Concept designs for the world’s first Living Coral Biobank, a dedicated coral conservation facility proposed to be built in Port Douglas, have been revealed.

Great Barrier Reef Legacy’s $70 million Living Coral Biobank project aims to secure the long-term future and biodiversity of corals worldwide with the primary goal of the facility to store, keep alive and nurture over 800 species of the world’s hard corals which can be used to rehabilitate reefs in nature in the future.

With the look inspired by the ‘mushroom’ coral, the proposed building, dubbed a ‘living ark’, will be the only dedicated facility of its kind in the world and will be the base for the project which will also use public and home aquarium collectors to hold and maintain backup fragments all over the world, creating the largest collaborative preservation network of corals.

The facility’s innovative design and engineering – by Australian architects Contreras Earl Architecture, and engineering and sustainability consultants Arup and Werner Sobek – will make it a world leader in next-generation renewable energy design, creating optimal conditions for coral storage while minimising energy consumption and solar gain.

Dr Dean Miller, Living Coral Biobank Project Director and Managing Director of the Port Douglas based GBR Legacy said the project will begin collecting coral next week off the Far North Queensland coast, to be temporarily stored at Cairns Marine.

And if all goes to plan he said the Port Douglas facility is hoped to be built and housing coral by 2025.

“The Living Coral Biobank is the only project that can secure the living biodiversity of the world’s coral species immediately,” Dr Miller said.

“To ensure this priceless living collection is held in perpetuity for generations to come we need the world’s most advanced facility that also promises to use only renewable energy sources and function with optimum efficiency, while also creating an unforgettable visitor experience – and that’s exactly what this design delivers.”

While the corals will be the primary user of the building, the 6,830 sqm multi-function centre will also host exhibition areas, an auditorium and classrooms as well as advanced research and laboratory facilities over four levels.

The Living Coral Biobank would see visitors get up close to live specimens in aquarium displays, learn about coral ecosystems through exhibitions and events, and observe coral husbandry experts going about their daily work in a protected wet lab environment.

The facility will also have a unique 200-person function space.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said he was blown away by the new, modern design released for the Living Coral Biobank.

“This iconic design will be a recognisable structure which people will automatically relate back to Port Douglas,” he said.

“The unique architecture has the right feel for a globally significant and cutting-edge coral reef conservation facility to be based right here in Port Douglas.”

Mayor Kerr said he believes the proposed state-of-the-art centre will enhance Douglas Shire’s reputation as a leader in reef conservation through innovation and science. 

“With their drive and enthusiasm, the team at Great Barrier Reef Legacy are not only going to deliver a world-class preservation project, but give Port Douglas another special attraction for visitors to enjoy.

“Our community has a real opportunity to own this project while making a really positive difference to the environment and the future of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

The project’s architects and engineers have integrated a holistic sustainable strategy to the design which includes reducing energy consumption by tactically dividing the building into six compatible climate zones over four levels, with adjacencies minimising energy resource use for climatic control. Aspiring to the biosystems of the coral reefs themselves, the building will aim to be self-sufficient and carbon neutral.

Architect Rafael Contreras said this project brings with it a profound responsibility to consider the impact of architecture and the construction industry on the natural world.

“The Living Coral Biobank is an opportunity to set a global benchmark for sustainable outcomes and zero-carbon goals as well as creating a world-leading conservation and education facility.

“The ambition for this project is to create a beacon for environmental awareness – a centre of hope, learning and wonder,” she said.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/october/designs-revealed-for-living-coral-biobank-in-port-douglas/

Hemingway’s Brewery is launching a new lager to salute the un-named cane cutters of a bygone era who worked in the fields under the sweltering sun without complaint.

The official launch of the mid-strength lager, Canecutter, will be held from 5:00 to 7:00pm on Friday at Hemingway’s Brewery Port Douglas and Cairns, where the public will be provided an opportunity to sample the new product.

After a very successful response to the limited release of the mid-strength FNQ Resilience Lager, Hemingway’s has made a few minor improvements and introduced the new Canecutter to its core range.

Hemingway’s CEO and founder, Tony Fyfe, said Canecutters Lager is inspired by the sugar cane that surrounds this region and the cane cutters who forged the industry that Far North Queensland is built on.

Hemingway’s Brewery has created a perfectly sessionable and thirst-quenching lager for the Far North Queensland climate. Best of all it is brewed right here in the Far North for locals in the Cairns & Port Douglas region. “You could say it really is the Beer From up Here,” says Fyfe.

“We wanted to create a beer that suited the Far North Queensland palate and was sessionable too. We had a lot of feedback from locals that they wanted a mid-strength as well.

“It’s all very well having great beers that are big on flavour and aroma, but they also tend to be higher in alcohol and you have to stop at just one or two.”

Fyfe said creating a good lager is very difficult. Without some of the higher hopping regimes and strong flavours that are typical of many craft beers, there is nowhere to hide any imperfections.

“We have already done it once with our gold medal, award-winning Tunnel 10 lager (4.2% ABV) but the challenge was to create another great lager in the mid-strength range. Our first iteration that we introduced to the public was the limited release FNQ Resilience Lager and it went down extremely well,” he said. 

Canecutter has been in development for some months but with the onset of COVID-19, Hemingway’s decided to test an earlier version and get it out to the public as soon as possible and at a great trial price.

“That was our FNQ Resilience Lager. Although extremely popular it wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be, so we made a few tweaks to get it just right,” said Fyfe.

Canecutter Lager is a mid-strength lager (3.5% ABV) with clean, citrus flavours on the palate with and grain tropical, passionfruit and watermelon aromas. Showcasing great Australian hops with a low bitterness and a crisp, refreshing finish. Perfect for a BBQ or day out with friends and family.

Canecutters’ is only available for purchase from either the Port Douglas or Cairns Wharf venues where you can enjoy it on tap or grab on the go for takeaway. It is also available at a few select local bars, cafes and is gaining momentum.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/august/new-hemingways-lager-a-salute-to-the-canecutters/

Hemingway’s Brewery Port Douglas turns four-years-old today.

The popular brewery will reopen for a one night only special event tonight to celebrate after being closed for months due to COVID-19 restrictions.

With restrictions limiting numbers the event has already sold out.

Hemingway’s Marketing Manager, Kim Logan, said while they are not re-opening permanently just yet they couldn’t miss out on celebrating their birthday.

“We wanted to be able to celebrate our birthday with our Hop Head members and locals,” she said.

“The last four years have been just amazing with great support from locals and many regular tourists who visit us year after year.

“We can’t wait to get back to doing what we love which is creating a great place for people to chill and relax after a day on the reef, discovering the Daintree or after a hard day’s work, where they can enjoy a great locally made fresh beer. We hope COVID is just a blip on the radar.”

Ms Logan said the last few months have been extremely difficult, as has been the case for many local businesses.

“We have been able to drive some sales through online beer sales and home delivery and it has been encouraging to watch that side of the business grow but it is very small compared to previous revenue.”

Hemingway’s Cairns venue reopened on 18 June, but the Port Douglas venue will have to wait just a little longer.

“We have been preparing for re-opening, but we are just waiting for the border announcements from the Queensland Government before we make a final decision on when that will happen and what that will look like,” Ms Logan said.

“The team are keen to get back to work as soon as possible. Our venue manager, Chris Barber, has done an amazing job of keeping the team spirits up and communicating to the team about the many changes that have been happening over the last few months with all that COVID has had to throw at us.

“We are very proud of our ‘Brew Crew’ and how they have coped with these unusual circumstances.”

Ms Logan added that if people are disappointed that they missed out on the birthday bash they can sign up to the Hop Heads membership to be the first to get any Hemingway’s news about beer, offers and events.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/june/hemingways-celebrates-four-years-in-port-douglas/?L=22

Slowly but surely businesses are starting to re-emerge and one local favourite set to make an appearance this weekend is Calypso Snorkel and Drive.

For the first time since 21 March, Calypso will dip its toes back in the water venturing out to the outer reef this Saturday, 13 June.

Operations Manager, Chris Jones, said it’s a great feeling.

“We are very excited. Our crew is really happy to be back in the water and I think everyone around town is happy to see boats return to the ocean,” he said.

“It’s been extremely difficult, not just for our staff but the whole town.”

Locals looking to revisit the reef are in for a treat with Calypso offering a huge locals discount of 50 per cent for a limited time.

Mr Jones said the weekend’s weather will be perfect so it’s a great time to take advantage of the offer.

“We saw an opportunity to get out and see the reef and hopefully with the easing of restrictions in Queensland we will see more tourists start to come up.”

Calypso will operate under a COVID Safe plan with social distancing and extra hygiene measures in place.

With few tourists currently in town, Mr Jones said they will use Saturday as a trial run.

“This is our first run; we haven’t got a scheduled date for a second run yet; we will see how this one goes and take it from there.

“We will see who’s in town and how many people take up the locals offer.”

Mr Jones said he was eager for business to return to pre-COVID levels.

“I would like to see the borders open, the sooner the better but when it is safe to do so,” he said.

Currently, the state borders are still closed with the Queensland Government set to review matters at the end of the month.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/june/calypso-returns-to-the-outer-reef/

Beer lovers rejoice, the inaugural annual Port Douglas Craft Beer Festival is on Friday 27 December at 11.00am at Hemingway’s Brewery at the Crystalbrook Super Yacht Marina.

The festival is set to feature beers from Far North Queensland breweries and distilleries including Hemingway’s Brewery FNQ, Macalister Brewing Company, Coral Sea Brewing Co., Barrier Reef Brewing Co. and Wolf Lane Distillery.

There will be a range of beers from the different breweries on offer as well as Hemingway’s core range and six specially brewed beers for the day.

Hemingway’s Port Douglas Venue Manager, Chris Barber, said after the success of beer festivals at the Hemingway’s Cairns venue they decided it was Port Douglas’ time to shine. “We are going to have some funky new beers for people to try. We had a lot of new releases for the recent What The Funk? Festival in Cairns so there are a lot of new beers that people haven’t got to try up here yet,” he said.

“We have some Belgium barrel-aged beers, strawberry saison, hemp beer, sours, and a heap of other beers, so there will be something for everyone.”

Mr Barber said the festival is about showing off what Port Douglas has to offer.

“It’s a celebration of beer and Port Douglas is the perfect spot for it.

“There will be tourists here from down south so it’s a good opportunity to show that we can mix it with the best of them. “Our signature beer Pitchfork Bettys was rated number 34 on the GABS’ (Great Australasian Beer Spectapular) Hottest 100 Countdown last year.”

The GABS’ Hottest 100 Countdown is an annual ranking of the top craft beers in Australia and with this year’s voting currently underway, Hemingway’s is calling on Far Northerners to cast their vote for their favourite brew.

The winners will be announced on 25 January at Hemingway’s Brewery in Cairns.

As for Friday’s Port Douglas Craft Beer Festival, there will be live entertainment from local artist Cam Kettle from 2.00pm and the food truck, the Charcoal Chief, will have your food cravings covered.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/december/craft-beer-the-flavour-for-inaugural-beer-festival/

Port Douglas is enjoying two key milestones on its waters this year with the Chinese junk, the Shaolin, and the Lady Douglas paddlewheel river boat respectively celebrating 50 and 30 years of history.

Docked at the Marina, both have long and interesting stories to tell, none more so than the Shaolin, which, along with the Lady Douglas, is owned by Kate Agrums and members of her family.

The Shaolin has twice circumnavigated the world; experienced two cyclones; served as a listening post for the CIA off the coast of China; and has even been subjected to pirates.

It was originally built for a retired US naval officer in 1966 in Hong Kong with the intent to transport and trade rare shells out of the Mariana Islands in Guam. After foregoing her adventures, she sailed to North Queensland in the mid-1980s and is now a popular feature in Port Douglas for locals and visitors.

Kate, who manages both vessels with husband Lucas and brother Flynn Bickford, said they both have sentimental value.

“As kids we hung out on the Shaolin and my father played music on the Lady Douglas,” she said. The children of both families all play their role and help wherever they can. “It’s a real family affair with six children involved,” she said.

Referring to the milestones, Kate said this is very exciting.

“It’s the iconic significance these two beautiful boats have on Port Douglas. Both are original boats in the Marina from 30 years ago. Shaolin came into Port around the same time the Lady Douglas was built, so they have long and strong history as two of the original boats here in the Marina.

“Both boats are iconic to the port and people remember them and come back year after year to do our cruises again because they love the individuality and history that they both hold. Flynn and I were born here in Port and remember both the boats as we were growing up,” she said.

Kate said her first job was a deckhand on the Shaolin, so they hold significant memories for us and all of the locals.

“Our two families are proud to have these beautiful boats and we are devoted to loving them and looking after them with the love and passion they deserve.”

Over the years, there have been many highlights and Kate singled out the television coverage the Lady Douglas received with the Queensland Weekender Show and the Morning Show; along with the many famous faces who have enjoyed the voyage over the years.

“But the main highlight was bringing the Shaolin back to Port earlier this year (from Cairns) and reuniting the two.

“Since then we have had many people join us on the Lady Douglas for a croc-spotting river cruise; and enjoying the Shaolin for the authentic Chinese Junk Boat sailing experience,” she said.

Kate observed that both boats seem to appeal to the same people who love the fact that they are owned by a small local family and this positive feedback is definitely a highlight.

And what about the future? “We intend to market the Shaolin as the Port Douglas LOVE BOAT and use it for destination weddings. And use both boats for private charters and parties,” said Kate.

She said future plans include continuing to pour our hearts and souls into these two beautiful boats to keep them maintained and running daily.

“Although we are constantly working on ways to improve the vessels, we like to focus on encouraging the locals to join us on board.

“We always offer great local discounts, whatever the season, as we love having the locals out with us,” she said.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/december/iconic-tourist-favourites-of-the-sea-celebrate-milestones/

Port Douglas-based reef research non-for-profit organisation, Great Barrier Reef Legacy, yesterday announced it will be creating the world’s first Living Coral Biobank Project.

As coral reefs worldwide decline due to climate change, severe storm events and coral disease, GBR Legacy with partners Corals of the World and Cairns Marine, will safeguard the biodiversity of all hard-coral species by collecting, storing, and keeping them alive in what they’ve dubbed a “coral ark”.

Managing Director of GBR Legacy and Project Coordinator, Dr Dean Miller, said they plan to create a repository of hard corals from around the world in a state of the art holding facility in Port Douglas.

“We have just returned from the Far Northern Great Barrier Reef which has been heavily impacted by the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events as well as cyclone Trevor in 2019, all of which have affected coral diversity and ecosystem function,” he said.

“We searched for remaining biodiversity hotspots and by the end of 2020 aim to use these to collect over 200 species of corals from the Great Barrier Reef.

“This represents over half the Reef’s species, amounting to a quarter of all species worldwide,” Dr Miller said.

The project will also use public aquariums and home aquarium collectors to hold and maintain backup fragments all over the world, creating the largest collaborative preservation network of corals.

Corals of the World Director and project partner, Dr Charlie Veron, is key to the success of the project as he is one of few people worldwide that can identify corals to species level underwater.

“My entire professional career has been dedicated to collecting and identifying the world’s coral species. I’ve done this many times for science; this time I’m doing it for the coral’s very survival,” Dr Vernon said.

“Without question, this is the most important project we can be undertaking for corals and coral reefs and the most important project I have been involved with personally.”

Corals are one of the few groups of organisms on earth that can be kept alive indefinitely because most form colonies that keep growing for thousands of years.

“The Living Coral Biobank Project is the perfect solution for maintaining the genetic diversity of both corals and their symbionts. That is what makes this project so critically important and unique,” he said.

Chairman and Founder of GBR Legacy, John Rumney said current approaches to securing the biodiversity of corals are not working.

“With each coral bleaching event, we are losing the most vulnerable coral species and reefs around the world. We may not have all the answers about how to save coral reefs, but this project is an extremely cost-effective and achievable undertaking that allows us to at least start to secure a better future for their survival,” he said.

“This project will ensure that we can keep corals alive until conditions in their natural environment improves and partnering with Dr Veron’s Corals of the World and Cairns Marine will allow us to rebuild coral communities with a high degree of certainty.

“It’s a very exciting project. It’s guaranteeing the survival of all this biodiverse coral, so we have something to work with in the future,” Mr Rumney said.

Dr Miller urged everyone to get involved to collaborate and help fund this project.

“The future of the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s corals is at stake. We must act now as over 25% of ocean life, and billions of people each and every day, depend on coral reefs for their very survival,” Dr Miller said.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/december/worlds-first-coral-biobank-in-port-douglas-key-to-reef-survival/

Port Douglas has been singled out as one of the regional tourism hotspots to benefit from changes being made to open up coastal Australian waters to superyachts.

Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said the Special Recreational Vessels Bill will allow superyachts to offer charters on the Australian coast – something the current system does not allow.

He said according to modelling, the changes are expected to deliver a $580 million boost to the Far North Queensland economy and create around 4500 local jobs.

And Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the superyacht legislation will create job opportunities and an economic boost for coastal areas across Australia. “Port Douglas, Cairns and the Whitsundays are examples of some of the regional tourism hotspots that will enjoy the major boost thanks to expanded superyacht tourism,” Mr McCormack said.

“The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the America’s Cup in Auckland will bring a number of these vessels to the Pacific over the next 18 months and this enables Australia to get on board and ride that wave,” he said.

Mr Entsch said this was a no-brainer really. “We have always had a super yacht industry in our region, now we are going to have a superyacht industry on steroids.

“These changes will vastly expand our ability to share in tourism benefits that our pacific neighbours such as Fiji and New Zealand have been enjoying for some time.

“This unlocks a number of exciting trade and tourism opportunities right along the Far North Queensland coast,” he said. He said there are around 5,000 superyacht vessels around the world and now we can take advantage of this thriving industry, bringing passengers from all over the world to sail in our waters.

Superyacht Australia CEO David Good also welcomed the news.

“We commend the Morrison Government for recognising that now is the critical time to act. The high value visitors this will bring to regional Australia is significant.

“Tourism Australia has been working with Superyacht Australia to ensure our country’s signature experiences are well marketed to these potential charter clients.

“The 11,800 jobs this will create mostly in regional areas is something the government should be proud of.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/december/port-douglas-to-benefit-from-superyacht-legislation/

A South Korean television program will showcase the spectacular Douglas Shire scenery to some 20 million viewers across east Asia.

Korean TV company Channel A filmed an episode of their popular variety fishing and cooking show, City Angler, in Port Douglas on Monday.

The show features popular South Korean celebrities, including actors Lee Deok-hwa and Park Byung-Eun, comedian Lee Kyung-Kyu, and model Julien Kang, face-off in a fishing and cooking competition.

The crew of around 40 people spent the day filming out on the ocean with local fishing charter company East Coast Angling before bringing their catches back to the Crystalbrook Marina for a cook-off. The program’s co-ordinator Kevin Lee said City Angler is a very popular variety show in South Korea and is more comedic than a cooking or fishing show.

“There are no chiefs, they all cook themselves and show people how to cook,” he said.

“It is a competition, so every time they go out fishing they see who will catch the biggest fish and who serves the most delicious dish.

“If you win you get a gold badge and that person gets to decide which country they go to next.”

Mr Lee said the show travelled around the world fishing and they were delighted to be in Port Douglas.

Rob Cruz, the General Manager of Crystalbrook Marina, where the cooking segment was filmed, said having this level of exposure for Port Douglas was exciting.

“It is great to see Port Douglas extending beyond its normal reach. “They were an energetic young crew and were fantastic to deal with,’’ he said.

The crew will now spend the four days fishing in remote locations off the coast on board red East Coast Angling searching for different varieties of fish.

East Coast Angling owner, Nick Milford, said it is a great opportunity to educate a large audience on the sustainable fishing practices their charter promotes.

“We are showing the rest of the world our diverse fishing and our well-managed fisheries,” Mr Milford said.

City Angler will return to shore on Saturday to film another cook-off out on the grass in front of the Marina, looking out over Dickson Inlet.

The episode will air in South Korea, Japan and across East Asia on 29 November.

https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/november/port-douglas-fishing-face-off-to-reach-20-million-viewers-in-south-korean-variety-show/

Great Barrier Reef Legacy, a Port Douglas based Reef research and education outfit, have been welcomed home in a new vessel and with a new funding partnership with Hemingway’s Brewery.

The Great Barrier Reef Legacy (GBRL) team arrived back at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina on Sunday after sailing their new research vessel back from Sydney.

Olympian David Forbes OA and family recently donated ‘Merlin’, a 51 foot McConaghy yacht, to GBRL to aid in their research, education, and community engagement expeditions.

Titled “Ocean Heroes” the most recent expedition was a tribute to David Forbes and others who have dedicated their lives to sharing the wonders of the ocean.

Upon arriving back in Port Douglas, the crew was treated to a party at Hemingway’s and the official launch of a funding partnership that will see GBRL receive 50 per cent of the profits of the sales of Hemingway’s 7th Heaven Tropical Ale.

Hemingway’s CEO Tony Fyfe said the brewery is excited to kick off the partnership.

“We are both local entities,” he said.

“GBRL is Port Douglas based and we opened our first brewery in Port Douglas three years ago so (Hemingway’s co-founder) Craig Parsell and I felt it was really important to give back to the community in some way.

“With the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep, we thought it was a really worthy cause to try and save the reef.”

Dr Dean Miller of GBRL said the funding partnership is a wonderful thing for GBRL and their upcoming expeditions.

“This partnership with Hemingway’s allows us to get out on the water as often as possible and means we can go further and for longer and do more work,” he said. Dr Miller also said while they had a great time aboard their new vessel, the three-week journey home wasn’t just about sailing.

“Part of it was learning how to sail and getting used to the boat; it was important to make sure GBRL was ready to take it on with good experience,” he said.

“On top of that, we were collecting scientific data; we were doing micro-plastic tows from Sydney Harbour to Port Douglas so we now have a transact of the east coast.

“We were also collecting citation data so we counted more than 600 humpback whales and more than seven different species of dolphin, we conducted in-water surveys at certain points; it was non-stop.”

GBRL’s next project is reef restoration at Low Isles where they aim to help repopulate coral reefs in the fragile ecosystem.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/september/gallery-gbrl-ocean-heroes-welcomed-home-to-hemingways/