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.


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


One of Australia’s most renowned resorts, Byron at Byron, will join Crystalbrook Collection’s expanding family of personality-led, five-star hotels and resorts.

The luxury beachfront resort, frequently named in the top 10 best luxury resorts in Australia, is nestled in a 45-acre subtropical rainforest, just a short drive from the iconic town of Byron Bay in New South Wales. Featuring 92 stylish suites, an infinity pool, day spa, tennis court and one-hatted restaurant, Byron at Byron provides guests with all the creature comforts they desire in an idyllic Australian destination.

The acquisition of Byron at Byron brings Crystalbrook Collection’s portfolio to over 1,100 rooms in operation or under development across seven properties in New South Wales and Queensland.

Crystalbrook Collection owner, Ghassan Aboud says: “This is a momentous day for the Group. We are thrilled to be introducing Byron at Byron to Crystalbrook Collection, providing the opportunity of an outstanding leisure experience for our global customers. The acquisition of this fantastic asset signifies our continued quest for growth in Australia and the region.”

Byron at Byron will commence trading under Crystalbrook Collection later this year with further details to follow in the coming months.

The shared values of Crystalbrook Collection and Byron at Byron was an integral component in the decision to acquire the property.

Crystalbrook Collection Acting CEO and Group Director, Hotels, Geoff York says: “Byron at Byron fits seamlessly with our existing personality-driven hotels and resorts. Its environmental stance, connection to its exquisite location and local creativity, authentic style and passion for wellness is an excellent fit.”

Crystalbrook Collection’s stated investment plans are to the tune of $1 billion in Australia. The Group’s tourism and hospitality enterprises will now operate in Cairns, Sydney, Byron Bay, Newcastle, Port Douglas and Crystalbrook.

Byron Bay is an idyllic escape surrounded by spectacular beaches with crystal-clear waters, world-class restaurants, stunning nature walks and waterfalls, a free-spirited population and soaked in year-round sunshine.

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.