Mossman, Australia

Photo: Silky Oaks Lodge

Cancel all your plans. A picnic near Mossman Gorge will have to wait. So will a rainforest walk through Daintree National Park. The shuttle to Port Douglas, with its spectacular Four Mile Beach, can hold off until tomorrow. Kayaking through the billabong—that would be the calm pool of water—right in front of the lodge isn’t even going to happen right now. That’s because you’re quite content hanging out in your treehouse.

As you should be. The stilted room is made of rosewood and oak timber. Floor-to-ceiling windows give you a view of tropical gardens from the king bed. There’s a similar view from the spa tub in the bathroom. Sliding glass doors open onto a covered veranda that’s furnished with a little wooden table set, Adirondack chairs, and, most importantly, a large red hammock. A bottle of Pinot Gris from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is chilling on the table. Plus, did you catch that it’s a treehouse?

Your Garden Treehouse is part of Silky Oaks Lodge in Queensland. Far North Queensland, to be exact. You traveled to Australia’s second-largest state, like so many international visitors do, to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Your sailing, snorkeling, and scuba-diving adventures were exhilarating, but the beach town was overrun with tourists. So you headed north toward Cape Tribulation in search of the rainforest, Aboriginal culture, and solitude. You found all of them in Mossman.

Photo: Silky Oaks Lodge

About an hour north of Cairns, Mossman is a little farming (sugar cane) town along Captain Cook Highway. Most people, only a fraction of those who visit the Great Barrier Reef, who come here are in search of Mossman Gorge. This is the southern part of Daintree National Park and the home of the Kuku Yalanji people. It now has a suspension bridge that crosses Rex Creek where it meets the Mossman River and a trail that loops through the rainforest. You’ll spot huge ferns, strangling vines, jungle perch, bush turkeys, and pademelons (picture a smaller version of a wallaby) along the way.

When you first heard about Silky Oaks Lodge, you immediately decided to turn your day trip into a longer adventure. The lodge, downstream from the gorge, still sits along the river. In addition to the unique treehouses, it features an open lounge and reading rooms stocked with animal and plant reference guides. The Healing Waters Spa uses Australian Sodashi products. You have a green tea salt therapy, followed by a steam bath ritual, scheduled for tomorrow. Craft beer and cider, and small-batch spirits are poured in the Treehouse Bar. While modern Australian cuisine is served in the Treehouse Restaurant, which is set high in the rainforest canopy overlooking the river. You’ll probably order kangaroo with burnt, sweet, and pickled onions for dinner tonight.

Dinner is a long way off, though. Right now, it’s just you, some flamboyant birds, a cool breeze, and that bottle of Pinot Gris on the veranda of your treehouse. Other plans are completely unnecessary.


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