Donning shorts and T-shirts in the midst of a tropical winter, photographer Dee Kramer and I arrived at the foyer of Thala Beach Lodge, just south of Port Douglas. Greeted by warm smiles, we checked in, booked our lunch in Ospreys Restaurant, and decided to walk around the grounds.
Further inspection revealed a bar, rock pools, forested walks and our deluxe cabins (yes we had one each) with beachfront views. This place was literally in a world of its own, sitting out on a headland away from the hustle and bustle while being run by possibly the friendliest staff ever. It must be the coconuts, I thought.
After a lunch of seared atlantic salmon with spiced puy lentils, Dee and I raced down to Thala’s Oak Beach with schoolboy enthusiasm (though not agility). Soon after, Dee spied a turtle hovering just off the rocks, and for a good half hour, we sat there watching it surface and descend again into the Coral Sea.
Just where were we again? This was magic.
After another feast at Ospreys, I gazed at possibly the clearest skies I’d remembered seeing before getting an early sleep. As the next day we were heading out to one of Thala’s local attractions – the Great Barrier Reef.
After a hearty breakfast and a quick chat with coconut Carl, who runs coconut tours at Thala Beach Lodge, we took off.
Not 30 minutes into the trip and humpback whales were breaching alongside the boat. Then, upon arriving at Opal Reef, we saw clownfish, parrot fish, spotted sweetlips and a range of coral that appeared part of a ginormous chromatic wonderland.
Returning from our colourful oceanic adventure, Dee and I sought solace in Ospreys, trying a bottle of pinot noir before tucking into some local barramundi.
With full bellies we traipsed down to Thala’s Saturday night star gazing tour, where our host, Rose Wyatte, was possibly the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide to the stars ever. She was obviously drinking the coconuts too.
Our third and final day was spent exploring Thala’s littoral rainforest, spying the osprey bird hide above the coconut plantation, walking along private beachfront, and goofing off in the in-house rock pools before enjoying a well earned scotch. Surely we’d earned it?
Heading home, I know I’ll be back. Thala Beach Lodge is the sort of place that has a hard time leaving your head once it’s been in there. Stop it Thala, I’m trying to work!