Douglas is an interesting place to be in this part of Australia.
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
So what happened to Port
since it was the tiny
establishment of Island Point, getting
developed by businessmen from Cooktown?
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
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
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
He turned Port Douglas
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
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
Things to See in Port Douglas
of the town is Macrossan Street - lined by colourful shops and
excellent cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants, and some of the expensive
It is a very nice street to stroll along whether
shopping or pub crawling.
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
the Sea Chapel, and the old sugar wharf that used to be busy when the
was an important sugar cane port.
next to the chapel, the wharf and the beachfront are the famous
While more touristic than the neighbouring
Saturday Markets, it is still a great way to spend half a day
scrolling through jewellery, clothes, gemsone
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.
are two main beaches in the town - the City Beach and the Four Mile
Being in the tropical northern Australia, these beaches do
jellyfish during the wet season, when the
City Beach has a stinger enclosure.
Mile Beach is a really nice long beach with many different beach
The waters are not so safe to swim due to stingers, sharks
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
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
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.
marina of this town is where the major development started in the 1980s
when the businessman Christopher Skase started the multimillion dollar
that changed this town forever.
It is a great place
with fancy shops and excellent restaurants.
Things to Do in Port Douglas
in Port Douglas
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.
Douglas Reef Trips
Douglas (along with Cairns) is one of the best places in
Australia to take a trip
Great Barrier Reef, because the reef is close to the mainland
There are many
different operators that do anything from a few hour to week long
trips to Low
outer reef - the full list is in the Destination
Douglas Dive Trips
Some of the reef
and coral watching through a glass bottom boat, but most include
include cruising, snorkelling
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
tours that you can take include sailing,
cruises, sea kayaking, hang gliding, mountain biking, hot
air ballooning, Aboriginal
culture and just trips to night
safari and some fun
The town also has a few different events and the most
notable are the ten day Port
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 Australia
in this town is luxury and expensive.
Most places are five star
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.
Douglas doesn't have an airport. The closest large airport is
Cairns, and this is where people fly from overseas or other places in
There are shuttle
buses that take you here from Cairns Airport. (For
amusement flights there are the scenic flight helicopters).
Douglas Car Hire
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
fanatics won't get bored, the town can easily rival larger
cities when it comes to the amount and quality of the shops.
fashion and souvenir shops, but there are also others
includingsupermarkets. Most shops are in Macrossan Street and in the
in Port Douglas
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 -
and dinner. Some of the best and most famous ones are the Lure, Salsa,
2 Fish, the Central Hotel, the Court House Hotel, and the famous Iron
Bar that also has Cane
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.
Below is an interactive map of Port Douglas Australia.
you want to buy a
map of this area, the best
ones are always
Here are some photos of this beautiful town that are taken by
myself, if you want to use any please contact me.
Below you have some
Port Douglas tours (UPDATE 2021 - the Ballyhooley Steam Railway below is unfortunately closed).
mainly three kinds:
the ones to Low
Isles and the Great Barrier
Reef, the ones to the rainforests
around Port Douglas, and the ones to Cairns and Kuranda. There
were too many to put them all up
here - the complete and updated list
is in the Destination
Great Barrier Reef Snorkel Cruise
trip to Agincourt Reef is mostly for non-divers, however you can try an
introductory dive if you want. Other options include snorkelling, or if
you don't want to get wet at all you can watch the reef from a
Great Barrier Reef Dive and Snorkel Cruise from Port Douglas
On this trip you have the choice of snorkelling, diving or trying the
both. It takes you to different environments at Agincourt Reef, where
you can explore the coral reef ecosystem.
Barrier Reef Sailing Cruise from Port Douglas
This is a great way to experience the Great Barrier Reef while
not getting wet. Just spend a day sailing around and watching the
corals and islands and maybe an occasional whale.
Great Barrier Reef Cruise Pass
trip combines snorkelling, diving (outer Great Barrier Reef) and
sailing (Low Isles or Green
Island). There are a few different combos
available, and combining them you save money.
Tours to Daintree
Tribulation and Mossman Gorge 4WD Tour
tour takes you to the famous Daintree rainforests in both the southern
the northern, Cape
Tribulation section. It also
includes a Daintree River crocodile cruise.
Dreamtime Walk, Daintree River Crocodile Cruise and Fruit
Farm Day Trip
tour takes you for the Mossman Gorge walk with an Aboriginal guide,
then up to Cape Tribulation, a crocodile
on Daintree River, and a visit to
a local Tropical Fruit Farm.
Tribulation and Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary This Port
takes you to Cape
Tribulation, a cruise on Daintree river, a guided walk in the
rainforest, and also to the Wildlife Habitat Animal Sanctuary in Port
Tours to Cairns
Scenic Railway Day
Trip from Port Douglas
is the most popular way to visit Kuranda on a day trip from Cairns (but
you can also do it from Port Douglas - you will be taken to Cairns
first) - one way with the old
Rainforest Cableway Day Trip from Port Douglas
... and Skyrail the
other! It's a great trip and you get to spend
time in Kuranda to visit its markets and animal parks. In the
end of the Skyrail trip is the famous Tjapukai
Cultural Park (UPDATE since early 2021 - Tjapukai Cultural Park is unfortunately closed).
Night Zoo Safari and Barbecue Dinner This is a
great way to spend
your night particularly if you are from overseas. It is a night zoo
experience next door to Cairns
Tropical Zoo. You will see some
nocturnal animals, then have an Aussie BBQ dinner and fun entertainment. UPDATE since 2016 - unfortunately closed.
page you have the weather in Port Douglas.
Dry Season blue skies
Season grey skies
is explained, and
further down the page you
have the current weather and
is in tropical
north Queensland, so the
hot and tropical.
we don't have four seasons like in southern parts of
We have two seasons - the
Wet and the
The Wet lasts roughly from December to May, and the Dry lasts roughly
from June to November.
then there are different stages within them seasons, like the build-up
(just before the Wet starts, usually October - November); the early wet
which is known for thunderstorms,
and the late wet
the monsoonal rains have rolled in.
The Dry is
Australia has winter, so the temperatures are meant to be cooler. But
up here, it is not always the case. Temperatures can still be in 30s
(Celsius) during those months.
The Wet is
Australia has summer, so you'd expect the temperatures to be hotter
here too. But again, it is not always the case, because once the rains
kick in, it cools the temperatures down.
Some days during the Wet Season are actually cooler than some days
during the Dry.
The weather here follows a different pattern from the rest of
Australia, and the best
time to visit
is during the Dry Season.
As you see on the photos, there
is a big difference between the dry season and the wet season skies.
Port Douglas Area
This Cairns to Cooktown Map covers the area around Port
It is a great map with very good detail as well as good information
about this beautiful area.
I really like HEMA maps, I would not recommend anything else, they are
the best maps available.
some good fishing in Port Douglas.
good up here, with lots of tropical species like barramundi,
mangrove jack, queenfish
and many others.
I have seen Victorians getting their lines broken one
because their gear is simply meant for smaller fish.
you are from southern parts of Australia, it's not a bad idea to buy
your gear up here, and buy the proper gear for large fish. Because fish are humongous up
course, as elsewhere,
in Port Douglas is heaps better if you have a boat.
If you don't have a boat, river
mouths and rivers are always good places and there is one
in Port Douglas.
There is also the old
(next to the church in the Markets Park in the town) that is popular
There is nothing better than catching your own tropical fish for the
As you may know there are fishing
- closed seasons, size limits and take and
limits are all in the full detail in the Destination
this 50 pages
guide totally for FREE.
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all
the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact
detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks,
at least 30 guaranteed FREE
camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to
the Cape), at least 40 best
swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things -
from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception,
how to deal with the national
parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits
and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery
gear by my partner
Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old
Not to mention locals'
tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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This site uses British
English, which is the English we use in
best efforts have been made to ensure that all the information on this
website is correct, this site is not to be blamed should there be a
My full time project of 2020 is to improve every single page on this website with more information and more, better photos. With almost 300 pages and so many photos to go through, it is very time consuming work, but it gradually happens, every day, right now :-)
This is the ORIGINAL Cape York Travel Guide run Locally on the Peninsula.