About Us

Greg Westcott @ Portland Roads

Raised on the family cane farm near Mackay, Greg first worked for Telstra in Brisbane for 25 years before resigning to pursue his passion and love for fishing. One morning while working on a friend’s Prawn-trawler to complete the compulsory two years “sea time” necessary to qualify as a commercial fisher, the trawler anchored up at Portland Roads. Back then in 1993, the then Portland Roads was part of commercial fishing folklore; ‘the roads’ was known to be a bit on the wild side, but hell, do not miss it! Greg went ashore for a look, and almost immediately decided that this could be his new home.

At that time Portland Roads looked a bit like a disused rubbish dump. The esplanade was a shambles; abandoned rusting car bodies, old cast-iron mining equipment and life’s debris strewn amongst the overgrown Guinea Grass and weeds.

But oh! the inherent natural beauty was breathtaking.

He saw the potential for an extremely challenging but very rewarding lifestyle. He has worked, and loved living in Portland Roads ever since.

In 1994 Greg bought a block shoreside at Portland Roads. Like the esplanade, the property was a mess, but with a lot of work, this would be homebase for his commercial fishing business. To make sure this wasn’t too easy, at the same time he project managed the construction of his specialised Spanish Mackerel fishing boat being built in Brisbane some 2,000 kilometres south. There was a lot of to and froing from one end of the State to the other to get this to work!

A self-described ‘mackerel man’, Greg committed the next eleven years to learning all he could about Spanish Mackerel.

“You have to be a mackerel, to be a successful commercial mackerel fisher” was Gregs driving force.

Every year, depending on the weather, monthly tide cycles and water temperature, he tracked and logged the local migration pathway of the fish between the outside and inside reefs along 100 nautical miles of the local coast line. The commitment and hard slog of a logged 13,600 hrs of actual fishing time eventually paid off. In 2005, he had the highest Spanish Mackerel Fishery Quota on the Queensland east-coast.

As time marched on, the chance arose to remain onshore Cooking the Fish instead of Catching the Fish. Portland Roads Out of the Blue Café was born. 

Even before leaving the fishing industry, Greg had recognised that the very remote, and still very isolated Portland Roads had everything going for it to enable a strong economic future through sustainable Tourism.

Having access to the very best local seafood through friends still in the fishing industry, he saw the opportunity to build and operate a Seafood Café/Restaurant on the foreshore at Portland Roads.

Opened in 2008, the bespoke Portland Roads Out of the Blue Café was the first Council accredited Tourism business to be established in the Iron Range locality. It was an immediate success. 

This year the café celebrates 15 years serving the ‘Best Seafood in the Cape’. The café is now famous to those travelling our countries’ backroads and is a must visit to those travelling to the Cape.

Working towards sustainable tourism at Portland Roads plays a large part in Greg’s life 

Side by side with establishing a number of successful small businesses, Greg recognised the need for ongoing community development if Tourism ventures were to be sustainable in the long term:  

  • Extending the yearly Tourism season by two months
  • Greg recognised the latent demand from the world’s Birdwatching fraternity wanting to see the endemic Red Bellied (Papuan) Pita at Iron Range during the wet season. He led the way in showing that the Tourism season for Iron Range could be extended by two months into the wet season by offering visitors an alternative Fly/Drive option to access to the area at a time when the road network is normally closed. In conjunction with Skytrans Airlines, Greg marketed a comprehensive fly/drive/accommodation package for birdwatching groups to stay at Portland House. In the following years the fly/drive concept into Iron Range was quickly adopted by the other accommodation sites; the late December, January’ and early February period is now considered premium time for booking accommodation in the Iron Range locality. 

  • Landscaping the Esplanade at Portland Roads 
  • Greg again took on the Cook Shire Councils part time Town Agent work at Portland Roads. Beside the other duties, it allowed him over many years to tidy and landscape the esplanade to the “tropical coastal paradise” you see today.

  • NRM Regeneration Project at Chili Beach
  • Historically, three hundred meters of the esplanade at Chili Beach in front of the National Park Camping Ground had been badly damaged by fire and vandalism; it badly needed regeneration work to restore this beautiful foreshore. In 2012 Greg sought and received funding from Cape York NRM, and the valued assistance of Cook Shire and the local community to undertake the necessary works to do so. 

  • Foiling the State edict to close the adjacent Coastal Esplanades 
  • Closing the adjacent coastal esplanades could have led to permits being required to access local foreshores and Beaches. Greg led a two-year Community campaign that eventually resulted in the State Government backing down on the proposal. Now like everywhere else on Australia’s coastline, locals and visitors here continue to have unhindered access to the adjacent foreshore and esplanade. 

Greg also instigated this website; a desire to record the colonial history of Portland Roads and the Iron Range locality.