After leaving the gravel at Laura we headed off down the bitumen for Port Douglas, stopping for the night at the Palmer River Roadhouse. Palmer River was the location of a large gold field in the later 19th century. Not much remains of the gold field infrastructure, although there are a number of 4WD tracks out into the scrub that take you to the old workings and building remnants. One runs for an 80 km round trip from near the Roadhouse, but there is not much enthusiasm to do it at this stage of our journey. Palmer River is at the northern end of the Atherton Tableland and as we continue south we pass by vast banana plantations beside the road. The country is flat here and the bananas just stretch away in some places as far as the eye can see. This in part explains why the bananas got killed off on the hillsides down around Coffs Harbour, no longer economic with this sort of competition. The road down to Port Douglas involves descending the Great Dividing Range to Mossman, a rather twisty and steep descent in places. Once through Mossman we reach Port Douglas and book in at the same place we were a few weeks back.
Homealone and I are quite taken with the ‘Port’ and find it a comfortable spot to stay. There is a particular attraction here to keep bringing us back. Prawns in a bucket on the deck of a place called the ‘Tin Shed’ (or something like that), Allthego confuses it with the Yacht Club. One sits on the deck and looks out over the inlet and boats towards the Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Nice spot to while away some time! Homealone hasn’t seen prawns (her favourite seafood) for a few weeks and can’t resist, Allthego goes for the seafood basket. The establishment though has changed the prawn presentation, they used to hang on the side of a bucket over ice, now they are sitting up, tightly packed in, looking at you from a bowl. Where to start! Homealone had no problem. We also managed to get a vanilla slice in town, the one that we saw last time and claimed to be the ‘best’ vanilla slice. We will see.
After R & R in the Port we packed up and continued south to Brisbane, one night stands in an unrushed way. Stopping the night at Ingham, Bowen, Sarina and then a free camp beside the Boyne River near Gladstone. Morning tea along the way was adequately catered for as we picked up some vanilla slices at Ingham and also Bowen. Interestingly, the one at Ingham was not sold as a ‘vanilla’ slice but as a ‘custard’ slice. Allthego has tried to find out if there is a difference, quite a lot of stuff on the internet about vanilla slices. Authorities suggest the ‘vanilla’ slices are made from ‘vanilla custard’ and that the ‘custard’ nomenclature is an ‘Australianism’ compared to ‘vanilla’ which harks back to the French. I don’t know and have given up on this. The one from Bowen came from the town’s famous Jochems Bakery. Of these 3 Allthego favoured the Jochem’s, it was nice and creamy. The so called custard slice was a bit stiff and the pastry wasn’t flakey. The Port Douglas one turned out to be a ‘ring in’ and had actually been made in Cairns, it too was nice and creamy but it was a bit loose and oozed out the sides. Maybe we had mistreated it as it had been in the truck awhile before being eaten!
So in the big vanilla slice taste off it is hard not to go past the one from Gillian Brown’s Artisan Bakery at Springfield Lakes, closely followed by the Jochems and Port Douglas. The over all reason is because all three were nice and creamy with a good white icing and not too sweet. Maybe, Allthego needs to see if there has been any change in the Springfield Lakes version since the last tasting, it was a while ago.
Our last stop off was at Tiaro, near Maryborough. Tiaro has a nice free camp facility for RVs and also has a great butcher. Pork products in particular, so we made room in the esky for some ham, ordinary bacon and some bacon chops. These bacon chops are just what you need for a good brunch. If you ever pass through Tiaro this shop is strongly recommended for Pork lovers.
The journey to the Tip and back has now finished. We had a great time and are now home after travelling around 8,600 km, the direct road distance from Brisbane to the Tip and back is about 5,300 km, so we have also done 3,000 odd km in side trips and chasing down vanilla slices. Until next time I will leave you with a little thought, from someone else “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there!”