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Taking a scenic route

Taking a long way home is always a scenic route from coast to inland through rainforest

By i.c Golina

The scenic drive from Cairns to Julatten via Port Douglas is around 90km. This tropical drive is a beautiful experience, especially between Palm Cove and Port Douglas. As you drive along this picturesque road, you feel that your driving on the edge of the sand. Along the way, you have the time to stop on the side of the road and take photographs of the natural world – Ocean that leads to Great Barrier Reef, Cape tribulation and the high mountains on the background.

Been living in this beautiful part of Australia so long, this time, I decided to take this road trip to Julatten to experience this scenic coastal drive. As you start to head north of Cairns, just before the scenic drive from Palm Cove, there is a rehab center for Kangaroos, just after Trinity beach roundabout. I decided to stop on the side of the road to see the Kangaroos, which are regarded as one of the iconic animals in Australia. Kangaroos are very fascinating animals, purely live on grass and are very important and symbolic to indigenous Australians.  For those visitors who never seen the Kangaroos before, this is the best place to see this animal up and close in an enclosed area without been frighten. It was worthwhile taking some pictures before I started my scenic drive.

Mt Molloy Range road

It is one of that rare moments in my travel plan that I wanted to explore various islands throughout the South Pacific. My island tour of South Pacific island nations included Honiara, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and finally Cook Islands. I spent a week in each of these island nations, except in Cook Islands where I spent a week in Rarotonga (big island) and a week in Aitutaki which is the second biggest island and undoubtedly the most exotic and beautiful island. It has wonderful spots with stunning views of the blue sea and it gives you the chance to truly marvel at nature. These are some of the unique places on earth that are worth taking in. To me, this is the perfect place to escape the routine of everyday life. It was certainly an ultimate experience for me.

Just within a short drive away from Trinity beach roundabout,heading north is the Palm Cove turn-off and within 200 meters you have this beautiful view of the coastline from Ellis beach to Port Douglas and beyond. It is absolutely breath-taking and it is one of the most beautiful coastal drive in Australia. It is highly recommended that the person driving must not take their eyes of the road.

Ellis beach, Cairns

Just within 30 minutes drive from Palm Cove, you come to Rex Lookout where you not only have the birds eye view of the coastline but magnificent view of the mountains as well. It is worthwhile, just relaxing and enjoying this dramatic landscape view of the mountain, the ocean and the coastline, as you enjoy the cool sea breeze splashing onto your face at the same time. This is exactly what I did and what a way to appreciate everything just in front you. If you happens to take this scenic drive up on a windy day, you will be able to see the hang-gliders jumping off the cliff and I was lucky to come across it on that day.

As I continued this drive along this beautiful coastline of Rex Range Road, just within half an hour drive I was approaching Port Douglas turn-off. As I was heading up to Julatten I bypassed Port Douglas turn-off. For any visitors it is highly recommended that you visit this beautiful township of Port Douglas. In this little lively tourist seaside town, it has few local attractions which cannot be ignored – having breakfast with the birds, outer reef trips and has some of the best restaurants in town.

Just within10 minutes drive from Port Douglas turn-off and about 0.5km drive before Mossman town, is the road to Julatten. The drive from the bottom of the Rex Range to Julatten is about 30km and it is quite a remarkable drive. As you start to drive up this range, you start to feel the coolness of fresh air, surrounded by green lavish trees and you feel the energy of the rainforest. On the way up the range, among the trees, there is a lookout where you have the chance to view the coastline up to cape tribulation and the township of Mossman and the surrounding areas.

The drive up this windy range, not only gives you the feel of the coolness of the fresh air but driving along among the rainforest, it gives you a chance to appreciate the Wet Tropics Rainforest. Just within a short distance drive away, you feel the cool high country of Julatten which offers a pleasant cool air to summer heat. Julatten is not a town and there are not many facilities in the actual community but you will find a tavern on Mt Lewis road, a caravan park, small store and petrol station at Nine Mile on top of the Rex Range and a birdwatchers’ lodge at Kingfisher Lodge. The Kingfisher Lodge is well hidden among the rainforest and is a very popular place for many birdwatchers’ throughout the world come to stay. For any birdwatch lovers, this is the ideal place for you to come and explore the area and enjoy watching some of the unique birds that come or migrate in this beautiful rainforest area during certain time of the year.

About 5kms drive from the top of the range is the Mt Lewis road and just off the Mt Lewis road is the only tavern in Julatten – The “Highlanders”. The tavern is isolated from towns and main population areas but the location and the views are just magnificent. With curiosity, I decided to have a look at the tavern and checked out the menu on what they offer.  As I turn of the road, to the entrance of the tavern, there is car park but limited space but further down the side of the tavern is the bottom car park with lots of parking space. The view of the building from the outside is very modern and interior of the restaurant area has beautiful timber flooring. It has a nice feel about the place and the peaceful atmosphere. The place does get very busy and noisy too, especially on the weekends and during lunch times. It is wise to visit the place during the week and you almost have the place to yourself and feel the peace and tranquility of the Julatten countryside. Without any surprise, I decided to have lunch there, this meant that the menu looked very inviting to me. I must say, it was very satisfying to me, considering that I am very selective and careful of which restaurants I go to. The restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a wide selection of food on the menu.

After enjoying the lunch with this beautiful view of the rainforest and the mountains in the background, there was nothing more I could complain about. I must say, it was worth a short road trip. To visit this beautiful part of the world – A hidden paradise in the countryside is an experience that no-one can experience in any part of the world where safety out in the country can be questionable.

From my personal perspective: Whenever we travel, whether it is a long or short trip, we humans not only appreciate the modern structures of buildings but we tend to appreciate the environment as well. Whether you are taking a stroll along the beach, driving out in the country or enjoying the views from the mountain top or sky-scrapers, we appreciate the natural environment. For how long will this natural world we enjoy now will be in years time is unpredictable but only time will tell.

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