Port Douglas is a town in Far North Queensland, Australia, approximately 70 km (40 mi) north of Cairns. Its permanent population was 3,205 at the time of the 2011 census.[2] The town's population can often double, however, with the influx of tourists during the peak tourism season May–September. The town is named in honour of former Premier of Queensland, John Douglas. Port Douglas developed quickly based on the mining industry. Other parts of the area were established with timber cutting occurring in the area surrounding the Daintree River and with settlement starting to occur on lots around the Mossman River by 1880.

Previous names for the town included Terrigal, Island Point, Port Owen and Salisbury. The town is situated adjacent to two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.

Port Douglas was No. 3 on Australian Traveller magazine's list of 100 Best Towns In Australia.[3]


The town is within the Federal electorate of Leichhardt, and within the State electorate of Cook. At local level, It is within the local government area of Shire of Douglas (between 2008 and 2013, it was within the Cairns Region).


Port Douglas War Memorial, 2006
Beach in Port Douglas

The Port Douglas township was established in 1877 after the discovery of gold at Hodgkinson River by James Venture Mulligan. Port Douglas Post Office opened on 1 September 1877.[4] It grew quickly, and at its peak Port Douglas had a population of 12,000 and 27 hotels. With the construction of the Mulligan Highway it serviced towns as far away as Herberton.

When the Kuranda Railway from Cairns to Kuranda was completed in 1891, the importance of Port Douglas dwindled along with its population. A cyclone in 1911 which demolished all but two buildings in the town also had a significant impact.[5] At its nadir in 1960 the town, by then little more than a fishing village, had a population of 100.

The Port Douglas War Memorial was unveiled on 10 February 1923 by Mrs Tresize.[6]

In the late-1980s, tourism boomed in the region after investor Christopher Skase financed the construction of the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort.

Heritage listings

Port Douglas has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

Significant events, visitors and residents

On 5 July 1943, a RAAF Vultee Vengeance (Serial Number A27-217) crash landed on the beach near Port Douglas.[citation needed]

In November 1996 United States President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton chose the town as their only holiday stop on their historic visit to Australia. When dining at a local restaurant they witnessed a couple's wedding certificate. On a return visit on 11 September 2001, Clinton was again dining at a local restaurant, when he was advised of the September 11 attacks. He returned to the United States the following day.[11]

On 4 September 2006, television personality and conservationist Steve Irwin died at Batt Reef, off Port Douglas, after a stingray barb pierced his heart during filming of a documentary called The Ocean's Deadliest.[12] Irwin was filmed snorkelling directly above the stingray when it lashed him with its tail, killing him almost immediately. The event was widely reported in Australia and overseas.[13]

The annual Port Douglas Carnivale is held in May and runs for 10 days over two weekends, beginning with a parade attracting over 10,000 people.[14] In October, the Sunset in the Park Music Festival and Porttoberfest (a play on Oktoberfest) are held.[citation needed] The Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival is also held during October.[15]

Port Douglas was a popular location to view the 14 November 2012 solar eclipse that occurred at 6:38 am (local time). Thousands travelled to Port Douglas to see the phenomenon.[citation needed]

The music video for Kylie Minogue's 1988 single "It's No Secret" was filmed in Port Douglas.[citation needed]

St Mary's by the Sea (former Catholic church, 1914-1988)


Port Douglas has a tropical monsoon climate according to Köppen climate classification (Am), with hot summers and warm winters, with heavy rainfall primarily occurring from January–March, the wettest month of the year typically being February. The average temperature of the sea ranges from 23.7 °C (74.7 °F) in July to 29.5 °C (85.1 °F) in January. [16]

Climate data for Port Douglas, Queensland
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.3
Average low °C (°F) 23.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 401.6
Average precipitation days 15.5 15.9 16.1 13.3 9.8 7.0 5.5 5.2 5.4 6.4 9.0 11.7 120.8
Source: Bureau of Meteorology [17]


Kitesurfing at Port Douglas, Australia

Kitesurfing is popular at the southern end of Four Mile Beach, particularly during the winter months when trade winds blow from the South.

Port Douglas is near the Great Barrier Reef. Numerous companies run daily trips from the marina to the outer reef and the Low Isles for scuba diving and snorkelling. Port Douglas is also well known for its many restaurants, walks, golf courses, and five star resorts.

The Port Douglas Community Hall houses the Port Douglas Library, 11-29 Mowbray Street, operated by the Douglas Shire Council.[18] The Library opened in 2010.[19] Another branch library is located in Mossman.[20]


The original Port Douglas State School closed in 1962. It was reopened on 23 January 1989.[21]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Port Douglas (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Port Douglas". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 January 2014.  Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ "100 Best Towns in Australia". http://www.australiantraveller.com/100-best-towns-in-australia/ Retrieved 21 July 2013
  4. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "A DEVASTATING CALAMITY". The Brisbane Courier (16,597). Queensland, Australia. 22 March 1911. p. 5. Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  6. ^ "Port Douglas War Memorial". Monument Australia. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "FDA Carstens Memorial (entry 601053)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "St Mary's by the Sea (entry 600464)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Port Douglas Wharf and Storage Shed (former) (entry 600466)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "Port Douglas Court House Museum (entry 600465)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 July 2013. 
  11. ^ KING, LARRY (3 September 2002). "Interview With Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Andrew McKelvey, Dan Rather". Cable News Network. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  12. ^ Jason Staines Crocodile man, Steve Irwin, dies, The Age, 4 September 2006
  13. ^ Death footage 'will never see the light of day', The Age, 7 September 2006
  14. ^ Cotton, Martine. "Port Douglas Carnivale". Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Cullen, Sam. "Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival". Port Douglas Event Management. Retrieved 11 June 2017. 
  16. ^ https://www.seatemperature.org/australia-pacific/australia/port-douglas.htm
  17. ^ "Climate Statistics for Port Douglas, Queensland". 17 February 2012. 
  18. ^ "Port Douglas, Directory of Public Libraries". Public Libraries Connect. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  19. ^ "Queensland Public Libraries Statistical Bulletin 2016-2017" (PDF). Public Libraries Connect. November 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  20. ^ "Douglas Shire, Public Libraries Connect". Public Libraries Connect. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 1 Feb 2018. 
  21. ^ "Opening and closing dates of Queensland schools (N)". education.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 

External links