Environmentally friendly eco retreat
Great sensitivity is paid to the natural environment that Thala shares with the local plants and animals. Thala has achieved the highest possible accreditation of eco tourism awarded to resorts and hotels. Conservation and sustainability is a top priority for Thala and guests are encouraged to tread softly and appreciate the local environment.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve contains some unique habitats ranging from rainforest, open woodlands, mangrove forest, grasslands, regrowth areas, a rich coastal marine environment and the coconut plantation, all surrounded in world heritage forest.
The lodge itself is situated amongst a natural stand of Eucalyptus forest/dry woodland forest. The dominant species through this forest are the Eucalyptus platyphylla (commonly called Poplar Gums). Thala is locally famous for its fine display of these beautiful eucalypts. Sugar Gliders and Striped possums are frequently seen feeding as they move through these trees and roost in the tree hollows during the day.
Dry rainforest or vine thicket forest, as it’s sometimes described, is adjacent to the mangroves and sand dune systems. Rich in ground ferns, tall canopy trees and vines, this type of forest is rare on the coast these days. This forest contains many mixed species of plant life, some of which are very rare and endangered. This is an area you may come across bird life not often seen in other parts of the property. Orange footed scrub fowl nest here in large mounds of composting vegetation and have done so for many generations. A path makes its way gently through this forest continuing on to other habitats as it continues its circuit.
Behind the sand dunes of Oak Beach stretching to the southern end of the beach is a system of mangroves containing tidal creeks and lagoons with a rich array of salt-resistant mangrove plants. Some of these areas are easily accessed and our guides would be happy to enlighten you on these biologically rich tidal forests.
Grassland and regrowth areas are areas sugar once thrived , now pioneer trees and a mix of grasses dominate making it perfect habitat for grazing wallabies.
Thala’s native forest contains some interesting species that are unique to tropical north Queensland. Check out the Gallery page for an extensive gallery of wildlife and plant photos.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve is located amongst an abundance of wildlife. During your experience you may be lucky enough to spot some of these unique animals in their natural existence.
Sparse or rare in Australia the Striped Possum can be spotted at Thala Beach Nature Reserve if you are lucky – recognisable by the black and white striping running the length of its body. There are four species of striped possum, three found in Papua New Guinea and one in Australia. Sleeping during the day in a leaf lined nest in a tree hole – it emerges during the night to leap through the forest canopy and feed on wood-boring insect larvae. Very little is known about the reproductive biology of this elusive marsupial.
Typically 285 – 400 mm in length, the Musky Rat Kangaroo is the smallest of the macropod family. It sleeps at night in a nest of vegetation and forages by daylight hours on the forest floor for fruit and insects. It is only found in a limited area in North Queensland and lives a solitary existence.
Another unique Australian spotted at Thala Beach Nature Reserve is the Red Eyed Green Tree frog. Strikingly coloured with a green back, deep yellow underside and a pair of bright orange irises it is easily recognisable. Growing to a length of 65 mm and mainly spotted in wet coastal rainforest the males are mainly heard calling from October to February – during and after heavy rain.
Thala supports Cairns Frog Hospital
A common visitor to Thala Beach Nature Reserve is the Australian Brush Turkey. Typically 60-70cm in length, it is easily identified by its yellow wattle hanging under its neck. The Brush Turkey is a common sight in north Queensland and it is normally spotted in forests and dense vegetation. The brush turkey incubates its eggs in a large mound of leaf and vegetable matter, which is constructed by the male of the species.
Often heard before it is seen – the Laughing Kookaburra emits a boisterous ‘laughing’ call. It is the largest of the kingfisher family and has a large bill that it sometimes uses to tackle small reptiles.
“I have been birding for 30 years and this is the best area in Australia,” says David, our bird and butterfly expert. “In the whole of Australia there are some 750 species and up here we have over 400. This is because of the different habitats and climates we have. Rainforest, open forest, dry country, swamps, mountains and the sea all next to each other !”
You will be thrilled at the colour and variety of species to be found at Thala. An early start to hear the first chorus of birds in full song is a wonderful way to welcome a new day.
Check out the Gallery page for an extensive gallery of wildlife and plant photos.