Businesses are rejoicing as stage three of Queensland’s roadmap to easing restrictions came into effect at midday today, including one of Port Douglas biggest venues, Hemingway’s Brewery, who will reopen its doors tonight.

Pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes will be afforded greater freedoms under stage three making it easier to operate with capacity limits risen.

The maximum number of patrons at any one time will now be determined by the four square metre rule, with divided areas no longer required.

For smaller venues below 200 square metres, businesses can have one person per two square metres up to 50 persons at a time.

For large venues such as Hemingway’s the previous capacity limits had made it difficult to open, but today’s easing, as well as the announcement that borders will reopen on 10 July, has prompted the brewery to throw open its doors.

Hemingway’s Marketing Manager, Kim Logan, said the team was extremely excited to welcome everyone back to the Port Douglas brewery.

“The easing of restrictions allows us to open for three days a week to gauge patronage,” she said.

“We truly hope that Port Douglas sees enough of an upsurge in visitors so we can once again return to something close to ‘business as usual.’ Only time will tell.”

The Port Douglas venue will be open Fridays and Saturdays 4:00pm to late and Sundays 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

And for those who loved the taste of Hemingway’s recent special FNQ Resilience Lager, which was sold in cans during the closure, you’re in luck, it will be available on tap.

“Finally, you can enjoy drinks on the marina again,” Ms Logan said.


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.


Sailaway Port Douglas has returned to the seas this week resuming tour operations to the reef, Low Isles, and sunset sailing.

After having to suspend tours in March due to COVID-19 restrictions, Owner Steve Edmondson said it’s a great feeling seeing customers walk aboard the catamaran again for the first time in 80 days.

“It’s fantastic, we had two separate private family charters to start with last week and from Saturday we began our scheduled trips,” he said.

“It was a good start in difficult times. We were delighted to see the immediate support from two family charters who were overseas tourists who had been stuck here due to COVID, and as soon as it was allowed, they wanted to get out on the water.”

Mr Edmondson said Sailaway was eager to welcome back customers and for locals looking to get out for a spin now is the time to do so with big specials and locals discounts on offer.

“Those who book a full day reef trip will also receive a complimentary Sunset Sail. That’s only $283 for a full day reef trip and a Sunset Sail. Valid to travel until 30 November 2020.”

The downtime hasn’t been a holiday for Sailaway however, with Mr Edmondson saying they have been active on the boat, training and preparing for the return.

“We have had complete training days to make sure we are all ready. It’s not just a re-start but a rethink. We are reinventing how we do everything with the right practices, total safety and adapting to suit current circumstances.”

They have adopted a number of COVID Safe measures including temperature checks before boarding.

“We also kindly ask that customers have the COVID Safe app loaded and enabled on their phones. We think that is a simple and positive way of contact tracing should the need arise. The good thing is we don’t have to change our space and tour numbers as we already comply because we offer a spacious luxury catamaran with small groups,” he said.

Sailaway has also been busy with its environmental initiatives including the Eco Shamba Tree Farm.

“We’re planting another 650 hardwood cabinet timber trees (Spotted Gum and African Mahogany) on Eco Shamba Tree Farm in June, supported by every passenger who travels on Sailaway, contributing to our Carbon Offset Program,” Mr Edmondson said.

They have also been working on the Coral Nurture Program, installing coral frames and out planting fragment corals at their sites to enhance the coral cover.

“This is a new approach for the Great Barrier Reef that is initiated by a partnership between tourism and science,” Mr Edmondson said. “A core objective of this program is to introduce coral planting into localised stewardship and adaptation. This is to help ensure sustainable reef ecotourism and promote education on the major threats to coral reefs and possible future solutions. This involves nursery frames with opportunity coral fragments, then out-planting corals with an innovative ‘coral clip’ in order to boost live resilient coral growth at reefs that have experienced a fall in cover and also helps ensure reef sites with existing high coral cover that are economically valuable stay healthy.”

Over recent month’s Mr Edmondson has been heavily advocating for the state border to reopen and said he is pleased to see 10 July put forward as a likely open date.

“There hasn’t been much uptake in bookings for July and August because of a lack of confidence in the timeline due to the government’s mixed messages.”

Mr Edmondson hopes now some consumer confidence may return allowing visitors to start booking flights, tours, and accommodation.


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.


Hemingway’s Brewery has today unveiled a new limited-edition resilience lager with a low price point to help out Far North locals who are doing it tough as part of Hemingways resilience initiative.

The FNQ Resilience Lager is a ‘sessionable’ mid-strength 3.5 per cent ABV lager described by the brewer and craft beer drinkers as a crisp, clean and refreshing drop.

Pre-orders for the FNQ brewery’s limited release of FNQ Resilience were offered to Hemingway’s local Hop Head members on 12 May resulting in a swift uptake of orders and prompt decision to ‘can’ its new lager as quickly as possible.

According to Hemingway’s Brewery CEO Tony Fyfe, it was a matter of minutes between sending the offer and orders beginning to roll in for the new mid-strength lager.

“We’ve been working on a mid-strength lager for some time, so it is great that with the launch of FNQ Resilience we can cater directly to our locals with a limited release priced for tough times,” Mr Fyfe said.

Hemingway’s Port Douglas venue manager, Chris Barber, said he expects the easy-drinking beer to sell out quickly.

“Everyone is doing it pretty hard up here in Far North Queensland, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a drink in their fridge,” he said.

“So, this is a way for us to give back, it’s purposely built for the price point, that’s why we only have the silver bullet cans and minimal labelling so that we can get it out to the punter cheaper.”

FNQ Resilience Lager is $40 for a 24 pack and is available for ‘drive in’ and takeaway on Wednesdays and Fridays from Hemingway’s Port Douglas Brewery from 4:00pm to 6:00pm or can be purchased online with Hemingway’s offering free delivery to the Port Douglas area.

It is also available to pick up at Hemingway’s Cairns Wharf venue every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 4:00pm and 6:00pm.


For more than 35 years Mr Rumney has been fighting to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef and late last year his hard work was recognised when he was presented Australian Geographic’s Lifetime Conservation Award.

As the founder of the non-for-profit reef research foundation, Great Barrier Reef Legacy, scientific research and dive vessel, Undersea Explorer, and Eye to Eye Marine Encounters research and tourism operations, Mr Rumney has become a true pioneer of eco-tourism in the region.

The US ex-pat, now popular Port Douglas character, told Newsport it was a huge honour to receive such an award.

“This is the most meaningful award that I can imagine, given by a distinguished institution that daily highlights and supports the fundamental beliefs of science for solutions and the sharing of wonders in nature,” he said. “I just really hope that this award opens more doors and creates more acceptability in different spheres so that we can keep moving forward and do more.”

Over the years Mr Rumney has sat on countless boards and committees that have led to improved awareness and action regarding reef preservation.

His endeavours and organisations have helped increase reef research as well as raise the standards surrounding fishing, tourism, and diving on the reef and has accelerated actions vital to the future survival of coral reefs around the world.

Mr Rumney’s interest in the reef began with commercial fishing, but after years diving, he became increasingly aware of the negative effects human activities were having on the fragile environment.

“Originally, I came to Port Douglas as a commercial fisherman, then tourism came, and perspectives changed.

“It’s gone from my personal quest for adventure to trying to save the reef so that our grandchildren can all have this experience, and we really need to work so this experience can exist in the future,” he said.

For Mr Rumney, climate change is the reefs biggest threat and he said we are now reaching crisis action point.

“Climate inaction is one of my biggest concerns. We are still putting pollutants and climate gases into the air and we haven’t begun to deal with the real problem yet so it’s really important that everyone steps up,” he said.

This is one of the reasons that Mr Rumney founded Great Barrier Reef legacy, to improve stewardship of the reef and facilitate research endeavours to address the urgent need to secure the long-term survival of the world’s corals.

Mr Runmey said Great Barrier Reef Legacy is an evolution of his life’s work, building on all his previous endeavours to create a foundation that brings together the best scientific minds, talented educators and communicators, and inventive multimedia specialists creating positive and lasting outcomes for our environment.

“Legacy is trying to get people engaged and create stewardship for the reefs of the world because they are all in jeopardy. I’m a believer that research equals awareness which equals better outcomes for all,” he said

Great Barrier Reef Legacy recently announced it will be creating the world’s first Living Coral Biobank Project which will see them safeguard the biodiversity of all hard-coral species by collecting, storing, and keeping them alive in a state of the art holding facility in Port Douglas.

In conjunction with other facilities around the world, samples of the coral stored and kept alive can be re-introduced into the ocean to replace those that die on the reef.

“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.

Mr Rumney added that he doesn’t aim to stop tourism or commercial fishing but rather find ways to make sure that these industries will have a healthy ocean for the future.

“We can still show tourists the wonders and let them know what is happening, we can have so many people a year leave the area as reef conservation ambassadors and we need to get on to that,” he said.

While there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding climate change at present, one thing is certain, Mr Rumney will always fight for the environment.


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.


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.


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.


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.