The famous white whale Migaloo and other humpback whales have been spotted in the warm waters of the Coral Sea near Opal Reef.

Donna Thompson, Office Manager at Wavelength Reef Cruises, said the great white whale and his friends were spotted earlier this week.

“The humpback whales were first sighted travelling north between Low Isles and Tongue Reef on our way out to Opal Reef at around 9:30am on Wednesday 3 July,” she said.

“Humpback whales have unique markings, which means we are able to identify individuals that have been sighted before in other places, and only a very small number of white humpback whales have been known to migrate up the east coast.

“After the encounter, we sent all of our footage and photographs to a team of whale researchers, and they managed to get a positive ID. “The larger of the two whales was identified as the Great Barrier Reef’s most famous white whale, Migaloo.”

The humpback whales make the long journey to our warm tropical waters every year to breed and can be seen from the decks of many tour boats.

Marine Biologist, Peta Campbell, said it’s rare to see them in large groups but not unheard of.

“While humpback whales are usually quite solitary animals, it is common to see mothers and calves travelling together, and also to see small groups of adult whales forming short-term associations during migration, feeding and breeding times,” she said.

“The southern hemisphere population of humpback whales migrate annually from their feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds in warmer waters.

“Humpbacks can be seen on the Great Barrier Reef from May to September each year, but July and August are the best viewing months for Port Douglas. “Humpbacks can be seen on the Great Barrier Reef from May to September each year, but July and August are the best viewing months for Port Douglas.

“Their smaller cousins, the dwarf minke whales, are also sighted off Port Douglas each year during June and July. These curious whales will often approach snorkelers in the water.”

Ms Thompson said it’s always a great pleasure to see the majestic creatures in the wild.

“There is just something about whales that inspires awe in people,” she said.

“Having a chance encounter with a very large, completely wild and incredibly rare animal was definitely an exhilarating experience.”

She said there is no time like now to get out to the reef and see the humpback whales up close.

“While no one can guarantee sighting a wild animal like a whale, your best chance of spotting one off Port Douglas is to visit the outer reef,” she said.

“During peak whale season it is common for tour operators to see whales breaching, spouting, and slapping their fins on their way to and from the reef, with whales occasionally even being seen whilst moored at outer reef sites.”


Visitors and locals have the opportunity to experience three iconic Port Douglas attractions in one easy day.

Bally Hooley Rail Tours has launched a new Winter Special that gives patrons access to a river cruise, lunch at the marina and a ride on the historic train.

On a single ticket, patrons will board the Choo Choo Explorer custom catamaran at 10:45am for a leisurely cruise along Dickson’s Inlet starting at 11am.

See crocodiles in their natural habitat, learn about the history of the Port Douglas region, and take in the stunning tropical landscape.

Choo Choo Explorer skipper, Rod Sherlock, said the cruise and the train ride is a perfect combination to see some of the best parts of the area. “We aim to give people as much of an experience as we can while accounting for the low tides during the winter months,” he said.

“I think it’s great, I’m semi-retired so doing this gets me out and gives me the chance to meet lots of lovely people and give them a really cruisy day on the inlet.”

Upon disembarking from the boat at the award-winning Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, patrons will be treated to a free lunch at the gorgeous café Choo Choos at the Marina.

Including a free drink of choice, lunch will run from 12.30pm to 1.45pm, giving attendees a chance to stroll the marina, or pop up the road and see more of Port Douglas.

After lunch comes boarding the historic Bally Hooley train for a jaunt through the hidden parts of the town. The train has a few locomotives, but the Nelson is a restored steam engine originally built in the 1930s.

The tour then arrives at Choo Choos at St Crispins where patrons can overlook the lake and perfectly manicured grounds of the Mirage Country Club golf course.

It’s then back on the train to return to the marina where the tour concludes and amazing new memories are kept forever.

Bally Hooley Rail Tours is now operating five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday.

The Winter Special runs on select days and this week it will run from 26 to 30 June and as with all tours, it can be booked directly online where you can see the live availability for your preferred travel dates.


Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina will be a hive activity on Saturday morning when global children’s icon SpongeBob SquarePants will be at the Marina and the star on Channel 7s Sunrise morning show which will film live from Port Douglas.

The filming also coincides with World Ocean’s Day which is celebrated to remind you of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.

The purpose of the day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans. Andy Ridley from the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef will also be present on Saturday morning and is looking forwards to meeting the PDSS Reef Guardians, and all age groups are encouraged to attend and help kick off this great initiative.

Channel 7 will cross live for the weather and SpongeBob will be there from 7am and there will be five crossings to the Marina between 7am and 9.45am.

Sponge Bob Square Pants is a global children’s icon and this will be his first visit to the region.

SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg for Nickelodeon.

The series chronicles the adventures and endeavours of the title character and his various friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom.

The general manager of Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, Robert Cruz, said he was excited to host this collaborative event.

“It’s great to show the health of the reef, to host SpongeBob SquarePants, Channel 7 and everyone who attends this special occasion,” said Cruz. Details:
What: Catch SpongeBob SquarePants live on Channel 7 Sunrise at Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina.
When: Saturday 8 June between 7:00 – 9:45am to catch SpongeBob on his first visit to the Great Barrier Reef.
Where: On the Marina boardwalk near Lure Restaurant.
What to see: See Channel 7s Sunrise crew live at the Marina and celebrate World Ocean’s Day.
Kids’ fun: Kids can also join SpongeBob’s Reef Squad, Junior Citizens of the Reef.


  • What: Catch SpongeBob SquarePants live on Channel 7 Sunrise at Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina.
  • When: Saturday 8 June between 7:00 – 9:45am to catch SpongeBob on his first visit to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Where: On the Marina boardwalk near Lure Restaurant.
  • What to see: See Channel 7s Sunrise crew live at the Marina and celebrate World Ocean’s Day.
  • Kids’ fun: Kids can also join SpongeBob’s Reef Squad, Junior Citizens of the Reef.


SEAFOOD at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina will be nothing short of extravagant.

Fresh oysters, prawns and fish will be on offer as Port Douglas Carnivale celebrations continue with a Seafood Extravaganza “marina takeover” on Sunday.

Hemingway’s Brewery will join forces with Santiego Seafoods, Barbados, Lure and Preston Fresh Seafoods to reignite “the original” Carnivale Sunday seafood event.

Hemingway’s venue manager Chris Barber said the event will have a fun festival atmosphere, with lots to do.

“We have been able to bring back the original Seafood Extravaganza that is so loved by the locals to its former glory,” Mr Barber said. “Even if you don’t like seafood, there will be something for you here. It should be a good turn out, it’s a great event supporting local businesses. There will be plenty to keep the kids busy with Melville’s Petting Zoo and Hartley’s Reptile show, along with face painting, an ice-cream van and a fire engine. Non-stop live music, starting with Cairns acts Cam Kettle and Simon Harris, followed by The Lost Backpackers (Ireland) and The Lyrical (Brisbane).”

The extravaganza kicks off at the marina on Sunday at 12pm. Entry is free.


MAJOR players in the superyacht and tourism industry rubbed shoulders at an informative famil at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina on Tuesday.

The week-long event showcased everything Port Douglas and Cairns had to offer, as a premier superyacht destination.

Dr Dean Miller from Great Barrier Reef Legacy spoke of why Port Douglas was the perfect launching point to experience what the Great Barrier Reef had to offer.

“The outer Reef is in exceptionally good condition,” he said.

“With the correct guides you can have the most amazing experience.

“There are a lot of opportunities for the superyacht industry, including specialised charters with marine experts and have an adventure with a purpose.”

Points of international vesselsmaking their way to the Far North was a bid talking point.

Super Yacht Group GBR chairwoman Carrie Carter said promotion of the local superyacht charter industry was important.

“Since the… decision in August 2017 to overturn legislative barriers that prevented superyachts from cruising here, many new anchorages have opened up,” Ms Carter said.

Source: Cairns Post

A new brand of boat has docked at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina with the Sahana taking up residence in Port Douglas for the next eight months.

The luxurious vessel has made the journey from Sydney and the Gold Coast to offer clients a new and opulent way to enjoy the reef.

Sahana Skipper, Paul Busk, said he is excited to showcase the region from the decks of the superyacht. “I absolutely love it being in Port Douglas,” he said. “We mostly target short term charters and take people out to the reef.

Captain Busk has a long history of boating with his great grandfather, grandfather and father all making a living from fishing. He is also an ex-commercial fisherman, learning the ropes when he was just five years old and says the Sahana is a long way from where he began. “It’s definitely different but I love it and love being out on the ocean; it’s part of what I do,” he said.

The 36.5 metre Sahana boasts room for 70 guests on a day trip with room for eight to sleep on board. It had a major refurbishment in 2014 and the sleek minimalist design is more reminiscent of a penthouse apartment than a seafaring vessel.

The Sahana also caters for those who are not as comfortable on the water with state-of-the-art stabilisation technology. “She is a long-range boat and very comfortable,” Captain Busk said. “She is dual stabilised; so, we have big track fins underneath and gyros so she will stay stabilised and be comfortable even for guests who might not be used to the ocean.”

Captain Busk said every detail, from the yacht and the crew, is perfectly curated to give guests a memorable and flawless experience on board. “We’ve been in charter since 2015 and we’ve quickly worked our way to the top of the Australian market,” he said. “We have worked hard to be as professional we can be which is particularly good for international guests because they know they can get the same product here they can get overseas.”

The Sahana will be in Port Douglas for this season with a view to make winters up here a regular occurrence.



See for yourself – the Great Barrier Reef is alive and well

Coral, curiosity, culture and chartering form the underlying themes for the 2019 Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef familiarisation tour, an event which brings international delegates together each year to experience the best of Far North Queensland tourism and hospitality.

Scheduled for seven days in May, the famil will showcase Cairns and the region as a premier super yacht destination with such inclusions as staying on board luxurious vessels (Motor Yacht Spirit at the Cairns Marlin Marina and at sea on board Motor Yacht Sahana); visiting the indigenous cultural centre, Tjapukai; getting up close and personal with the Great Barrier Reef through guided snorkelling and diving tours with local marine biologists and scientists; touring the Port Douglas regions, Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, and in between, attending cocktail parties and being wined and dined at the pick of local eating establishments. A new partnership with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef will present new opportunities to this niche market to become a part of the important research and preservation of the reef for future generations. The trip will also offer us a unique occasion to work with Citizens piloting a major new Reef research project, utilising the vessels whilst they are on the Reef.

The famil then takes guests to Hamilton Island and Abell Point Marina for their final two days, to experience the magic of the Whitsundays. From luxury island resorts, to heli-flights over the iconic Heart Reef and island hopping onboard a superyacht, the delegates will immerse themselves in the charter potential of Whitsunday region of the Great Barrier Reef. Kate Purdie, general manager Abell Point Marina explains “We are delighted to once again partner with our colleagues in the north to showcase the diversity and range of experiences available to superyachts cruising the vast Great Barrier Reef region. Through this form of industry collaboration, we are able to provide our international delegates with a truly unique Australian experience.”

“We want to build on the growing reputation this event is gaining and ensure the right messages are getting out there – that our Reef is in good health and that there are many ways to get involved in the conservation and preservation of this incredible natural wonder,” SYGGBR Manager Joanne Drake said.

“We will be taking delegates to some of the beautiful outer reef coral displays, and importantly they will have access to leading marine specialists who will satisfy their curiosity about the future of the Reef.

“Another important aspect of the tour will be to increase the cultural awareness of our visitors and provide a taste of the unique indigenous experience we have to offer here.”

Promotion of the local super yacht charter industry and the ability for international (foreign flagged) vessels to home port in Cairns – which is a customs clearance port, will also feature heavily during the Famil.

“Since the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s decision in August 2017 to overturn legislative barriers that prevented superyachts from cruising here, many new anchorages have opened up,” SYGGBR Chairperson, Carrie Carter said.

“And Cairns is very close to nearby hotspot, PNG, where charter is allowed and becoming extremely popular. We are already experiencing a number of super yachts homeporting here right now.”

Delegates will be able to inspect some of the best yachts available for charter, see first-hand the excellent yachting infrastructure in both refit and new build facilities, and meet with local super yacht owners to gain further understanding of the benefits of chartering in the region.

“This year we have been approached by more and more local super yachts and sponsors wanting to come on board and be involved in this huge event which is gaining more and more international momentum every year with its global reach,” mentions Joanne Drake, Manager of the SYGGBR.

“The familiarisation tour is a really cooperative event, with so many people in the local tourism industry joining forces and working together to show off the unique aspects of our region both on land and at sea and making it a bucket-list essential for superyachts around the world.”

We appreciate the significant contributions from our sponsors:

Coral Sea Resort and Marina

  • BSE Cairns Slipways
  • C’est Bon Restaurant
  • Cairns Aquarium
  • Cairns Marlin Marina
  • Citizens of the Reef
  • Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina
  • Dive Addiction
  • Fraser Yachts
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine College
  • Hamilton Island – qualia Resort
  • ISP
  • Kuranda Rainforest Tours
  • Motor Yacht Bahama
  • Motor Yacht Dreamtime
  • Motor Yacht Sahana
  • Motor Yacht Spirit
  • Nautlius Aviation
  • Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
  • Sportsfisher Zulu

Joanne Drake
Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef
Ph: +61 458 794 001
Carrie Carter
Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef
Ph: +61 429 391 046

The Super Yacht Group Great Barrier is a non-profit, membership based consortium proactive internationally in promoting the GBR region as the perfect home port for superyachts. It attends major boat shows around the world, such as The Monaco Yacht Show, Ft Lauderdale Boat Show, The Singapore Yacht Show and Rendezvous in Tahiti and Fiji.  With the assistance of the Cairns Regional Council and Ports North the group also hosts numerous inbound familiarisation tours. 

Judging has been completed for the 2019/2020 Club Marine Marina of the Year Awards conducted every two years by the Marina Industries Association (MIA). MIA CEO Colin Bransgrove said there were entries from four countries reflecting particularly strong competition in the International Marina of the Year Award category; one of 10 categories in total. “All entrants are to be congratulated in taking the time to reflect on their business direction; their plans, actions and outcomes and to document this in a succinct manner for the judges consideration” he said.    

MIA first conducted these awards in 2002 and the participation and interest in the awards has grown steadily over this time. The following is the list of finalists who will each receive a finalist award certificate at the Awards Dinner.  

  • Commercial Marina under 140 Boats – Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, QLD; Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, QLD
  • Commercial Marina 140 Boats & Over – Abell Point Marina, QLD
  • Club of the Year – Southport Yacht Club, QLD; South of Perth Yacht Club, WA; Royal Motor Yacht Club, NSW
  • International Marina – Bay of Islands Marina, NZ; Sanya Serenity Marina, China; Westhaven Marina, NZ
  • Marina Restaurant – Southport Yacht Club, QLD
  • Environmental Initiative by a Marina – South of Perth Yacht Club, WA
  • Community Engagement by a Marina – Abell Point Marina, QLD
  • Innovation by a Marina – Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard, QLD
  • Boat Yard under 20 Boats – Fenwicks Marina, NSW; White Bay 6 Marine Park, NSW
  • Boat Yard 20 Boats & Over – Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, QLD; The Yard, QLD

The winners of each category will be announced at the Dinner and they will receive a trophy to be presented by MIA Chairman Andrew Chapman and a senior Club Marine representative.

As one of the judges for the Awards Club Marine CEO Simon McLean commented on the excellent level of participation “Club Marine are actively involved in the marine industry and as an insurer these Awards give us a good opportunity to understand issues that play an important part in encouraging and promoting good business practices and procedures as well as supporting the goals of the MIA.”

The black tie Club Marine Marina of the Year Awards Dinner will be held on the last night of the Marinas19 International Conference and Trade Exhibition on Tuesday 28 May. A limited number of dinner tickets are still available.

Pic: MIA Awards dinner 2017

Further information: Michelle Macready

Crystalbrook Collection, owners of the Port Douglas marina, have partnered with the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) to deliver a culturally-inspired and creative fashion performance.

Since its inaugural performance in 2013, CIAF’s fashion offering has evolved into one of the program’s most highly anticipated and well attended events.
Last year, the performance culminated in three sell-out shows at Tanks Arts Centre.

CIAF artistic director Janina Harding said this year’s fashion iteration would be no exception as the event prepares to commemorate its 10-year milestone.

The show takes its cue from the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages and in 2019, in particular, observing the ceremonial tradition of body adornment.

“Buwal-barra “Messenger” Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. is the title of this year’s performance curated a talented collective comprising Bernard Singleton, Simone Arnol and Hans Ahwang.

“From the outset, the spotlight has been focused on CIAF’s fashion showcase that is completely exceptional in the way it incorporates the rich cultural threads of music and storytelling that run deep and bind Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,” Ms Harding said.

“It is these powerful performative elements of two distinct cultures that provide an atmospheric framework to present designer collections created and curated into one dynamic show.”

CIAF’s general manager Vanessa Gillen said this year’s fashion partnership with Crystalbrook Collection will assist in positioning and profiling the event to a new audience.

“We are thrilled to welcome Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort on board as our fashion and accommodation partner providing the wings,” she said. “We need to fly in this our anniversary year and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship in the future.”


Port Douglas has always been famous for its clear dark skies brightened by the infinite glow of the stars.

But visitors have never been treated to a guided astronomy tour using military grade lasers while floating on the waters of the Coral Sea.

That is until now.

Pioneering Port Douglas businessman John Morris has teamed up with Blue Dive owner Mark Fraenkel to offer an unprecedented nighttime experience on board one of the most popular vessels in town.

Enter the Sunset and Stargazing Adventure Cruise by Blue Dive on the Choo Choo Explorer.

Using the finest in licensed green star spotting lasers, the second half of the cruise is dominated by the cosmic enchantment in the sky.

“We had a vision and wanted to offer something that’s never been seen before in Port Douglas,” Fraenkel said.

“The southern sky shines brightest in Australia, so for people to experience its magic on a guided stargazing expedition on water is very unique.

“It’s certainly an exciting collaboration between John Morris and Blue Dive Port Douglas.”

The tour, rubber-stamped by the Astronomical Society of Australia, also offers a rare opportunity to see the region’s exciting wildlife under the cover of darkness.

How? Using specifically designed, red-beamed, wildlife spotting torches, of course.

“We wanted to offer a tropical wildlife experience and give visitors a chance to spot a crocodile, or some of the vast array of nocturnal animals, at night,” Fraenkel said.

“A lot of thought has gone into making this one of the best experiences in the region using state-of-the-art equipment.”

After taking in the rainforest-clad Great Diving Range at sunset, the adventure makes its way up the mangrove-lined Dicksons Inlet where keen eyes begin to scan the waterways.

The tour then turns toward the sky where the history of the constellations are passed on by a trained guide, along with tales from Kuku Yalanji folklore.

“Our beautiful star-studded sky is like a time machine, there are just so many incredible stories to be told and that’s what this tour is all about,” Fraenkel adds.

“The moon’s light takes 1.3 seconds to get to us, and the sun, our nearest star, over eight minutes.

“So we point out some very distant stars that potentially have died hundreds and hundreds of years ago.”

The cruise, which runs for almost two hours, includes free nibbles and a paid bar. Trips run on Monday and Thursday at 5.30pm from the Port Douglas marina.


by Blue Dive on the Choo Choo Explorer

For more information and to book visit, email or call 0427 983 907.