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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Superyacht Australia CEO David Good also welcomed the news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Managing Director of Quicksilver, Tony Baker, has been recognised at the 2019 Tropical North Queensland Tourism Industry Excellence Awards.

Mr Baker was awarded Outstanding Contribution by an Individual at the awards last Friday night at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, for his work across the local tourism industry.

Mr Baker, who has been Managing Director of Quicksilver for 12 years, said the award came as a complete surprise.

“I sat there at the awards listening to the things that particular person had done and then realised they are talking about me and it was a shock,” he said. “I feel very humbled to be recognised, I’ve always been very proud to be a part of the tourism industry up here.”

Mr Baker is also Chair of the Australian Marine Park Tourism Operators, is a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Tourism Recreation Advisory Committee, was formally Chairman of Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree and was formally on the board of Tourism and Events Queensland.

“I’ve never done what I’ve done to be recognised, I just do what I do to make a difference,” Mr Baker said.

He added that he has been working on promoting the region both domestically and internationally for many years.

“I’ve been involved in the tourism industry for a long time. It’s a great industry here with fantastic people working and driving the industry and it is so resilient.”
“I’d like to thank whoever nominated me and I’d like to thank the people at Tourism Tropical North Queensland who decided to present me with the award,” he said.

The awards night celebrated the achievements and successes of the entire local tourism industry and Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chair Wendy Morris congratulated the winners.

“We have all faced challenges in the tourism industry in the past 12 months.”

“However, the people and products receiving awards this year have embraced these challenges with creative and innovative ideas that benefit not only their business, but also the destination,” Ms Morris said.

https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/october/quicksilver-tours-managing-director-awarded-for-excellence/

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We are both local entities,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port Douglas’ own Great Barrier Reef Legacy (GBRL) will be welcomed home by their major fundraising partner, Hemingway’s Brewery, this weekend.

The GBRL Ocean Heroes expedition will sail into Port Douglas on Sunday after making the journey from Sydney.

With Ocean Heroes Dr Dean Miller and John Rumney at the helm, the GBRL crew are set to arrive back in Port Douglas after a research laden sailing expedition aboard the newly donated research vessel, ‘Merlin’.

‘Merlin’ is a 51 ft McConaghy racing / cruising yacht that was gifted to GBRL by Australian sailing hero and Olympian, David Forbes OAM.

Hemingway’s Brewery CEO and founder, Tony Fyfe said his team is looking forward to welcoming the crew home.

The brewery will also use the occasion to formally announce their partnership that will help fund GBRL’s research and reef education. “A key element of our partnership is our fundraising agreement which offers a 50 per cent profit share from the sale of every can of 7th Heaven Tropical Ale,” Mr Fyfe said.

“We are really impressed by Great Barrier Reef Legacy’s amazing work and fully support their vision for ensuring the survival of coral reefs.

“We understand funding will benefit future marine expeditions, innovative science, research and education.”

According to Mr Fyfe, sales for 7th Heaven Tropical Ale, which is available throughout Australia, will directly benefit GBR Legacy encompassing a raft of projects from cutting edge reef research and restoration to community engagement.

In coordinating the Ocean Heroes expedition that will travel up Australia’s east coast to arrive at its new home in Port Douglas, Dr Miller said the donation of the new vessel and the funding from Hemingway’s will allow the organisation to become the most environmentally friendly, research education and media platform on the Reef. “With climate change the single biggest threat to coral reefs worldwide, it is time we all make changes now that allow us to transition to renewable energy sources, and harnessing the wind is such a simple and common-sense solution for how we operate,” Dr Miller said.

Mr Fyfe said that as part of their sponsorship, Merlin’s sail will feature Hemingway’s 7th Heaven branding in a profile building exercise that will dually benefit beer sales and GBRL.

“We are absolutely thrilled to take part in this worthwhile expedition and look forward to doing our bit to aid Reef research and education,” he said.

A special event marking the end of the journey and Hemingway’s partnership will be held on Sunday, 22 September with a gathering of VIP invited guests from 1.00pm to 3.00pm at the Port Douglas brewery, Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/september/a-cold-brew-to-support-valuable-reef-research-and-restoration/

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.”

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/july/video-migaloo-and-friends-visit-the-great-barrier-reef/

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.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/june/new-winter-special-showcasing-river-and-rail-experiences/

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.

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.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/june/spongebob-squarepants-live-at-the-marina-on-saturday-morning/