Wine, Dine And Unwind: A Weekend In Port Douglas
For a little R&R – that is, rainforest and reef – you needn’t look further than Port Douglas. This tropical paradise in Far North Queensland delivers so much more than natural beauty, having established itself in recent years as a luxe location to wine, dine and unwind. And winter is the peak time to experience it all.
Score some stylish wheels
The one-hour journey along Captain Cook Highway from Cairns airport to Port Douglas is a winding one with postcard perfect scenery at every turn. With lush rainforest to one side and tropical reef to the other, it would be remiss of you to not enjoy the scene with the top down. Cairns Luxury Car Hire has you covered, with convertible Ford Mustangs in their fleet ready and waiting to hit the road.
Chopper to breakfast on the reef
When it comes to morning coffee, a wander down Macrossan Street leaves you spoilt for choice – but why stay on dry land? Start your day with a James Bond-esque adventure to Vlasoff Cay. Be whisked away by private helicopter over crystal clear reef to experience what is surely the most luxe castaway experiences going.
Don snorkel gear and wake up properly with a swim in the blue with the local marine life before settling down on the sand to graze on a picnic breakfast of fresh fruits, oysters, pastries, cheese and more – champagne in hand, naturally.
Pamper yourself in nature
If you haven’t yet had enough of the water, Exclusive Getaway will have you back out on the reef aboard one of their private charters. Alternatively, you can make the most of your rainforest surroundings by heading 20 minutes northwest to Mossman Gorge, where you can check out the natural swimming hole before making your way to the spa at Silky Oaks Lodge.
The Spa takes full advantage of tranquil rainforest surrounds, setting a serene scene for treatments such as the Sodashi detoxifying marine body wrap, and Healing Waters hot stone massage.
Seize sundowner o’clock
Since opening in 2016, Barbados has quickly become a hot spot along the Marina. As the name suggests, it’s all Carribbean vibes here, from the breezy al fresco lounge area to the cocktail list that celebrates all things rum.
Arrive early for prime sunset-viewing position while taking a journey through the inventive cocktail menu (save the dessert-like Black Pearl with coffee-infused rum, chocolate and orange bitters, sugar and orange zest for the end). Don’t worry, there are plenty of boards and share plates to help soak up what you imbibe.
Dine at a hatted restaurant
Port Douglas might appear to be a laid-back coastal town, but it’s a town that takes its food seriously, with a diverse smattering of cafes and restaurants that are well worth the trip north. Among these is the hatted Harrisons by Spencer Patrick. Marco Pierre-White-trained Patrick combines elements of his British roots with local ingredients in dishes such as roasted barramundi with clams, pickled seaweed and onion whey, and 12-hour braised short rib with ‘bubble and squeak’.
This winter season also sees the return of the Chefs in Paradise dinner series, in which 12 chefs take turns to showcase their skills in the Harrisons kitchen. Upcoming events include the likes of Alex Herbert of Sydney’s Bird, Cow, Fish, and Paul Baker of Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens Restaurant.
Rest your head at a luxury hideaway
Luxe resorts aplenty, but why follow the crowds? A stone’s throw from Four Mile Beach is 38 Beachfront Mirage, the epitome of secluded tropical hideaways. Eight pavilion-style bedrooms with ensuites and open-plan kitchen and living spaces surround a heated saltwater pool and cabana, evoking the feel of an exclusive resort. You’re free to do as much or as little as you like, with the beach and parklands just outside the door, and a private chef and mobile spa therapist at your request.
Not secluded enough? With its address listed as ‘Somewhere in the rainforest’, Bali Hai takes remote paradise to a new level, nestled among 80 acres of rainforest hinterland. Wake up in a Balinese-style bure to the sound of the nearby freshwater creek before spending the day exploring the property or kicking back by the perpetually sun-drenched pool with stellar views to the Daintree Mountains ahead.
(Lead image: Silky Oaks Lodge / supplied)
Published 28 June, 2019