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!
When TV presenter Dean Miller and executive chef Alastair McLeod joined for an episode of Queensland Weekender, the two could hardly look more dissimilar. However, what they shared on their week long adventure in Far North Queensland was infectious enthusiasm, along with the ability to have a good laugh (often at their own expense). Watch the full Queensland Weekender episode below: Kicking off their odyssey in Thala Beach Lodge, the two took to the superbly tropical surrounds like giddy schoolboys.
While sounding like some disturbing hybrid mutation that swoops residents while making loud honking noises, the magpie goose is a species in its own right. In fact, it comes from a very old family, with one relative, Vegavis iaai, known to subsist approximately 67 million years ago. However, much like other geese, the magpie goose does indeed utter a loud honking sound. And if you’re in any doubt you’ve spotted one, they also have a distinct black and white plumage
With a name like Yellow Honeyeater, it’s no wonder this bird often chirps happily, as it conjures up such lovely imagery. It's also a fortunate bird in that it’s endemic to north Queensland, where it flutters around its favourite tropical haunt - moist, lowland and mangrove forests, where it enjoys the good life. Despite its syrup slurping surname, the bird in fact mostly eats nectar from plants such as Grevilleas and wild Bottlebrush Orchids. It appears to enjoy this existence
While sounding like a sweet bird, the Brahminy Kite is not to be trifled with. With piercing dark eyes and a strongly aquiline yellow beak, the bird is primarily a scavenger, feeding on dead fish and crabs. And in order to get its meal, it will readily steal fish from other birds, attacking its fellow sky cruisers such as Whistling Kites and Ospreys. Found on the Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia, and Australia, the Brahminy Kite soars mainly around the coast,
Look to the skies in the country’s north, particularly during dry periods, and you may see (or hear) a strange and beautiful bird. A dark creature with red panels on its tail, the red-tailed black cockatoo is a diurnal and notoriously raucous bird. In courtship, the males softly growl before puffing out their feathers, hiding their beak, singing and then flashing their red tail at the female, who then often bites him. The female red-tailed black cockatoo, unlike the its
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
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
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
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 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,