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Port Douglas trail

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Photo of a place on Port Douglas trail

Port Douglas, about an hour’s drive north of Cairns, is the gateway to the World Heritage attractions of the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. The Captain Cook Highway winds north along pristine beaches and bays and has been compared to Victoria’s Great Ocean Road for its scenic beauty. The road drifts inland through cane fields before heading into palm-lined entrance to Port Douglas. Five star resorts along Four Mile Beach draw Australian and international tourists. A range of tour operators offer trips to the rainforest and to the Great Barrier Reef.

Port Douglas was established in 1877 to service the Hodgkinson Goldfield to the west. Port Douglas was initially a more important port than Cairns, but declined after Cairns became the terminus for the Atherton Tablelands railway. Sugar was grown in the district from the late 1870s. A private mill operated in the 1880s and a cooperative mill opened in Mossman in 1897. Sugar was taken by small boats down the Mossman River to Port Douglas. By 1900 a tramway was built from the mill to Port Douglas. In 1905, the tramway extended onto a new jetty, which included a sugar storage shed.

A cyclone in March 1911 almost destroyed the town. The courthouse was extensively damaged and St Mary’s Church was totally destroyed and had to be rebuilt. It was relocated from its original site in Murphy Street to Anzac Park in 1989. The 1879 courthouse was repaired and is now a museum managed by the Douglas Shire Historical Society. Enjoy a meal at the Courthouse Hotel overlooking St Mary’s Church and the sugar wharf.


Listing 4 places within this trail.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
28 February 2023