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Tropical Sketchfest / Excitement Builds for a Weekend of Artistic Creativity around the Douglas Shire

THE inaugural Port Douglas Tropical Sketchfest is a new and exciting arts and tourism event taking place around the Douglas Shire this weekend. 

THE inaugural Port Douglas Tropical Sketchfest is a new and exciting arts and tourism event taking place around the Douglas Shire this weekend. 

Sketchfest 2021 is proudly sponsored by local tourism operators and international art suppliers Derwent, Artline and Eckersleys. The event will kick off with a launch party at the Port Douglas Community Hall this Friday October 8 from 5-7pm. 

Urban Sketching is fast-growing international movement with over 70,000 members.  The governing body urbansketchers.org is a nonprofit volunteer-run organisation established in 2007.    Urban sketchers draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what they see from direct observation. Their mission is to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel.

The local Douglas Shire chapter, “Urban Sketchers Port Douglas/Mossman” was established in 2019.

Members meet weekly, alternatively in Port Douglas and Mossman, sketching a wide variety of local destinations and buildings of interest. 

Each session is followed by a “throwdown” where sketchers gather to enjoy each others’ work.

Urban Sketching sessions are free and non judgemental. The local group of sketchers includes beginners and established artists.  It is a happy, healthy, community-minded activity and is growing rapidly in number. 

Sketchfest 2021 made possible through grants from RADF and the Douglas Shire Council, auspiced by Port Douglas Artists Inc and supported by Douglas Arts Base. 

During Tropical Sketchfest 2021 artists can enjoy endless opportunities for sketching the many fabulous sites and subjects of our beautiful slice of paradise including Mossman and Port Douglas Markets, classical Queensland architecture like Mossman’s Exchange Hotel, the heritage-listed Port Douglas Sugar Wharf and Museum, Port Douglas Marina and the natural beauty of Mossman Gorge.



What’s On for Tropical Sketchfest 2021

Friday 8 October / Port Douglas Community Hall 13-29 Mowbray Street

5pm Registration confirmation / Each registered sketcher will be given a Sketchfest lanyard with numbered card. Photo release forms will also be distributed.

6pm Welcome to Country and official launch of event. Sketchers and their families will be introduced to the weekend activities with a general meet and greet with local sketchers and event volunteers. Distribution of Sketchfest support materials, special maps and brochures. Cash bar.


Saturday 9 October /

8.45am  Meet at the Community Hall before heading north on an Exemplar coach to the famous old sugar town of Mossman on the banks of the picturesque Mossman River for sketching various local landmarks.

The local Mossman Saturday Markets feature marvellous stalls of local produce and handmade goods. There are the famous Raintrees which shade the market and the historic St. David’s Church. Alternatively there is the classic Queenslander architecture of the Exchange Hotel and Post Office Hotels and the iconic 100+ year old Mossman Sugar Mill. Enjoy many and diverse sketching possibilities.

While in Mossman Sketchers will be guests of the local arts group Douglas Arts Base and Gallery in Mill Street for refreshments and amenities. The Gallery will also feature and exhibition of sketches by our local USk chapter USk Port Douglas/Mossman.

12.15pm  Travel by Exemplar to Mossman Gorge for lunch at the fabulous Kuku Yalangi Gorge Centre. Afternoon Sketchwalk along the magnificent Mossman Gorge with its beautiful swimming spots and lively local fauna of jungle perch and bush turkeys.

4.30pm Return by Exemplar to Port Douglas. The annual food and wine extravaganza “Taste of Port Douglas” is being held this weekend. Alternative evening venues include the Courthouse Hotel (“Courty”) or Central Hotel for a sketch and sip or an optional pre-booked Sunset Cruise on the authentic Chinese Junk “Shaolin“, or a luxury catamaran. Sailaway are generously offering a 2-for-1 pricing if you are a registered sketcher. Pre-bookings essential.

Dinner will be Sketcher’s own choice or Combined Club or other venue (tbc)

The Exchange Hotel in Mossman / Image Credit / @gailshawpaints

Sunday 10 October /

9am Meet at Port Douglas Sunday Market (market opens at 7am).

Easy walk to various sketching sites including the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, the Sugar Wharf, St Mary’s by the Sea, the historic old Courthouse Museum, Rex Smeal Park and the walk up Flagstaff Hill for a magnificent view over Port’s famous Four Mile Beach and the glittering expanse of the Coral Sea.

Lunch / Own Choice

4pm Sunset barbeque at Rex Smeal Park (byo Sundowners)

5pm THROWDOWN and group photograph

Please make every effort to be part of this moment to share this event with the urban sketching audience around the world – many of whom have been unable to participate with their local chapters due to the global pandemic. Photo release forms will be distributed.


Monday 11 October /

Sketchers Choice. 

Because there are so many fabulous sketching options in easy walk of each other, some sketchers may prefer to stay in Port Douglas for the day. The alternatives are rich and varied and include a visit to the Wildlife Habitat (who are offering a special rate for registered sketchers) to see rare tropical fauna including cassowaries and tree kangaroos, brilliant birdlife and crocodiles.

Four Mile Beach is the perfect relaxation spot. Alternatively there is a magnificent range of exciting pre-booked adventures to be had including Hartley’s Crocodile Farm, snorkelling at Low Isles, trips to the Daintree Rainforest (allow a whole day) and tours on the Daintree River. Our partners in sketching, The North Of The Daintree River Arts Society Inc will be delighted to welcome you to the oldest rainforest on the planet.

Non sketching partners also have plenty of activities to enjoy including special rates at Palmer Sea Reef Golf Club or a trip on the jet boat Reef Sprinter to Low Isles. There’s also the magnificent Sheraton Golf Course and the friendly local 18 Mossman Golf Course with value-packed rates.

Port Douglas Tropical Sketchfest 2021 is proudly sponsored by Derwent, Artline, Eckersleys, Pullman Hotels and Resorts, Sailaway Cruises and of course our own prize-winning Exemplar Coaches and Limousines.


Our mission is to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of on-location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel.


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