Thala Beach Nature Reserve in Tropical North Queensland is proud to celebrate 21 years as one of Australia’s leading eco retreats. Since purchasing a formerly degraded sugarcane plantation 45mins north of Cairns, Australia in the early 1970’s, Robert and Oonagh Prettejohn have established a world-class eco retreat, which opened its doors on 20 May 1998.
It’s a significant milestone for the eco retreat which champions sustainable tourism, luring nature-loving travellers from around the globe.
In recognition of Thala’s substantial credentials in offering deluxe eco-designed accommodation while minimising their environmental footprint, in 2018 the beachfront eco lodge was handpicked for membership of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World after successfully undergoing a rigorous vetting process. The standards for inclusion are based on four pillars of sustainable tourism: protection of natural heritage, protection of cultural heritage, support for local communities, and environmentally friendly practices. Thala is one of only two lodges in Australia that meet National Geographic’s strict membership criteria.
A peaceful sanctuary for nature-loving travellers, for more than 10 years Thala has achieved Advanced Eco-certification and, in 2017, was awarded Green Travel Leader status (Ecotourism Australia) through responsible, sustainable practices and environmental sensitivity.
“It is heartening to see a growing demand and recognition for nature-based experiences. Thala being declared one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World endorses this and is a very welcome birthday present,” says Robert Prettejohn.
“There is a happy and proud spirit amongst our staff and this reflects in the high levels of enjoyment that guests regularly comment on. The synergy between our staff and guests has been the driving force behind achieving significant improvement to the natural ecosystems. Biodiversity has increased enormously since we commenced a revegetation program in the 1970’s.”
“Thala offers a good example of how our guests have created local employment through demand for local produce and services whilst also improving the natural environment by minimising our footprint. This is ecotourism at its best, working with nature to build a better future.”
Perfectly positioned on a private headland, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is surrounded by the UNESCO World Heritage sites of The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest, providing easy access for guests to immerse themselves in the surrounding natural grandeur and the abundance of nature-based activities on offer.
Thala’s unique accommodation is made up of 83 eco designed, tree house-style bungalows set on 58 hectares of native rainforest, with 2km of private-access beach. Complimentary guided tours with onsite Rangers allow Thala’s guests to enjoy full immersion in the natural environment through birds, wildlife, coconut plantation and star gazing themed immersive walks along with Indigenous cultural presentations.