Wednesday, July 3, 2013

North Queensland - perfect locations

Colonial ambience
Last weekend I went to north Queensland; I flew into Cairns from Sydney, and walking across the airport tarmac was swathed in the beautiful balmy, winter breeze of the tropics. I was with a few friends and we had work to do for one day only - and let me tell you, being locked up in a dim room and Palm Cove and the sea outside calling, made for a discontented me.
We stayed at Reef House, an institution at the 'Cove'. The Reef House was officially opened by the erstwhile Joh Bjelke-Petersen in 1985, and even though she's a classic tropical beauty, she's looking a little bit last century. Accor have taken over The Reef House now so expect some elegant makeover tactics.
The rooms are big and airy and with a large balcony overlooking one of the pools - is great for a relaxing afternoon snooze.
We had our meeting there and we were plied with morning tea of pastries, fruit and juice. Dinner that night in the lovely open-air restaurant with view to the sea was a splendid degustation of five dishes - mmmm, brilliant.
The establishment is now called Reef House Boutique Resort and Spa.

Pick a pack'o'Peppers
The first night in Palm Cove the group was treated to dinner at Peppers Beach Club & Spa, a lovely property set in the heart of Palm Cove village, not far from The Reef House. Stately melaleuca trees shade the resort's porte cochere, and they are a highlight of a walk along the promenade at Palm Cove - one of the magnificent trees is more than 600 years old.
Chef  cooked up a storm at Peppers and we experienced his innovative take on some of the Local bush tucker herbs ad spices - particularly good tucker too.
All in all a beautiful time had by s all in Palm Cove - so envious of the holidaymakers there!

Thala Beach Lodge
I hadn't visited the wonderful Thala Beach Lodge for 5 years, just after it opened. The entire place is like a giant adults tree house with cubbies in stilts in the rain forest. The concept is something very different from anywhere else and over the past 15 years it has mellowed and the trees around the main 'house' have grown. It is built atop a private peninsula jutting into the coral sea, surrounded by World Heritage coastline and the Great Barrier reef Marine Park on the seaward side. My vast room overlooked the Coral Sea and was built (sustainably) on stilts so I felt like I was in the trees - come to think of it, I was.

Other than eating, lazing around the pool and wandering to the beach for a swim or snooze there are lots of interesting activities:

Coconut Odyssey Tour

On Australia’s only coconut tour, not only do you get to drink & eat from the very young green coconut to the little known ‘Coconut Apple’ – you will also learn the truth about the health benefits of coconuts. The ‘Tree Of Life’ has astonishing advantages from helping to reducing body fat and lowering cholesterol, to building the immune system. A tour that helps you lose weight without exercising?! (free for houseguests, day of operation varies week-to-week)

Star Gazing

The Thala night sky is free from light pollution and filled with millions of stars. Surrounded by sounds of the rainforest & ocean – enjoy an introduction to the beautiful Southern Constellations from an experienced & passionate guide. View many fascinating stars & planets using telescopes and binoculars at the unique outdoor observatory. (free for houseguests, nights of operation varies week-to-week)

Turtle spotting from Sea Kayaks along Thala’s secluded coast

To glide low on the water in a kayak is a magical experience. Keeping watch for marine life unperturbed by your silent passage. As you gaze at the lushness of rainforest clad mountains, life becomes timeless and takes on a whole new perspective. Our expert guide will take you in kayaks to his secret places to look for marine turtles, stingrays, dolphins and dugongs. (advance bookings required, charges apply)
Maintain the balance of your body, mind and spirit by taking a sunrise Yoga class: Always under the supervision of our qualified instructor. (advance bookings required, charges apply)
Picnic Baskets
Picnic on our fabulous beach, on your balcony, or in a romantic cove. Take time out from adventure for a romantic picnic in a secluded spot just for two. Tune your moment to the lap of luminescent waves or the call of cicadas at sunset.


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