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.