Mary River Weekend

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Just had a three-night stay at Mary River Wilderness Retreat courtesy of daughter’s Christmas present. She and grandson joined us for the Friday and Saturday nights but then had to return home for work and school, leaving us to our own devices for the Sunday night.

The Retreat is about 120 km from our house in Darwin. It took us an hour and thirty-five minutes to get there, a bit longer than normal due to a huge thunderstorm that reduced visibility and speed to a minimum.

Activities were severely curtailed because of the weather and the presence of crocs. It’s the Wet Season, so all of the walks and points of interest were inaccessible because: they were under water; the resident saltwater crocodile was on the move; and, a decent-sized freshwater croc had been spotted close by. We still managed to enjoy ourselves though.

At night we played board games and watched movies on a DVD player hooked up to a TV screen we brought with us – there was no TV in the room – and on the last night the clouds cleared for long enough to allow us to sit on the verandah under the stars and even make a wish on a shooting one.

In the daytime we went for a 100 km-plus drive around nearby locations, all of which were inaccessible due to flooding. The pool was a welcome relief from the heat when there was a break in the storms and no lightening. Otherwise we just walked around the grounds and enjoyed the wildlife.

While we self-catered on Friday, we dined at the Gecko Restaurant on the other two nights. The food was delicious, reasonably priced and beautifully presented, the service was excellent, the staff  friendly and informative and we appreciated the complimentary glass of wine with each main meal. The menu included vegetarian options and the children’s menu included dessert.

Alternatively, there was a camp kitchen equipped with microwave, toaster, jug, cooking rings, bbq, washing-up gear including a sink with a plug, but no utensils, crockery, cutlery or pans.
We enjoyed seeing the wallabies, kangaroos and kingfishers. The massive thunderstorm we drove through on the way down was an experience! We loved the variety of birds we saw at Fogg Dam on the way home. All in all it was a great weekend!

Thala Beach Lodge

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Aerial view of Thala Beach Lodge from the South
Copyright Thala Beach Lodge

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In April 1983 we spent our honeymoon in Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, so for our 30th Wedding  Anniversary we revisited the area.

Courtesy of our daughter and son-in-law, Aisling and David, this included a two-night stay at the luxurious Thala Beach Lodge.

We were greeted on arrival and treated to a tropical cocktail while our car was being valet parked and our luggage taken to our bungalow – along with an ice bucket of Champaign, again courtesy of Ash and Dave.

The very welcoming receptionist showed us the sumptuous lodge and breathtaking views, before the porter took us by buggy to our bungalow – the most secluded in the resort.

After settling in, we explored one of the nature walks which led to a secluded beach complete with beach shack, hammocks and palm trees. The variety and colour of the rocks, shells and the beach itself was incredible.

Later in the afternoon we made the short drive to Port Douglas. Once a sleepy fishing village, the Port is now a hive of activity, a thriving tourist destination with activities, accommodation and eateries to suit all tastes. It’s also popular with birds, with enormous flocks of rainbow lorikeets descending on the high street trees at dusk, sending the tourists scurrying for their cameras.

The next day we drove to the small town of Daintree where the ferry leaves for Cape Tribulation. But not for us this time, instead we had a picnic lunch at Wonga Park on the coast on the way back to Mossman. It used to be possible to drive from there to Mossman Gorge but now the only way to get there is through the impressive visitors centre.

When we got back to Thala we started another nature walk but returned to our bungalow when the rain got too heavy. We were glad we finished it when the rain stopped as it led to a picturesque cove with spectacular views along the way.

After dinner we retired to our room with a DVD from the Lodge’s extensive collection and relaxed with a glass of bubbly.

Next morning we took advantage of having a late checkout and went for yet another nature walk, this time to find the bird pond and hide. We were just about to leave the hide when a noise drew our attention to an osprey nest, complete with osprey and chic. A lovely memory to take with us from our most enjoyable stay at Thala Beach Lodge.