Ok, so now the wedmin is over and blissful married life is well and truly underway – it’s now time to get this blog show back on the road after more than a few months off!
I can’t say I’m sorry to see the back of endless emails and decision making at all kinds of unsociable hours thanks to planning the whole affair from the UK, but those fleeting 24 hours of perfect sunny happiness went way too quickly and I thought I’d reboot this blog by reliving some of it.
The Forrest Beach Hotel, just 15 minutes from my hometown of Ingham, provided the perfect tropical, breezy, sunlit setting and was what inspired everything including my whole non-traditional look, the bridesmaids’ dresses and the rainbow coloured theme. On the surface, it’s your average Australian pub, with a decent steak on the menu and a loyal set of locals – but it’s beachfront setting sets it apart from your usual watering hole. Manager Trent is a rugged Aussie bloke and in his own words, “no wedding planner”, but he’s open to ideas and makes life easy especially when you have a number of suppliers involved. 2am late licence? We’ll sort it. Post reception champagne bar? Done. Ice cream van? Why not? Photo booth? You got it. Bespoke traditional Italian dessert buffet (including my favourite cannoli and delicious torrone nonetheless) – sure, bring the sweets and we’ll lay them out. Midnight antipasto platter? Yep, how much do you want? (Needless to say we had Italian sweets and antipasto coming out of our ears and in true local style we had enough for part two of the buffet for lunch the next day!)
Forrest Beach was almost like a character in our wedding, complementing our colours and wowing everyone, from our British visitors taking in tropical North Queensland for the first time, to locals who have seen the beach more times than they care to remember – but witnessing it with new eyes against the backdrop of our ceremony and reception. Living in North Queensland, rain is never far away and we were so grateful that the thunder and lightning held off until one in the morning – enough time for us to have had a few dance offs, a round of limbo, an impromptu karaoke session and some unsolicited trouserless dancing (no names shall be named).
Once the whirlwind of excitement had wound up, we didn’t waste any time showing our British visitors more of what North Queensland has to offer as for many of them, it would be a once in a lifetime experience. We packed the car up for Port Douglas, stopping at Babinda Boulders (pictured below) to whet our whistles and our feet, and marvelling at the tight curves but endless seascape of the Captain Cook Highway. I had never seen the other side of Cairns before and always thought Ingham was about as rural as it gets, but once you whizz past that last set of traffic lights, it’s goodbye rat race, hello wilderness and 50 shades of green.
Just outside the famous resort town of Port Douglas lay our luxury boutique accommodation, the Cassowary, owned by British expat Terry and his family who built it from scratch starting with nothing but the purchase of some sugar cane farming land. Cusioned by lush sugarcane is this 5 bedroom masterpiece complete with outdoor showers, barbecue, infiniti pool, endless lounging space (as well as resident geckos and cane toads – don’t go roaming barefoot at night!). The infiniti pool though (pictured below) is far and away Cassowary’s centrepiece, with its 180 degree view of the Daintree Rainforest like feasting your eyes on an open treasure chest of emeralds sparkling by sunrise and sunset. I challenge you to get tired of this view.
The beauty of the Cassowary is that it’s divinely secluded but only a 15 minute drive from the glitz and glamour of Port Douglas and all the restaurants, bars and boutiques it has to offer – and of course this view:
And these mouth watering prawns:At Port Douglas, you’re on the doorstep of the world renowned Great Barrier Reef and to not get up close and personal with it would be like visiting Paris and ignoring the Eiffel Tower – but even better. We chose a day trip with Sailaway Tours and it didn’t disappoint despite it being quite choppy on the way out. The tropical fish were out in force and so was the sun. We gave our sea legs a rest with a tour of the Low Isles (below) before a leisurely lunch and smooth cruise back to shore.
Our special day meant friends and relatives from Britain, the Philippines and around Australia were able to get a taste of tropical North Queensland – a place they might not have got round to seeing but once they were there, couldn’t believe they hadn’t before. I’m glad to have opened up my home to them all and hope they visit again!
Thanks to all who played a part in our special day, especially to Jim and Roberta Busuttin whose beach house was the perfect place to turn into a bridal boutique on the day, and to Ross Hillier whose 1950s Riley was the ideal car to turn up to the ceremony. We used these local businesses:
Leisa Bradshaw Hair