By Rama Gaind
A LITTLE slice of paradise awaits you at the Thala Beach Lodge, one of the world’s top eco-resorts in far north Queensland.
Here you are at one with nature as you bask in tropical surrounds overlooking the grandeur of the Great Dividing Range plunging down into the Coral Sea.
Discover the delights of Thala’s luscious sprawl on 145 acres of forested gardens, kilometres of sandy beaches and secluded coves.
What’s more, this deluxe resort, located 16km south of Port Douglas and 38km north of Cairns, meets the requirements of a new demographic of high-end travellers seeking eco-experiences without sacrificing comfort.
According to the lodge manager Johan Klindt, “We’re finding guests that come to stay with us aren’t looking for glitz or glamour, they are looking for a lasting and special experience to take home with them, stories they will remember forever and share with friends and family. That’s what we focus on along with our high standard of comfort”.
Snugly ensconced amongst heritage-listed rainforest are 85 deluxe timber bungalows built sustainably on stilts, looking through the tree canopy to see dense forest wrap around the mountains as they stretch across the skyline falling to the waters’ edge.
You feel as if you’re in the midst of trees, in your very own tree house – no, actually I am in one! It’s an indescribable feeling … reminiscent of Tarzan, and dare I say it, Jane.
At one with nature
Thala nurtures its environment, as grass trees sprout along pathways, their scaly black trunks topped with tufted grassy headdresses, stunted reminders of a land long ago. Slate paving, cut from a nearby quarry, show glimpses of Gondwana in fossils that are more than 400 million years old.
The main building at this retreat is open and spacious, embracing all the elements of the tropics. Built from local timbers, the polished timber reflects the warm sun of the tropics by day and the soft flicker of lamp light by night, enabling the cool sea breezes to flow freely.
Forest paths weave amongst wispy eucalyptus with chalk white bark, linking the bungalows with the main building. A path runs on down the headland and onto the sandy beach where delightful hours can be spent discovering secluded coves, frolicking at the water’s edge or just feeling the warm sand between your toes.
The privately-owned lodge is built atop a secluded peninsula jutting into the Coral Sea, surrounded by world-heritage mountains, a stunning coastline and the Great Barrier Reef Marine park on the seaward side.
Owners Rob and Oonagh Prettejohn have demonstrated an affinity with the natural environment, planting thousands of indigenous plants to rehabilitate the area and return the land back to a wild natural state.
For more than three decades, the couple shepherded the re-establishment of complex forests on land that was once devastated. As well, they’ve built an internationally recognized luxury holiday experience.
Six different habitats are concentrated into Thala’s majestic peninsula: ancient littoral rainforest, casuarinas and mangroves lap the beach, while dry eucalypt woodland, gallery forest and coconuts occupy the higher ground and inland creeks.
Wildlife populations from birds to lizards to native wallabies have returned and flourished in abundance on the site. Thala Beach Lodge has achieved the highest accreditation of eco-tourism through its sustainable practice and environmental sensitivity – a certification that doesn’t get given out easily.
Thala Beach Lodge is located on the northern most headland of a 2km stretch of untouched coastline. The views from Ospreys Restaurant are panoramic, taking in the FNQ coast from Double Island to Cape Tribulation, and from the sparkling waters of the Great Barrier Reef to the world heritage forests that cover the coastal ranges.
Colourful rainbow lorikeets – just one of about 185 species of birds found in Thala – are often spotted in treetops feeding off the nectar in the morning light.
The staff delight in sharing their passion and extensive knowledge of the environment. Explore and understand the colourful birds, butterflies, reptiles and astonishing vegetation. Thala has a large on-site coconut plantation and has incorporated the fleshy fruit into its business operations and guest experiences. Go on the Coconut Odyssey tour and let Carl Johanson enlighten you on the astonishing advantages of the ‘Tree of Life’.
If you seek more adventure, then go star gazing in the night sky, take pleasure in turtle spotting from sea kayaks along the secluded coast or enjoy a picnic on the beach, on your balcony or in a romantic cove.
Located between the two world heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, Thala Beach Lodge is where you will relish an exceptionally exclusive experience of the environment!