Smooth as Silk

Finding five-star luxury in Silky Oaks’ treetops

By: Maryann Hammers

CAIRNS, Australia What’s that noise? I was reclining in a hot, foamy bath in a jetted tub at Silky Oaks Lodge with candles burning next to me and a CD playing soothing rainforest sounds. Then I heard a loud rustle just outside my window a bit disconcerting, given my remote location in the trees. Would anyone hear me scream, I wondered, as I peered out the window. Next thing I knew I was laughing out loud. The culprit: A wild turkey was doing a fantastic job of ripping up the foliage surrounding my “treehouse.”

As they say around here, “no worries.”

That kind of experience sums up what Silky Oaks Lodge is all about. The retreat on the crystal-clear Mossman River in the Daintree Rainforest seamlessly blends into its lush and leafy location, creating an ambiance that is at once luxurious and rustic, sophisticated and simple, high-end and casual. Accommodations, which wind along shady paths, are private and secluded. They are called “treehouses,” but I didn’t have to scurry up any branches. Actually, they are deluxe cabins on stilts.

The route to the lodge is along the coast on the scenic Captain Cook Highway. It’s about 90 minutes north of Cairns in a region that used to be called “Far North Queensland,” but the state’s tourism folks recently changed the moniker to the more enticing “Tropical North Queensland.” When it’s summer here in the States, it’s winter there, and vice-versa, but with an average year-round temperature of about 81 degrees, winter days are golden and glorious and summer days are more likely to be stormy and magical.

Getting R&R is no problem here. Bicycles, canoes and kayaks are available and with no TV and limited Internet access, there’s not much else to do. My toughest decision was choosing between reclining on the hammock on my wood deck or taking another soak in the Jacuzzi. Guests could also sign up for a Yank Jindalee treatment (translation: “song of running water on skin”) at the resort’s Healing Waters Spa, where therapies are based on ancient remedies and products come from indigenous berries, herbs and plants.

As I took a dip in the cool waters of the billabong (the aboriginal word for swimming hole), which supposedly has healing properties, I spotted a fluorescent blue butterfly as large as a swallow. It’s no wonder the favorite phrase around these parts is “No worries.”


Silky Oaks Lodge
Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Hits: The lodge’s elegant open-air Treehouse Restaurant, made of natural timbers with no walls and perched directly over the rushing river, has to be one of the world’s prettiest places to dine.

Misses: Service is casual and unobtrusive, which is perfect for those seeking utter seclusion and privacy. But in the unlikely event that your electricity will mysteriously shut off in the middle of the night (as mine did) or you need to reach someone after hours, you may not find anyone on site until the next day.

Be Aware: Australia’s seasons are opposite ours, so summer begins in December. But the weather here is tropical year-round and December’s summer days are rainy.

Plugging In: A computer is available in the lounge for complimentary guest use.

Clientele: Mostly couples, including plenty from the United States, but the accommodations are so private, you may not see anyone else except perhaps at the spa, by the pool or in the restaurant. No children under 10.

Rates: About $243-$400 per person, includes breakfast, four-course dinner and activities.

Commission: 10 percent