I nip into Port Douglas, just to see, and am very glad I chose to camp at Mossman. The Port's a tourist mecca – cafes with clear plastic seats, T shirts emblazoned with all things Port Douglas (mind you I buy sharks and crocodiles for the twins), gift shops by the dozen and eateries everywhere. I don't see the tattoo parlour where my niece had her frangipani wedding tattoo, or I may have been tempted into a holiday mistake: a crocodile, maybe.
I book a cruise up the estuary aboard the Lady Douglas. I change into red sandals and black dress with red flowers and gold embroidery, as befits a sunset mangrove cruise with complementary … lemonade, in my case. I'm about to begin my love affair with mangroves: the patterns of their root-stilts, their flourishing green and the leggy reflections. There is a crocodile sighting: I follow the trajectory of eyes, binoculars and cameras, and fail to register more than the vague flat shape of a head, maybe.
The captain is informative: about mangroves and their salt-excluding mechanisms; about the sunken yacht, once a drug runner until the captain was arrested; about the ramming of another yacht when a huge catamaran failed to respond to instructions; about mooring leases, which cost next to nothing and are never given up; and about the bats, hoarding home as the light moves towards dusk. It takes a sharp eye to see them in my photo.