Spectacular tourist drive open to cyclists for inaugural festival

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Far north to get economic boost from pedal power.

Cyclists on the Great Barrier Reef Drive, heading towards Port Douglas.

Cyclists will have far north Queensland’s iconic Great Barrier Reef Drive to themselves when competing in the inaugural Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival on 9-11 September.

Founded by Cairns event company Connect Sport Australia, the cycling festival includes timed 136km and 100km return Gran Fondo rides from Port Douglas to Palm Cove, north of Cairns, and a 48km one-way Medio Fondo ride from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.

Connect Sport Australia Managing Director Bade Stapleton said the opportunity to safely ride the spectacular Great Barrier Reef Drive while it was closed would be a highlight of the three-day event.

“The Gran Fondo field will be capped at 3000 riders to allow the Great Barrier Reef Drive to be closed for half a day on Sunday 11 September, but we expect to see more than 5000 cyclists and their families arrive in Port Douglas to enjoy a holiday in conjunction with the event,” Mr Stapleton said.

“The festival kicks off on Saturday with the Criterium, a 2.2km-lap circuit starting and finishing outside the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, which will be followed by the Choo Choos Free Family Ride before the road reopens.

“Sunrise sports presenter Mark Beretta will MC the Hemingway’s Brewery sprint race under lights along the 250m Wharf Street straight while local bands play on Saturday night. A sponsors’ expo and official launch also will be among the festivities.”

Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Michael Healy said the Port Douglas Gran Fondo was a welcome addition to the Queensland events calendar.

“The benefits new events like this bring to towns like Port Douglas are vital in supporting the region’s economy and attracting more visitors to Queensland,” Mr Healey said.

“I encourage visitors to stay a little longer to explore beyond the festival hub and experience the wonders of Tropical North Queensland – from the Daintree Rainforest and Indigenous cultural experiences to the Great Barrier Reef and tropical islands, not to mention the world-class dining, incredible wildlife and surrounding national parks.”

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the festival had the potential to become the town’s annual showpiece sports event, injecting more than $21 million into the region’s economy within the first three years.

“Major events like this can ensure the long-term sustainability of our local tourism industry and bring a festival atmosphere to the village for locals to enjoy,” Cr Kerr said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival would be another opportunity to showcase the destination and capitalise on the region’s reputation for world-class sporting events.

“Cyclists and their families are high-value travellers who are happy to travel from around Australia to participate in events and stay longer to experience the destination,” Mr Olsen said.

“The Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival will be the perfect excuse they need to explore the world’s oldest rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.”

Visit the Gran Fondo Festival website to register.

Visit RACQ Travel for more far north Queensland holiday ideas

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.