After a 20-minute drive I alighted at the Reef Retreat in Palm Cove. This was my big splurge. I had read about the place in Frommer’s Easy Guide to Australia; it wasn’t easy to find the website and when I did, it was fully booked for some of the nights I wanted. I went back and forth for a month before securing five nights there, then I added a sixth night when I was in Blayney. I felt so lucky to get the place I wanted.
I wanted it because it was one block off the beach, which was traced by a road full of traffic. I didn’t want to stay in a B&B because I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to stay in a chain hotel. I didn’t want to stay in a sterile high-rise where you had to take an elevator and walk down a long hallway.
Two stories of rooms were built around a central courtyard with a pool and, basically, a miniature rain forest. I could be close to the action but feel like I was in the jungle.
And it was only $95 a night.
The place did not disappoint. I checked in with Jim and Joanne, the owners, who would soon become my personal support group. I loaded up on brochures from the Wall of a Thousand Brochures, then rolled my bag through the courtyard to my room, which was up a flight of about 20 stairs. This was the only downside of the place—you would have to stay on the first floor if you couldn’t manage stairs.
The rooms were clean and bright and had everything one needed to be a hermit in paradise. Balcony screened by trees, couch and TV, and fridge.
These are the views from my balcony. The big screen is to keep people who are using the barbie from being barbecued themselves, by the sun.
I hung up my dank clothes to air for the first time in weeks, then hustled out to buy supplies. The books in the “take one, leave one” shelf in the laundry room were typical of a resort that attracts an international crowd.
I would pass on “Analfabeten” but I had a couple books with me and I could read by the pool every day! I could catch up on blogging. I could sleep late. I could take long walks, rent a bike, maybe a kayak. I would alternate excursions, like to the reef, with down time. This was going to be great.
This was the night I would lose my passport. This was not going to be great, but I didn’t know it yet.
I walked on the beach and took a few excellent photos, for once. They somehow vanished off my phone, so here’s a photo from the official tourist site.
I have been to tropical beaches in Belize and Colombia in the last two years, and I have to say that one beach looks very much like another to me. There’s sand, and water, and palm trees. But that’s not to take away from their beauty.
I walked along the promenade and bought groceries, then donned my rain poncho so I could keep my bag from disintegrating until I got to the casino/bottle shop where I could buy wine and beer. The 16-year-old kid who waited on me asked for my ID, and I fumbled with my poncho, backpack, and grocery bag to find it and show it to him. If you like casinos, you would have loved this place. I hate them so I hurried to get back to my quiet retreat.
I watched TV; there was the Ernie Dingo Show, where an Aboriginal guy walks around the outback and shows sites of cultural significance to a white guy, whose job is apparently to nod and show keen interest in everything Ernie says. Megan and Harry were on the news, as they would be every night during the Invictus Games. Harry was climbing Sydney Harbor Bridge, and it was raining hard. “Guess I picked the wrong day to cross the bridge,” he quipped.