port douglas

Size isn’t everything: the best small towns to visit in Australia: Port Douglas

After the last feature on Broome, we continuing our new series on great small towns to visit when travelling.  After showing you the best things to do in Strahan, we’re staying Down Under but moving on to Queensland in this article and it turns out that Port Douglas is the perfect excuse to leave the big city and discover more of what the state has to offer. 

Queensland is home to some of the most beautiful towns and cities in Australia. With the majestic Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast to the vibrant nightlife of Brisbane, there is never a shortage of things to see and do in this northern state.

Port Douglas

If you want to discover and experience something different in this state, then Port Douglas is the perfect getaway. Once you escape to Port Douglas, you’ll never want to leave – after all, you’ll be surrounded by the wonder and beauty of everything Mother Nature has to offer. Here are just a few reasons why Port Douglas is one of the best small towns to visit Down Under.

The Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) emmett anderson

One of the world’s most adored slices of paradise, the Great Barrier Reef is just a hop, skip, and a snorkel away. The underwater botanic garden is the perfect place to see one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems: cast your eyes on a multitude of marine species in their natural habitat.

The Great Barrier Reef is actually a reef system – indeed the biggest one in the world. Made up of more than 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres. It is also one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth, being home to over 6,600 species of marine plant and animal species including 1,500 species of fish and 360 types of coral.

For an inner reef adventure, travel to the Low Isles where you can see turtles, mangroves and the lighthouse before swimming in the lagoon. The Low Isles are two coral islands located 15 km off the coast of Port Douglas which is home to a large population of turtles.

The Mossman Gorge

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) jdegenhardt

Home to the oldest living rainforest on earth, the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park spans nearly 900,000 hectares. The Park is split into two sections: the Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. With a beautiful, crystal-clear river and granite boulders, the Mossman Gorge is a little piece of heaven on earth. 

Here the Mossman River is filled with huge granite boulders that create clear freshwater swimming holes – the cool water is perfect for a refreshing dip. Forested mountains rise dramatically from the river banks. Take a walk upstream as far as the suspension bridge or follow the 2km rainforest loop trail. 

The Mossman Gorge is home to the Kuku Yalanji people, the traditional Aboriginal landowners who strive to protect their natural heritage while also sharing its unique qualities with visitors. You should definitely join one of the guided bushwalks to gain a rare insight into the special relationship the local indigenous people have with the rainforest. You can also watch traditional dance and view artefacts portraying their rich cultural heritage.

Cape Tribulation

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Anne Roberts

For more walking tracks, Cape Tribulation is your best friend: hike through nature’s masterpiece and appreciate all the beautiful flora and fauna along the way.

Cape Tribulation is the village where two World Heritage sites meet; namely the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Here on the northern side of the Daintree River you can experience the most unique rainforest in the world. 

An area of approximately 17,000 hectares between Daintree River and Cape Tribulation is an official National Park and a large proportion of the area is also World Heritage listed to ensure protection of the rainforests which have evolved during the past 135 million years. You will see plants which represent some 400 million years of its evolution here.

The forest canopy is also home to a wealth of animal life including insects, birds and more than seventy identified species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The region is home to over 3,000 plant species as well as the world’s largest and smallest tree ferns and cycads. Previously unknown plants and animal species are still being discovered. Many of the animals are nocturnal and you can take part in activities at night which are particularly enjoyable in the summer months.

Four Mile Beach

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) pielad

As is often the case in Australia, the name is apt – Four Mile Beach is literally four miles of golden sand bordered by swaying palm trees. It sounds like a postcard because it looks exactly like one; the calm waves lap the shores and the northern rocky headland is a great place to catch a glimpse of little crabs and other forms of sea life who call the beach their home.

Here, you’ll forget all about your phone bills or your commercial property for lease with TGC– you can just relax, unwind, and let the day pass you by. From central Port Douglas it is just a five minute walk to reach Four Mile Beach; you can then walk for hours under the tropical sun if you so desire.

The headland where the beach starts is a great place for kids to explore and the four miles of beach is shielded from housing and other buildings by the line of palms, making it feel like your own strip of desert island.

Sunday markets

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) jthornett

If exploring nature gets tiring, take a swing down to the Port Douglas markets in Anzac Park every Sunday. With a mix of local arts, crafts, souvenirs and food, the markets are the perfect place to find a little something to take back home as a reminder of your trip. The markets are held every Sunday from 0830-1400 and are located across from The Courthouse Hotel.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1288

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.