The ocean-front town of Port Douglas, resting on Queensland’s northern Pacific coastline, is a whole lot more than simply one more among the state’s many beach resort towns. It’s not easy to stand out in this regard when you’re located along perhaps the most phenomenal stretch of shoreline the planet has to offer–which is precisely the case with this part of Queensland’s coast, graced with the Great Barrier Reef offshore and mangroves and rainforests littering the shoreline itself–and as anyone that has visited Port Douglas knows full well, this place has got more to offer than any visitor could possibly imagine.
The town itself was established in 1877 after the discovery of gold floating down the nearby Hodgkinson River, provoking a spectacular boom in Port Douglas in the tradition of 19th century mining towns. The boom was short-lived, however, as rail expansion farther south rendered the town almost completely irrelevant to the regional map, pushing Port Douglas into a prolonged downturn. From an early high of more than 12,000 residents, by the beginning of the 1960s Port Douglas had shrunk to a population of hardly more than 100 that subsisted off of basic fishing activities.
That wasn’t a state of affairs to last for much longer, however, as investors began to descend on the quaint community–primarily motivated by the incomparable natural surrounds and the enourmous potential it had for refined development–in the beginning of the 1980s, driving it to become the swanky resort community it is known for being these days. As of the moment (2010), the population has surged up to more than 3,000 and actually achieves nearly double that figure in the peak tourist season during the summer months. Such dominant resort complexes as the Sheraton Mirage have solidified Port Douglas’ reputation to such a degree that simply can’t be undone, and the town now prominently figures on the regional and national map.
The principal activities to be enjoyed in Port Douglas are mainly focused on the pleasant waters and marvellous beaches, or perhaps the Daintree Rainforest situated not that many miles away (in fact, Port Douglas is neatly squeezed between two World Heritage listed sites: the recently mentioned rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, no more than a few miles offshore). During the daytime, most people can either be seen enjoying a little kitesurfing, riding a charter boat out to the reef for some snorkelling or scuba fun, or exploring the ins and outs of the rainforest. In the later hours, folks tend to congregate at the various clubs, bars or excellent dining establishments throughout the town that are the base of Port Douglas’ nightlife reputation.
Port Douglas puts on its best at the end of May each year for the Port Douglas Carnivale, a festival which brings in no less than 10,000 spectators on average to line the sidewalks to get a peek of the Macrossan Street Parade. Later on, in October, Port Douglas hosts another bout of fun with the Footprints Music Festival–celebrating the arts and the ecosystem with good music and a renowned beer festival. Both festivals are major Port Douglas highlights and showcase the unique, easygoing and laidback lifestyle characteristic of this community.
With regards to Port Douglas accommodation opportunities, visitors have got more options before them than they’ll know what to do with. Though many are on the more costly end, cheaper options are to be found and some private homes are put up for rent during the prime tourist season.