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Tim Cooke

TropicNow writer

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Plans to transform The Reef Marina in $85m proposal

A proposed transformation of The Reef Marina valued at $85 million will see green space, more marina berths, new residences and better connectivity to the town centre. 


Tropical North Queensland seems to be on a roll with investment continuing to pour into the region off the back of record visitor numbers and occupancy rates. Port Douglas is enjoying a revival as a premium destination and has enjoyed bumper seasons over the past few years.

Developers and investors have taken note and an $85 million development application that will continue the transformation of the Port Douglas waterfront into a vibrant community, entertainment and cultural precinct has been lodged with the Douglas Shire Council.


Operators of The Reef Marina said the proposal, to be built in stages, would help connect the town centre to the waterfront, while driving jobs, tourism and economic growth to the tune of almost $600 million over 30 years.

The Reef Marina co-owner Andrew Hooper-Nguyen said it was an important milestone in the continued regeneration of the waterfront, reasserting the region’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination. 

“This is the largest proposed investment Port Douglas has seen in almost three decades and will build on our efforts to rejuvenate the Marina, which has already seen a full retail refurbishment, landscaping, new entertainment offerings including Hemingway’s Brewery, The Boat House and Barbados and the super yacht expansion since work began in 2014,” Mr Hooper-Nguyen said.

The development will include a Rainforest Walk, which will be a heavily landscaped walkway generating strong pedestrian connectivity between the Marina and town centre. It will be complemented by The Boardwalk, a publicly accessible timber boardwalk spanning the entire waterfront, which will feature public art, seating, shading, viewing stages, restaurants, cafes and other retail outlets.

The grassed area at the southern end of the redevelopment will be transformed into The Green, a showcase venue for live music and events utilising a new architecturally designed pavilion, complete with stage.

“Flexible open spaces will allow for both public and private recreational use for cultural community activities and markets, while the boardwalk along the waterfront will showcase the amazing views and link to surrounding parklands.”

Mr Hooper-Nguyen said at the very heart of the development was the desire to open up and breathe new life into the waterfront in a way that was sensitive to the environment, while holding onto the unique attributes that make Port Douglas so appealing.

Buildings will be a maximum of three stories – the height of a palm tree – and the architectural form draws on the rich local heritage with simple roof shapes, stepping of structures to relate to the pedestrian scale, gables, window shading, plenty of landscaping and the retention of historical features.

The development includes residences made up of 5 townhouses, 49 apartments, 26 dual-key apartments targeting short-stay visitors and space for dining and entertainment.

An additional 32 new marina berths and a dedicated cruise ship tender dock will be constructed in conjunction with the development. The Marina’s fishing trawlers will be invited to berth at new facilities within the Duck Pond and be able to sell seafood directly to the public.

It is not difficult to imagine a time in the near future when Port Douglas is not only considered one of Australia’s premium holiday destinations but also a vibrant and connected place to live. Provided development is sensitive to the existing fabric of the town and also the environment, Port Douglas could become the Byron Bay of Tropical North Queensland.