Could You Live in the Tropics? Life in Port Douglas, Australia
Living in the Tropics
Port Douglas, Australia is situated in Far North Queensland and is well and truly tropical. We sit just 16 degrees south of the equator and enjoy warm weather all year round.
But is it all palm trees and pina coladas?
Not exactly, I'll give you a few of the pros and cons of living in the tropics, from a resident of 5 years.
The Pros of Living in Port Douglas
- It's Beautiful! Jaw-droppingly beautiful. The mountains behind Port Douglas are spectacular and drop down to the coastal strip and Four Mile Beach. We have breathtaking sunrises over the Coral Sea and spectacular sunsets behind the mountains. The beach is unspoilt and is lined by coconut palms and native Australian species.
- The weather. You will probably never be cold in Port Douglas. The tropical climate makes it warm enough to draw tourists to the beach all year round. Daytime winter temperatures are around 75–80 degrees F, summer temperatures reach 90 degrees F.
- Rainforests. Port Douglas sits on the edge of the Daintree Rainforest, an easy day trip by car or tourist vehicle. The intrepid even cycle up to Cape Tribulation. It's unspoilt, there are few people, and you will often have a beach like the one above to yourselves.
- The Great Barrier Reef. It's here, on our doorstep. If you don't own a boat or have a friend with a boat, there are many options to get you there: helicopter flights, high-speed craft and the big pontoon boats. It's an awesome day out. At very low tide you can walk out from Four Mile Beach and see an area of exposed coral, along with all the other rock pool creatures.
- It's Quiet. There are no fast food shops, no traffic lights, little crime, few people, and you won't have to share your chosen patch of sand with anyone. There is little light pollution; the night sky is amazing!
- The Wildlife. We have amazing wildlife in Port Douglas. You stand a good chance of seeing a cassowary, wild pigs, dingos, all the usual Australian fauna. Giant green tree frogs are my favourite; you see them regularly, often climbing your windows at night. Pythons, tree snakes and crocodiles are another feature; some of us love them, others would see them as a disadvantage. If you walk on the beach at dawn you stand a good chance of seeing dolphins, you often see turtles, plus all the smaller creatures. Birds! So many, rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, black and white cockatoos and the little yellow sun birds that love to build their nests around people. They really give you that tropical vibe. It's nature heaven!
The Cons of Living in Port Douglas
- The Weather. Unfortunately, the tropical climate can also be your worst enemy. Sometimes, in the wet season, it rains for weeks on end. The ground turns to mud, some areas flood. trees fall, there are landslides blocking our access roads. Sometimes we are totally cut off and food supplies to the supermarkets dwindle. We have cyclones. They are rare, but they are a reality. Recently, Cyclone Yasi was a big one. Luckily he was a near-miss in the end, but many Port Douglas residents evacuated or took shelter in the higher levels of sturdy hotels. You need good buildings insurance.
- The Wildlife. We all know about redbacks, funnel webs and taipans. They are here, but I've never seen one. The creatures we have to watch out for in Port Douglas and most of tropical Far North Queensland are marine stingers, box jellyfish and irukandje. Both can be fatal and inhabit our waters in the warmer months,often more than half the year. There is a stinger net at the lifeguard station on four Mile Beach, it becomes crowded in season and isn't 100% effective. Full body protection in the form of a stinger suit is also recommended. On the reef you will also need to cover up. We also have crocodiles, we live with them,they are everywhere, if you stay away from them they will leave you alone. Just don't walk too close to any water's edge and never swim at night. Snakes aren't usually a problem, only if you don't like them. Ants, one of the joys of tropical living, are everywhere; they get in your food, in your clothes drawers, inside your computer and, alongside their friends, the termites and cockroaches, make the pest controllers rich.
- It's Quiet. In many ways it's a good thing, but the nearest cinema and shopping centre are 70 km away in Cairns. Likewise most leisure facilities and services. It's about an hour's drive on a winding and sometimes closed road. Some children take an hour-long bus journey all the way to school in Cairns every day. The nearest big airport is 24 hours drive away. Cairns hospital cannot cope with some medical conditions, Townsville hospital is 6 hours away, and Brisbane is 24 hours. There is no hospital in Port Douglas. Job opportunities are limited. This town revolves around hospitality.
- It's Expensive. Food prices are higher due to extra freight costs; they fluctuate wildly and reflect adverse weather conditions. You can't expect to visit the reef every weekend, because a family reef trip is around $400. House prices and rates are high. Port Douglas is an expensive place to live.
Could You Live in the Tropics?
We are all different and have different needs, wants and expectations in life. I won't share my personal opinions, I'd like to keep this neutral and let you make up your own mind. Port Douglas is small town, everyone knows everyone, this suits some, others find it unpleasant
I don't yet know if Port will be our forever home, it is most certainly beautiful, has its own charm and living here in a tropical climate has been an adventure. Could you live in Port Douglas?
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