On the final riding day of my trip I finally got to have the ‘wet tent experience’! It was bucketing down when I woke up at 5.30am, so I stayed in bed until about 6.30am when the rain reduced to sporadic showers.
I packed up the sodden tent, which had performed beautifully under tropical rain conditions (Macpac Apollo two man tent for anyone who is interested), and high-tailed it out of there without hanging around even for a cup of tea. There was no point waiting for the day to dry out and I was now keen to get to Cairns.
There isn’t much of a shoulder on the road from Port Douglas to somewhere south of Ellis Beach. There is lots of traffic however, and not all that traffic appreciates just how much space a cyclist actually needs to feel safe. Needless to say, some of the views were spectacular, but the road was unpleasant to ride along, and I wouldn’t bother again unless it was the only option.
It didn’t help that this section of the road is quite hilly and there was a headwind. The fact that I hadn’t had any breakfast only added to my dislike of this road, and I was starting to get pretty grumpy, expressing my displeasure at unthinking car and truck drivers a few times.
Thankfully at about the 30km mark Ellis Beach came along, with a beachfront cafe that served good coffee and food to fill the gaps. I sat there for a full hour and had two cups of coffee while I took a break from the traffic.
A few kilometres after Ellis Beach the road stopped being so hilly and the shoulder widened. There was a tropical downpour which lasted for about ten minutes. I was happy to once again prove my Ortlieb panniers were all waterproof, particularly as my iPad was sitting in the handlebar bag with no extra protection.
Not long after that I spied a bike/footpath off to the side of the road, which said ’31km to City Centre’ and decided to use it just to get away from the traffic. The path was quite good apart from the few sections where it seems to disappear. In those parts I just rode on the road until I saw the path reappear again.
The path seemed to finish altogether around Yorkey’s Knob (I think it was there) and I joined the highway for the rest of the way into town. Fortunately the shoulder is quite wide most of the way into Cairns, particularly as some of the trucks seemed to feel the need to drive on the left white line, even when there was no traffic in the other lane.
As I entered the city of Cairns I followed the signs to the airport and got onto the bike path into the esplanade.
A $79 train ticket to Townsville for the following day was organised at the Cairns Railway Station (plus $15 for the bike), a stripy ‘Asian Grocery Bag’ purchased for $5 to put panniers in on the train, then it was time to hang out on the esplanade for a while. Felix the Spaniard stopped for a chat as multitudes of tourists walking past.
I had been invited to stay the night with our friends and fellow cycle tourists, Les and Mandy and their two daughters, Kady and Erin, who live a couple of kilometres away from the esplanade. Life got much more luxurious once I rocked up to their house and we spent the afternoon and evening chatting about all things cycle touring before collapsing into bed at about 10pm.