Romance, relaxation, real food and real people make this world-heritage listed pocket of Australia a true piece of paradise in Queensland’s famous Daintree Rainforest.
The drive up the Captain Cook Highway from Cairns, en route to the Daintree Rainforest, has to be one of the most exhilarating road trips in Australia. The highway hugs the undulating coastline, beautifully sandwiched between two world-heritage-listed natural phenomena that people travel across the world to experience: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
On one side of us, the hot spring sun has the massive expanse of ocean glittering like a field of sapphires and diamonds, and on the other, the rainforest cloaks the towering mountains that seem to change shape as the shadows of heavy cumulus clouds roll over them. Way down the line, Cape Tribulation juts out into the sea like a gigantic half-submerged green turtle, the fine line of white sand like its soft underbelly.
We’ve promised ourselves that we’ll put our tech gadgets away, so the iPhones have been ditched and we snap away with the trusty old SLR, capturing this magical part of Australia that lures in four-wheel-drivers like bees to honey. There’s a steady line of them ahead of us – the roof-racks piled with tents, kayaks and surfboards, and the mountain bikes hanging on the back sure signs that this part of the world was made for adventure and getting back to nature.
Downtime at the Daintree Ecolodge
I love the sound of wild birds chirruping away to their heart’s content – not only is it a sign of a healthy, thriving environment, it usually means that I’ve escaped the city and am back to a place where nature reigns.
Turning off the road and driving into the magical grounds of the Daintree Ecolodge, one thing is immediately clear: there are thousands of happy birds in the thick jungle canopies where architecturally designed cabins peek out of their verdant hiding places.
Wooden stairwells, storybook bridges and quaint seating nooks for two can be seen here and there, the surrounding tropical gardens and towering Jurassic-era fern trees transforming them into picture-perfect postcards brought to life by the flurry of bird wings, the croaking of frogs and the clickety chirping of geckos. Together it’s a chorus of the tropics.
The Daintree Ecolodge was one of the first of its kind when it first opened Australia in the 1980s, and it has always championed indulgence with a conscience, with its managers past and present aiming to make a positive contribution to the local environment and community.
This place is in high demand to be sure to book in your stay well in advance. Check out rates and availability here.
Julaymba Restaurant at Daintree Ecolodge
All produce in the retreat’s Julaymba Restaurant is locally sourced, with chef Simone Watts being a passionate supporter of the region’s abundance of incredible offerings. Down the road, Simone has access to blueberry farms and avocados bursting with flavour, and an incredible array of native fruits such as Davidson plums and the endemic Boonjie tamarind.
“In the dryer, warmer areas up north, you’ll find some of the sweetest pineapples and bananas in the country,” says Simone. “On the coast you’re greeted with produce that requires humid, warm climates such as cocoa, vanilla and green peppercorns. We are also very privileged to call the Great Barrier Reef our backyard, however it is important to mention that seafood from our surrounding waters, as stunning as it may be, is not plentiful and should be sourced from reliable suppliers that can guarantee fish are line caught as opposed to trawling practices.”
Simone is always changing the menu in line with the seasons, and the food is some of the best you’ll find in all of Queensland.
You’ll never want to leave your suite, tucked up into the canopies where the bird song is more joyous than ever, but down in the restaurant, bar and living space, you’ll feel just as relaxed. The staff are as welcoming as friends, and the views, wherever you sit, are nothing short of spectacular.
Lead image: © Daintree Ecolodge
For more to explore in the Daintree, check out our guide to Cairns.
Travel to the Daintree
Rex flies to Cairns. Book your flights here and check out the route map below.