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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The iconic twin islands and reefs known as the Low Isles, located just out the front of Port Douglas, have been named in a global list of the best destination sustainability stories.

Low Isles, located 13km northeast of Port Douglas and part of the Great Barrier Reef marine park, was selected in the 2021 Top 100 Green Destinations Sustainability Stories in the Netherlands today.

Every year, the Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories competition collects sustainable tourism stories and good practices from destinations all over the world to be shared as inspiring examples to others, from tourism professionals to travellers.

The unique tropical islands – Woody and Low Island – are part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and are surrounded by coral reefs with over 150 different coral species.

Port Douglas Daintree was one of five Australian ECO destinations awarded a place in the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations last year.

Tourism Port Douglas Daintree Chief Executive Officer, Tara Bennett, said the top 100 listing was a credit to the practices of local businesses who take visitors to the islands.

“We have an amazing group of eco-certified operators who raise awareness and educate visitors about biodiversity, reef health and impacts of climate change on reef systems around the world,” she said.

“Living amongst the coral is an enormous variety of fish and other marine fauna, such as turtles, dugongs. Also, dolphins, sharks and whales are commonly seen near the islands.”

“We are facing really challenging times, so it is fantastic to see our sector’s resilience and hard work in the sustainability recognised on the world stage.”

By telling their stories, destination management organisations can be acknowledged and recognised for the solutions they have implemented in response to challenges and problems they have faced.

Submissions were evaluated by the Sustainable Top 100 Team, country experts and Green Destination Partners, coordinated by Green Destinations.

The Top 100 Committee stresses that selection to the Top 100 list does not mean the destination is sustainable, but that the destination has been pre-selected based on a minimum level of compliance with the core criteria of the Green Destinations Standard and selected to the list based on the assessment of their Good Practice Story.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said Low Isles was a standout for local sustainability.

“Many of our amazing community groups such as the Low Isles Preservation Society and Great Barrier Reef Legacy do some fantastic volunteer work out there,” he said.

“We also have plenty of locals who have joined citizen science programs, such as bird counting days and beach clean-ups.”

The competition is held under the auspices of the Top 100 Partnership, with special contributions by: Green Destinations, QualityCoast, Travelife, ITB Berlin, Asian Ecotourism Network, Ecotourism Australia, Global Ecotourism Network, Sustainable First and GLP Films.

The story, Low Isles the Seaside Paradise, and the whole 2021 Top 100 list is available on the Green Destinations website.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/october/low-isles-named-in-top-100-green-sustainability-destinations-list/

Known as Rob Parry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Port Douglas Race Week overall winners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hemingway’s Brewery has flown the flag for Far North Queensland’s craft beer industry by bagging gold at the 2021 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) in Melbourne on Thursday.

The AIBA is the largest annual beer competition in the world assessing both draught and packaged beer and attracts around 2,600 entries from more than 400 breweries in 26 countries.

Hemingway’s Brewery CEO Tony Fyfe said it’s great news for Hemingway’s and Far North Queensland’s industry.

“After what has been a difficult year, this is the type of news we want to shout from the rooftops,” he said.

“We entered eight beers in the AIBA competition, the largest beer awards in the world, and came away with eight medals including five gold, one silver and two bronze.

“Kudos and thanks go to our hard working and talented brew team who truly deserve this recognition. Craft brewing is an artisan process and one that requires great skill, patience and attention to detail. It is not something that anyone can do so we feel really lucky to have the best here,” Mr Fyfe said.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr congratulated the local business.

“It’s wonderful for a local business to get accolades for their product,” he said.

“Success in these areas only contribute to the wonderful offerings that Port Douglas has to offer.”

Hemingway’s AIBA awards as follows:

The Prospector Pilsner – Gold
7th Heaven Tropical Ale – Gold
Mr Wong Hefeweizen – Gold
Three Falls NEIPA – Gold
Coral Cay IPA – Gold
Bump Track Dark Lager – Silver
Pitchfork Betty Pale Ale – Bronze
Tunnel 10 Lager – Bronze

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2021/may/hemingways-claims-gold-in-international-beer-awards/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hemingway’s Brewery Port Douglas has recently unveiled a new brew with a locally inspired design featured on the can.

The new 5.2 per cent Sunny Daze Hazy Pale Ale is the first hazy ale to be made at the brewery since mid-2019.

And to make the brew even more special, Hemingway’s Port Douglas’ own Steph Ager, designed the can, telling Newsport she drew her inspiration from the Port Douglas sunsets.

“I’m super excited to be able to do this can design, and especially with flexible packaging now, it’s exciting we can do more like this,” Ms Ager said.

“Where we are in Port Douglas, we see this scene a lot, it’s amazing at sunset. This is one of my most favourite things about living here, and it is the inspiration for this can artwork.

“The beer is delicious, I’m really excited we brewed a hazy like this, I think it will sell well. It’s not overly heavy or overly light, it’s really easy drinking.”

Head brewer at Hemingway’s Nico Leffler said the is ale a nice light orange colour with notes of Honeydew melon, strawberry aroma, supported by sweet orange tones.

“It’s really full, soft, pillowy mouthfeel thanks to generous addition of oat’s, I’m really happy with it,” he said.

The beer even comes with a story written on the side of the can to set the scene.

The story reads; “400 million years in the making, the Daintree Rainforest covered mountain range sets the stage for spectacular views from Port Douglas. When the very essence of time becomes a little hazy, the only thing left to do is sit back and relax with brew bursting with fruit juice and packed with hoppy flavour.”

Hemingway’s Marketing lead, Alex Loughton, said the pandemic had forced the business to rethink how they package their products.

“We have moved to flexible packaging which still gives us a quality looking can and now we can make smaller quantities of any brew and use label stickers, it means we open up a whole new world of creativity,” he said.

“One of the exciting elements of the craft beer industry is the can art, and we are looking forward to more beers in our seasonal release series, as well as creating other series throughout the year ahead.”

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/december/hemingways-unveil-new-brew-with-a-local-design/

Two Douglas Shire tourism operators have been inducted into Ecotourism Australia’s Hall of Fame in a list of 10 of Australia’s leading nature-based tourism businesses.

The Daintree River Cruise Centre and Sailaway join 25 other ecotourism businesses in the Hall of Fame, and were recognised for being ECO certified for 20 years.

Ecotourism Australia CEO Rod Hillman acknowledged this year’s awardees as some of Australia’s leading operators in ecotourism.

“Their longevity and continued success, particularly in light of unprecedented industry challenges, is testament to their innovative spirits, continued commitment to sustainable business practices, and dedication to benefiting the communities and environments in which they operate,” he said.

In his response, Sailaway’s Owner/Operator Steve Edmondson said: “We are well positioned to lead recovery and ecotourism is the future of travel.

“We are very confident our core values will resonate even more with visitors and agents to enjoy the best of destination Australia and GBR.

“We welcome the collaboration with Eco Tourism Australia promoting this to the world.”

Sailaway sets high standards high for nature-based, snorkelling and sailing experiences on the Great Barrier Reef.

Its commitment to Eco Tourism is an opportunity to increase awareness and appreciation of the natural environment.

Sailaway specialises in snorkelling, with qualified marine biologists sharing their passion for the marine life with expert guiding and interpretation.

Sailaway is independently owned and operated by local Port Douglas couple Steve and Katrina Edmondson, who have over 30 years of experience in Marine Tourism.

Ecotourism Australia’s 2020 Hall of Fame entrants: 

  • Araucaria Ecotours (QLD)
  • Broken River Mountain Resort (QLD)
  • Capricorn Caves (QLD)
  • Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours (QLD)
  • Daintree River Cruise Centre (QLD)
  • Imagine Cruises – Port Stephens (NSW)
  • Kingfisher Cruises (VIC)
  • Moonshadow Cruises – TQC (NSW)
  • Sailaway (QLD)
  • Tread Lightly Eco Tours (NSW)

Ecotourism Australia (EA) is a not-for-profit, membership-based organisation inspiring environmentally sustainable and culturally responsible tourism.

Internationally recognised through the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, EA designs and delivers certification programs for tourism products and destinations, assuring travellers that these are backed by a strong commitment to sustainability and quality.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/november/two-shire-tourism-operators-in-ecotourisms-hall-of-fame/

As border reopenings appear imminent, Douglas businesses are preparing, so Newsport spoke to a few to see how they feel December (and beyond) might look like for them and the Shire.

Queensland has had its borders bolted shut for most of 2020, with Sydney and Victoria still locked out, and while this has had the positive effect of keeping Queensland virtually COVID-free, it has come at great economic cost.

But this looks set to change, and maybe as soon as December 1, bringing with it a potential influx of interstate travellers and a return to something more like normal for the Shire.

In part three of our businesses and border reopening series we talked the owners of Wavelength Reef Cruises.

With tourism being one of the Shire’s main economic drivers, the travel and tourism sector has been deeply affected by COVID-19,

And local tourism operators particularly have taken one of the biggest hits.

Jenny Edmondson, co-owner with husband John, of Wavelength Reef Cruises, has felt the impact hard, estimating that the year has yielded about 20% of the regular tourist intake.

And unfortunately for Wavelength, the push for locals to holiday locally, leading to some influx of local Queenslanders, has not overly changed things for Wavelength’s numbers because, as Jenny points out, “Queensland visitors can be quite ambivalent about the reef, having often already done a trip to experience it.”

So, it’s been a tough road for the business since the borders closed, and even more so given Wavelength accommodates a lot of Sydney-siders on its tours, while also having a research program it operates with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Even with the prospect of borders opening, while Jenny hopes interstaters will be “desperate for some adventure and flock here in droves,” she isn’t so sure due to the way southern media makes so much of wet weather and tropical lows, which “could nip the enthusiasm in the bud quickly.”

Wavelength is already going above and beyond what is needed to ensure its operations are COVID-safe, including enforcing social distancing, providing sanitiser, ensuring longer soak times for gear, cleaning any other items that customers or staff regularly come into contact with and changing the menu from a buffet to individually wrapped food.

Despite the grim times the business has had to navigate, Jenny is trying to stay positive, seeing a potential December border opening as the chance to bring a little hope to everyone who has been affected by the closures, even if the lack of an exact date is making it hard to forward plan.

She does, however, hold some fears for 2021.

“Besides the one-wheel wonder at Xmas the region usually experiences,” she notes, “it’s a long time till April when we are likely to see proper visitation again.”

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/november/open-borders-how-do-businesses-feel-part-three/

Concept designs for the world’s first Living Coral Biobank, a dedicated coral conservation facility proposed to be built in Port Douglas, have been revealed.

Great Barrier Reef Legacy’s $70 million Living Coral Biobank project aims to secure the long-term future and biodiversity of corals worldwide with the primary goal of the facility to store, keep alive and nurture over 800 species of the world’s hard corals which can be used to rehabilitate reefs in nature in the future.

With the look inspired by the ‘mushroom’ coral, the proposed building, dubbed a ‘living ark’, will be the only dedicated facility of its kind in the world and will be the base for the project which will also use public and home aquarium collectors to hold and maintain backup fragments all over the world, creating the largest collaborative preservation network of corals.

The facility’s innovative design and engineering – by Australian architects Contreras Earl Architecture, and engineering and sustainability consultants Arup and Werner Sobek – will make it a world leader in next-generation renewable energy design, creating optimal conditions for coral storage while minimising energy consumption and solar gain.

Dr Dean Miller, Living Coral Biobank Project Director and Managing Director of the Port Douglas based GBR Legacy said the project will begin collecting coral next week off the Far North Queensland coast, to be temporarily stored at Cairns Marine.

And if all goes to plan he said the Port Douglas facility is hoped to be built and housing coral by 2025.

“The Living Coral Biobank is the only project that can secure the living biodiversity of the world’s coral species immediately,” Dr Miller said.

“To ensure this priceless living collection is held in perpetuity for generations to come we need the world’s most advanced facility that also promises to use only renewable energy sources and function with optimum efficiency, while also creating an unforgettable visitor experience – and that’s exactly what this design delivers.”

While the corals will be the primary user of the building, the 6,830 sqm multi-function centre will also host exhibition areas, an auditorium and classrooms as well as advanced research and laboratory facilities over four levels.

The Living Coral Biobank would see visitors get up close to live specimens in aquarium displays, learn about coral ecosystems through exhibitions and events, and observe coral husbandry experts going about their daily work in a protected wet lab environment.

The facility will also have a unique 200-person function space.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said he was blown away by the new, modern design released for the Living Coral Biobank.

“This iconic design will be a recognisable structure which people will automatically relate back to Port Douglas,” he said.

“The unique architecture has the right feel for a globally significant and cutting-edge coral reef conservation facility to be based right here in Port Douglas.”

Mayor Kerr said he believes the proposed state-of-the-art centre will enhance Douglas Shire’s reputation as a leader in reef conservation through innovation and science. 

“With their drive and enthusiasm, the team at Great Barrier Reef Legacy are not only going to deliver a world-class preservation project, but give Port Douglas another special attraction for visitors to enjoy.

“Our community has a real opportunity to own this project while making a really positive difference to the environment and the future of the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

The project’s architects and engineers have integrated a holistic sustainable strategy to the design which includes reducing energy consumption by tactically dividing the building into six compatible climate zones over four levels, with adjacencies minimising energy resource use for climatic control. Aspiring to the biosystems of the coral reefs themselves, the building will aim to be self-sufficient and carbon neutral.

Architect Rafael Contreras said this project brings with it a profound responsibility to consider the impact of architecture and the construction industry on the natural world.

“The Living Coral Biobank is an opportunity to set a global benchmark for sustainable outcomes and zero-carbon goals as well as creating a world-leading conservation and education facility.

“The ambition for this project is to create a beacon for environmental awareness – a centre of hope, learning and wonder,” she said.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/october/designs-revealed-for-living-coral-biobank-in-port-douglas/