Port Douglas is located 65 kilometres north of Cairns, Queensland's third largest and most northern city. Now a first world tropical holiday destination, Port Douglas was originally home to one of Australia's early gold rushes in the late 1800's.
An early population of tens of thousands were attracted to the area where the Port played a vital part in shipping gold discoveries up and down the coast.
European, early Australian and Chinese populated the seaside township that consisted of little more than a bank, a courthouse and over 10 public drinking houses.
In the early 1900's the gold reserves in the Hodgkinson and Palmer rivers had dried up and the population returned to pioneer land owners only. Sugar became the regions new gold and gave birth to the regions now famous landscape.
Tourism began in Port Douglas with local indigenous fisherman taking adventurous and possibly naive travellers 8km off the coast in tinny's or tender boats to a small wooded island group in the early 70's. News of the spectacular beauty of the Low Isles group travelled fast and by the end of the 70's Quicksilver founders Jim and Jo Wallace had launched the first commercial operation to the small wooded island group on the Martin Cash.
In 1988 the stunning Sheraton Mirage Resort and Marina Mirage were built after the State Government identified the region as one of 4 major Queensland tourism investment opportunities along with Hamilton Island and the Gold Coast's Sanctuary Cove.
The recognition of the Daintree Rainforest as a World Heritage listed site and an International Airport located north of Cairns followed a year after allowing the airport to become the international gateway to the Great Barrier Reef the world's oldest Rainforest.
And today it still is with over 1 million visitors to the reef and rainforest every year coming from every country of the world.
Nestled between two World Heritage Listed sites Port Douglas operates in a truly unique tourism opportunity. Showered in natural beauty but only allowed to maintain a small population the town must endure the highs and lows of international and national travel trends.
Since 2014 Port Douglas has been anticipating the reinvestment of its flagship accommodation property. News of the purchase of the Sheraton Mirage Resort by Chinese investors was a strong signal of the importance that North Queensland plays in the return of tourism and international travel confidence.
Construction of refurbished rooms, pools and its palatial lobby and restaurant areas is now underway with over 40 million committed in this first year. Another 200 million has been committed over the next 5 years re-establishing the icon as a world class tourism and business facility.
Formerly Marina Mirage the new Port Douglas Reef Marina is currently the other major project being undertaken as part of Port Douglas' return to the world stage. With a super yacht expansion already completed in 2015 the Marina owners now prepare for a substantial upgrade to its waterfront that will include accommodation, restaurants, retail, public arbors and art.
Port Douglas' main street is met by both ocean and inlet as it spans across the entire peninsula. Sprinkled with retail and restaurants the 'Strip' is home to over 50 coffee and dining experiences. Embracing a combination of uniquely local and renowned brands the retail experience is always satisfying.
Voted most walkable beach as many times as anyone can remember the iconic shoreline of the Port Douglas peninsula is a world apart from any other locations. Without a building in sight the 4 mile (5.1km) beach boasts a 60m low tide mark making it as wide as a landing strip as it was famously used in the 50's with light aircrafts. On calm days azure waters meet the golden beach and in simple terms, magic occurs.
For 14 years the region celebrated only one event - the Port Douglas Village Carnivale. Originally a showcase of the regions harvest exports the event became the official opening of the tourist season. Carnivale captured the spirit of North Queensland living with outdoor open air events dining and entertainment events. Attempts to make the event a tourist event by extending it to 10 days were recently reviewed and the event in 2016 returns to a 3-4 day event.
In 2011 the region held a preliminary marathon event to prepare itself for the following year where a Danish Tourism company was to bring over 2,000 runners to the world's first Solar Eclipse Marathon. The Danish Adventure Marathon Group were responsible for the establishment of world famous events the Great Wall Marathon in China, The Big Five Marathon in Africa and the Polar Circle Marathon in the Arctic. This extreme event to be held in what they considered God's country (a healthy comparison to their other event locations) was to be marred by the GFC and result in only 400 runners. However this event paved they way for the now Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival that in 2015 attracted 1700 runners from all over Australia and 13 countries around the world.
The region is on the brink of more major events with last year seeing the birth of Taste Port Douglas, a major food event attracting international chefs to promote the regions rich produce and culinary skills, the Beach Picnic Races; horse racing festival in Four Mile Beach and the Port Shorts Film Festival.
Boasting closer access to the most northern and pristine reefs (the ribbon reefs) Port Douglas operators have always been in great demand since Quicksilvers inception.
The reef operator landscape has changed significantly in the last 10 years with Quicksilver moving operations to Cairns to survive the GFC and concentrate on the Asian markets. This has resulted in a move away from Quicksilver being the the only major operator in Port Douglas seeing the rise of Tropical Journeys a local family tour company. Investing in over 8 million dollars in three new reef vessels in the last year they have polarised the local landscape.