News and updates about Port Douglas, Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef, North Queensland and Thala Beach Nature Reserve. Share our News on social media and don’t forget to use the #thalabeach hashtag!

Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius)

By admin| November 30, 2012|

The splashes of colour and vitality of Far North Queensland are part of what makes it such a wonderful destination, especially considering it’s such a serene and soothing place. And one live-in resident that adds to this chromatic frenzy, in such a graceful manner, is the Illawarra flame tree, scientifically named Brachychiton acerifolius. A small to medium sized tree which can fire up to 40 metres in height, the flame tree is Queensland’s biblical incarnation of the burning bush. This

Kuku Yalanji

By admin| November 23, 2012|

Originating from the rainforests of Far North Queensland, the Kuku Yalanji people have been living in harmony with the environment for over 50,000 years. While their borders extend from Port Douglas in the south, to Cooktown in the north and Chillagoe in the west, the Kuku Yalanji began concentrating around the Mossman River area from WWII onwards. An integral part of the belief system of the Kuku Yalanji, also known as "rainforest people”, revolves around nature and the knowledge of

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly

By admin| November 16, 2012|

The largest endemic butterfly in Australia, the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly has a wingspan of up to 18cm. Besides its proportional, pterodactyl-like reach, other conspicuous traits include its vivid colouration, particularly in the male, who’s wings contain vibrant splashes of emerald green. Found in north-eastern Australia, from Mackay to Cooktown, the Cairns Birdwing Butterfly’s favourite habitat is primary rainforest. However it will also subsist and breed within an urban garden given it contains the right variety of plants. About this, the

The Rainbow Lorikeet

By admin| November 5, 2012|

A colourful addition to the treetops of Far North Queensland is the rainbow lorikeet. Possessing a stunning chromatic plumage in the form of a deep-blue head, bright-green wings, tail, back, and a yellow-rump and thighs, the lorikeet’s vibrant hues light up the rainforest surrounds. Rainbow Lorikeets are common visitors to the treetops surrounding Osprey's Restaurant at Thala where their colourful display and boisterous attitude provides amusing entertainment for diners. Also found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, the Soloman

Hang gliding Port Douglas

By admin| October 24, 2012|

Hang gliding in Port Douglas is an adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life. If you have ever wondered what flying like a bird is really like, then hang gliding during your visit to Port Douglas or taking a microlight flight could be just the experience for you. Imagine the ground far below you as you are transported into the vast blue sky above. A new world opens up to you as you witness the cool

Brain Coral

By admin| October 19, 2012|

Found in warm, shallow water environments at the Great Barrier Reef and around the world, the cerebral looking brain coral lends a sci-fi atmosphere to its watery world below. These interesting looking organisms have been known to live to 900 years of age, and can grow as tall as six feet. Each brain coral is formed by genetically identical polyps which secrete a hard exoskeleton of calcium carbonate. This makes brain coral one of the most important coral reef builders.

The Hawksbill Turtle

By admin| October 16, 2012|

For many, the most awe inspiring sight at the Great Barrier Reef is spotting a turtle. These gentle, graceful creatures are marvellous to see in their natural habitat, and are uncommon enough to be a wondrous novelty. One such species often found cruising these waters in Far North Queensland is the hawksbill turtle. The hawksbill, which owes its name to its tapered head ending in a pointed bird-like mouth, can be found throughout various parts of the Atlantic and Pacific

Rainforest Dragonfly

By admin| October 12, 2012|

Of the many varied creatures that reside in and around Thala, one of the more colourful and mysterious would surely be the rainforest dragonfly. Firstly, these colourful and powerful hoverers, who look as if they belong in Avatar, can fly sideways and backwards, as well as forwards. Found throughout various parts of the world, rainforest dragonflies generally enjoy hovering around creek beds, in forest glades and along walking tracks. Belonging to the insect group Odonata, they are often seen near

Stargazing with Rose

By admin| October 2, 2012|

While sounding like some late night flowery encounter, stargazing with Rose involves an hour or so with Rose Wyatte, Thala’s resident astronomical scout, who guides guests through the southern constellations at the on-site observatory. Lying a short walk (or buggy ride) from Thala’s foyer, the observatory sits amongst native bushland, and comprises two weighty telescopes. Here Rose often stands enthusiastically with her flashing green pointer, which she uses to locate portions of the sky in order to share her astronomical

Parrot Fish

By admin| September 25, 2012|

The colourful, ubiquitous parrot fish is a marvellous addition to the waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef. Besides handsomely adding to the colour spectrum of this coral rich wonderland, the parrot fish contains a number of quirks that makes it a particularly interesting species. While there’s 30 different types of parrot fish in the Great Barrier Reef alone, it still relies on several inbuilt mechanisms to ensure its continued survival. Just one male parrot fish can produce whopping amounts of

Batfish

By admin| September 21, 2012|

While fish have different things going for them, it surely would pay to be a batfish, an elongated, laterally flattened species that could dart through the narrowest of crevices. Besides providing a good game, such a skill would surely prove useful in a fleeting escape from a hungry predator. These reef dwelling fish can often be seen at the Great Barrier Reef, although their appealing good looks means they’re also commonly kept in aquariums. However, it’s the younger fish that

Crinoids

By admin| September 18, 2012|

Often termed lilies of the sea, crinoids, which can resemble a beautiful underwater flower, or perhaps even a creature from a Ridley Scott thriller, are amongst the oldest living creatures on earth. While suffering a major extinction episode in the Permo-Triassic, today their population remains stable, although they’ve since mostly shifted to deeper waters. Above: Crinoid on Tongue Reef - The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The word crinoid comes from the Greek word krinon (lily) and eidos (form). One unusual

Red-legged Pademelon

By admin| September 14, 2012|

A one-of-a-kind rainforest wallaby with rust coloured limbs, the Red-legged Pademelon is a spirited creature that communicates via hard thumps in the ground. The males also make a harsh, rasping sound after romantic rejection, and a soft clucking sound during sensual success. Found in the wet forests of eastern Australia and New Guinea, this colourful bouncer has a short, thick tail, and stands at about 2 ½ feet tall. Its primary food is fallen leaves, but they also feed on

White-lipped Tree Frog

By admin| September 11, 2012|

Unlike the adage suggests, the White-lipped Tree Frog doesn't suffer from fear or terror, rather its name owes to a brilliant white stripe that runs from its lower lip to its shoulder. Other hued characteristics include thighs that turn salmon pink in the males when they’re sexually excited. The White-lipped Tree Frog also possesses several other unique characteristics. Its call sounds like a dog barking, while when in distress, it sounds somewhat like a cats “mew”. It’s also the largest

Musky Rat Kangaroo

By admin| September 7, 2012|

The smallest kangaroo on the planet, the Musky Rat Kangaroo is also a diurnal day napper, usually taking a kip at midday before sleeping through the night. However, unlike the kangaroo, this furry little macropod has a bounding rather than a hopping gait, travelling on all fours, much like the rabbit. It also has possum-like features, which includes a large toe or hallux on its hind feet which it uses to climb trees. Its tail curls much like a possum’s,

Kauri Pine

By admin| September 4, 2012|

If you’re fortunate enough to be vacationing in this part of the world, it pays to immerse yourself under the local vegetation, to get the essence of the place, and to infuse some delightful native smells into your well-being. One such specimen well worth poking a stick at is the Kauri Pine. Found solely on Fraser Island, around Maryborough, and just west of Cairns, the Kauri Pine is a charming tree that’s lived through a tumultuous past at the hands

Barron Falls

By admin| August 31, 2012|

Thundering and churning its way through the Wet Tropics World Heritage area, in the Barron Gorge National Park, Barron Falls puts on a spectacular display during the height of the wet season. At other times, the mighty roar of the Barron can be reduced to little more than a trickle. However, what sets Barron Falls apart from other cascades of its calibre, is its lush setting, and the fact it can be viewed from a stop on a scenic rail

Mareeba Rock-wallaby

By admin| August 28, 2012|

A member of the Allied Rock Wallabies, which is not an association but a scientific classification, the Mareeba Rock-wallaby shares characteristics with the Sharman’s Rock-wallaby and the Allied Rock Wallaby. However, unlike others of its clan, the Mareeba Rock Wallaby is a relative newcomer to the rock-hopping classificatory system. It was only recently, in 1992, that the Mareeba Rock Wallaby was classified as genetically distinct from its relatives. While the Allied Rock Wallabies are known to be parapatric, which is

Rainforest Fungi

By admin| August 24, 2012|

Diverse, colourful, animal-like, bioluminescent and often toxic. Sounding like an unfriendly creature from another planet, rainforest fungi are quite the opposite, as they are crucial to the survival of one of the world’s most sensitive ecosystems. Firstly, their animal association sprouted after it was found fungi do not contain chlorophyll like other plants, rather they are heterotrophic, producing their own food and chitin in their cell walls, much like animals. Comprising one of the five biological kingdoms on Earth, fungi

Coral Trout

By admin| August 21, 2012|

Also known as the Leopard Coral Grouper, the Coral Trout could be considered somewhat of a lush, as it will rarely move outside of a 500 metre area, while it has a particular penchant for prawns. Who can blame them? After all, many of us like to sit at home on our couch eating our favourite food. Found throughout the world, including various parts of the western Pacific, the Coral Trout can often be seen in and around the waters

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