Free Things To Do With Children In Port Douglas
Port Douglas, Australia, is quite an expensive destination. Anything that you can do for free will be a bonus, particularly for the budget traveller or family with children. I live in Port, I have children and I'm on a budget. These are my top tips.
Playgrounds, There Are Lots
Always the best place to take the children, to the playground, and it's always free. We have quite a few here in Port Douglas and they are in beautiful locations, perfect for just hanging out, taking a picnic or a barbecue.
The most popular is Stinger Park, located on the banks of the inlet. It is shady in the morning but takes the full force of the sun in the afternoon. Despite this, it's the top place to watch the reef fleet come home for the day and the sun set over the mountains. There are free gas barbecues or bring a picnic. There is possibly the best climbing tree in the world here, for older children, a lovely old fig, the kids love it. People sometimes see turtles, crocodiles and dugongs from here, keep your eyes peeled!
There is another smaller playground further up the inlet, at the other end of the market site.
There is another in the middle of the Ferndale residential area and my favourite, the one right on the beach at the end of Solander Blvd, Bruna Riedweg Memorial Park, not many tourists find this one, again, it has a barbecue and you have the option of sitting on the beach or in the shady park area while the children play on the swings.
The Port Douglas Surf Club on Four Mile Beach has a free playground, if Mum and Dad fancy a drink while the children play.
Map showing Salander Blvd Playground, Bruno Riedweg Memorial Park, Port Douglas.
Walk Four Mile Beach or The Bump Track
A sunrise walk on Four Mile beach is beautiful, try to get out as early as you can to miss the crowds of joggers and dog walkers, if you are lucky you may see a dolphin!. To walk from one end of the beach to the other takes just under an hour. It's great exercise in beautiful surroundings. Start at the south end, walk into Port Douglas for a coffee and then walk back. Children are likely to find crabs, star fish , sea cucumbers and a variety of shells.
For the more serious walker, seek out The Bump Track. This is a historic trail that used to be the main access route to this part of Far North Queensland. There are notice boards along the way explaining the history of the track and how bullock carts used to haul heavy equipment up the hill. It is very steep in places, quite a challenging climb, the view from the top is well worth it, out accross the Coral sea from Port Douglas to Low Isles. Once you reach the brow of the hill the path flattens out a bit and you can continue through rainforest on to a really pretty creek. People have seen cassowaries, tree kangaroos, wallabies, wild pigs and dingoes up here. To find it, head just south of Port Douglas, through Craiglee,take the Mowbray River Rd and continue along Conolly Rd. to the start of the track on the left. I have taken my 8 year old up here, but I wouldn't take younger children unless they could be carried easily. It is also popular with mountain bikers.
The Bump Track, just outside Port Douglas, Queensland.
Check Out The Port Douglas Sunday Markets.
This is only free if you can keep your wallet in your pocket. The market starts early, before dawn, and goes on 'til around 2pm. It's fun to browse and there is always a good crowd.The children love to taste, touch and smell everything on sale, but watch out, some of the stall holders can be cranky! It's often fun to hang around Stinger Park on Sundays and see what people are up to. My children have scored chess lessons and tightrope lessons recently from passing travellers. The influx of people on Sunday makes it the busiest day in Port Douglas, you will find bands on at the Courthouse Hotel, free for the price of a drink, children are welcome to come and dance!
If you are in Port Douglas in stinger season and don't want to take the risk with your kids, you may be able to use one of the hotel or resort pools for free if you buy lunch or drinks.
Another option is to head for the Mossman Gorge, you can swim in clean, icy cold, fresh water. It's a totally different experience. There are ( probably) no crocodiles here, it's too cold. It can be dangerous in the wet season or if the children venture out too far, keep a watchful eye on them. You also have the advantage of walking through beautiful rainforest trails to get to the swimming spots.
Take The Kids To See George The Groper
Every afternoon at 4pm a local restaurant on the inlet feeds the giant Queensland gropers. These fish need to be seen to be believed, they are enormous. One of the staff dangles a tuna carcass from a rope into fairly shallow water, the fish arrive and battle commences. Be ready with your camera! The children love it and are usually patient through the waiting period as they can throw prawn shells to the waiting smaller fish. You need to get their early for a water side position.Every time I have been they have shown up, I've never been disappointed. It's free other than having to buy a drink or some food from the restaurant. It is Amazing! I always say that this is THE most exciting thing that happens in Port Douglas.