Port Douglas based tour operator, Sailaway has won a major award at the state’s tourism awards on Friday night and took the bronze prize in another prestigious category.

The luxury sailing and snorkelling tour operator won Gold in the Tour & Transport Operators category, which represents a major coup for Far North operators in the statewide awards.

Sailaway owner Steve Edmondson told Newsport despite it being a tough year they always try to stay positive.

“We’ve been through a lot of difficult times but we have a great team and we just try our best everyday and we’re delighted to come out with this award, it means a lot to us.

Edmondson also stressed that there are blue skies ahead and there’s plenty to look forward to in 2022.

“The day before the Queensland Tourism Awards in Brisbane there were 850 people for Destination Q Conference at the convention centre. It was a breath of fresh air to have so many people from the industry together and looking forward to bigger and better things next year,” Edmondson said.

Sailaway also took Bronze in a separate category, the Steve Irwin Award for Eco-tourism, a prestigious category that was won by Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort.

We care about two things greatly, people and the environment, and we’ve been able to confirm it with this award and we’re so delighted and humbled. We have a hugely privileged opportunity as the tourism industry to lift the sustainability game.

Moving forward Edmondson also told Newsport that Sailaway is actively recruiting again despite having retained the core of his staff over the last few tough months.

“We’ve managed to keep our staff, who will all be fully vaccinated by 17th December, and we’re going to get busier again so looking for more skilled and experienced crew to join our winning team”

“Now that everything is opening, it’s up to us to do our part by getting vaccinated to protect the community. We’ve been very lucky to have avoided the worst of it up until now but it’s our chance to show our appreciation and a big welcome to the rest of Australia by being ready for travellers to come and visit our beautiful region with confidence”

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/november/sailaway-takes-major-honour-at-queensland-tourism-awards/

Non-profit organisation Great Barrier Reef Legacy (GBR Legacy) is giving one lucky individual the chance to win The Ultimate Tropical Holiday Package for Two.

The winner receives vouchers valued at over $7000 to enable them to create their very own bucket list holiday, complete with reef and rainforest tours, the best dining and beverage options, flights, car rental and accommodation, and unique and exciting experiences such as helicopter tours and aboriginal cultural adventures.

Through ticket sales from the raffle, GBR Legacy will raise the profile of reef friendly businesses and generate funds for The Living Coral Biobank Project said Dr Dean Miller, Managing Director of GBR Legacy.

“Reef Positive: Port Douglas & Daintree is a perfect combination of two simple ideas. The first being local businesses approaching us wanting to do their bit to help the Great Barrier Reef, and the second being a want for tourists to have adventures with purpose,” Dr Miller said.

“We have handpicked the highest quality tourism experiences that best showcase what the region has to offer, whilst also having a strong environmental and sustainability focus. Imagine everything you ever wanted to do in Port Douglas and Daintree – that’s what the Reef Positive, Ultimate Tropical Holiday Package is. A jam packed 6 days you will never forget. And the best part is, it helps our amazing Great Barrier Reef.”

All money raised will be used to support the world’s first Living Coral Biobank, a project spearheaded by GBR Legacy that is preserving the biodiversity of Great Barrier Reef corals in a coral ark with the ‘godfather of coral’ Dr Charlie Veron.

“These funds will allow us to continue our collection of all 400 species of corals found on the Great Barrier Reef, keeping them alive in land-based facilities for their ultimate conservation, as well as aid in reef research and restoration efforts,” continued Dean.

“Tourism Port Douglas & Daintree is delighted to get behind this proactive initiative,” said Tara Bennett, CEO for Tourism Port Douglas & Daintree.

“The concept of Reef Positive sets the tone of leaving the planet in a better way, the best way to be rethinking our impact and footprint. I applaud GBR Legacy for linking holidays with conservation. An exciting future for travel in our region.”

Reef Positive: Port Douglas & Daintree is the first of a series of ultimate holiday giveaways that feature some of the most environmentally friendly experience options for destinations along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

For more information, including ticketing, important dates and terms and conditions, visit the website.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/october/win-the-ultimate-tropical-holiday-while-helping-the-reef/

Who doesn’t love ramen and a nice cold pint? That’s exactly what they thought at Hemingway’s Port Douglas. Their first Ramen Night took place last week and will be returning every Friday.

Being a slower time of the year for the hospitality industry in Port Douglas, venue manager Chris Barber liked to jump outside of the box to come up with something different.

“We asked our staff for some interesting ideas. Not only to boost revenue but also to keep our customers engaged throughout these uncertain times,” he said.

“One of our chefs, Milko van Oerle, has a background in Ramen so we thought why not have a Ramen night here at Hemingway’s.”

According to Mr van Oerle a hot broth bowl with ramen and beer on the side is the perfect combination for this weather. “Especially with a lighter beer like our pale ale or tropical ale”, he said.

Mr van Oerle began his culinary career in the Netherlands with a qualification as Chef in French Cuisine and working as Head Chef before starting his travels.

“Over the last five years I have been travelling around Australia, Asia and New Zealand,” he said. “I developed a strong affinity with the Asian kitchen and the creation of distinctive flavours and cooking techniques, specifically within the Japanese cuisine.”

He expanded his knowledge of Japanese cuisine while working at a ramen shop in New Zealand and experimented with combining French cooking techniques into Japanese dishes.

“When I came back to Australia I really missed the Asian cooking. That’s why I am excited to combine the craft beers from Hemingway’s with the distinct flavours of Japanese ramen.

Hemingway’s offers two delicious options; Pork and Vegetarian – which can also be prepared vegan.

Newsport’s Jamie Jansen tried out the vegan option and was happily surprised. The bowl consisted of a mix of appetizing Enoki mushrooms, edamame beans, corn and deep fried sweet potato.

Mr van Oerle was happy with how the first ramen night went. “The turnout was great and the responses were amazing. “If the numbers pump up we might do a night with just a ramen menu.

“In the future I would also like to mix French cuisine with Japanese cuisine. We will also expand the ramen options with seafood, beef or even duck.”

If this sounds appetizing to you, Hemingway’s Port Douglas serves up their ramen bowls for $18. There is a limited supply every Friday night so it’s first in best dressed. More info can be found on the Hemingway’s website.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/october/ramen-and-beer-at-hemingways-the-perfect-combination/

The Bally Hooley steam trains made their final run under steam today going from the Port Douglas Yacht Club to their new and final home at Bally Hooley Marina Station, Crystalbrook Marina.

The two engines, Nelson and Speedy, as well as their respective carriages have been gloriously restored and will live permanently at the station where diners can marvel at their illustrious history.

After eight months of planning and meticulous restoration, and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, the day arrived to share the restored trains with the greater community.

The festivities were attended by former train drivers, the Mossman Sugar Mill former manager, the local artisans who designed and implemented the restoration, dignitaries and members of the community.

The Bally Hooley train restoration project has been funded by the John Morris family with the train carriages undergoing a transformation to become dining carriages at their Port Douglas restaurant, Choo Choo’s at the Marina.

“We can now see them stay here forever and what a special place for them to stay forever,” John Morris said.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr thanked the Morris family for their hard work and contribution to the community while also acknowledging that it was a sad day for some.

“I think everyone will admit it’s a bittersweet day, we’re losing one iconic tourism asset but we’re gaining another one with this monument,” Mayor Kerr said.

Mayor Kerr also expressed regret that council couldn’t take on the project themselves.

“Council looked at it as well but unfortunately we couldn’t fit it in to our due diligence process to be able to do it but this is the next best thing,” he said.

Back in their day, the Nelson and Speedy steam engines transported passengers and cargo from the sugarcane mills and represent a colourful saga of Far North Queensland’s history.

Now repurposed for their next tour of duty, the Bally Hooley trains will become a significant part of a thriving community reflecting on its history as it moves proactively to the future.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/september/bally-hooley-trains-undergo-final-voyage/

The much-loved Bally Hooley steam trains that have been a part of the Douglas Shire since 1897 are taking on a new life that will share the remarkable part they have played in the region’s history with a new generation of locals and visitors. They are about to become a very trendy – yet traditional – dining experience at the Marina Station.

Purchased from Mossman Mill in 2002, the John Morris family have owned and maintained the trains, as well as the tracks with a core team including a dedicated group of volunteers allowing it to operate over many years in Port Douglas between the Marina and St Crispins.

At 93, John Morris has been keen to ensure that these historic trains remain forever within the shire, and over the last couple of years, has sought in vain to find a committed group to continue its operation. Approaches were made to several organisations, including the Douglas Community Sports Club and the Douglas Shire Council, but none were able to commit to the long-term future of the trains.

Unable to operate over the last 18 months due to Covid, the trains have been stored and maintained at the depot. During this time a new vision emerged, one that would ensure they remain in the Douglas Shire in the future. With the help of designer Sofia Goncalves, plus artisan carpenters and builders Peter and Frank Goncalves, the trains have been quietly undergoing a transformation that reflects both their history and creates a whole new way to take a step back in time. Some of the earliest photographs of the trains in action will be on display, dating back before 1900. Over the coming months the tracks will be removed by Mossman mill and put to use in the cane carting operation.

Timeline of the Trains

The trains’ history is woven throughout the Douglas Shire. Originally, Port was established in 1877 to service the booming goldfields and growing agriculture with access over the Bump Track. The thriving township with 27 hotels and a population of 12,000 was the regional centre until a rail route from Cairns to Kuranda was established to service the goldfields.

Luckily, sugar boomed at the same time and with it, Mossman Mill was established in 1897 with cane trains being used to transport from the mill to the lighters (a type of barge), originally on the Mossman River and then in 1900 to Port Douglas for transport to Cairns.

With poor or non-existent roads, this network of ‘two-foot’ rail gauge also became the way people moved about, with the ‘tramway’ extending from Mowbray Valley to North Mossman. In the year of 1900, 23,000 passengers were carried. 35 years later, the last passenger was carried on Christmas Eve.

Sugar remained key but from 1958, it was transported by road direct to Cairns and the population of Port dwindled then down to as low as 100 in 1960. Over the next 20 years, Port was rediscovered by an eclectic mix of artists, entrepreneurs and adventurers, and by the 1980s it became the place to holiday for everyone from celebrities and movie stars to US presidents.

Recent history

Tourism took off and in 1987 Mossman Mill re-laid tracks and put in place a passenger service from Port to the mill so that visitors could tour a working sugar mill. Over the years the trip was reduced back to just the 4km Port Douglas component, eventually only running on Sundays supported by a team of enthusiastic staff and volunteers.

In 2002, with the mill in some financial difficulty, the Bally Hooley was bought by John Morris. Over the last 20 years, the mill’s original steam trains, Speedy and Bundy, have operated several days a week in the season, or just Sundays in quiet periods, enthralling kids and ‘kids at heart’ as it rollicked back and forth past Mirage Country Club between St Crispins and the Marina.

By late September, steam engines Speedy and Nelson will have completed their transformation allowing for everyone to be able to access and experience the operating controls in a safe way. Along with totally refurbished carriages, they will be relocated to their new home at the Marina Station, surrounded by newly created native tropical gardens. With lead lighting windows, iron ware, tables and seating that will reflect a bygone era, the Douglas Shire will provide an entirely new historical dining experience.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/august/a-new-life-for-the-bally-hooley-trains/

Sustainable fishing practices are gaining more momentum in the Douglas Shire with another Fishing For the Future event scheduled.

The next instalment calls for charter fishers in the Douglas Shire to come together for a workshop at the Port Douglas Community Hall on Wednesday 25 August.

The workshop aims to bring the various fishing charter operators and stakeholders together to discuss sustainable fishing practices including stewardship for the local fishery and environment.

Discussion will centre around future fisheries management and encourage the development of a professional charter fishers association.

The workshop will be facilitated by Marine Biologist, and Fishing For the Future front-man, Phil Laycock.

“We have a great range of fishing charter opportunities in the Douglas shire for everyone from the occasional family fisher to those ultra-keen experienced fishers looking for that dream experience,” Laycock said.

“More and more people are thinking about sustainability and the future of a fishery when choosing where and who they fish with. With the support of the Douglas Shire Council and the Local Marine Advisory Committee, our local charter fishing industry has the opportunity to stand out and champion their sustainability credentials.

“Every charter operator should see this opportunity to come together and workshop a Douglas Shire Charter fishers code of conduct and environmental stewardship message to make a statement that says charter operators in the Douglas shire are both professional and sustainable, caring for their clients and the future of fishing in the region.

Fishing for the Future Charter Fishers Workshop:

Wednesday 25 August
Port Douglas Community Hall
6.30 – 8:00pm (arrive 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start)

The workshop is one of the initiatives of a $15,000 grant to promote sustainable fishing practices in the Douglas Shire.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/august/sustainable-fishing-in-the-spotlight-for-port-douglas-charter-industry/

Known as Rob Parry.

Passed away suddenly on 11 June 2021 at 11am at Crystalbrook Marina, Port Douglas, aged 47 Years.

Much loved husband, adoring father and son, son in law, brother in law, uncle, and friend who will be sorely missed by so many near and far.

Family and friends are warmly invited to attend a memorial service to celebrate Rob’s wondrous life on Sunday 27 June 2021 commencing at 3:00pm to 5:30pm at Rex Smeal Park, Port Douglas.

A private cremation will take place early next week for family.

It was a wild ride for the sailors who took part in the 2021 Port Douglas race week as roaring winds supercharged the sails of the boats at the annual regatta.

25 boats over three divisions entered the weeklong event that saw winds up to 30 knots testing crews and boats to the limit, but the seadogs loved the challenge.

Secretary for the Port Douglas Yacht Club, Robyn Shelly said “it was a highly successful event, we are very pleased with how it went despite some very strong winds.

“It was a tough race for everybody, the conditions were demanding for all the sailors but they enjoyed the challenge.

“We had a lot of fun there were a lot of tired and very happy sailors at the end of the regatta,” said Ms Shelly.

2021 Port Douglas Race Week overall winners:

• Division one: Charm Offensive – Skippered by James Permezel
• Division two: Falcon – skippered by Russell Kingston
• Division Three: Jasmin – skippered by Julian Summers

Relentlessly ploughing through the extremely difficult conditions, not all boats came out of the dramatic sail unscathed. One boat had to retire with a broken rudder, and another suffered a serious knockdown that had the other boats in the fleet holding their collective breath. Fortunately, both boat and crew are said to be in good shape.

The sailing community was eager to make waves at this year’s event after COVID put the handbrake on the 2020 Port Douglas Race Week, making this year’s event a fantastic opportunity for skippers and crews to get out on the water for social racing and post-race celebrations.

Ms Shelly said within minutes of entries opening we had people signing up.

“This is the first regatta in this part of the world this year since the COVID shut down, Port Douglas is usually the first cab off the rank when it comes to regattas in North Queensland.

“People were very keen to get back out on the water,” Ms Shelly said.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/may/supercharged-winds-amped-port-douglas-race-week/

On a voyage to save our seas, local superyacht M/Y Beluga has been bestowed ‘Yacht of the Year’ in Boat International’s Ocean Awards for 2021.

Awarded recently in Sydney, the coveted accolade in its first year, acknowledges the boat’s owners and crews’ efforts to survey and protect the marine ecosystem as part of the Great Reef Census.

Beluga was entered by charter management company, Ocean Alliance and the submission highlighted the owner’s commitment to ocean conservation and pioneering the way forward for the superyacht industry, embodied by Ocean Alliance as ‘Yachting for Purpose’.

The superyacht was used by Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’s scientists who completed necessary surveys, testing of new equipment, and piloted research and development which supported the inaugural Great Reef Census to become a pioneering and scalable approach to assessing reef health.

Ocean Alliance’s Managing Director, Joachim Howard said this award represents a clear example of how owners and charter guests can participate in the monitoring and preservation of the marine environments they are experiencing.

“Ocean Alliance partnered with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, several years ago with a combined interest to connect the superyacht industry with citizen science initiatives such as the Great Reef Census.

“When in 2020 a vessel was required to assist with testing new technology ahead of the first census, it was only natural for us to approach Beluga as the owners are actively involved in ocean conservation.

“We would like to congratulate Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and the owners and crew of Beluga for their leadership in marine conservation and their positive contribution to the very region in which they charter,” said Mr Howard.

Beluga Captain Peter Lacey said he was happy to get involved with the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef because they have a good chance of collecting enough tangible evidence to give us a reasonable picture of the current conditions of the reef.

“I personally don’t see any damage that’s noteworthy during my voyages, of course the reef is so vast and constantly changing so to date no one individual or entity is capable of covering it entirely.

“Based on that, I view with some scepticism the blanket reports of the Great Barrier Reef being in danger and I fully support the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef efforts and thank the owners of Beluga for gifting the use of the vessel to assist.

“I hope other vessel owners and crew will be encouraged to participate, it really is quite an easy process and adds another interesting conversation piece to our charters,” said Mr Lacey.

Beluga’s passion and willingness to support marine conservation extends beyond Australian waters to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands to include supporting a turtle sanctuary in the Conflict Islands, Take 3 for the Sea, and supporting the production of conservation documentary, ‘Blue’. These are not activities removed from their charter season yet integrated into the guests’ experience whilst on charter.

“Our charter guests are looking for yachting experiences with deeper meaning and Beluga is the leader in this field.

“Involvement in the Great Reef Census is easily incorporated into an itinerary and we would encourage charter guests, crew, and owners, to participate,” offered Mr Howard.

Beluga is a 34.7M custom-built Moonen explorer-style motor yacht built in 2006 and last refitted in 2011. She was built as a go-anywhere yacht with a robust elegant style.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/may/port-douglas-based-beluga-crowned-yacht-of-the-year/

MARINE biologist Phil Laycock believes Douglas Shire has some of the most diverse and special fishing experiences in remote Australia.

Phil is hosting the Fishing for the Future community workshop at the Port Douglas Community Hall next week.

With the annual barramundi season now on, the life-long Far Northerner reckons with a bit of patience and some smart techniques, fishers should be able to find a Barra or two in the creeks and rivers of Douglas Shire.

He also particularly likes chasing trevallies and finger-mark along the inshore reefs and sandflats between Yule Point and Newell Beach.

Fishing for the Future will be held at 5PM on Wednesday February 17, bringing local fishers together to discuss the importance of healthy fish stocks and local actions.

The workshop marks the first initiative in the $15,000 grant received through the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to promote sustainable fishing practices.

The initiative is a project driven by the Douglas Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC) and Douglas Shire Council.

Douglas LMAC covers an area from the Bloomfield River in the north to Buchan Point in the south and includes the towns of Daintree Village, Mossman and Port Douglas together with Wangetti and Ellis beaches.

“I have worked as a fishing guide in the Northern Territory and been on deck chasing Black Marlins, but my best fishing experiences have been in the Douglas Shire,” Phil said.

“I think it’s the diversity of fishing experiences that makes it one of the best places I have fished in Australia – it is quite special, but it could be even better.”

“If the community can work together towards a common interest of a sustainable fishing future, fishers, business, industry and the environment all stand to benefit from the improved fishing experiences this can create.”

Council’s Sustainability Officer Ada Pasanen said Phil brought extensive experience to the Fishing for Future workshop.

“We want to encourage locals and tourists to fish and boat sustainably to help our fish populations,” she said.

“Our work will also help protect local marine animals by addressing threats to the reef while supporting the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan and Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy.”

The Fishing for the Future workshop will also be available via Online access.


Wednesday 17 February 2021


Port Douglas Community Hall, Cnr. Mowbray and Muldo Streets, Port Douglas, or via online access.

Registration Essential

For event enquiries contact environment@douglas.qld.gov.au

Source: https://douglas.qld.gov.au/fishing-for-the-future-in-douglas-shire/