Port Douglas & Mossman
Village with a view
The tropical holiday village of Port Douglas is only an hour or so drive, north of Cairns, but a world away in mood. Home to a number of luxury resorts, golf links and stylish restaurants and boutiques, Port Douglas has a touch of glamour combined with lush nature. Image supplied by Tourism Queensland.
Traditional style: The thoroughfare of Macrossan Street is home to the popular Court House Hotel which offers great value pub meals & a cooling ale during the day, before turning into a bistro & music venue in the evening. Image Tourism Queensland
Relax: Rex Smeale in Port Douglas is a great spot to enjoy the ocean breeze & every Sunday nearby Anzac Park comes alive with a local cotter's market offering clothing, toys, art, fresh juice and vegetables. Image by Tourism Queensland.
Perfect beach: Port Douglas' Four Mile Beach really does go on forever. Visitors can sit in the sun, swim or take up kite-surfing on the very long white sandy beach. Image supplied by Tourism Queensland.
Less than an hour’s drive north from Cairns is the gateway to the Daintree National Park and a popular destination in itself, Port Douglas. Port Douglas is the Cairns region’s glamorous home for resorts, restaurants and fabulous natural adventures. Its companion town of Mossman offers visitors a glimpse of country life in the Cairns region and a laid back place to relax with nature.
Port Douglas, about 70km north of Cairns, has a permanent population of about 1300 residents that can blow out to four times that number during the peak tourist season. The town was established in 1877 as a port for the Hodgkinson River goldfields and was eventually named after the former Queensland premier, John Douglas.
Port, as it’s popularly known, is next to both the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Daintree National Park – both world heritage listed areas. This has made the small fishing village into one of the most popular tropical tourist destinations in the world.
There are a large number of Port Douglas accommodation options in both the village and the surrounding area … everything from large five star resorts, holiday apartments and backpacker hostels to luxury mansions that can be hired for a short term or longer visit.
Port has also been home to a couple of big budget Hollywood films, the latest a second World War production from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, as well as visiting celebrities like Bill Clinton, Pink and Australian pop royalty, Kylie Minogue.
This makes the village a bit of a ‘style’ capital of the region with a number of exclusive labels available along the main street, Macrossan St, or at the Marina Mirage shopping complex.
But the past-time most beloved of visitors is eating; with a number of excellent, award-winning Port Douglas restaurants offering everything from five star contemporary dining to casual Italian bistros and great cafes.
The Port Douglas Carnival is held annually in May and offers a number of ‘foodie’ events including the ‘Longest Lunch’, a Masquerade Ball, the ‘Food, Wine & a Taste of Port’ outdoor dining event and a ‘Seafood Extravaganza’.
Port Douglas’ Four Mile Beach boasts a spectacular stretch of sand and fronts the Sheraton Mirage Resort, its golf course and a large public reserve. During the Carnival there are a number of family events and sports competitions held on the beach and it’s also excellent for wind and kite-surfing.
To the north of Port Douglas are the pretty beachside suburbs of Cooya, Newell and Wonga Beach offering accommodation options ranging from caravan parks to luxurious private homes.
A bit north of Port Douglas is the residential town of Mossman, home to the many residents who work in the tourist resort town of Port. Originally just a sugar cane town, a large part of the population now works in the service industries connected to tourism.
Mossman is about 85km from Cairns on the Captain Cook Highway and offers visitors an insight into country life in the Cairns region. The sugar cane crushing season lasts from June to October and visitors can tour the mill during this time.
Mossman was named by the explorer George Dalrymple in 1873 after Hugh Mosman, but the spelling was changed later to avoid confusion with the chi-chi suburb of the same name in Sydney.
Just outside the town, about five minutes west, is the Mossman Gorge National Park with the stunning Mossman Gorge which has a number of fantastic walks, a beautiful swimming hole and abundant flora and fauna.
This is a very accessible piece of the Daintree National Park and in recent years a number of excellent tours have been designed to offer visitors access to the landscape without too much hard work.
Mossman Gorge is home to the Kuku Yalanji people, the traditional owners of the area, who run great tours that include a walk around the area with the Kuku Yalanji people who explain the dreaming of the area and the various uses for flora and fauna.
There is not a lot of accommodation available in itself, but there are some great bed and breakfasts, a couple of good caravan parks with cabins and traditional pubs. The majority of visitors stay in Port Douglas, visiting the town on tours.