WORDS SHERIDEN RHODES
THERE'S A RIVER...
that wends its way through the Daintree, the oldest refugial rainforest on the planet. North of the resort town of Port Douglas, the tributary is one of the world’s most beautiful tropical rivers. Called Jinkalmu by the local Aboriginal people, it starts its journey in the hills behind Mossman, flows east through a deeply incised valley, tumbles over granite boulders through the gorge, part of the Daintree National Park, and onto the coastal plain. Eventually it discharges into the Coral Sea but not before swirling past the famed Silky Oaks Lodge, lauded as one of Tropical North Queensland’s most luxurious hideaways.
...it starts its journey in the hills behind Mossman, flows east through a deeply incised valley, tumbles over granite boulders through the gorge, part of the Daintree National Park, and onto the coastal plain.
The World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living rainforest on the planet.
From Silky Oaks’ enviable perch I look over this magical river, the soothing soundtrack of rushing water my only companion. The 32-hectare property sits at the edge of not one but two World Heritage-listed regions – the Jurassic Park-like Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Rainforest meets the reef and jungle-clad mountains tumble down to the sea.
This primeval rainforest setting is far from maddening crowds, and affords the sort of connection to nature and the land in a way few places can. The Kuku Yalanji people are the Daintree’s Traditional Owners and are the official custodians of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, following a hand-back of its management in September 2021.
The First Nations Kuku Yalanji people are the Traditional Owners of the Daintree.
THE RAINFOREST AND THE RIVER
CLICK TO WATCH THE VIDEO
Rainforest meets ocean.
Kuku Yalanji, children of the river.
In December 2021, Silky Oaks Lodge ushered in an exciting new chapter. Fresh from a $20 million refurbishment guests arrive to a new look main lodge with dramatic skillion roof that opens to the rainforest canopy. Suspended above the Mossman River, there are contemporary finishes and clean lines synonymous with Baillie Lodges’ portfolio of luxury properties.
Along with the reimagined main lodge, there’s a new market garden, a premium two-bedroom suite offering a new benchmark in tropical luxury, 40 refreshed treehouse suites and revitalised guest experiences. Port Douglas-based architect Gary Hunt was charged with the design; Amanda Pike of Pike Withers for the interiors. Both worked closely with James and Hayley Baillie, passionate supporters and nurturers of Australian designers.
Adventure and relaxation is available in equal measures.
The magnificent Daintree Rainforest and serene Mossman River remain the star attractions. Interiors and custom furnishings give you a a sense you’re in the tropical north, while Indigenous artworks from the region’s Kuku Yalanji people along with other locally acquired indigenous works grace the walls of the main lodge. A series of five large-scale images of the Daintree and its people by photographer Catherine Nelson meanwhile are showcased across guest lounging areas and suites.
There is so much to do here. Guests start the day with daily morning yoga, take a guided walk through the ageless rainforest where butterflies flit and cassowary roam or float blissfully in the Mossman River.
A treatment menu inspired by Indigenous beliefs that celebrate the water in the Mossman River as a renewing and life-giving force is on offer in the onsite Healing Waters Spa. Starring the natural Australian Sodashi skincare range, submit yourself to the spa’s expert therapists for green tea salt therapy, a mineral bath or a detoxifying marine wrap – all delivered to the calming cacophony of the rainforest.
CLICK TO WATCH THE VIDEO
I take a Dreamtime Walk through the lush and ancient Mossman Gorge, 135 million years of history to devour. Others hunt for mud crabs, mussels and fish, spear in hand, with the Walker brothers of Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours at nearby Cooya Beach.
Then it’s back to the lodge for sustenance from Silky Oaks’ acclaimed inhouse restaurant with its daily changing menu incorporating traditional Indigenous ingredients or its heavenly billabongs. Lying on the riverbank gazing up at the ancient canopy after a dip in its magical waters feels almost like you’ve been reborn.
Hunt for mud crabs, mussels and fish, spear in hand, with the Walker brothers of Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours at nearby Cooya Beach.
Ancient rainforest, creatures with character.
Colours of the tropics on a plate.
Silky Oaks Lodge rainforest dining.
FIVE SIGNATURE SPA RITUALS AT LUXURY LODGES OF AUSTRALIA
1. SACRED STONE THERAPY, THE CAPELLA SPA
Drawing upon the power of heated basalt stones collected from Lord Howe island’s windward beaches, this treatment works with the body’s pressure points to kiss tension goodbye.
2. DESTRESS SIGNATURE FACIAL, BOUDDI SPA, PRETTY BEACH HOUSE
This calming, restorative facial focuses on collagen regeneration to heal, nourish and rebuild skin elasticity using organic and wild-harvested Australian white flannel flower extract.
3. DETOXIFYING RITUAL, HEALING WATERS AT SILKY OAKS LODGE
Emerge purified from this three-hour ritual which includes a sea salt body exfoliation, mud wrap and detoxifying massage delivered in one of seven treatment rooms.
4. QUALIA ESSENCE, SPA QUALIA AT HAMILTON ISLAND
This signature ritual starts with a warm stone foot zone therapy followed by a full body signature massage, awakening quartz crystal eye treatment and pressure point scalp therapy.
5. THE DREAMING, SPA KINARA AT LONGITUDE 131°
Set amongst the spinifex and red sand desert, this therapeutic treatment uses traditional healing techniques. It includes an exfoliation and body mud wrap, Kodo massage, scalp massage, indulgent facial and decadent hand and foot treatments.