Sightings of People as Passionate About (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #11

About 4pm, Greensborough Road Macleod.

Sighted: A woman holding two coffee cups, with a packaged ‘something’ wedged in between.

Standing calmly outside the servo, waiting for the traffic to cease.

In 35 degree heat.

You know those people that don’t drink coffee when it’s hot?

Yeah, they’re not REAL coffee drinkers.

But this woman right here, that’s a woman after my heart 🙂


How to do Port Douglas in 4 nights (with kids) – Part 2

(Travelled: Jan ’16)

This is part 2 of my Port Douglas snap shot which goes through the local attractions we experienced. For any information on Port Douglas Travel, Accommodation, Weather, or Food, click here to see Part 1 of this article.


Market – We went to the market at the end of Macrossan Street the first morning we were there, which was a Sunday. It was interesting looking around at the local fare and seeing what was happening in that part of the world. It’s custom to wear sandals and thongs, but there was mud here due to the recent rain, so beware. You’ll be obliged to buy something, just for the hell of it, just as I did with my body crystal and our shared mango drink (where else in the world do you buy mango drink from people who grow them in their backyard and then turn it into liquid in front of you?)

Summary: Nice to check out if you’re there on a Sunday for a bit of a stroll, but don’t lose sleep if you have other things to do either.

Breakfast with the Birds – An event at the Wildlife Habitat Centre, you can do either breakfast or lunch, but we opted for breakfast and arrived to a cold and hot assortment of breakfast foods, sitting amongst a large outdoor canopied area where birds suddenly appeared, or watched you from nearby trees! It was certainly an experience and something different, and if you have kids, (or a big kid who likes birds, *ahem Hubbie*) you can get up close and personal, talk to the experienced staff there, and take photos too.

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Just don’t go too close, please. I’m not saying it’s not allowed, there were just some visitors there who were asking for it as they shoved their big-ass lens camera into the black cockatoo’s field of vision and then DIDN’T get bitten. Unfortunately. Have some respect for these creatures and hang back. You have a big-ass lens, don’t you? Use it.

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Following this we decided quite spontaneously to join the Rainforest Walk – this was fantastic! Again, it was fun for baby girl, and the other big kid lover of birds as well as me because hey, I like hearing about these different animals and learning about their way of life, and our guide that day was fantastic, enthusiastic and very informative, making the experience all the more interesting. We saw a Cassowary bird, which baby girl fed watermelon to, an experience that has stayed with us all since, especially her! And got to meet and fly along with many cheeky parrots.

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Of course you don’t have to join a tour to check out the wild habitat there. At the conclusion of that tour we went to see some crocs (and one giant one!) on our own walk, and then we concluded with a bit of a shop in the retail section before leaving. Our tickets to the Breakfast with the Birds meant that we could also come back once more for free, which was a great offer, but we didn’t take it up. We had much more sight-seeing to do!

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Summary: A great experience for kids and bird-lovers alike, and quite informative too. Eating and being in the same room as the birds is an interesting concept, so I think this is one you have to do for something a bit different and memorable.

Mossman Gorge – If you were looking for paradise on earth, this is where you would find it. In particular, in the swimming hole within Mossman Gorge.

But what… ‘Hole?’ ‘Swimming Hole?’ That is the worst description I have ever heard to describe the beauty I came across that day there. And yet, that is how it was described to me. ‘Hole’ is nothing close to, nowhere near enough a word to describe this paradise. In fact, a hole is as far away a description to describe this paradise as literarily possible (did I just make up a word?) Here are some photos (which do no justice to the real thing):

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We came to the Mossman Gorge centre, having heard about the ‘swimming hole’ there, with that Rainforest being the one we chose because quite simply, it wasn’t too far from our resting point, and we wanted to make the most of our time. In another trip, we might do the Daintree as well (as well as the Mossman again!) but this trip we had to be time-efficient. At the centre, where there is a retail shop, café, and plenty of walkers refuelling or getting ready to set off walking around the rainforest, we purchased a ticket to board the bus that took us into the heart of the Rainforest, which was about a 5-10 minute drive. Many people did this too, coming with towels… Hmmm. The ticket specifically said “NO SWIMMING!”

We had no idea where we were going as we arrived at the destination, but we exited the bus and followed the towel-holders into the rainforest, amidst towering trees and walking on plank-like bridges. The lady at the retail shop had told me it was a minute’s walk to the swimming hole, and yet it was more like 5. Difficult only because I was carrying a tired baby girl in my arms.

But she sure woke up when we got there.

In the gentle slide as the earth dipped down towards the water’s entrance, there were people everywhere: amidst trees far back, along this sloping slightly muddy path, and then, in and amongst the beautiful and pristine waters. It ranged from people decked out in swimwear and the tiniest of bikinis, to people who had like us, not been prepared for an all-in-body-water experience, and had just come with shorts and thongs.

It was magical. Truly mesmerising. I took off baby girl’s dress and let her immerse herself in just her singlet. What the hell. She only had the best time of her life (well one of, we are pretty cool parents). I was happy I had on my high shorts, and took off my thongs, wading in the cool water up to my knees. We stood. We watched. We breathed. We took in everything, and I was moved to tears.

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Everyone who was there, was doing just as we were. Just being. All these people, ranging from the littlest of tots to the oldest grand-dads, were there, with accents from all over the world, and they were, just still in the water, wading or relaxing from a distance, and taking in the beauty that is Mossman Gorge.

And you know what I felt in that moment? I felt so damn proud to be Australian. This amazing country of ours had a rainforest and a special slice of paradise that people from all over were coming to see. I felt so blessed, and I still do. I think what made the moment even more special was the fact that we had come not expecting anything – all I thought we would do is wade in the water. That’s it. We waded alright. But we stepped into precious beauty and untold magic when doing so. It gave me chills, and when I think about it, I still get goosebumps.

Summary: If you can’t tell from my short essay on Mossman Gorge – GO THERE. Your children will love it, and so will you. And yes, there are signs and things that say ‘do not swim’… so I’m not telling you or endorsing you to swim. Just use your damn common sense. (If you see a fin or tentacles or jagged bits popping up through the water, run).

This place will remain in my heart forever more.

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4 Mile Beach – Another find. I said Mossman Gorge is like paradise on earth, right? Well if you’re looking for heaven on this planet, you need not go any further than down Macrossan street until you hit water. And then just thank me later.

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This was another unexpected ‘Wow’ moment. I think we had had many difficult moments with a tired and under-slept baby girl, so to not know how great it would be only to then discover that this beach was unbelievably unreal, was another very happy moment for all.

I was told by many people before coming to Port Douglas that you cannot swim in their waters due to creepy water creatures. I thank God that I did not listen to any of those people. I mean, we got accommodation with a pool in case, but still, I’m so happy we did it our way.

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See that? That is netting. It stretched fairly wide, meaning it kept out all nasties – crocs, jellyfish and sharks! Those were the creatures actually listed on a board at the beach, advising swimmers to beware. So if you want to have a pleasurable swimming experience, possibly the nicest of your life, then go ahead, swim safely within the large net. But if you like to live on the edge with risk of being stung/bitten/eaten, then by all means, BE MY GUEST.

Swimming in the netting did by no way diminish our swimming experience. It was clean, it was safe, and the water was exactly the same as the water that wasn’t protected by nets – just without the scare factor. Oh, did I mention this?

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28 degrees my friends. Read it and weep.

I loved this beach, and my only regret is that we didn’t have more beach days. We spent about 3 hours here, getting here early on a Tuesday morning before 9, grabbing an umbrella’d chair to leave our stuff (you need to pay though, it gives you a few hours) and then soaking up the incredible Port Douglas Sun, Surf and Sand.

My repetitive thought during our time there? ‘Take it in, take it in, take it in…remember this moment.’

I don’t need to sell you anymore on it, do I? Just in case:

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Summary: Go to 4 Mile Beach. Parents and children alike will LOVE it.


Calypso Half-Day Great Barrier Reef Tour – We had really wanted to see some of the Great Barrier Reef, but neither hubbie or I being scuba divers or snorkelers or having even tried it before in any capacity, we wanted a beginners version. We ended up going with Calypso only because our first choice, travelling to and spending a day at Quicksilver’s platoon, was booked out. With Calypso there was a half-hour boat ride to an island where there was either the choice of taking a glass-bottom boat ride to see the coral and underwater creatures, or do some snorkelling around the island. The option of either or with no real emphasis on having to snorkel, sounded great to novices such as us.

We had a bit of a ‘misunderstanding,’ we’ll call it, on trying to book the Calypso half-day tour. They had cancelled on us a previous day due to choppy winds, which means the boat does not go out and there is no tour. Our hotel owners advised that we should just arrive at their offices nearby where the boats are docked, the morning of when we wanted to go, because at least then we would be able to know if we could go. Booking in advance didn’t seem to help any extra, because we could just as easily be cancelled on. This was advised by both hotel management and apparently, Calypso too.

We went on Tuesday morning, the day before we were meant to jet off back to Melbourne. I ran into the office to buy tickets, while hubbie waited with baby girl in the car. Upon running in and seeing other people come in with tickets, I asked if we could book the half-day tour for that morning, only to be told by a girl behind the counter that they were all booked out for that session. I despondently asked if they had an afternoon availability, and she said they were completely booked out for that one too. Their next availabilities were for the following day, but knowing we would be on a plane the next day, I walked away.

Hubbie was there as I left the store, having come in with baby girl, being sure that I had already bought the tickets. After telling him what the lady had told me, he got fired up. He went in, asking the same question of the girl, and when he got the same answer, he told her that we had in fact been told to come in last second because Calypso had cancelled on us the day before. If we couldn’t book in advance due to fear of cancellation anyway, but we couldn’t rock up last minute either because everything was booked out, then how the hell could we organise this freaking tour?

(He didn’t say that word for word, but that way sounds better).

You know what she said?

“There’s just been a cancellation for the afternoon tour, I can book you on that one.”

This, literally 2 minutes after she told me there was no availability for the afternoon tour.

I paid, and we left. And all was good. After all we ended up at 4 Mile Beach that morning and had the most incredible time. We had lunch, and then went off to do this bloody tour.

Look, in a nutshell, it was alright. Upon embarking we took off our shoes, and were encouraged to just get a scuba suit and flippers, because ‘what the hell, you might as well.’ This actually excited us as we had never snorkelled, but one of the instructors implied he could show one of us while the other was with baby girl, and vice versa.

I admit I was a bit scared but excited. I was going to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef?!

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The boat ride up was beautiful. Travelling all that distance, going through all that water at high-speed, was amazing. This was a boat ride to the low isles. Basically I think that means that this is the outskirts of the Great Barrier Reef, you’re not in the thick of the coral and all the underwater fish as if you would be if you travelled further in. It was still beautiful. We listened to instructions on board about how to wear your equipment and operate it, and it appeared we were the only ones who were there primarily to see the glass-bottom boat, apart from one other couple, but even they snorkelled in the water later, a little.

The glass-bottom boat was ok. We saw a few things, and I still enjoyed it, but I really think you need to be in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef to see anything really good. I wasn’t in complete awe or anything dramatic like that. Upon completion we went back to where the main boat had docked, wondering if now someone could show us how to scuba. There was an American girl instructor, a guy also her age instructing, and an older, perhaps 40 year-old instructor. He had been our tour-guide on the glass-bottom boat as the rest of our group went scuba diving off the main boat and towards the island. We hadn’t actually docked at the small island for some reason, I can’t remember why but there seemed to be a genuine reason for it. The guy who had implied he could show us to scuba, suddenly decided that he and this American chick would now jump on the glass-bottom boat and take it as a pair to the island, because they wanted to try and get some photos of a turtle or something. And then they were off, clearly with their own personal intentions, and Hubbie reckons his intentions were extremely personal, saying he obviously had the hots for the US chick and wanted to go alone with her. Leaving the 40 year-old instructor with us.

This instructor was good. He was just shitty. You could tell. He was shitty that the two young ones had left, leaving him on board the main boat with Hubbie, me, baby girl and another couple. The guy from the other couple was more confident heading out into the water, whereas the girl stayed back, closer to the boat. They had both at least scuba dived before. We hadn’t. We had been told by the young instructor that we could watch him. He went off because his head was leading him. But not his top one.

The older instructor gave us tips here and there, but his heart wasn’t in it. He was shitty, trying to be professional. I don’t blame him really. Everyone else was off either scuba diving and instructing the rest of the group, or cosying up and trying to get lucky with a colleague.

Both hubbie and I, at various times, with a few half-arsed tips from the 40 year-old instructor, jumped into the water, staying close to the boat, dunking our heads in and trying to breathe through the breathing apparatus. That was not bad, it was the water flooding into the part protecting our nose which made it difficult. It was a few minutes at best, but we could still say “We snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef!”

I was a bit disappointed that no one had taken the time to show us properly – they certainly had ample opportunity, but were busy making personal plans or were just upset. I didn’t want to focus on it, seeing as everything else about where we were was amazing, but even the girl from the other couple whispered to me later that Quicksilver’s tour of the Reef was much better, especially being a beginner. She had been on that one before, being a not-so-confident scuba diver herself, and said it was far superior to this Calypso tour. I told her we had tried to book but we were too late! Hearing her thoughts, and also criticism of the way some things were done there, only confirmed to me that there were many parts of this tour that could be improved upon.

Very small provisions were offered after all of that, some were free like fruit, and some payable like alcohol. The ride back to the docks was a quiet one, everyone happy to watch the surf spray up from beneath us, taking in the beautiful scenery that is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, and getting decent colour in the hot afternoon sun.

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Summary: I enjoyed the experience and the location – the tour itself with Calypso, not so much. Many things could be improved upon, for example the professionalism. It was $120 per person, so there was value for money… but nowhere in the brochures did it say ‘Expert snorkelers only!’ so it wasn’t too much to ask for a little assistance for snorkeller virgins such as ourselves. Fortunately with baby girl being 2, she got in for free. It was a 2-5pm tour, and there is also a morning one, starting about 7ish.

If you don’t want to spend the whole day snorkelling, or out at the Reef, and you have some clue as to how to snorkel, well maybe you won’t mind the Calypso tour. That’s the only way I would recommend this tour, if you fulfil those above requirements. Otherwise, based on our personal experiences, I would NOT recommend it. Plus, I didn’t mention that the guy who was chasing the US chick was also arrogant. Just saying.

If you can spare a whole day at the Great Barrier Reef, and whether you are experienced or not, I believe Quicksilver’s trip to their Platoon where you spend the day there, is the best place to go. It’s the one I’d be recommending, and I haven’t even been, but I will, next time we go. Just book it in advance!

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So concludes our Port Douglas trip in a rather large nutshell. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions for anyone wanting some more information about any part of the trip, so please drop me a line if you plan on visiting this part of the world in your near future.

And if you weren’t planning on going to Port Douglas, I hope my experiences have inspired you to perhaps give this tropical paradise a go at some point, or maybe it will motivate you to seek out your own version of paradise, whatever or wherever that may be 🙂 Happy travelling.

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How to do Port Douglas in 4 nights (with kids) – Part 1

(Travelled: Jan ’16)

It’s been several months now since our tropical getaway, and yet the memories of that trip have not ceased to stand out in the forefront of our minds. Port Douglas was a place I had always longed to go to, and now that I have, I can share it with all of YOU, all the amazing and unforgettable (and difficult) aspects. This information is for all local, national and international visitors alike, as the varied accent in those Northern parts was not uncommon, let me tell you! We travelled with baby girl, 2 years old at the time, so I can also give some advice as to how to go about your days with a toddler… it ain’t easy, but it sure was fun!

Travel + Transport

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We flew from Melbourne to Cairns, meant to be just over a 3 hour trip, though on that occasion the flight was slightly less. We had organised car hire from Cairns, so that we could do the drive up on our terms. There are shared transfer options up to Port Douglas (an hour by car if there are no stops) but having done that for our Noosa trip years ago, we knew that there was the possibility of the van stopping as it picked up other passengers, and we didn’t want to risk upsetting baby girl with the potential delay that could cause. Plus, being in a car of our own, meant we could stop if we absolutely had to, and as it was, she fell asleep for some of the way which was great.

I had read that the drive from Cairns to Port Douglas was a scenic one, and sure enough, that promise delivered. Serene bayside views, picturesque backdrops, driving through quaint beachside villages, people wearing not much but thongs and singlets, and trees trees trees. It was very wind-y. As in winding around and around and around (and around!) the hills to get there.

About 20 minutes away from our destination we got an onslaught of rain. Only this wasn’t just an onslaught, this was a tropical storm of mammoth proportions. We had heard of the tropical rain at that time of year, and wondered if that would be the norm for the rest of our trip. Luckily, no. We got a bit more rain while there, but very minimal, and nothing like what we had driven through. So if driving up at the start of the year, be careful.

Having a car allowed us the luxury of being able to go about wherever we wanted, without having to rely on public transport and the often inconveniences of waiting for it with a toddler. Even though we were situated in the middle of Macrossan Street, we still ended up using the car a fair bit. Consider it if you are with children. We had a child seat added for baby girl, and just make sure there are no km limits with the car you hire, since you would be travelling an hour to and from Port Douglas to Cairns (not including additional travel around the area) it does add up. (And remember to return the car with fuel!)


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We stayed at Saltwater Luxury Apartments, situated right in the middle of Macrossan Street. We had parking underneath the premises, and there is a shared pool for holiday stayers to use, which we did, twice. It wasn’t an Olympic-sized pool, but it was enough. Baby girl squealed with delight and tried to break in every day, so = Pass.

We had a two-bedroom apartment overlooking the main street, which meant at night things got noisy! Our room was closer to the street, with baby girl’s closer to the entrance door which was nearer the other apartments and the shared corridor between them. On several occasions, people coming home would think it acceptable to talk loudly with one another in the corridor before walking into their apartment, despite all the other nearby stayers! On night 1 we discovered ‘the birds,’ loud riotous birds that sang almost all night, there must have been at least 50 of them, and they sounded like they were outside our room. “Don’t birds sleep?” Hubbie and I asked each other at 1am. Along with this there was the noise that eventually waned off from the below restaurant, Bel Cibo, with the kitchen staff cleaning and washing up and making all kinds of racket until they left the premises about midnight.

So, it was a noisy place to stay. I was slightly nervous because I was worried baby girl would wake up from the noise. And she did wake up, but not from the noise… she was just unsure of her surroundings when she opened her eyes in the middle of the night.

It is a fantastic place, if you want to be in the heart of it all, and be able to walk to everything. In fact, you could base your holiday around Macrossan Street, and just go everywhere on foot, especially if you have no kiddies… but then you would miss out on Mossman Gorge. Oh man you don’t want to miss out on that one.

So, great location, but noisy at night. Parents may find it a bit annoying with the constant racket, but then again, it was high season, at the start of January. The 2 bedroom apartment was like a little house, with bathrooms adjoining both rooms, a kitchen aside a kitchen table and then the lounge room, and there was an outside enclosed area that you could sit and view the diners at Bel Cibo and people walking on Macrossan Street below. They are like little houses because you can hire them out for long stays. Definitely a great idea, especially when we go back again with our extended family 🙂

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If you are going to Port Douglas, be mindful of this: you will be hot. Not like ‘oooh, I think I might change into shorts’ hot, I’m talking humidity seeping into every crevice of your body, overcoming and suffocating you, sweat trickling down the bridge of your nose, give-me-that-pitcher-of-water-so-I-can-throw-it-over-my-head, type hot. Baby girl found it uncomfortable, as she seemed cranky on many an occasion, except for when she was in the water. Then it was bliss for her (and us). I didn’t pack anything long-sleeved or long-panted; it was light and airy all the way. I did pack insect repellent for the rainforests, but I never used it, and we never needed it either. Sunscreen is a must too.

I mean, there’s a reason why all the restaurants have fans.


We ate at many great places while in Port Douglas. I’ll list them by my personal lowest to highest ranking, and note that you can click on each name which links to my actual food review post on the restaurant in question, for a more in-depth analysis of our dining experience there:

Rattle ‘n’ Hum – casual dining where you order your food at the counter.

Bel Cibo – fine dining with great views over Macrossan Street. Lots of accents here.

Whileaway Bookstore and Café – great mishmash of literature and lattes. Coffee was ok, books and surroundings were heaven.

Little Larder – These guys kind of tie with Watergate below. Funky vibe, the place to go, great coffee, food, and service. Gold.

Watergate – Fine dining, but add exclusivity. Fire, fans and all you need is Gorillas (see my review for an explanation!) Amazing food, I will be going back for the coffee and dessert! Loved.

A notable mention goes to Mocka’s Pies which we had one day for lunch. We had coffee and cake there on Day 2 –

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and then later Hubbie got some takeaway pies. Their pies are meant to be some of the best going around, and from the few we tried back at Saltwater, we could tell it was true. We shared a Steak pie (the one with the X)

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A green chicken curry pie

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And a corn and asparagus pie

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The latter pie was perhaps a questionable one, only because it wasn’t to our taste, but the first two were really delicious. I’m not a traditional pie fan, so I love it when I find pies with fillings that aren’t filled with offcuts and random bits and pieces just to fill it in. We were really happy with this find.

I don’t have the names of the other places we got takeaway food at, but one place we grabbed toasted sandwiches and steak sandwiches from was just up from Mocka’s Pies in Grant Street, but closer to the Macrossan Street end. They were ok, just as our fried rice and noodles was ok nights later from a restaurant somewhere around there too! There are so many options in that part of Port Douglas, you can afford to be fussy.

There was also a nearby Safeway, and a couple of liquor shops if you’re taking away to eat/drink at home. If you’re staying in this part of Port Douglas, it’s easy to buy anything you need and just walk on back to your accommodation to enjoy in your own private space. Super convenient surrounds.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Port Douglas 4 night guide where I discuss the amazing! and so-so Attractions we came across… coming very soon.


Little, with Big Love

Little Larder
48 Macrossan Street Port Douglas

We had planned to take a reef tour the morning of Day 4 of our Port Douglas trip, however a spanner was thrown in the works, and it turned out we were to go in the afternoon instead.

So what to do in the meantime? Well beach it of course. We had only driven past 4 Mile Beach, and hadn’t even stopped to survey it’s yet-unknown-as UNBELIEVABLE breathtaking beauty.

As with all things though… ‘But first, coffee.’


We were going to takeaway initially. But my Hubbie being the coffee snob that he is, despises the takeaway cup. He wants to sit down and drink his caffeine hit from a mug, and see it, too. I had been hanging to try out Little Larder, what with its great reviews, funky street locale, and the fact that half its name is shared with the café we went to in Daylesford and loved. My reasons and his combined, led to us sitting underneath the umbrella there on a Tuesday morning, baking underneath the part-uncovered shade of the Port Douglas sun.

We got coffees for all, plus a little something to keep us going – a Banana and Caramel Muffin.

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The muffin was really lovely and warm, sweeter by the, what I believed to be demerara sugar sprinkled on top. We had some there and kept nibbling on it at the beach later, it was that big (and moorish). Loved it. Hubbie enjoyed his latte as I did my cappuccino, and baby girl loved the abundance of froth in her babycino, not to mention the not one but two marshmallows she got.

Our waitress was great, and busy, interestingly so since they had just opened at 8am and already people were flocking in. She was friendly but not try-hard, quite genuine despite all her running around.

As I went to pay inside, it was already bustling… definitely the place to be on a Tuesday morning, and it wasn’t even 9am yet. And inside, yep it was little alright. Added to the happening vibe. Outside there were umbrella’d tables, so if you want to go you have to book, or get in quick.

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In between the above morning, and the following one, so followed the best beach experience ever.

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(Details in an upcoming post).

But yes, we did go there the next morning. Unsatisfied with just trying the coffees there, we wanted to brekkie it before finishing our packing and jetting on back to Melbourne.

So again we went, just post 8am, without a booking, and got a table. Part sun, part shade again. You can’t escape the striking sun in these parts.

Baby girl got the Rye Toast with Strawberry Jam

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Hubbie got the Nutella French Toast

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And I had the Harissa Beans with Poached Egg

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The presentation was great, however baby girl’s plate did look fairly bland, as all restaurant toddler food generally appears. She did eat it though and I was happy the bread wasn’t hard as rock like it is in other places.

I loved mine. It was most definitely spicy! The sauciness of the dish, texture from the beans and spice of the harissa was complemented beautifully by the fetta, poached egg and buttered bread. It was a welcome “ahhh!” because like I said, it was spicy! My bread was also soft which made it a joy to eat. It was a generous breakfast dish, but not one that left me feeling overfull, as some breakfast dishes have in the past.

As for Hubbie’s meal? What can I say. I mean, Nutella French Toast. You aren’t sold yet? What, you don’t like hazelnuts? You poor fool. You are missing out. Don’t think you’ll come back in another lifetime and try it, try it now! I had actually eyed his meal on the menu the day before, and had considered getting it, if only I didn’t have a huge propensity for savoury breakfasts. They just agree with me; when I go sweet, it’s usually a tad much. (I know, soft). Anyway, him being my Hubbie and all and the fact that he has to share, like it or not, I did try his dish… and it was good. Nom nom nom. It looked really, very pretty too. Nutella does that though. I think if you smeared Nutella on your walls, it would look quite attractive, and not dirty at all (think Willy Wonka).

We also got our round of coffees again and this time my cap was stronger. Despite drinking it much later than when it arrived, it was kept hot hot hot by the assisting Port Douglas sun, so winning!

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Our waiter that day was once again friendly, and I can swear we were sitting next to the owner of the joint, with his missus, outside… he was overly confident, ordering without looking at the menu, asking the waiter details of his personal life (stuff like “Did you organise your trip?”) and you know, I just got that slightly-on-edge nervous vibe from the waiter, that of to not stuff up. He also eavesdropped (I know because I do it so well) on my loud remarks about how great our meals looked. For sure, he was the boss. He was ‘invested.’ And I totally understood the European language he peppered his normal conversation with to his lady. Native tongue, let’s call it. Good job boss, you’ve got yourself a winner here, cestitamo. 😉

Food: 8.5/10.

Coffee: 8/10. Strong on our second visit.

Ambience: Amazing. I loved it. Cheeky sign out front advising us to talk to each other and not ask for wifi; the location on Macrossan Street; and the bustling inside vibe, combined with the chilled out outside feel, make it a cool place to be.

People: Tourists, locals. Lots of accents. Hipsters go there too, they were inside, so beware. (!) No really, couples and families, but generally I saw more bearded types there than any others 😉

Staff: Very friendly and accommodating, and nice to see but also importantly genuine.

Price: About $15 on our first visit, under $50 for our second. Standard for a café, yet somewhat inexpensive for the food and place and what you’re getting and experiencing. Bargain.

Advice: Book if you’re dead-set on a certain time. Get there early in the morning for brekkie. Have a muffin. Sit inside if you can’t handle sun (why are you in Port Douglas?) If you like me, feed the littlies and can’t have your coffee straight away, place it in the sun – it will keep it warm for you.

In a nutshell: I think I am favourably skewed from now on out to any eatery with the word ‘Larder’ in its name. A funky place, with delicious, generous food portions, moorish muffins, a quirky cool vibe, and all in a great locale served by lovely waiters? Its inside ‘cupboard’ may be little, but this place has a lot of Ljubav 😉

We’ll be coming back, here, and to Port Douglas again. Thanks guys.

(More info on our Port Douglas holiday will be coming up in a later post).

Little Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Geisha’s Gate

31 Macrossan Street Port Douglas

When thinking of our dining experience here, I envision Sigourney Weaver from Gorillas in the Mist. No, no jungle animals here. But it was very breezy due to the high volume of fans blowing; it was still extremely humid despite this; it was dimly lit; and the large green leafy palms all around the restaurant just made me think Ms Weaver may in fact pop out at any second.

When we walked on over to Watergate on our second last night in Port Douglas, I realised the woman standing at the front of Macrossan Street was not in fact, promoting residential properties, as she was positioned in front of the nearby real estate agency. She was standing at the walkway to the poshy restaurant, and it was only pure chance that we got a table. She asked if we had a booking and when we said no, she said she had to go and check. Lo and behold, the man walking out of the restaurant had just gone in to cancel his reservation. Boy had we struck gold. In one regard.

We waited for 1 minute on the couches in the bar area while our table got ready. The water we were brought for the whole of that one minute was sweating profusely in our glasses by the time we got up to be seated, and I was starting to fear the dress I had chosen, worried I would be leaving sweat patches when I got up.

Yep. We were getting used to the all-encompassing heat that was so prevalent up in that part of the hemisphere.

This place had more of an exclusive feel than the prior night’s Bel Cibo. Though both were of a fine dining experience, Bel Cibo was more visible sitting high up on Macrossan Street, and seemed more open and accessible… the fact that Watergate was down a walkway off the main strip, with most of its dining areas hidden from view, and the mysterious fire lanterns glowing through the night, gave it an air of intrigue and mystery. Like I said, gorillas, mist.

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The restaurant was split levelled, and as you walked down into its shallow depths you went down a few steps at this section, and down a few steps at that section. We were seated in ‘that’ section, the base, with fans on the ceiling and electric ones nearby blowing full-on straight into our faces.

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There were candles on the tables and some torches about, with absolutely no other lighting, which made taking food photos EXTREMELY difficult. I preface this before I present to you a photo of the Crown Hubbie had, and my Geisha Girl cocktail – crushed fresh strawberries & vanilla bean with vodka, wild strawberry liqueur and guava

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My drink was, divine.

At the beginning of our being seated baby girl was given a pencil case and the kids menu to drawn on, which listed the meals available to her as well as a little side puzzle. On top of that, once again we were at a paper-clothed covered table establishment, so she COULD draw on the table to keep her occupied and happy… but happy was not something available to her that night. No-siree. She had had very little sleep that day as we had been sight-seeing around extensively, and her grumpiness and unwillingness to stay seated was just the beginning of what was to be a very frustrating night.

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Her meal had fortunately arrived earlier than ours as requested:

Chicken pieces with chips, tomato sauce and broccolini

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She had had the option of vegies, or salad with her meal, but we opted for the broccolini. It’s mighty brave of these restaurants to be serving broccoli-like vegies to littlies – not that I contest, I think it’s great, and baby girl does eat it. It makes it great too in that she isn’t just eating chicken nuggets with chips every night, like what most restaurants offer up in their kids menu.

These were grilled chicken tenderloins, and both looked and tasted a lot better than the chicken we had had at Bel Cibo the previous night. Baby girl also seemed somewhat satisfied in the 0.5 seconds we managed to keep her in her chair and eating. At all other times she was standing up in her high chair, wanting to walk around the restaurant, sit on my lap, as well as stand on it too, and just do anything BUT sit quietly and nicely in her chair and eat. Of course. She’s 2. That’s her job, right? To never sit still.

She did occasionally give a shy smile at a nearby older American couple who were near us, who we had a brief conversation with over the whir of the fans whizzing. And even though the couple were really very sweet, I think the lady waving to baby girl eventually made her anxious and scared, for some reason I don’t know since she is always so friendly, but because it was only after they had left that she sat back in her high chair, and let me continue my meal.

This is what I got:

The Prawn Linguine – local tiger prawns tossed with olive oil, spanish onion, chilli, confit garlic, fresh herbs and shaved pecorino

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While Hubbie got the Pork cutlet: speck-crusted pork cutlet served with a jalapeno & smoked cheddar potato crush, seasonal greens and a port wine jus

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Once again I got like, 5 prawns, only this time it was on a heartier meal base of lotsa-linguine. These prawns were much chunkier and juicier than Bel Cibo’s, but because of their size I felt that they needed perhaps a tad more cooking, for my taste anyway. For this reason, I probably preferred Bel Cibo’s ones, but cooking-time with anything, especially seafood, is pure chance anyway. They also had a seafood taste, complimented well with the strong chilli and garlic flavours in the pasta. This was no half-arsed chilli dish, like what I have been disappointed with so much in the past, and future as well, with the chilli-pasta meals I’ve had following this experience at the time of writing. This was hardcore, this had kick and power to it, made more so when I sipped my cocktail and got a massive spicy blast in my mouth. I liked it, it just made me sweat a bit more, something I needed that night (sarcasm).

Hubbie got his pork cutlet and enjoyed it immensely, he was very pleased.

As much as we had enjoyed the food, we unfortunately hadn’t enjoyed the experience with our cranky girl – it wasn’t her fault, she was tired. It just meant that we paid a lot of money for great food without really enjoying the night together. In fact it had slightly scarred us, as we vowed we would not go out to dinner the next night, our last night there. We would get takeaway noodles instead. And since we left right after scoffing our mains, it left me yearning for more, as I was almost positive that dessert there would have been simply magic. Oh well. Leaves room for growth and anticipation I guess.

Food: 9/10. The food was of high quality, and yet for the price you paid you actually got a decent amount, not an entrée size.

Coffee: N/A very unfortunately. That’s alright, more for next time…

Ambience: Breezy with the 1000 fans. Dim-lit, a little annoying if you’re like me and a) take food photos and b) like to dissect every bite of your food. Lucky for them, other than the prawn tails there was nothing else to check through a magnifying glass. It’s very romantic if you’re with your other half, and don’t mind the feel of wind in your face as if you’re Rose standing at the bow of the Titanic, Jack holding her so she doesn’t fall off, type thing.

Chilled, yet still of a decent volume what with the diners and fans fighting for volume dominance.

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People: Poshy. Here are the ones that come out to seriously ‘play’ in Port Douglas. They seemed much more affluent here than in any other restaurant we saw. However still friendly, as was evidenced by our friendly American neighbouring table. But the man who looked over at us and passed back the pencil that baby girl had flung in her tired and sweaty state, was not so. He was part of a big group for a birthday, and there were actually quite a few groups there that night.

Staff: Very, very nice. Our main waitress was quite understanding of baby girl’s demeanour, telling us of her own child, and was kind enough to just be cool throughout our sleep-deprived-baby issues. All staff were exceptional and very professional, though here they all seemed much friendlier than at Bel Cibo’s.

Price: At a total of $116 for the lot, which roughly consisted of the same as what we had had the night before – 3 alcoholic drinks, 2 mains and a kids meal, this place was in front. We didn’t need a side dish like we’d had at Cibo’s, but with the heartiness of the meals we didn’t need it. Definitely worth the coin.

Advice: Book ahead! We chanced it and got exceptionally lucky. Get the geisha (or two or three), and enjoy a night in the jungle.

In a nutshell: We really loved this place, and comparing it to the only other fine-dining place we experienced in Port Douglas, this had better food, better value for money, better service, and I guess the surroundings, well that’s personal. I liked these surroundings, and it was much bigger and had more seating than Cibo’s did. Both restaurants were great, don’t get me wrong. But on my return to Port Douglas, Watergate’s prawn linguine and dessert with a shot of coffee will be on my agenda, somewhere on par with jumping into the crystal clear waters of 4 Mile beach and taking an unauthorised dip in the swimming lagoon at Mossman Gorge.

Ensuring baby girl is well-slept, of course.


Watergate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read and cafe-away

Whileaway Bookshop & Café
2/43 Macrossan Street Port Douglas

So by this stage you can tell we’re living on Macrossan Street, yeah?

I finally had a chance to get to this union of café and bookstore on day 3 of our Port Douglas getaway, on a Monday afternoon. It was stinking hot and humid (nothing unusual in those parts) and the interior provided a chance to sit and unwind for a bit while I got excited about all the book purchase possibilities around me.

I had seen this place on Zomato before we holidayed our way over, and boy was I in anticipation of it. My dream would be to open a café/bookstore, so this for me was a special type of paradise (following the one we had visited earlier that day – swimming lagoon in Mossman Gorge. OMG. Stay tuned for an upcoming Port Douglas attractions post).

We promptly ordered up the back of the shop. It was all connected, but Whileaway is set up as if there are two sides to the store, with the café towards the back on the left behind all the seating, and the primary load of books was in the right of the store. Of course there was also seating on the right, not as much, and there were books upon entry as well near the majority of tables and chairs. There were books EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t escape (tee hee hee).

We ordered coffees, and some food.

A Cheddar Cheese and Onion Muffin

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Chocolate Macadamia Tart

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Mossman Pineapple and Banana Cake (considering Mossman Gorge had just blown my mind I had to indulge in a dessert of the same name)

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And a cappuccino, latte and babycino.

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The cheddar cheese and onion muffin was warmed up and quite tasty, a very big serve too to keep you satiated for a long time. Woe is me, I had to eat most of it since baby girl wanted none, deciding to overdose on the Pineapple and Banana Cake. That too was delicious and sweet, a mild flavour. The Tart was ok, and the coffees were strong. At first my cap had a different, unusual taste, and the caffeine hit me in my sweaty state… but then as I drank on I must have gotten used to the taste and it was ok. Probably not my preferred cup of coffee, even Hubbie agreed with his latte.

Where we were sitting was next to the children’s books and a children’s table play area, however despite the scene we still had to watch baby girl didn’t drop or damage anything. Yes, we were in the kids section, but it was that kind of shop – the look, don’t touch one. Which is difficult when you have a child and they can see trains and caterpillars and all the things they know and love, but is of a dearer and more exclusive value. There was a lady nearby sorting books who was onto baby girl, and when Hubbie said “baby girl don’t touch, the lady will get upset,” she was quite particular: “no I won’t there are just things that can break there.” Very choice with her words. I like it. Of course, she works in a book store right? (And I suspect she was a manager/owner).

I didn’t purchase anything of the reading variety during that visit, as baby girl was getting grumpy, and honestly I couldn’t even find something to buy as I was generally perusing. Not that there weren’t books aplenty, but I wanted to get something special, something different, something to remind me of our Port Douglas holiday.

We managed a quick stop over literally an hour before hitting the road for the airport days later. And after looking, and looking, and scratching my head, and sighing, to baby girl grabbing things and Hubbie following her around irritatedly, I finally settled on this:

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The blurb at the back of the book intrigued me:

“We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.

It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.

Nevertheless, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:”

And then it continued with a brief description, which luckily further intrigued me. I won’t be reading it for a while but watch my book review space for when it does come up.

And the little plus with my purchase? My new Whileaway bookstore bookmark. Cute 🙂

Food: 7/10. Consisted of mostly savouries and sweet treats.

Coffee: 6/10. It didn’t really leave us yearning for another cuppa, but it did the trick. Strong.

Ambience: Think library! It was fairly quiet and chilled as you would expect a reading area to be.

People: There weren’t many that hot Monday arvo, but there was the solo wanderer and coffee enthusiast coming in, no rowdy groups here. There was another Mum who ventured in with her daughter, who was also trying somewhat successfully to keep her daughters hands from the pretty play things about.

Staff: Pleasant. Both women behind the coffee machine were friendly, and the studious book manager-type was… serious. About books.

Price: Reasonable, $20+ for what we had.

Advice: Come without your child. I know there is a children’s area there, but unless your child listens to every word you say and obeys every instruction given, or unless they are of an age to sit on the kids table there and just draw, perhaps best to leave them with Hubbie in the communal pool of your accommodation and come alone for an afternoon of exciting solitude and books.

In a nutshell: I would definitely love to come back on our hopefully one-day-not-too-far-away return to Port Douglas. The terrific book surrounds and cosy atmosphere is an ideal area to indulge in while having a coffee, however I do hope that the taste of the bean improves…

Coffee, and books? What a terrific way to Whileaway your afternoon.

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Whileaway BookShop & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rattle ‘n’ Rice

Rattle n’ Hum
38 Macrossan Street Port Douglas

Rattle ‘n’ Hum ended up being our second dinner option on our first night in Port Douglas.

We had arrived in upper, upper North Queensland. Tired. Hungry. Hot! The humidity was insane. We had already walked up and down part of Macrossan street, the street that was to be the place we practically lived on for the following nights we were there, and despite walking by the restaurant, and the large board out front advising of specials and kids meals, we still went back to the flashy Bel Cibo to see if we could be squeezed in.

Nope, they were booked out, and we weren’t in a waiting mood. We would have to come back to that one another night.

So off we went, to the pub-style, open-spaced Hum-mer. Fans pulsating above us, pool table in front of a bar on the left of the venue, pizza-making on the right at the front of the restaurant, with a ‘pick-up’ bench behind it and tables all in between. There was wood everywhere. It was like a big barn, a family bar.

We had been seated, but in amongst the hoo-ha of people arriving and you know, that thing called humidity bringing beads of sweat onto even the coolest of foreheads, we were forgotten and had to ask for menus. Dum da dum dum. The guy was great though, and explained what it was we had to do, which was order and pay for our meals at the ‘pick-up’ bench, and we would receive a buzzer alerting us when the food was ready for ‘pick-up.’

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We kind of groaned inwardly. Great. One of those places. We just wanted to be waited on hand and foot, having just travelled 3 hours by plane and then 1 hour of winding road followed by sudden tropical rain onslaught.

But we were hungry, so on we went.

The drinks were paid for at the bar, and brought back to the table by the payer – which was Hubbie in this case.

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I had a white wine, since I couldn’t fathom drinking my old fave red in this heat. With the ordering of baby girl’s meal, we also received a free drink, so Hubbie opted for an OJ that we all sipped on after our meals.

She had also received a little kids colouring set that included some crayons, and some pages of activity paper in a little paper box. That, along with her Santa water-drinking cup, all ended up on the floor at several times. She was still getting used to the change of atmosphere and was finding it ‘challenging,’ diplomatically speaking. However at other times, she did scribble on the paper, so I was fortunate for those minor blissful moments of peace.

Soon after we all received our meals. Mine was the Prawn Hot Pot

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Hubbie’s was the Flame Grilled Rib Fillet, atop mashed potato and a side of veg

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While baby girl’s was the Spaghetti Napoletana.

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My meal was very nice. I loved the combination of the prawns with the oil, capers, chilli and garlic, and it was so flavoursome that after I was finished I was still scooping the very hot dish to get out more delicious remnants of oily goodness… but there was one problem with that. You see, I had very, very, little rice.

Surprisingly, there were a lot of prawns. I was actually surprised how many prawns I received. I just kept fishing one out after another from the dish, and was constantly surprised when I discovered “more!” Which is why I was even more baffled as to why I wouldn’t have enough rice to accompany it. It’s usually the other way around, you get like 3 prawns, and a whole plate of carbs to compensate. If provided with the options I would much rather have it this way, more prawns over rice… but honestly, I would love heaps, of both. Especially in soaking up all those chilli/garlic bits at the end, extra rice would have come in such handy. Due to the extremely cheap nature of this grain, my only conclusion is to assume they came across a rice shortage that night. That cannot possibly be the normal serving for that dish.

I also received a side of ‘salad,’ which was more garnish, or visual accessory to pretty the plate, as it had no dressing, it was just thin pieces of carrot and cabbage.

Hubbie said he enjoyed his steak, but said the mash tasted like packet mashed potatoes. What?! Having not had the misfortune of having to endure such food torture, I can’t say I know from experience what that tastes like, but when I tried it did taste different… I’ll take his word.

And after baby girl’s experience, I now know never to order spaghetti for her again.

First things first, Hubbie had ordered napoletana for her. Yet her pasta, had meat in it. We had received spaghetti bolognaise, not the meat-free version. This wasn’t such a problem, we are fortunate that she is not vegetarian, and I hope for the sake of this food-lover she never will be. But at the end of the day, it was wrong.

Also, it was a bit bland. Just a standard sauce, not even much flavour to it. And as for the spaghetti, well it’s not their fault… but independent, toddler and spaghetti are words that should not be in a sentence together. Allowing a stubborn toddler to eat spaghetti on their own is just… hell. It’s just so wrong, so difficult and absurd on so many levels. Throw in an OCD Mum who rips out wet wipes faster than you can say ‘catch that dribble!’ and you have a high-intensity, stressed-out group of diners.

Hers was also accompanied with a big piece of toasted bread on the side, adding to the carb-fest even more.

Despite all this we ate what we had, and left as soon as we could. It had been a long day.

Food: 6/10. Think pub food.

Coffee: N/A on our visit, we didn’t need caffeine, we needed sleep…

Ambience: Bustling, busy, noisy. Like I said, think pub, and combine that with your casual family diner.

People: A mix of all, we were in a holiday spot after all. There were young families, mid-range established families, fathers with their on-the-verge-of-teenhood sons playing billiards, a mother and daughter having a quiet meal and watching baby girl run away from us and stand up in her high-chair, and your typical Aussie blokes cruising in to pick up pizza for takeaway.

Staff: They were busy, but were still nice. The door guy who had initially forgotten us was attentive when he realised we had nothing, the guy handing out meals was apparently “really relaxed” about the whole spectacle of it being Saturday night, and the others that tended to us were friendly.

Price: It was about $80 for the lot, the two drinks, and the three meals. I think, a tad much for the quality of what we received, but I get that when you’re in a holiday spot, the same rules don’t apply anymore Toto.

Advice: Saturday nights, peak holiday times, and post 7pm are times that are difficult to be seated no matter where you are in Port Douglas, unless you have booked. So if you don’t book, be prepared to get there earlier and avoid the rush time. They did appear to have ample seating though, so it may just be a case there of ‘be seated, but just wait a while for your food in the queue.’

In a nutshell: It was a very average bar, to be honest the kind that we tend to avoid, only because the food quality is never quite up to scratch. Despite this, had my rice been in more abundance, I would have walked away very content and surprised with the establishment. Instead, it leaves me in confidence of why we don’t go to these types of restaurants, as there is always something lacking, even though we still dish out a bit of coin.

I liked the surroundings, and I perhaps would even try a pizza there for lunch… the restaurant is not bad, it’s simply that we have eaten at so many great restaurants, that anything average is not worth giving a second shot. 10 years ago, we would have gone back without question. Times change. So solely based on our tastes, I don’t think we would have dinner there on our return to Port Douglas. No more humming for us.

Rattle 'n Hum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato