Known as the paradise between the reef and the rainforest, Port Douglas is the essence of barefoot style and sophistication, and where relaxation is key. Vibrant and tropical with a casual charm, this coastal town located on the Coral Sea in tropical Far North Queensland, is known for its beach resorts and as a base for visits to both the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.
Typically popular among those looking for a romantic honeymoon, family getaway or for the adrenaline-hunting adventurist, Port Douglas has something for everyone, and it all starts with a cold beer and delicious meal at The Court House Hotel affectionately known as The Courty, in the heart of town.
Long renowned as a foodie’s paradise, Port Douglas offers a lively restaurant scene with need-to-eat foods and sundowner cocktails;
and The Courty’s menu does not disappoint with fresh produce offerings such as Local Barramundi Tacos, Vietnamese Chicken and Prawn Salad, and the hot and cold Courty Seafood Plate. Accompanied with an aperol spritz or espresso martini, patrons will want to set in for the evening.
As business slowly regains momentum following the Australian Government’s enforced closures on March 23, which saw the Courty close its doors entirely, General Manager, Robert De Carlo said the new-look Courty has attracted the attention of locals as well as visitors to the region.
The hotel shut down completely with every beverage including every bottle of water, every item of food from apples and oranges, to steaks and sausages, removed from the venue.
“The hotel was completely emptied of any food or beverage and our Executive Chef, David McKibbin organised to donate it to a charity, the Mossman Meals On Wheels,” Robert said.
“We have only just reopened; our TAB Bar opened August 7 with the full hotel reopening August 20. We had almost six months of closed doors” Robert said.
Having completed renovations during the closure, there was much anticipation to inspect the new-look Courty, so when the hotel reopened doors, the hotel received a very positive response from its patrons.
“It’s been great. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback, I suppose because we were the last hotel in Port Douglas on the main street to reopen. There was always a lot of interest in when the Court House was going to reopen, so we have had good local support and also good tourist support since we have reopened.
“I was very proactive in renovating, cleaning and painting the hotel, getting it ready again, safe and ready to go for a full on season or for bringing guests back.
“Unfortunately with the border closures, it’s not going to be anywhere near the season we expect at this time of year. So we’re still reviewing it on a daily basis, but we’ve had good support and we still have some functions coming in, and it’s all coming back slowly, but we’re a long way from where we should be,” Robert explained.
Despite the slump in international tourist numbers due to border closures, Port Douglas is being frequented by the domestic tourism market with Queenslanders opting to indulge in long weekends in the tropical far north.
“We’re finding most of our visitors are coming up from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Usually coming up for that Thursday to Sunday long weekend which is greatly benefiting the whole town. And then we still have that good local support, and we also have visitors from areas such as the Tablelands and surrounding areas of Mareeba, Cairns, Atherton who are still popping down for weekends or coming up for quick getaways,” Robert said.
The Courty has a vibrant tropical-meets-coastal ambience that perfectly represents the vibe on offer at Port Douglas.
“We have great weather, we have the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, there is also one of the world’s oldest rainforests with the Daintree. So we have both the reef and rainforest, together with a beautiful small town culture, happy people and great weather. Port Douglas is a very laid back, very relaxed, happy little port town,” Robert said.
And for this reason, Port Douglas is a popular destination for weddings, functions and events which in turn makes the Courty, an ideal venue with a stunning grand Queenslander facade and wrap-around verandas on the first floor.
“We do a lot of weddings here and there is the beautiful Saint Mary’s by the Sea chapel located across the road and set on the beachfront. They really do support the Court House so we do a lot of pre and post wedding receptions,” Robert said.
“Our functions are growing and we’ve got a beautiful function room up on the first floor called the Sunset Lounge, and thanks to the old heritage style of the building we have three wrap-around balconies, so it offers that outdoor ambience,” Robert added.
“It’s all very well styled and has beautiful features, so it is a growing market particularly as we’re across the road from the park also. We have a lot of live entertainment evenings on the weekends, so a lot of people stop in after work or come up weekends for our beautiful lunch and dinner menu which also caters for families; and we’ve adjusted our beverage offering as well, so we can look after the children with milkshakes and fresh fruit juices. We have a great range of beer on tap, wines, champagne and cocktails, so it’s really beautiful up on the veranda, having a couple of cocktails, watching the sun drop down behind the mountains.”
Robert said the hotel had a strong focus on supporting local farmers and sourced as much local, fresh produce as possible, providing a menu with a good range of colours, flavours and variety.
Offering something for everyone, the Courty stocks a range of traditional beers such as Great Northern and Carlton varieties to please the southerners, as well as summer ales, Peroni, Balter and Stone and Wood which are popular among the younger crowds.
In addition to beers, wines and cocktails, the hotel offers milkshakes and choc tops for those warm winter days.
“Winter is the perfect time of year at about 28 degrees, it is quite warm beach weather without that humidity that comes in later on over summer. There are blue skies during the day and while it might be a little bit cooler in the evenings, during the day you can still enjoy all outdoor activities such as the jungle riding, surfing, exploring the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, Hartley’s Crocodiles, animal farms or local wildlife habitat. So you’re still able to get out and about without having those cold shivers that we experience in the southern states,” Robert said.
The Courty offers the welcoming and relaxed atmosphere of a local pub, while also being the perfect function spot for intimate groups through to large scale events.
Boasting Port Douglas’s best TAB facilities on the ground floor, guests can enjoy the surrounding views from The Sunset Bar, the pub’s first-floor bar offering a tropical, colonial oasis.
This pub is the perfect spot to escape to in Far North Queensland, to watch the sunset and soak in the tropical oasis vibe.