ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A French Quarter man has brought home more than great memories from our state’s north this week after getting bitten by every sandfly in the Douglas Shire, leaving him with what’s known as the Port Douglas Measles.

Not to be confused with Byron Measles, which is similar to the more traditional, lethal variety of measles, thanks in large part to the area’s shunning of modern medicine in recent years, the Port Douglas strain is harmless but leaves sufferers with a telltale smattering of insect bites that can take weeks, even months to fully recover from.

It hasn’t taken the gloss off local man Hedley Page’s holiday, who said he had the time of his life.

“It’s not like I was warned about the midges and mosquitoes; I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me,” said the 33-year-old.

“They said, ‘Make sure to wear plenty of good repellent; you want the grim stuff that’s full of DEET. You know, this isn’t a game of hopscotch in Coolangatta; this is the real deal. You’re somewhere where ancient lizards come out of the water and kill people – you know, like it’s a fantasy novel or something. You’ve got insects that give you measles. But you’ve got the reef, and it’s still looking not too bad. I went out to the outer reef and saw loads of stuff: turtles, dolphins, whales, heaps of fish. I even saw a few clams. Different bits of coral and whatnot, you know, different colors and everything. Sure, the deckhands on those boats might have some controversial opinions on climate science, but if you look past that, it’s pretty nice,”

“But as for these bites on my legs, I’ve had to wear jeans since I got back. Every time I go about in shorts, people think I’ve got some dreadful disease or my heart’s about to give out. Even when I tell them it’s just a simple case of the Port Douglas Measles, they still hesitate, you know. I tell them that they’re not normal midges up there; they’re still getting chomped on by little birds. The mosquitoes in Port would be classified as birds of prey in lesser parts of the country like Victoria or Tasmania. I just hope they clear up soon; it’s already getting up to 28 degrees here in town, and I’m jack of wearing these Levis.”

More to come.


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