Escape to the Daintree
A veritable feast for all the senses, the World-Heritage-listed Daintree National Park is a must for any bucket list.
The totally refurbished Silky Oaks Lodge offers the ultimate base from which to appreciate and explore the ancient Daintree National Park in Tropical North Queensland.
22 April, 2022
No matter how many times you look at the rainforest that takes centre stage at the lodge, you see something new
A staggering 180 million years in the making – the Daintree Rainforest that is, not the refurbishment of the stunning Silky Oaks Lodge – this is a region that threatens to overwhelm the senses in the most wonderful way.
Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch all seem heightened as you immerse yourself in this ancient region that feels a million miles from civilisation and yet teems with life. Today it is home to home to 74 species of mammals, 150 species of reptiles and 330 species of birds of all shapes and sizes, all living in a forrest that boasts countless species of tree, fern grasses, creepers, vines, mosses and water plants.
No matter how many times you look at the rainforest that takes centre stage at the lodge, you see something new – a Ulysses Butterfly dressed in iridescent blue, a tiny delicate flower, a spiky plant or a tangle of ancient trees competing for sunlight – it is absolutely mesmerising.
This ancient land is the traditional home of the First Nations Kuku Yalanji people, the custodians of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area for more than 50,000 years.
And what better place to base yourself to explore the region than in this beautifully revamped lodge, fresh from a $20 million renovation orchestrated by James and Hayley Baillie of Baillie Lodges.
It is a study in simple elegance that offers absolute luxury, but without attempting to overshadow the star of the show. Views of the rainforest and river meet at the main pavilion that’s home to a reimagined guest reception, boutique, restaurant, contemporary bar and lounge area, plus a wonderful ‘Jungle Perch’ – a viewing platform and lounge are combined, cantilevered out into the very forest canopy. It is the perfect place to sit and contemplate and maybe sip one of the local gins or craft brews that are there to sate some of those other senses.
Dining is another journey of discovery in the open-air tiered Treehouse Restaurant where executive chef Mark Godbeer – who made his way to Silky Oak Lodge from the Baillie’s famed Uluru Longitude 131 lodge – creates memorable dishes that themselves are works of culinary art.
“As a chef new to the region, it’s wonderful to discover the bounty of local ingredients harvested in Tropical North Queensland’s rich food bowl,” says an enthusiastic Godbeer, who draws much of his inspiration for the constantly changing menu from the region.
“We’ve introduced some of the native ingredients used by the local First Nations Kuku Yalanji people to create a real taste of the tropical north on the menus at Silky Oaks Lodge and will do more,” he says.
“As a chef new to the region, it’s wonderful to discover the bounty of local ingredients harvested in Tropical North Queensland’s rich food bowl”
The luxurious Daintree Pavilion comes with a private tiered infinity edge pool, plunge spa, breathtaking rainforest views and dramatic skillion ceilings held aloft by glass walls
His extensive kitchen garden is flourishing in the tropics and produces many of the stars for the daily menu. There is also plenty of experimentation going on as Godbeer creates new dishes that bring together the flavours of the Daintree with his own extensive skills and experiences from kitchens around the world.
Texture, wood, stone and cotton feature in the stylish suites which are all named after animals. Like the ‘Walleroo’ with its view of the river, polished timber floors, custom-made Baillie bed, spacious bathroom with rain shower, day bed and well-stocked complimentary mini bar, it is a luxury home amongst the tree tops.
But it is the newly built ultra-luxurious sanctuary, the two-bedroom Daintree Pavilion that is the talk of the lodge. It comes with a private tiered infinity edge pool, plunge spa, absolutely breathtaking rainforest views and dramatic skillion ceilings held aloft by glass walls.
Furnishings by Australia’s best design talent including Jardan, Pierre and Charlotte Julien, Ross Gardam and Kett, add a sense of relaxed luxury to the expansive suite as well as throughout the lodge.
Everywhere you look, artwork intrigues - artists from the Kuku Yalanji Arts Centre have produced 45 ceramic wall tiles that reflect the Daintree rainforest flora and fauna. Award-winning Indigenous artist Danie Mellor’s works also complements art from the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair that create a real sense of the rainforest’s cultural heritage.
World renowned Australian artist Catherine Nelson’s photographic work is impressive and also on display. She uses digital technology as her ‘paintbrush’ to create landscape ‘paintings’ and animations including photographs with the Kuku Yalanji children playing in the Mossman River.
Each image comprises hundreds of individual photos that are combined into one digital collage, with captivating results.
“When I embraced the medium of photography, I felt that taking a picture that represented only what was within the frame of the lens wasn’t expressing my personal and inner experience of the world around me - with the eye and training of a painter and with years of experience in film visual effects behind me, I began to take my photos to another level,” she says.
Another indulgence is a visit to the Healing Waters Spa inspired by ancient Indigenous beliefs that the water in the Mossman River is a renewing and life-giving force. To that end, the Daintree Dreaming facial, exfoliation, body wrap and water therapy, is yet another treat for the senses and evokes a deeper state of relaxation than you thought possible – as if just being in these surroundings wasn’t relaxing enough.
For those familiar with other properties in the Baillie Lodges portfolio, the tremendously high standards of the ‘new’ Silky Oaks Lodge will come as no surprise, while the setting itself gives this property its own unique character. For those yet to experience Baillie Lodges, where better to start the relationship than in the stunning Daintree Rainforest.
Another indulgence is a visit to the Healing Waters Spa inspired by ancient Indigenous beliefs that the water in the Mossman River is a renewing and life-giving force
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