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  • Gavin King

    Tropic Now editor

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    Cairns pays tribute to tourism legend Charlie Woodward

    A public memorial service will be held for tourism identity Charles Woodward at his beloved Rainforestation Nature Park on Friday 2nd June at 3:30pm for a 4pm start.

    In a statement, the Woodward family said: "All those who knew him and wish to pay their respects are welcome to join to say farewell. In lieu of flowers, donations to COUCH would be appreciated.

    "The family has received so many messages and flowers of support and they would like to express their gratitude at this time. Please accept this as their personal thanks.

    There is extremely limited car parking at Rainforestation Nature Park. As such we will be operating coaches running from selected locations in Cairns and we encourage everyone to take this option.

    The pick-up locations available will be:

    Reef Hotel Casino (Wharf St)

    Cairns North Community Centre (Sheridan St Bus Stop)

    Pease St IGA

    Smithfield Bus Stop (Kennedy Highway)".

    May 19: Cairns has today lost another tourism industry legend.

    Family, friends, and industry colleagues are this morning coming to terms with the death of Charles Woodward at the age of 70 after a long, tough fight with bowel cancer.

    He passed away at his home in the early hours of this morning and is survived by wife Pip and sons Michael, Ben, and Peter.

    As a tourism pioneer who launched his first venture in 1976, Charles and wife Pip have been at the forefront of the TNQ business community for more than 40 years.

    Their company CaPTA Group grew from humble beginnings in Kuranda to encompass a range of businesses and brands, including Rainforestation Nature Park, Tropic Wings Coach Tours, Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas, Cairns ZOOM & Wildlife Dome and Jungle Tours & Trekking, among other businesses.


    While he is credited as being a founding father of the local tourism industry, he achieved equally remarkable feats in his contributions to local charities and health facilities.

    Charles and Pip were instrumental in the launch of COUCH - the Committee for Oncology Unit at Cairns Hospital - and the establishment of the Liz Plummer Centre, where he himself ended up receiving his chemotherapy treatment.

    Earlier this year, he was awarded the Cairns Regional Council's Citizen of the Year award for his contribution to the region, having been a co-recipient of the same honour with Pip in 2008.


    Tourism industry colleague Michael Trout, who first met Charles in the 1990s and travelled extensively with him on tourism trade missions across the world, described him as a true icon of the Tropical North. 

    "He was one of the originals and he was a true visionary," Mr Trout said.

    "He pioneered land-based tourism in TNQ and he pioneered the Asian market. He saw that the future of Cairns was Asia more than just about anyone else, and while he always had his eye on the European and American markets he was working the Chinese market very early on before most other operators realised the potential there.

    "He was one of those operators who was always on the road himself and he always helped the newer players in the market. One of his greatest achievements was advocating for us all to work together and market ourselves as a destination rather than just individual operators.

    "He also drove the idea along with Denis Ferguson and Fred Ariel that Cairns should be branded as the 'gateway to the Great Barrier Reef'. 

    "Charles has left a great legacy to his children and to Cairns, and it's a legacy they will carry on."

    Charles long-time friend and fellow tourism pioneer Denis Ferguson passed away earlier this month after he too lost his battle with cancer.