Glamping Review: Silky Oaks Lodge

“This is the last traffic light on the east coast of Australia,” my driver tells me, wiping a single bead of sweat from his sunburnt brow. “You can drive from here all the way to Cape York, the most northerly point on this continent, without having to stop for another red light.”

Less than 15 minutes after he’s shifted his van back into gear, we’re pulling into Silky Oaks Lodge, and the resorts that line Australia’s east coast seem infinitely distant. Swaying fields of golden sugar cane and infinite sea views have given way to the Daintree rainforest’s profusion of green draping itself over the orogenic folds of the Great Dividing Range.

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The Daintree is Earth’s oldest living rainforest, estimated to be about 180 million years old. It’s the last remaining relic of a tropical rainforest that once covered all of Australia. The continent’s distinctive animals began to evolve in this environment. The first flowering plants are thought to have bloomed here, and it’s easy to find species of giant fern that once fed dinosaurs. It is one of our planet’s most wondrous ecosystems.

Most of the Daintree rainforest is protected in a world heritage listed national park, but in the thin sliver between the park’s southeastern edge and the Mossman River, Silky Oaks Lodge nestles itself into this lush environment.

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Like every guest, I’m offered welcome drink in the Jungle Perch upon arrival.  The stilted gazebo sits high above the river in the rainforest canopy.  On Silky Oaks’ restaurant plates and in its glasses, tropical flavors are the order of the day. Notes of citrus and mango dance on my palate, and I survey the tree tops around me, a different blooming orchid spilling into view with each quarter turn of my head.

I take a few minutes to soak it all in. Just a few hours off a trans-Pacific flight, I’m jetlagged and generally exhausted, but my new surroundings have given me the urge to explore.

Silky Oaks Jungle perch ext

My home for the next few nights will be a luxurious tree house with a porch that juts into a steep-walled primeval valley below. Countless shades of green overhang the stone paths I navigate through Silky Oaks toward my cabin. It’s virtually impossible to keep the Daintree at bay.

“Keeping the rainforest back is a constant job,” says Paul Van Min, who migrated to tropical north Queensland from the cooler climes of Melbourne to build the rainforest retreat. “It will grow over the paths and boardwalks in days if you aren’t constantly cutting it back.”

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It’s easy enough to believe. A tropical cyclone came through the area just a few weeks before I arrived, but any damage that it did to the forest here has already been covered up by new growth. Life bursts forth everywhere.

Silky Oaks staff will arrange for guests to go sunset sailing on the Coral Sea, diving on the Great Barrier Reef and spear fishing with local Aboriginal people, but hiking in the national park on the lodge’s doorstep is what pulls me in first.


Two trails leave directly from the property. The mountain trail climbs steeply into the park, while the flatter river trail leads past a few picnic spots to the thundering Fig Tree rapids about an hour’s walk upstream.

I tackle the river trail first. The Mossman River is fed by a mountain spring high in the Great Dividing Range, and it stays cool even in summer. Along its banks, the river feels like a natural air conditioner. Afternoon rain filters warmly through the rainforest canopy, contrasting with the rush of air cooled by the river. Even hiking in the tropical heat, I stay cool.

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After sampling a seafood tapas platter of prawn spring rolls, melt in your mouth reef fish and local barramundi, I’m more than ready for a good night’s sleep. My tree house comes equipped with two beds: one indoor, and one on my oversized porch.

The indoor bed is the larger of the two, but there’s only one of me, and both are equally inviting, crisply made with Macadamia-nut chocolates on their pillows for dessert. Given the chance to sleep with nothing but a mosquito net between myself and this extraordinary rainforest, I take it.

11c Lodge Suite

The burbling of a tiny stream nearby is echoed by the roar of the Mossman in the distance, and I fade pleasantly in and out of consciousness for a while. This aquatic soundscape is overlaid with innumerable insects chirping and periodic bursts of birdsong. The jetlag I’d been feeling is lulled away for good as I settle in for twelve full hours of the soundest sleep I’ve ever had.

(Photos from Silky Oaks Lodge)

Glamping on Australia’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Spicers Tamarind Retreat is an intimate getaway set near a rainforest waterfall in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland near Maleny. Thai style meets the tranquillity of the Australian bush for a stunningly unique retreat experience. This is the type of vacation destination where you can do as little or as much as you want.

The 18-acre property is situated next to Gardners Falls in a picturesque rainforest. Maleny is nestled in the gorgeous hills and countryside of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The nearby towns of Mapleton, Montville and Noosa complete the area and add to the list of activity options for the perfect unhurried vacation.

The villas are private and romantic with a chic modern style in true glamping spirit. Relax in your private cedar hot tub on the balcony of your villa. From the hot tub, you can hear the sounds of Gardners Falls and the abundant wildlife in the area – it’s pure zen. On chillier nights, cozy up in front of the wood-burning fireplace. The villas are the perfect resting spot inbetween adventures exploring the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Spicers Tamarind features 12 stand-alone villas for the ultimate in privacy and comfort. Five are 1-bedroom and the remaining seven are 2-bedroom units. The location is perfect for a romantic getaway.

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Spicers Tamarind Retreat’s restaurant, The Tamarind, brings a taste of Thailand to the foothills of Maleny. Savour the culinary skills of award-winning chefs at the restaurant. As a side note, there are cooking classes on site where you can learn the intricacies of Thai cuisine. The restaurant is an outdoor pavilion designed to capitalize on the peaceful location. The Tamarind specializes in innovative modern Asian cuisine. Every dish with its harmonious balance of Thai flavors of sweet, sour, and spicy will leave your mouth watering. Favorites include nee grob (three caramelized meats with crispy fried noodles), to a green curry of yellow tail kingfish with Thai apple eggplant, and a delicious dessert medley featuring sweet yam pudding, coconut ice cream and coconut lime tart. The Tamarind’s ever-changing menu and perfectly matched wines make this a true gourmet destination for both in-house guests and the general public alike.

Spicers Tamarind Retreat’s stunning rainforest location makes it easy to get lost in relaxation and nature. Explore the natural wonders of the local area on mountain bike, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the herb garden and orchard or just relax with a picnic by stunning Gardners Falls. For real adventure why not go bushwalking in Kondalilla Falls National Park and take a dip in the rock pool at the top of the Falls. Take a stroll along Obi Obi creek and nearby Gardners Falls. From lush walking trails, breathtaking waterfalls and charming local towns, to Spicers Tamarind Retreat’s very own day spa and cooking school, there’s plenty of pleasures to fill your day.

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Spa Anise is open to both in-house guests and day visitors. Whether it’s a day of laughs, lunch and bubbly with friends, soaking in the hydrotherapy room or a few hours of therapeutic massages and foot rituals to freshen up your work team for the new year, Spa Anise Tamarind Retreat offers a unique and memorable spa experience, tailored to you. The spa overlooks the soft green rolling hills and rainforest of the Sunshine Coast hinterland and has four treatment rooms including double rooms for couples, a mineral infused spa, a foot therapy room, a steam room, rain shower and a tailored spa cuisine menu.

Just a short drive away, the quaint villages of Maleny and Montville are home to a range of quality fashion boutiques and gift shops, each offering a diverse range of affordable locally made products. Montville is fondly known as the creative heart of the Sunshine Coast. Spend the day wandering between art and craft galleries and soak up the best of uniquely rich cultural area.

Learn more about planning a trip to Spicers Tamarind.

Glamping Down Under, Spicers Canopy, Australia

In the heart of the spectacular Scenic Rim region, a rich eco tourism experience can be found at Spicers Canopy. First change the image in your mind from ‘camping’ to ‘glamping.’ Although encounters with Australia’s unique plant and animal life are a central focus, Spicers Canopy caters to adventurers who are accustomed to life’s luxuries.

Spicers Canopy is a permanent campsite neighboring 8,000 acres of Australia’s most scenic private nature refuge. The camp is a 90-minute drive from Brisbane. Situated high on a grass-covered plateau, the air is fresh and crisp. The views towards Mount Mitchell, Spicers Peak and Mount Cordeaux are stunning. At night, guests look into skies so clear that satellites can be seen tracking past the canvas of stars. Be sure to take in the mountain views when they are most magnificent, at sunrise and sunset.

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Offering 10 luxury tents, rest assured your stay will be comfortable and private. The tents are fully furnished, offering a king bed (or twin beds), luxury bed linen, lamps, armchairs, bedside tables, polished floorboards, and a covered deck with deck chairs. A place purposefully with no cars, computers, or TVs is where you can truly escape. This is safari-style camping at its finest.

Each Spicers destination provides a comprehensive gourmet experience. All Spicers restaurants are led by award-winning chefs with a passionate mandate to provide exceptional food and wine sourced from regional and international produce. The large communal and dining area is beautifully appointed with a stone fireplace and polished floors. At its center is a large custom-made table serving as the backrop for many gourmet meals. Sit back while your dedicated chef prepares all your meals and drinks.

There is plenty to do at Spicers Canopy, especially for those looking for natural beauty and serenity away from the city. Guided walks are great for exploring the private nature reserve. Domestic livestock and native wildlife co-exist in the quiet Australian bush. Take a dip in the private swimming hole or venture into the nearby bat cave. Spicers Canopy has a long list of other things to do including massages, horseback riding, 4WD tours, yoga, sporting clays, and more at the nearby Peak Lodge which is a sister property.

IMG_2342a_0_0Photo: Spicers Canopy website

The Austalian-owned Spicers has made it their mission to give guests a total experience that is intimately unique. The Spicers  boutique hotel group includes seven luxury travel destinations in Australia. Spicers Canopy embodies the glamping experience; it combines the individuality and service of a private bed and breakfast with the style and quality of a grand international hotel.

Spicers Canopy is for adventurers and groups looking for a different luxury holiday. Learn more about Spicers Canopy.