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Flagstaff Hill Port Douglas

Flagstaff Hill Walk

Port Douglas

Directions - Starting near the centre of Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland, the Flagstaff Hill Walk can begin anywhere along Macrossan Street. I've chosen to start at Anzac Park on the corner of Macrossan and Wharf Street at the northern end of town and complete the loop in a clockwise direction.


The Hike - The annual July holiday escape from the colds of a Western Australian winter has become a regular occurrence over the past few years, with trips to Darwin, Katherine and Exmouth providing a warm retreat for my partners family. In 2023 it was decided that the popular holiday town of Port Douglas would be the desired destination and thus, I started researching walks and hikes in the area that I could do during our stay. 

Port Douglas was a place I had wanted to visit for as long as I could remember for two main reasons, the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef. While we would visit those two places over the course of the week, I was keen to experience as much as I could while we were here. One of the main attractions that kept popping up on my queries was Four Mile Beach and Flagstaff Hill. Both are located walking distance from the centre of Port Douglas, so I put it on the list. Arriving into Cairns after dark, the one hour drive up to Port Douglas was great fun with the twisty road and I didn't even get the spectacular views over the Pacific Ocean. Meeting up with the rest of the family for a late breakfast the next morning, I thought it would be best to get my bearings of the town with the Flagstaff Hill Walk after lunch. Having explored the shops and understand the basic layout of the main part of town, I grabbed the camera and set off to Anzac Park to see what was what. I really enjoyed Macrossan Street during our time here and despite being a tourist town, there is a certain charm to the northern end of town thanks to the old pubs and large trees lining the streets.


Walking along the grass of Anzac Park, there are some big old Fig trees here that have masses of branches going everywhere. St Mary's by the Sea is a historic church that looks like it belongs on some isolated Caribbean island but the main feature here is the Sugar Wharf that's been built and rebuilt several times over the years as destructive cyclones sweep through. This was one of my favourite views of the trip, with the beach (closed due to crocodiles), the wharf, palm trees and the distant mountains all combining to provide a gorgeous photo. The postcard perfect views continue as you head north towards Rex Smeal Park and another grassed area overlooking the Coral Sea, one of the best vantage points to watch the sunset in town. A row of Palm Trees completes what I always imagined the Port Douglas experience to be all about. Prying myself away from the stunning views, I walked through the weeping fig trees and found the official start of the Flagstaff Hill Walk that is marked with a narrow information board. Climbing up the edge of the hill, the vegetation provides a bit of protection from the sun and the neighbouring buildings.

The path is easy to follow and a series of stone stairs helps take care of the elevation gained over the course of the next few hundred metres. Being an avid wildflower enthusiast back home, I was excited to see what I could find in Queensland, although quite aware that this was essentially in the middle of town, so everything might not be native to the area. This was certainly the case when I spotted a Bougainvillea in full bloom. reminding me of wandering Santorini and walks along George Street in East Fremantle. Early on there was another maze of figs that almost blocked out the sun and took a while to get the right angle for photos that allowed enough light. I had some early flower finds but after loading all my observations into iNaturalist, it appears a lot of them were introduced species including Snakeweed and the curiously named Sensitive Weed. I did however see a lovely Grevillea that I believe is a Scarlet Grevillea. This being Tropical North Queensland, there were no shortages of butterflies but getting them to settle on a leaf was another thing. Reaching the turn-off for the Flagstaff Hill Lookout, a series of switchbacks takes you up to the end of Island Point Road, where you get sweeping vistas overlooking Four Mile Beach and Mount Garioch in the distance.

The name Flagstaff Hill comes unsurprisingly from when there was a shipping flagstaff on top of the hill to communicate with ships in the area. Keen to get down to Four Mile Beach, I retraced my steps and was soon back on the main trail. Passing the Cruise Ship Viewing Platform, the real treat was further along when you reach the cantilevered Four Mile Beach Lookout stretching out over the edge of the hill. A great addition to the trail, the metal viewing platform provides excellent views looking towards Four Mile Beach, along with letting you see down to the rocks below. From here you follow a series of switchbacks down to the southern end of Four Mile Beach, where you'll find a path leading to the beach entry. A beautiful place to look at, there are dangers lurking in the water thanks to stinging jellyfish, so most elect to just enjoy the golden sands for relaxing or building a sandcastle. The beach does stretch along here for quite a while, so if you wanted to extend your walk then it's quite easy. For me, I was quite happy to explore the southern end of the beach before walking back up Macrossan Street to our accommodation.