Paula Johnson remembered

Farewell to Paula Johnson

Tuesday February 17 2015, 10:50am



By Martin Tranter


With great assistance from Kerrie Jamieson


Paula Johnson was determination, directness, wit and Port Douglas personified.    

She spoke with a depth and wisdom that only those who have lived life’s hard yards can really convey.    

If you were impressed with the determination of the woman, it was her dynamism and the twinkle in her eye when she laughed and smiled with you that broke you down and made you Paula’s life long fan.      

She was born in Canada on 2 November 1944.  Her first job was as a legal secretary and then as a para legal in Toronto, Canada.  She was encouraged by the Law Firm partner to pursue a law degree but was already too busy at that stage in her life to complete a mature age degree.   

Her husband was a workaholic and she became one too.   They ended up not spending much time together and drifted apart. 

She relocated to Port Douglas in 1986 first working for the architects on the Sheraton site and later for John Morris.   She met her partner of 29 years, Sno Morrish, in the mid 80’s when she approached him about buying a food deli in Port Douglas.   Sno told her that the deli was a bad idea, but that he Sno was a good idea and Paula to Sno’s great fortune agreed. 

She would tell the story that she thought Port Douglas in the 80’s need “stuff” and so she promptly opened a business called “House Stuff” in Warner Street.   She later moved the business to Macrossan Street and the shop flourished for the next 20 years.    Stuff aside, it was Paula’s unique touch that made the business a success. 


She was a founding member of the Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce and the secretary, committee member, gatekeeper and the real engine of the Chamber for the next 9 years until her need to look after Sno and their ill health stopped her six months before she died.    Marvelling at how much voluntary time she and Ken Dobbs (the Chamber’s President of many years) spent on Chamber and Carnivale matters,  I once asked her how or why she continued to be so enthusiastic even though she had retired.  Her response was typical Paula.  “It keeps me sharp”. 

After she retired, Paula was the unofficial and definitely undisputed Chairman of the Wednesday “Ladies who Lunchalot at Salsa”.   Good food and good wine consumption aside, at those lunches Paula conceived and solved more Chamber and Carnival matters than the rest of us could do in weeks.    Salsa without Paula for Wednesday lunch or Sno and Paula for Friday lunch will never be the same. 

Paula’s business acumen and drive was sharp.  But that is not why she will be missed.  When she died on 10 February 2015, aged 70 that twinkle that had always seemed so bright and constant suddenly went out leaving Port Douglas a darker place.