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As the great whale migration from south to north begins alongs the eastern seaboard in April with humpback, southern right and minkes heading to the warmer waters to feed and breed, so too do the humans who insist on living in the south and wonder why, come June.
The first day of winter in Melbourne is a bracing 13 degrees while in Port Douglas it's 28 degrees and sunny. "Not sure how you live down south," says one chirpy staff member at QT Port Douglas as he checks us in. Neither are we. Needless to say, the 169 studios and one and two-bedroom holiday apartments in this school holiday season edges to full during our stay.
The resort, like so many properties on Port Douglas Road, is set back from the main drag into town which is about a 30-minute walk on a path used by cyclists and joggers. Or jump on the Bally Hooley tourist train that runs directly past the resort and out to the marina where tourist reef cruise vessels sit next to super yachts (ballyhooleyrail.com.au). A local bus service operates between the resort and town if you're without wheels. To feel the sand between the toes, Four Mile Beach is directly across the road.
Surrounded by lush gardens and fenced-off ponds of fish, QT's white and airy spaces speak holiday. From the fresh-faced staff in natty uniforms designed by Broadway costume designer Janet Hine including jumpsuits and polo shirts, to reception housing a mini moke (for show), bikes (for hire), table tennis, pool table and grand piano, our shoulders have no choice but to drop.
The main restaurant Bazaar and cocktail bar Estilo, undercover but without walls, are relaxed places where family and friends, including us, are spending time to stop and catch up on life.
There are plenty of deck chairs around the lagoon-style pool that has a shallow end for littlies and a swim-up bar for the adults. An entire day here is possible with waiters to deliver food and drink. Mothers toast each other with sparkling wine (in plastic glasses) and kids, strangers just minutes ago, are playing pool volleyball. Cool poolside music adds to the relaxed vibe. There's also an excellent gym and two tennis courts.
Two-levels of accommodation face the pool or the garden and our two-bedroom apartment with balcony looking to the garden is clean and spacious. Additions such as quality Malin + Goetz toiletries in a glass balloon bowl give what is very decent accommodation an even nicer touch.
Orient yourselves as the pathways when unfamiliar can feel labyrinthine. There's a washing machine and dryer, stove top and microwave for cooking and minibar fridge.
Crucially, the sheets are crisp, towels are fluffy and the apartment is serviced daily which means it's a holiday for all. It takes a day for us to figure out the metal device on the kitchen table is a pineapple corer.
The daily breakfast at Bazaar marketplace, included in the room stay, is plentiful and broad. Help yourself to eggs, mushrooms in a hollandaise sauce, fresh juices, tropical fruits, flavoured milks, pastries and bread and butter pudding if you fancy. There are T2 teas and staff make a great latte.
Bazaar is also open for a substantial dinner that features fresh fish of the day but we opt for lighter choices from the Estilo bar menu, which includes wood-fired pizzas ($17), substantial cheese burgers with pickles and fries ($27), and char-grilled baby squid with smoked tomato and rocket and sake oil ($20). Taco Tuesday ($3 tacos) and margaritas are worth staying home for.
Many are here for more than the poolside flop and drop. Each morning there's a steady stream of buses collecting guests for adventures such as snorkelling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef or ziplining in the Daintree Rainforest.
The message to book ahead is not a cynical exercise by operators. Popular restaurant Salsa doesn't have a free table for three weeks (salsaportdouglas.com.au) and family friendly The Mexican (themexicanpd.com.au) is heaving every night. Moonlight Cinema next to the resort has early screenings and QT guests get access to the VIP section with cushions and deck chairs.
A fun, relaxed resort open enough to allow some independence for adolescents but also ideal for smaller children. While our children shoot pool for hours we can keep an eye on them from the bar and the restaurant.
Rooms from $250 a night, including breakfast. QT Port Douglas, 87-109 Port Douglas Rd, Port Douglas QLD 4877. Phone (07) 4099 8900, see www.qthotelsandresorts.com
Jane Reddy stayed as a guest of QT Hotels and Resorts and Tourism and Events Queensland.
Willing, able and thoughtful staff who rustle up some sparklers on a dessert for a birthday in our group.
It's a busy resort exposed to the elements so a few signs of wear and tear.
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