Tributes have begun pouring in for a respected Port Douglas fishing boat captain, described as “the kindest man you could meet on the water” after his tragic death at age 46.

TRIBUTES are pouring in for a respected Port Douglas fishing boat captain who lost his brave battle with a terminal illness.

Zulu Game Fishing skipper Casey Dent, 46, died on Friday at the Mossman Hospital after an almost two-year fight with kidney cancer.

The much-loved marine industry skipper was diagnosed with the illness after complaining of severe lower back pain and sciatica symptoms.

He was initially prescribed pain killers before a scan revealed the cancer had spread and was incurable.

His partner, Amanda Haines, has fought bravely by his side and has shared her torment through a series of heartbreaking social media posts.

“I already miss you so so so much. My heart is completely broken, my body feels as heavy as a rock and I don’t know how to do life without you,” she said in one post after his passing. “I just want to talk to you and get a sign that you’re out there somewhere and not in the pain that stopped your heart yesterday. “My pain is only just beginning.”

Friends and colleagues have also taken to social media to pay their respects to the “gentle soul” who would “literally give you the shirt off his back”.
A Zulu Game Fishing spokesman said Mr Dent’s skills, experience and knowledge were “simply irreplaceable”.

“He will forever be ingrained in every aspect of our operations,” one post said. The Cairns Professional Game Fishing Association said he was “the kindest man you could meet on the water”. “It is with deepest sadness and a heavy heart I share the news of the passing of Captain Casey Dent from the Zulu,” the post read. “A true gentle soul and the kindest man you could meet on the water.” “Condolences to Amanda and the Dent family who have been by Casey’s side this whole time.” “If anything this past few weeks prove that life is very fragile and short. RIP Casey.”

Ms Haines, who worked alongside Mr Dent on the Port Douglas-based fishing charter, told her followers she was starting to feel the “after” of a long and courageous fight.
“I would do anything to go back to ‘before’ but that would just be transferring the pain back to you babe Casey Dent – I’ll carry it for you now.”

Source: Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette https://bit.ly/3jO6xvr

Today the community is remembering a true hero and pioneer of Great Barrier Reef conservation, who has left a legacy that will live on forever.

Renowned conservationist, John Rumney passed away peacefully on the weekend aged 70, after suffering a stroke in early September.

Few names are as synonymous with reef protection as that of the Port Douglas-based conservationist who for more than three decades dedicated his life to safeguarding the reef.

John was awarded Australian Geographic’s Lifetime Conservation Award in 2019, in recognition of his life’s work and was named Douglas Shire’s citizen of the year in 2017.

Originally from the United States, and a nature lover, John came to Australia because he had to see the Great Barrier Reef. Once he arrived in Port Douglas he knew this was home. He and wife Linda built a boat and started a commercial fishing business and soon he became increasingly aware of the negative effects human activities were having on the fragile environment.

From there, John’s passion grew, and he founded the scientific research and dive vessel, Undersea Explorer, and Eye to Eye Marine Encounters research and eco-tourism operations, advancing research and understanding of the reef that resulted in greater protection and conservation.

Most recently, John founded the Great Barrier Reef Legacy in 2016 of which he described as the evolution of his life’s work, building on all his previous endeavours to create a foundation that brings together the best scientific minds, educators, and multimedia specialists to create positive and lasting outcomes for the environment.

In its first four years, GBR Legacy has raised over $1 million, ran five major reef expeditions, and supported research projects from major universities and government organisations, as well as educated our regions school students through their unique multi-media content like the Virtual Reality experiences many of us have enjoyed.

GBR Legacy co-founder and friend, Dr Dean Miller, said John was selfless beyond measure and “had the unique ability to fuel the fires in you that made you want to do great things.”

“John loved the natural world. Every little detail was fascinating beyond belief, and he inherently understood the processes that drive the systems we take for granted from local to global,” Dr Miller said.

“John started, was part of, or chaired countless committees, attended meetings at every level, lobbied our politicians, appeared in and coordinated countless documentaries, and most importantly was a leader and a trusted voice in all reef-related matters.”

Dr Miller said his mentor was a “pioneer in thought and actions”, creating the first ecotourism venture before the word had meaning, expertly mixing science, tourism and adventure to benefit the reef and the communities that rely on it.

“So today we celebrate a humble man who achieved larger than life goals – a loving family man, great colleague, inspiring mentor, and the most loyal and genuine friend anyone could hope for. An adventurer at heart, a conservationist by nature, and one of the worlds’ great leaders who valued those around him,” Dr Miller said.

Recently GBR Legacy launched the world’s first Living Coral Biobank Project, which will see hard-coral species stored and kept alive in a state of the art holding facility in Port Douglas in perpetuity to aid in all reef research, restoration and recovery projects.

John was extremely excited about this project that would help secure a better future for the reef’s survival and leave a true legacy for future generations.

Overall John’s work, 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 and ensure community resilience for his beloved Port Douglas and the Far Northern region.

John is survived by wife Linda, three daughters, Shannon, Jenna, and Nikki and his grandchildren, who all share his passion and love for the environment. 

There are no Barriers too Great to save our Reefs – GBR Legacy

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/september/vale-john-rumney-true-pioneer-and-champion-of-the-reef/?fbclid=IwAR2Qf7781lDqMaS00FVzn6-VgfYWkMddooAhRHjG8eXC_vkLTEV9izh4v28

A fruitful marina restaurant is luring foodies in with quality produce and exceptional service.

This year it has been anything but predictable on the culinary landscape with restaurants forced to chop and change how they do business.

However, amongst all this ambiguity Lure Restaurant at the Crystalbrook Marina remains a favourite for locals and visitors, by getting the basics right, still finding success during uncertain times opening for breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Owner, Kelly Caughey, said their family run restaurant continues to offer outstanding value for money and amazing coffee.

The successful aspects of Lure include a casual yet inviting environment, a menu stamped with personality, passion about coffee and using fresh locally forged ingredients.  

These factors are suiting our population right now as people seek more connection to the food they eat, more space to relax and tune out and more experience from dinning out.

It also doesn’t hurt when your restaurant is on the right side of the tracks with gorgeous rainforest and marina water views.

The secret sauce to Lure’s success is Kelly’s team. Many of them have been with her since she took over the marina hotspot six years ago – This is something refreshing in a place where high staff turnover runs rampant and a true testament to Kelly’s ability to cultivate a positive culture in the restaurant.

“Some of the team here are part of the furniture. I love them to bits and can’t thank them enough for all their efforts, they are my second family,” said Kelly.

Kelly has effectively blended creative artistry to her products while running an optimistic business which is vital to keeping a good team and being an employer of choice.  

There is a pride among the staff to cover all the details making Lure the kind of spot that is a blueprint for the perfect day date – Ideal for settling into panoramic mountain views, sipping something bubbly while rediscovering something incredible, the simple pleasures in life that make moments magic – much like their menu, it is a playful twist on classics.

“With cold beer on tap and the best views in Port Douglas, you know you’re in for a perfect afternoon,” said Kelly.

Easy dining for all dietary requirements such as vegan and celiac – seasonal produce takes centre stage, delivering a polished, evolving menu that reflects the best of the region and surrounds – think bugs, oysters, tiger prawns, barramundi, coral trout, calamari, whiting and scallops.

It may seem obvious, but the foundations of a thriving restaurant during these times need to be rock solid. The clear vision for your staff culture that is stirred you into action, a deep-rooted passion for service, an excellent understanding of value to your guests and fresh local produce.

Kelly and her team give a masterclass in these fundamentals. 

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/september/marina-restaurant-is-luring-in-the-foodies/

Local businesses are continuing to call on the public to ‘Do It In Douglas’ as part of the Buy Douglas: Build Douglas campaign, including the operators of the Lady Douglas River Cruise and the Shaolin Chinese Junk, who recently used their downtime to give a bit of love to the old ladies of Port Douglas.

In what is a family affair, Lady Douglas has been owned and operated by locals Kate and Lucas Agrums for the past six years, while Kate and brother, Flynn Bickford, have owned the Shaolin for the last year and a half.

Like many small businesses, the tours had to shut up shop during the height of COVID restrictions earlier this year with both boats out of action for 80 days.

There was no downtime for the small business operators, however, who got busy lovingly restoring the vessels’ unique charms.

“We actually haven’t had many days off at all, we have spent the time focussing on getting the boats sparkling and in their best shape,” Kate said.

It was all hands on deck, with the whole family joining in the refurb as well as lending a helping hand when the tours restarted.

“Our families all come and work during the school holidays, we get all of the kids helping out wherever possible. The kids love it and guests think it is fantastic to see a local family running their business firsthand,” said Kate.

Over the last couple of months, business has slowly been building back up and Kate said it has been a long road.

“There have been many hurdles to overcome, endless hours of reading ever-changing guidelines and many frustrating moments trying to decipher exactly what we are and aren’t allowed to do.

“Not to mention the many changes that we have had to make on both our boats and tours to keep in line with the COVID safe restrictions and regulations.

“And despite the circumstances we are always trying to growing our businesses and have introduced a new Shaolin Seafood Lunch Sail on market days, Wednesdays and Sundays,” she said.

The Lady Douglas River Cruise has been operating out of Port Douglas for over 30 years.

The 1.5-hour river cruise meanders along the unspoiled mangrove channels of Dickson’s Inlet, spotting estuarine crocodiles, sea eagles, Brahminy Kites, several varieties of crabs and much more local wildlife along the way.

The Shaolin is a 50-year-old traditional Chinese junk ship taking guests on a unique sunset sail, or for those looking to venture further, a snorkelling trip out to Low Isles.

As a small business owner, Kate believes locals supporting local business will be vital to helping the economy through this tough period.

“I think it is very important for our community to buy local and support our fellow local businesses.

“If we all spend our money locally, it will definitely have a domino effect and I believe what goes around should come around.”

Building on that community spirit, the boats are currently offering local discounted rates of $30 on Lady Douglas and $40 on the Shaolin for a limited time.

“This has proven very popular with our local’s, we have had loads of positive responses and great feedback, which is always nice to hear,” said Kate.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/august/two-douglas-icons-get-a-little-bit-of-love/

Choo Choos at the Marina has recently reopened its doors for the first time since March and is sporting a fresh new look.

Like many Douglas businesses Choo Choos was forced to close due to COVID restrictions and manager, Rebecca Stemp, said the team, who have been part of the Choo Choos family for many years, were extremely excited to finally get back to work.

“It’s been a really good start,” she said.

“We were probably one of the last places to reopen because we are on the marina, so when the boats weren’t running we didn’t get the foot traffic, so it was hard.”

Now with more visitors in town, Choo Choos is raring to go.

The Choo Choos team were certainly not twiddling their thumbs during the closure, using their downtime to give the place a freshen up.

“We have been repainting all the outside, we have re-varnished all the floors, and have just been getting everything looking fresh and nice again.”

Greenery is now a big feature of the café with plants donning the walls and bar along with beautiful hand drawn artworks.

However, Rebecca said one of the best parts about the café is the beautiful location overlooking the marina and the great atmosphere, which can be enjoyed from the sun deck under the large new weatherproof umbrellas.

“I think we are very lucky in that regard,” she said.

In reopening, Choo Choos also launched a new menu, sporting an all-day breakfast as well as lunch from 11:30am.

“We are also planning to add a dinner service in the near future,” Rebecca said.

And for the dog lovers out there, Choo Choos welcomes furry customers as well.

Choo Choos is open seven days from 7:00am to 2:00pm.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/august/choo-choos-reopens-with-fresh-new-look/

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.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/june/hemingways-opens-as-restrictions-ease-today/

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.

Source:https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/june/sailaway-sets-sail/

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.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/june/calypso-returns-to-the-outer-reef/

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.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2020/january/john-runmeys-35-year-quest-to-save-the-reef/

Beer lovers rejoice, the inaugural annual Port Douglas Craft Beer Festival is on Friday 27 December at 11.00am at Hemingway’s Brewery at the Crystalbrook Super Yacht Marina.

The festival is set to feature beers from Far North Queensland breweries and distilleries including Hemingway’s Brewery FNQ, Macalister Brewing Company, Coral Sea Brewing Co., Barrier Reef Brewing Co. and Wolf Lane Distillery.

There will be a range of beers from the different breweries on offer as well as Hemingway’s core range and six specially brewed beers for the day.

Hemingway’s Port Douglas Venue Manager, Chris Barber, said after the success of beer festivals at the Hemingway’s Cairns venue they decided it was Port Douglas’ time to shine. “We are going to have some funky new beers for people to try. We had a lot of new releases for the recent What The Funk? Festival in Cairns so there are a lot of new beers that people haven’t got to try up here yet,” he said.

“We have some Belgium barrel-aged beers, strawberry saison, hemp beer, sours, and a heap of other beers, so there will be something for everyone.”

Mr Barber said the festival is about showing off what Port Douglas has to offer.

“It’s a celebration of beer and Port Douglas is the perfect spot for it.

“There will be tourists here from down south so it’s a good opportunity to show that we can mix it with the best of them. “Our signature beer Pitchfork Bettys was rated number 34 on the GABS’ (Great Australasian Beer Spectapular) Hottest 100 Countdown last year.”

The GABS’ Hottest 100 Countdown is an annual ranking of the top craft beers in Australia and with this year’s voting currently underway, Hemingway’s is calling on Far Northerners to cast their vote for their favourite brew.

The winners will be announced on 25 January at Hemingway’s Brewery in Cairns.

As for Friday’s Port Douglas Craft Beer Festival, there will be live entertainment from local artist Cam Kettle from 2.00pm and the food truck, the Charcoal Chief, will have your food cravings covered.

Source: https://www.newsport.com.au/2019/december/craft-beer-the-flavour-for-inaugural-beer-festival/