The final piece of the Bally Hooley puzzle fell into place yesterday with the arrival of Bundy to Choo Choos at the Marina.

Bundy joins Speedy and Nelson at the station and while there remains a small amount of restoration work to be done on Bundy, the trains are currently in position and where they will remain on display in perpetuity.

Bundy was commissioned by the Mossman Mill in 1952 and built in Bundaberg by Bundaberg Foundry.

Owner of Choo Choos and the person responsible for the restoration, John Morris, told Newsport that they’ve managed to preserve the history forever.

“This completes the display and they are in perfect condition. It’s fantastic that the public and visitors to the region will now be able to view this fascinating piece of history forever,” Mr Morris said.

“If anyone else has any memorabilia they’re wanting to display, please get in touch. We’d love to take a look,” he said.

Mr Morris also said that there are plans to bring another steam train and carriage that belongs to the Douglas Shire Historical Society to rest across the road opposite the marina.


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”


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.


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.


Newsport’s Jereme Lane took advantage of perfect long weekend weather conditions to explore Mackay Coral Cay with Sailaway.

I was recently invited to Mackay Coral Cay by Sailaway, to check out their full day reef tour (currently on special for locals at 2-for-1 pricing). I’d been looking for an excuse to take advantage of Port’s recent postcard-glamour days – and get out on the water.

I booked in for Saturday, hoping the forecasted flat-calm, crystal clear waters wouldn’t disappoint.

As we headed out of Dickson Inlet and turned north, everybody on board could sense how lucky we were to be off for a day of adventure. The conditions were nothing short of spectacular and everybody chatted excitedly as we sailed north on the 25m catamaran. By the time we reached Snapper Island, the ocean had turned the deep cobalt blue of seawater unblemished by rain, wind or swell.

There was clearly a solid local turnout for the day with many familiar faces onboard; both crew and passengers mingled effortlessly, like it was Friday afternoon at the beach. There were a few holidaymakers from the Gold Coast, who quickly became bonafide locals for the day, as they embraced the relaxed vibe.

Just as marine biologist Zach finished giving us the marine biology rundown, we cruised up to the magnificent Mackay Cay, one of only 300 sand islands in the 3800 reefs and islands that make up the Great Barrier Reef. It was a majestic sight, the bright white of the sandy island contrasting with varying shades of pristine ocean blues and turquoises. We weren’t the only ones indulging either: we were greeted by a mixed crowd of families and fishermen who had pulled up to the island in trailerboats, or anchored just off the cay in yachts, all enjoying a cracking day out on the water.

There was no time wasted once we moored up, with everyone jumping straight in for a snorkel. The conditions were sublime with 15-20 metres of visibility. The shallow coral beds and bommies made for an incredible up-close experience snorkeling at the surface. There were turtles, blue spot sting rays, the giant clams for which Mackay Cay is famous, and countless fish species – including some very large sweetlip, schools of barracuda and various types of emperor.

After everyone was finished snorkeling and exploring the sand cay, lunch was served. Zach had promised everyone a big lunch and he wasn’t lying! The buffet was a solid spread, with fresh seafood, deli meats and hearty salads.

It was then that a big decision had to be made… Whether to go snorkeling again or find a lounge and take a nap! Guests were dropping like flies as the call of the post-feast nap took over and placed many into a food coma. Against every instinct, I donned the snorkeling gear and slid into the water like an overfed sea lion.

I was very pleased I made the effort. The second dive location was also spectacular and rewarded those that did make the effort with some amazing fish-life. Location two had deeper water, for those wanting to dive down with titan triggerfish, infiltrate a school of barracuda, or observe a giant bull ray hoovering the seafloor for tasty morsels – while a school of spangled emperor trailed closeby, ready to snatch up any scraps the big ray missed.

The end of the second snorkeling session was celebrated with the opening of the bar and everyone raced over to Zach, Chad and Kelly for a cold drink. At the bar, I ran into Bryan Hedges (which is where you will usually find him), a Port Douglas local and lover of all things ocean. Bryan is a die-hard yachty who lives on his boat in Dickson Inlet. As such, I was curious why Bryan was out with Sailaway, when he could be out on his own boat.

“I’ve never been to Mackay before and it’s two for the price of one, so there’s no better time!” Bryan said.

“In all seriousness, it’s a great time to be supporting local businesses, everyone is doing it tough at the moment. Plus, I can have a couple of beers without worrying and I don’t need to clean the boat after, so it’s perfect!” he added.

Well said Bryan.

We cruised home with a gentle first northerly breeze of the season and enjoyed the lack of salt spray that the glassy conditions afforded. Everyone was relaxed, sipping beverages and sharing stories from above and below the surface. We arrived back at Crystalbrook Marina and, as Brian said, it was pleasant indeed to walk off without having to clean the boat (the part of the day every boatie dreads!).

As I reflected on the day, the old cliche that we often overlook what’s right in our backyard rang true: it had been almost a year since I’d ventured to the reef – and we often forget just how lucky we are to have the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep. It’s up to us to get out and experience it.

Thanks very much to the Captain, Ces, and the entire crew for a wonderful day out.

The locals special, 2-for-1, is available until 30 November 2021 for residents from Port Douglas, Cairns, Tablelands and surrounds, on all Sailaway tours. Call 4099 4200 or head to the Sailaway website to find out more.

The long weekend may be over, but it appears the perfect weather is here for the rest of the week – just in time to grab a deal and explore more of our beautiful backyard with Sailaway.


Welcome everyone to Newsport’s inaugural Fishing Report!

This is the first of many weekly fishing reports designed to give locals and visitors alike an insight into what’s biting in and around Port Douglas. With Port’s constant flow of tourists and a large contingent of die-hard fishing locals in the Shire, Port is a town with a rich fishing history. A lot of those people, locals and visitors alike, love fishing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s mothershipping in the Coral Sea on the fishing adventure of a lifetime or it’s a yearly trip to dangle a few pillies on the reef, Port Douglas is well-equipped to cater to every fisho.

It appears that we at Newsport weren’t the first to notice this either. Douglas Shire Council is making a concerted effort to push recreational fishing in the Shire and personally I think it’s fantastic. In recent years fishing has been shown to improve mental health and cognitive function as well as treat trauma and PTSD to name just a few benefits, not to mention the fact that it’s just bloody great fun. Anything that gets more people outdoors and fishing is a good thing in my book, especially kids. Congratulations must go to Council and especially Phil Laycock for launching the Fishing For the Future initiative. With public submissions for the draft action plan closing today we’re going to be hearing a lot more about this over the next couple of years as it shapes and defines the way we fish in Douglas Shire. If you haven’t had a look yet, it’s worth browsing through but for those of you who don’t want to read all that stuff, we’re going to catch up occasionally with Council to find out exactly what’s happening on that front. We’ll have more on this soon.

As most of us would know (and any game fisher right around the world), the big black marlin season is about to start in FNQ. Amanda Haines and the team at Zulu Gamefishing Charters have been flat out gearing up to move their operation offshore for the build up months. This is a crazy time of year for Zulu as they spend most of their time at sea chasing 1000lb blacks along the shelf between Cairns and Lizard Island. Amanda is going to keep us updated with reports from out wide (phone signal depending!) and let us know of any big girls they encounter over the next few months. Over to you Amanda…

Hi guys, we’re excited to deliver you offshore reports from our stable of sports-fishing vessels based here in Port Douglas. What better time to kick this off as we throw ropes and head into the giant black marlin season which runs from September into early December annually. Fishing off the shelf between Port Douglas and north along the Ribbon Reefs up to and around Lizard Island we’re primarily targeting black marlin, dogtooth tuna, yellowfin and other large pelagic species. I look forward to sharing our experiences with you as the season progresses but for the time being, tight lines!

While the Fish Report is still very much in its infancy, we have some big plans. With Amanda reporting from out wide and Jake from Exceed covering sportfishing we’ve got a good foundation. Eventually we’d like to add to that with some extra contributors as well. Maybe a barra specialist? What about a mackerel-whisperer? Perhaps a land-based guru??? If you’ve got any ideas – or you reckon you’ve got the local fishing on a string – drop me a line and let me know. For now though, it’s over to Jake. Hope you catch a few this week.

Sportfishing with Jake Wyatt 

Just wanted to start by saying a massive thanks to Jereme and the team from Newsport for coming up with this concept and putting together a great weekly fishing report. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Jake Wyatt and I am the Captain and owner of Exceed Sportfishing in Port Douglas.

Being a small personal operation and on the water every week, this gives me the perfect opportunity to speak with fellow operators and give you the up-to-date fishing news that’s been happening on the water. Now as I’m sure you’re all aware, the last couple of months has been absolutely out of control for wind, and with no end in sight for the next couple of weeks it looks like we will be contained to the estuary.

There was a brief break in the weather last week which enabled us to get out to the reef and with the spawning die to happen very soon, the fish were hungry. The coral trout were snapping their heads off and were of a great size also.

We also happened to come across a few species we don’t see too often, including the purple rock cod. These are prime eating fish with lovely white flakey flesh.

The coastal areas also produced some cracking trout in the shallows but it didn’t take long before the tax man arrived and when you’re in only 10 metres of water, it makes you upset!

When the wind kicked in later in the week we took our program back into the Estuary and let’s just say it was all action stations. Multiple mangrove jacks were smashing baits as well as some great queenfish off the surface. Another species we don’t see too often is the fingermark especially good sized ones and we managed to pull a few from some deeper holes. Just because it’s windy doesn’t mean there isn’t some great fish to be caught.

Now with school holidays in full swing, we have many days booked in and hopefully the fish will be hungry again. October is usually the start of the break in the wind so this blow can’t go on for too much longer (fingers crossed!). Over the next few months there will be some great fish to chase out on the reef and beyond.

As you read this article, giant black marlin will be cruising up and down the reef edges so as soon as the wind breaks the boats will be out chasing these magnificent beasts, and we will be one of them! There is nothing better to see on the water than when one of these big girls jumps right next to the boat. And then to see them released to swim away happily and ready to fight another day, it’s a great feeling.

Once again I just want to thank the Newsport team for making this happen, and hopefully down the track, with everyone’s support we can really get his report up and running and start promoting Port Douglas as a great fishing destination.

There is also a great team led by Phil Laycock which has done some amazing work in promoting Port as a sustainable fishing destination for years to come.

With these two new programs in place, I believe it can only push the Port Douglas fishing scene in the right direction and get the recognition we need as a sustainable fishing travel destination.

Til next time tight lines and may the weather gods be kind!


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.


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.


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.


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.