to at least try.

No road closures! Totally stoked. Until there was no road anymore. Just a ferry that carried cars across the bay. At which point, I was informed a sand bar had been pushed to the middle of the bay, and the ferry couldn’t cross. It would be closed most of the week. Is there any other way to get to Cape Tribulation? No. I was told to turn around. The closest town was Port Douglas.

Disappointed, I did as instructed. And then wondered how I would find a hotel in Port Douglas. I had no internet access. I didn’t know where the hotels were. I hoped it would be obvious.

It turned out that Port Douglas was a vacation town. It was full of hotels, and with the help of a friend back home (no internet, but I was able to get a text message across), I booked one with good reviews. I still hoped for a miracle ferry opening the next day, so I only booked for the night, but I checked in, got cleaned up, and got ready to explore.

And let me tell you — As much as I would have loved to stay in Cape Tribulation the whole time (I did eventually get there for one day), I fell in love with Port Douglas. It’s the kind of town I could see myself living in. There was something about the air that made my skin feel oh so amazing. It was humid. Really humid. But not hot. And not cold. The air was so still. And the birds. Oh the birds! Parrots everywhere. Singing. Harmonizing. (Squawking.)

After finding dinner, I made my way to the beach. I had heard of a beach called Four Mile Beach, and it seemed to be a draw. I decided to check it out. My first night on the beach in Australia was just after a typhoon passed through. I’ve never heard of the calm “after” the storm, but if there is such a thing, I was certainly in it. It was perfection. It’s difficult to explain just how calm, relaxing, and still it was. But it was as if the earth was apologizing for the uproar of the last few days by delivering an evening filled to the brim with perfection.

I took the shots in this post while walking along the beach, watching the sunset. The air felt so warm, I could have slept right there in the sand. I had never felt that before. I’ve never felt it since. But I promise you, that moment in time will stay in my mind until the end.

xo

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See The World | Travel Photography | Whitsunday Island, Australia

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I took this picture at sunrise, sitting on the deck of an old sailboat — a tall ship. The ship was precisely as you would picture a pirate ship. And the setting was pretty much as picturesque as it gets. The sun’s rays skipped across the ripples of the water. Tongue Bay shone like a jewel. Whitsunday Island sat in front of me, taunting me to come hike it.

Everything about this moment sounds like perfection. But in typical HRM fashion, I’m going to tell you like it is. ‘Cause it wasn’t all perfect. I woke up early enough to see the sunrise simply because I couldn’t sleep. Oh man, that ship. Here’s something people don’t tell you about century old pirate ships: they’re super uncomfortable! The rooms are about as big as a packed cubicle.  And the smell. Oh, the smell. The smell of old gym socks permeated every crevice of the sleeping quarters. And don’t get me started on the two-minute showers over the toilet. Haha!

I don’t mean to complain. The crew was fabulous. The food was fantastic. They really did everything they could to make our experience wonderful. I just learned a little something about boats, ships, and the like. And here’s what I learned: you should take a look at those damn things before you book. You might realize you prefer a more modern, comfortable ship over the nostalgia of the tall ships of the past. I now know I prefer a yacht. For reals!

Though, honestly, looking back, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. The Whitsundays were beautiful. Pristine. Untouched. And I was fortunate enough to sail around them, scuba dive their reefs, hike their trails, and swim in their waters. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

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