Port Dou­glas is the per­fect place to re­cover from aching mus­cles

Central and North Burnett Times - - TRAVEL -

THE daily grind be­comes a dis­tant mem­ory as you glide along­side a tur­tle above a kalei­do­scope of coral.

Snorkelling on the Low Isles of the Great Bar­rier Reef feels a world away from re­al­ity.

It’s also a timely re­cov­ery from a mas­sive week in this part of the world.

Cairns Ad­ven­ture Festival has evolved over the past five years into one of the state’s most pop­u­lar event des­ti­na­tions for good rea­son. Es­cap­ing the start of win­ter and the al­lure of leav­ing jumpers be­hind looms large with tem­per­a­tures in the high 20s.

The jewel in the festival crown is the Iron­man event, a 3.8km swim off Palm Cove, 180km ride from Cairns to Port Dou­glas and back, and a three-lap marathon on Cairns es­planade.

There is also a half iron-dis­tance event run con­cur­rently, and col­lec­tively there is a bril­liant buzz around the race precinct lead­ing up to the Sun­day event.

It’s a great day even for those not rac­ing, with the con­stant flow of ath­letes of all cal­i­bres pro­vid­ing entertainment un­til the mid­night cut-off.

Af­ter some ac­tion-packed days, Port Dou­glas of­fered the per­fect re­cov­ery des­ti­na­tion.

With a re­laxed at­mos­phere and a nat­u­ral ap­peal it’s a re­fresh­ing break from the state’s south­ern coastal high-rises. Think Noosa, but with­out the bravado ... but with a sim­i­lar car park bat­tle in the main street.

Hir­ing a car is the best way of mak­ing the most of your time, and en­ables quick pas­sage around town, al­though there are a mul­ti­tude of shut­tles avail­able for those who don’t want to steer them­selves.

We stayed at the QT fol­low­ing fun and en­gag­ing ex­pe­ri­ences at the brand’s ho­tels in Syd­ney and the Gold Coast, and, like many of the other ma­jor re­sorts, it’s po­si­tioned a few kilo­me­tres from the Port Dou­glas heart­beat of McCrossen St.

Quirky with a retro beach feel, the QT of­fered a fam­ily-friendly en­vi­ron­ment with free ac­cess to games, table ten­nis and ten­nis part of the deal. There are also two pools, one 25 me­tres long for those keen to main­tain the train­ing reg­i­men.

Well worth throw­ing into the mix is the re­sort’s Bazaar, the buf­fet for break­fast and din­ner. Sim­i­lar to the awe­some Gold Coast set-up, the Bazaar is de­signed as a re-cre­ation of the tra­di­tional mar­ket­place “with a 21st cen­tury twist”.

With cured meats hang­ing from the ceil­ings, there is an ar­ray of dishes at the ready. Through­out Port Dou­glas there are a range of din­ing op­tions, many with deals where kids can eat free when or­der­ing be­fore 6pm. Yet the culi­nary high­light was at Water­gate Restau­rant and Lounge Bar. We’ve been for­tu­nate to dine at some of the best lo­ca­tions on the eastern se­aboard over re­cent years, and our ex­pe­ri­ence was equal to up­per ech­e­lons of din­ing in cap­i­tal cities.

There is a host of ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able close to Port Dou­glas, and our fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded a trip to the breath­tak­ing Moss­man Gorge, the hi­lar­i­ously en­ter­tain­ing Hart­ley’s Croc­o­dile Ad­ven­tures and the Reef Sprinter snorkelling jour­ney to the Low Isles.

The lat­ter was a true high­light. Tak­ing only 15 min­utes cour­tesy of the jet­boat, it was a short jour­ney but a world away.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Get on the Reef Sprinter and it's only a 15-minute jour­ney to spec­tac­u­lar snorkelling.

PHOTO: GRANT ED­WARDS

Ac­tion from the Cairns CBD dur­ing the Iron­man.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

Low Isles is a pro­tected coral cay and with strict vis­i­tor re­stric­tions.

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