The Hobart

Thala Beach Reserve – Heaven For Nature Lovers

by Bonita Grima
Thala Beach Reserve – Heaven For Nature Lovers

On a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, a small collection of deluxe stilted bungalows sit amongst the treetops, protected by native forest, as far as the eye can see.

Stepping out onto the elevated timber decking of my ‘Coral Sea’ bungalow, the name does not disappoint, for spread out before me, the stunning coastline feels exclusive. Of course, there are other guests enjoying the very same view, but we are camouflaged well within our leafy hideaways.

For the discerning nature-lover, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is one of Australia’s leading eco resorts, achieving the highest level of accreditation from Ecotourism Australia. When owners, Rob and Oonagh Prettejohn, bought the ex-sugarcane property back in the seventies, just 45 of 145 acres remained as forest. But thanks to their rehabilitation efforts over the years, both land and wildlife numbers have returned to health. Around 200 bird species, 120 butterfly species, and various native animals inhabit Thala’s grounds. For guests like me, wanting to immerse themselves further in nature, there’s a range of authentic and informative experiences to choose whether it’s wildlife spotting with local rangers, cultural talks and activities with Kuku Yalanji elders, stargazing at the onsite observatory or taking a tour through the reserve’s own coconut plantation.

I join Thala’s Coconut Odyssey tour with guide, Naprari Tunsted, in the grove that’s been drawing a healthy Instagram crowd for its ‘cathedral’ of coconut trees. Demonstrating how to husk the fibrous fruit, Napari, who is of Torres Strait Islander descent, imparts the interesting health benefits of the ‘tree of life’ and shares fond childhood memories of his mother’s use of coconut during cooking. It gives me an appetite for more.

Osprey is Thala’s open-air rainforest canopy restaurant and serves a menu focused on local and seasonal ingredients. I choose prawns with coconut from the plantation and black rice and avocado, served with taro chips, green onion and a lime and coconut dressing. It’s also a pretty special spot to enjoy a sundowner. With a bird’s eye view to mountains and the sparkling Coral Sea, I’m reminded of my position here, between two world heritage sites – Great Barrier Reef and Daintree rainforest..

After a swim in one of the freeform pools, I explore the many trails winding throughout the property and I’m delighted when I spot some of the little birds from the list displayed in the lobby – honeyeaters, metallic starlings and willy wagtails. Reaching a rest area named ‘Dugong Lookout’, I sit listening to waves rolling in amid all the birdsong. Eyes closed, I find a sense of peace, and realise it’s this feeling that draws people here, from all corners of the globe.

From the owner’s own artwork inspired by nature, to the drinking fountains and brushes ‘for sandy toes’ that I discover on the path up from the private beach, it’s the little signs of care at Thala that make it deserving of its emblem, the White-bellied Sea-Eagle a symbol of fidelity in untamed coastlines. ■

Bonita Grima was a guest of Thala Beach NatureReserve. Visit thalabeach.com.au

Love this

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close
Exploring Tassie These Winter School Holidays
We know that staying indoors with the family isn’t always fun. And while it’s obviously cold outside, you’re only a puffer jacket and beanie away from being comfortable and ready to explore. There’s lots of family fun to be had in all sorts of weird and wonderful places across the state these school holidays.
Sand Surfing on the Peninsula
The half-day walk to Crescent Beach in the Tasman National Park offers so much- including epic sand dunes for surfing and incredible views.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
Magazine
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
November 2021

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!