Port Douglas was founded in 1877 as the port town for the Hodgkinson River Goldfields. After a series of names such as Terrigal, Island Point, Port Owen and Salisbury it was finally named Port Douglas in honour of former Queensland premier John Douglas.
Gold fever bought the population to 12,000. The industry grew. Thriving on tin, silver, sugarcane and logging for cedar trees. During this time a total of 27 hotels were established. The dray teams and stage coaches that serviced the goldfields made their way from the Port, down the beach (now Four Mile Beach) to the “Four Mile” mark which is now called Craiglee. From there they continued over “The Bump” and then onto the goldfields.
After the gold dwindled and the completion of the Cairns/Mareeba railway in 1893, this once booming town started to loose its people. The bad luck continued through to 1911, when a severe cyclone devastated much of the town. The industry became not much more than a fishing village and a gateway to ship sugar from the Mossman Central Mill until 1958. By 1960 this once booming town ended up with a population of about 100 people.
In the early 1980’s, Port Douglas started to boom again. This once forgotten little town became one of Australia’s best kept secrets and became a popular destination for Australians to spend winter months or holiday throughout the year to visit the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
Today the town boasts a population of around 4000 and a booming tourist industry brings visitors from all over the globe, drawn to the village of Port Douglas itself, and the many attractions close by.