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Port Douglas was named in honour of Queensland Premier, John Douglas, and like many Australian regional towns, was founded to service the goldfields. In 1877, the Hodgkinson River goldfields needed a safe port to bring in supplies and ship out the gold and therefore, Port Douglas came to be.

The late nineteenth-century gold rush ballooned the population to 12,000. During that time, Port Douglas had 27 hotels to cool down the miners. Not only gold, but also silver contributed to the town's wealth. Sugarcane, which still covers much of the coastal plain in this area, was an early crop and, along with logging the famed red cedar, Toona australis, added to the local economy and brought labourers and fortune hunters from all over the world.


Finally, like all other Australian goldfields, the gold ran out and people left the town for greener pastures. In 1911, Port Douglas was hit by a devastating cyclone and, with the effects of the reduced population, evolved into a small fishing village. It then functioned as the port for the sugar produced at the nearby Mossman Central Mill until 1958. However, by 1960 there were only 100 people left in the town. It was looking bleak for the village of Port Douglas. Twenty years later the tourism industry saved the town. It now has a permanent population of around 4,000 yet maintains that historic village atmosphere.

Want to know more, please visit Douglas Shire Historical Society Inc.   


All images on this section of the website are from Douglas Shire Historical Society.

Port Douglas Retreat
31-33 Mowbray Street
Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Tel: 07 4099 5053