Port Douglas History

A brief Port Douglas History

Port Douglas has an interesting history. Port Douglas has had a lot of ups and downs since it was selected as a suitable Port for the dispatch of the gold found in the Hodgkinson River in 1876. Christie Palmerston carved the Bump Track down from the Atherton Tablelands to the coast and Port Douglas was quickly settled established as a bustling hive of trading and export.

In November of 1876, Colonial Treasurer the Hon J.R. Dickson and Queensland Parliamentarian John Macrossan visited and confirmed that the town would be named for the then Premier of Queensland, John Douglas. The inlet was called Dickson Inlet. Government offices and banks were set up and a court house was erected. The main street in Port Douglas is named after John Macrossan.

Within 6 short years there were 14 hotels in Port Douglas. Port Douglas overtook Cairns as the main port for the gold and tin mining fields up on the tablelands.

Tick fever proved to be a major problem for the settlers of the time, decimating their cattle herds. This was what led the farmers around Port Douglas to grow sugar cane instead. The first crush at the Mossman Mill was in 1897. A small rail line was built from the Mossman Sugar mill to the Port Douglas sugar wharf in 1900 for sugar, freight and passengers and the population of Port Douglas grew to 331, with four pubs. The export of sugar had revived the town once again. The sugar train railway line can still to this day be seen in Port Douglas. The Sugar Wharf still exists in Port Douglas to this day.

There was a massive cyclone in 1911 in which sixteen inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Two people were killed and many houses were damaged, even totally destroyed.

The last time sugar was transported by the train from the mill to the wharf in Port Douglas was in 1958. Road transport to Cairns was the primary method of hauling cane after this, which meant that Port Douglas reverted back to a sleepy fishing town with a population of about 100 local residents.

It was not until the 1970’s that tourists began to discover Port Douglas.

The brand new Cairns International Airport that was built in the 1980’s further increased the tourist profile of Port Douglas as a popular destination.

The Sheraton Mirage was constructed in Port Douglas in 1988 by the infamous Christopher Skase and he built the international resort on the now famous Four Mile Beach.

Port Douglas has become a popular destination for Australian and international visitors keen to visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree World Heritage Rainforest

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