Port Douglas Queensland 

Port Douglas is an interesting place to be in this part of Queensland.

It is nothing like Cape York or most of the laid back far north Queensland, except if you go comparing it to Cairns.

But a town of its size, its location almost in the end of the sealed part of the coastal road, and to be such a popular destination even for international travellers, you know something happened to Port Douglas that did not happen to Cooktown.

Well, quite a large scale tourism infrastructure also does exist in Cape Tribulation, and the world famous Daintree rainforests obviously have opened this area to mass tourism that is not happening in Cape York.

 

But still, as you are driving into Port Douglas, past all the multimillion dollar luxury development - Daintree clearly doesn't compare.

port douglas church
St Mary's by the Sea Chapel
port douglas history
Lighthouse monument, Esplanade park
port douglas court house
Court House, Port Douglas Queensland
port douglas wharf
Sugar Wharf, Port Douglas Queensland
port douglas marina mirage
Marina Mirage, Port Douglas Queensland
christopher skase
Skase's Bar, Port Douglas Queensland
port douglas development
Luxury resort, Port Douglas Queensland
So what happened to Port Douglas?

Ever since it was the tiny establishment of Island Point, getting developed by businessmen from Cooktown?

Cooktown, Cairns and Port Douglas all started off as port towns for Palmer River and Hodgkinson River goldfields.

Cooktown was established first (1873), then Cairns (1876), and then Port Douglas (1877). 

But by the 1880s the gold started to run out, and so did the populations of the towns.

So the first thing that happened was that with the growing sugar cane industry, Cairns and Port Douglas became sugar cane port towns while Cooktown did not.

But that of course was not what lead Port Douglas to become the luxury resort town it is today.

What made that happen was one man - Christopher Skase.

If you are an Australian and remember the 1980s I don't need to explain any more.

He turned Port Douglas into the resort town it is today, starting with the marina; and later ended up fleeing Australia after his business empire collapsed obviously with zillions of dollars in debt.  

He passed away in 2001 in stomach cancer on Mallorca, before they ever got him back to Australia.

And left us with a little gem for our Cape York trips.

I don't normally like mass tourism or even touristic places - the reason why I like Cape York and other remote travelling.

But Port Douglas makes a very refreshing change if you leave it to the end of your Cape York trip.

After weeks of dusty roads and campfire food, there is nothing better than an air conditioned room and a quality restaurant meal just for a change!

Get the dust off you and get even  pampered. Get your back a good massage after all the corrugations you have behind.

Enjoy the shops, bars and markets, and take that trip to the Great Barrier Reef that you didn't manage on your way up to the Tip.

Or fish from the wharf - still as laid back as anywhere in Cape York.

That's the beauty of Port Douglas - it may be upmarket and luxury, but it still manages to keep its small town feeling.


Things to See in Port Douglas Queensland

port douglas queensland

Macrossan Street
The hub of the town is Macrossan Street - lined by colourful shops and excellent cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants, and some of the expensive hotels and holiday apartments. It is a very nice street to stroll along whether shopping or pub crawling.



port douglas beachfront

Port Douglas Beachfront
These much-photographed palm trees at the town's beachfront are in the Rex Smear park. Close-by are the Historical Court House, the St Mary's by the Sea Chapel, and the old sugar wharf that used to be busy when the town was an important sugar cane port.


port douglas markets

Port Douglas Market
Just next to the chapel, the wharf and the beachfront are the famous Sunday Markets. While more touristic than the neighbouring Mossman's Saturday Markets, it is still a great way to spend half a day scrolling through jewellery, clothes, gemsone stands.


flagstaff hill

Flagstaff Hill Lookout
This is the famous Flagstaff Lookout and you can easily walk or drive here from the northern end of Macrossan Street. It has some nice views over the City Beach as well as the whole length of the beautiful Four Mile Beach. Just pick a sunny day for good photos.


four mile beach

Port Douglas Beaches
There are two main beaches in the town - the City Beach and the Four Mile Beach. Being in the tropical northern Australia, these beaches do get dangerous jellyfish during the wet season, when the City Beach has a stinger enclosure.

port douglas beaches

Four Mile Beach
Four Mile Beach is a really nice long beach with many different beach accesses. The waters are not so safe to swim due to stingers, sharks and crocodiles, but it's a great beach for long jogs and walks. You can also bring a picnic and drinks and take hours to enjoy this beautiful beach.  


port douglas wildlife habitat

Wildlife Habitat

Just at the entrance to the town, there is a wildlife park that used to be called Rainforest Habitat, but has now changed their name to Wildlife Habitat. It has a rainforest, a wetland, and a grassland section with birds and animals that belong to each habitat. A great place to take photos of birds and animals.

port douglas marina

Marina
of Port Douglas Queensland
The marina of this town is where the major development started in the 1980s when the businessman Christopher Skase started the multimillion dollar project that changed this town forever. It is a great place with fancy shops and excellent restaurants.

Things to Do in Port Douglas Queensland

fishing port douglas

Fishing in Port Douglas
The marina is also where many of the tours take off to the Great Barrier Reef, including the fishing tours. These can take you to the river or the reef, they know the best fishing spots. But of course you can also fish from the land yourself, a great place is the wharf.


port douglas reef

Port Douglas Reef Trips
Port Douglas (along with 
Cairns) is one of the best places in Australia to take a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, because the reef is close to the mainland here. There are many different operators that do anything from a few hour to week long trips to Low Isles and outer reef - the full list is in the Destination Guide.

port douglas dive

Port Douglas Dive Trips
Some of the reef tours include cruising and coral watching through a glass bottom boat, but most include snorkelling and/or diving. Those trips are usually longer, normally at least one long day or a few days. You can also take a course and get your diver's licence if you don't already have one.

port douglas tours

Other Port Douglas Tours
Other tours that you can take include sailing, river cruises, sea kayaking, hang gliding, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, Aboriginal culture and just trips to night safari and some fun dining, Mossman Gorge, Kuranda, Daintree rainforests, Cape Tribulation, Bloomfield Track and Cooktown.

port douglas events

Port Douglas Events

The town also has a few different events and the most notable are the ten day Port Douglas Carnivale in the late May, Portoberfest in the last weekend of October, and the Marlin Challenge and the Port Douglas Marathon in the early November each year.


Practical Information about Port Douglas Queensland

port douglas accomodation

Port Douglas Accommodation
Accommodation in this town is luxury and expensive. Most places are five star apartments, but there are also hotels, resorts, villas, B&B and even motels, backpackers hostels and caravan parks. But even these are relatively expensive compared to other towns.
 

port douglas flights

Port Douglas Flights
Port Douglas doesn't have an airport. The closest large airport is in Cairns, and this is where people fly from overseas or other places in Australia. There are shuttle buses that take you here from  Cairns Airport. (For amusement flights there are the scenic flight helicopters).

port douglas car hire

Port Douglas Car Hire
But of course, it is cheaper to hire a car and drive to the surrounding places yourself. It is also more flexible and you can stop and stay where you want, and as long as you want. There are a few different car hire companies in town; and there is also camper van hire.


port douglas shopping

Port Douglas Shopping

Shopping fanatics won't get bored, the town can easily rival larger cities when it comes to the amount and quality of the shops. Most are fashion and souvenir shops, but there are also others includingsupermarkets. Most shops are in Macrossan Street and in the Marina.
 

restaurants port douglas

Restaurants in Port Douglas Queensland
The restaurant scene is also great. There is anything - from Australian cuisine to Italian, Mediterranian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, or just fish and chips, local seafood, you name it - breakfast, lunch and dinner. It would take you a long time to try it all.


Other Information about Port Douglas Queensland

weather in port douglas

Weather in Port Douglas
As elsewhere in northern Australia there are two seasons - the Wet and the Dry. The Dry season skies are beautifully blue, and the Wet season skies go hopelessly grey. You only need to look at the photos on this page to see the difference quite clearly.


port douglas map

Port Douglas Map
Here is a page with an interactive map of Port Douglas Queensland. If you want to buy a map of this area, or anywhere else in Australia, the best ones are always HEMA Maps.



port douglas photos

Port Douglas Photos
Here are some photos of this beautiful town that are taken by myself, if you want to use any please contact me.



 



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