Still early days as lagoon concept presented to community


Karlie Brady


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Mayor Julia Leu and landscape designer Phillip Johnson spoke at today's community lagoon consultations. Image: Karlie Brady

The proposed concept for the Port Douglas lagoon was presented to the community today by the designer behind the vision, award-winning landscaper, Phillip Johnson.

Public consultation sessions were held in Port Douglas run by Mr Johnson and Douglas Shire Council.

Mr Johnson passionately explained the ideas behind his design; however, planning is still in its early days with Council still to present a business case before further planning can be undertaken.


Mr Johnson said he plans to create an innovative community swimming area inspired by Mossman Gorge and the greater natural environment.

“Twenty-four years ago, I first came to Port Douglas and fell in love with the beauty of Mossman Gorge, it has completely changed my direction of design over the years,” he said.

“I've come up with an incredible vision of creating a beautiful natural chemical-free swimming pool.”

The plans include a freshwater swimming area for adults and kids, cascading waterfalls, boardwalk, large natural boulders and a variety of native vegetation.

Mr Johnson said the technology and science behind natural pools already exists with over 350 chemical-free pools around the world operating successfully and research is being undertaken to make sure it can be sustained in a tropical environment.

“It's really important that we design things that are safe for people to swim in.

“That science and technology is out there, and I am working with that behind the scenes as we speak,” he said.

As the proposed pool will be chemical-free, no chlorine can be used to clean the water, but Mr Johnson said there are a number of natural ways to treat water including biological filtration and UV technologies.

Currently, the team is working with government around legislation changes required regarding public pools and alternative methods of sanitation.

Mr Johnson added he hopes to build the lagoon using sustainable practices including sourcing and storing rainwater collected off surrounding buildings to fill the lagoon.

“I really would love to see this project not put more demand on the precious water supply because we know we've got serious water restrictions,” Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson said he also would like to see the lagoon run on solar power.

“This is just a vision I developed and now we will go back and look into a much more detailed design. We will go into the accessibility, the filtration, shade structures, managing crocs, all those things will be further looked into,” he said.

A number of community members at the consultations were concerned that no figures have yet been provided as to how much this project will cost, with Council saying that will be determined when the business case has been conducted.

An application for $300,000 has already been applied for from the state government to conduct the Business Case.

Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu said she has been in talks with both the federal and state government regarding project funding.

“We will have a better idea of the cost once we complete the business case.

“We are overdue for this type of investment in the Douglas Shire and we know that people love to come to our area, our repeat visitation statistics show that, and we know that people have been waiting for this project for quite a long time,” she said.

The proposed location for the lagoon is the site of the current Surf Life Saving Club and the land surrounding it with plans including an upgrade to the Life Saving Club’s facilities.

At today’s consultation, Council said while other locations have been considered, including the land at the end of Macrossan along Wharf Street, it was decided the location next to Four Mile Beach was more suitable.

The issue of parking in this location was raised, with Council identifying parking locations along Mowbray and Garrick Streets and overflow parking in Reynolds park. Further parking will be looked at in the business case.

Many questions were raised by community members present at the consultation concerning things like water usage, clean water management, the cost to ratepayers, the need for a lap pool, and other safety aspects.

Council said all these issues will become clearer once the business case is conducted.

The business case is expected to take 12 months to complete and will importantly determine the viability of the project for the community.

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