Thala Beach Nature Reserve
Eco-friendly bungalows in the forest canopy
- 84 rooms
- Two bars
- Explore the nature reserve
- Visit Port Douglas
Located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is an eco-friendly lodge sitting within 58 acres of native forest. The idea behind the lodge was to create a place that exists in harmony with its surroundings rather than trying to dominate them.
84 bungalows are dotted throughout the forest canopy, providing guests with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in some of Australia’s most beautiful natural scenery. With smart timber finishes and furnishings, bungalows are spacious and homely, and feature private balconies from where you can gaze out across the eucalyptus trees. The Coral Sea and Sandpiper bungalows look out over the sparkling waters of the ocean, so keep your eyes peeled for Bryde’s whales or a pod of Australian snub fin dolphins
Sit down for a meal at Osprey’s Restaurant and enjoy contemporary Australian cuisine alongside panoramic views towards Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink at Curlews Lounge and watch as the sky changes colour, birds flitting through the treetops. You can also tuck into a delicious picnic hamper on the decking of your bungalow, or enjoy it anywhere on the grounds of the lodge.
There is no better tonic for aching muscles after your island adventures than a session at the spa. The studio provides a myriad of treatments to ensure you leave feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and calm, and there are also two freeform swimming pools with their own waterfalls.
Restoring the local ecosystem
In the early 1970s, when Rob Prettejohn purchased the land that would become Thala Beach Nature Reserve, he had an idea that was ahead of its time. The conservation-minded entrepreneur envisioned an eco-retreat nestled among nature, a place that existed in harmony with its surroundings rather than trying to dominate them. At the time, the land in question included 100 acres of sugarcane—the region’s main industry—and the local government encouraged developers to clear the rainforest in favor of more crops. Resisting the decree to cut down trees, Rob began instead to plant them—a lot of them.
Over the next 30 years, he returned the land to its pristine, wooded state, attracting native wildlife back to the fold and restoring the local ecosystem—all while creating an eco-friendly lodge that welcomes guests from around the world. With the return of the forests, wildlife populations have exploded bringing their pulsating natural energy.
Approximately 120 butterfly species and almost 200 bird species have been spotted at Thala. On-site rangers estimate that there are at least 50 agile wallabies inhabiting the forest. Young joeys and pregnant females are regularly sighted, indicating a thriving population. Frogs, lace monitor lizards, sugar gliders, echidnas, spiders and geckos are in abundance too.
Working with the local communities
Recognising the importance of the spirit of their local indigenous communities Thala invites the elders of the Kuku Yalanji community to take their guests through the journey of their culture. From healing plants to bush food the elders bring in leaves and seeds for guests to handle and learn their history and importance to the survival of this wonderful community. Musical instruments so important to the rites and rituals of the ancient peoples of this ancient land are a part of Thala’s experience. A didgeridoo demonstration is the highlight of the cultural presentation. Thala is grateful to the Kuku Yalanji elders for their eager sharing of their ancient knowledge and cultural traditions.
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