We found an abandoned resort.

Daintree2686Summer in Melbourne this year was almost non-existent. The thought of a long grey winter was depressing…or was it? To cheer things up my husband checked out ticket prices to Cairns, airfares were cheap, he clicked ‘buy’. A cold drab winter seemed so much more do-able knowing it would be broken by two weeks of warm tropical sunshine in far north Queensland. I got out the photo albums, curled up on the couch, pulled over the ruggy and started scrolling through pics of our holiday. And there it was, that strange place we’d found by chance last year, almost forgotten…

PtDouglas_20120702_155002We’ve been really lucky to have access to my father-in-laws gorgeous house in the tropics. He lives in a secluded little spot, on a remote palm fringed beach, an hours drive north of Cairns. It’s been our sanctuary for many years. The kids have learnt to swim there, to kayak the reef, to go on long beach walks and most importantly really get to know their grandfather.

In the depths of a 5 degree winter morning we board the plane wearing coats. Three and a half hours later we land in Cairns, step out into warm sunshine, peeling off the layers of winter clothing, excited by the possibility of a swim before lunch…it’s hard to believe we’re still in the same country.

OakBeach2793It’s so nice each morning to wander across the lawn to the beach, pajama clad, coffee in hand, watching the sun rise over the ocean. It had been a hectic time, the three books had just been published and it was good to sit quietly without the pressure of deadlines and last-minute editing. I’d tried to capture this mood in book three FINDING THE LOST WOMAN…

I was free.

The business was running smoothly, thriving in fact, and for the first time in ages, I had time on my hands. No books to write, no appointments to keep, no press on my tail. The trouble with my early retirement was that all my friends and acquaintances were at work, busy. The house had been cleaned from top to toe. I had tried every new restaurant in need of discovery and had walked my way around just about every laneway, street and park of inner city Melbourne. By mid June, the winter cold and boredom set in. Maybe I’d been just a bit too hasty in withdrawing from the world.

Why stay?

Like a moth to the flame, I was being drawn to warmth. I set off and after a two week drive found myself, thousands of kilometres away, on the outskirts of Tully, in hot tropical north Queensland, knocking on the door of George MacDonald’s house.

And then a little further along in the book when Christina discovers the idyllic town of Sanctuary Beach and wakes up the next morning to discover a tropical paradise…

I woke to the sound of waves not far away and got up, drew open the curtains and pushed back the bi-fold door to the balcony. It was paradise, a long white beach, palms dotting the shore, where the rainforest met the sea. Sun rising over the water into a warm pink sky. Coffee in hand, I wandered the short distance across the manicured lawn of my private garden and straight onto the beach. Not a soul in sight, no one to see me in my pyjamas as I sat on the soft white sand, contented and utterly at peace. The voices in my head silent at long last. This would be a good place to stay for the next few days.

OakBeach2771 We’d had a week of perfect weather but this morning the grey clouds looked like a day on the beach might not be the best idea.

My brother-in-law Andrew rang, said we should check out their new holiday house. I dragged everyone out of bed, loaded up the cars and set off on our adventure to the world heritage Daintree National Park.

MossmanMarket1906We drove along the spectacular coastal road, past Port Douglas, then inland to the pretty little town of Mossman and picked up a few things from the farmers market in the grounds of the old church.

MossmanMarket1898I couldn’t resist taking a look in the weatherboard hall to see if there weren’t a few paperbacks suitable for holiday reading. Christina finds a similar market at Sanctuary Beach…

Back in town I noticed a market had sprung up under the mango trees in the village square. The local people were out selling their wares. Home baked goods, pickled, dried and fresh produce. Potted plants, herbs and bright tropical flowers. Sugar cane and pineapple juice. Yummy smelling food, ready to feed the breakfast crowd. Pearl and silver jewellery, handmade clothing, wooden toys and brightly coloured kites.

The entire market was full of great things, people with an enthusiasm for what they made, their town and the people in it. I could see this becoming a Sunday morning ritual.

The last stall, near the church, was the St. Bertulph’s Ladies Guild. Second hand books, trinkets and yummy homemade cakes and biscuits, with furniture and clothes in the church hall next door.

Daintree2041Loaded up with lots of delicious goodies we continued our drive. The only way to get to the National Park is to cross the Daintree River. Many people are put off by the ferry and don’t bother making the crossing. It is probably why the place has remained so isolated, so pristine.

Daintree1916And then, the minute we drive off the ferry, as if by magic, the clouds break and the sun beams down. Mel, my sister-in-law, takes no time flipping back the soft top!

Daintree1914Initially we head up a very steep road, thick jungle on both sides.

Daintree2621To the highest point where we pull over and see Cape Tribulation, the beach we’re aiming to visit before lunch.

Daintree1979But as we’d been up since dawn and were all feeling a bit hungry Mel decided a quick stopover at one of her favorite little restaurants was in order. We sat on a deck, up in the tree tops, and shared a traditional morning tea consisting of pumpkin scones with paw paw jam, cream and a pot of the locally grown Daintree Tea…(a Queensland specialty).

Daintree1995Andrew showed us the gorgeous blue water hole just below the restaurant and we decide it’s never too early for a swim.

Daintree1962By 11 am we reach Cape Tribulation.

Daintree2018Find a spot in the shade and wait for the kids who were following us in another car.

Daintree2615The water is warm and clear and we spend the next hour swimming and dolphin spotting.

Daintree2725By midday we are all starving so we head to Mel and Andrews holiday house. We make our way along a jungle track and find the cottage, surrounded by lush gardens and perched above their own private mountain stream. It’s secluded, very private and would make the most perfect setting for a romantic getaway.

Daintree2727We will have a barbecue on the back porch.

Daintree2733Mel takes us to the river. There’s a crystal clear waterhole they swim in all year…so much nicer than a chlorinated pool! It’s palm shaded and refreshingly cool on this hot August day.

Daintree2740Mel and Andrew have created stunning little spots in the garden where I can imagine sipping champagne at sunset… wondering if a Cassowary will appear. Cassowary’s are big emu-like birds that live in the rainforest, they’re very shy, sightings are rare. Mel has seen only one of these elusive birds on her property and was so delighted she named the property Cassowary House.

Daintree2747Andrew fired up the barbecue, we made salads from the food we’d found at the market and had a delicious, long lunch.

It would’ve been so easy to stay, the house, the gardens, all so beautiful, but our time was limited and there was still so much we wanted to see before the ferry closed at sunset. Mel and Andrew were staying overnight so they could set up Cassowary House for paying guests who were arriving the following morning. We said our farewells.

Daintree2611Drove back down the mountain to the coast…

Daintree2717And came to a screeching halt to avoid hitting a Cassowary. We pulled over, crossed the road and attempted to follow it into the jungle.

Daintree2625After sneaking through the undergrowth we realised the cassowary had alluded us. But rather than be disappointed we looked up to see the giant bird had unwittingly led us to an expansive, deserted beach. As the boys went climbing over rock pools we keep walking further along the sand. Something catches my eye, I see some sort of large building.

Daintree2708We make our way along a path…

Daintree2630 And find ourselves standing in front of a completely empty resort! It was eerie and even more strangely in reasonable repair… not damaged, not graffitied just abandoned.

Daintree2681 From the murky swimming pool I was quite convinced a giant croc would emerge and wasn’t prepared to get too close. We edged our way a long the deck to the main entrance.

Daintree2645 Apart from the odd broken window pane, there was barely any damage …perhaps an errant coconut from one of the palm trees shading the pool.

Daintree2651We did a lap around the building and found an office door wide open so we went inside.

Daintree2654 It was a massive, no furniture, but hard wood floors, reception, dining area and the buffet bar still intact.

Daintree2642We walked up a staircase to find a mezzanine lounge. I could imagine sitting here, Margarita in hand, looking out to the Coral Sea …ocean or pool…where would I swim next?

Daintree2695 At the waiters station I found cash register receipts dated 2008 which told me the place had been vacant for over six years. It was utterly remarkable that not a thing had been vandalised. No destruction, no fires, no garbage!

Daintree2663Even the stainless steel equipment was still sitting in the kitchen. A pile of broken crockery the only sign of damage. We were all captivated by the place and wondered what the hell had gone wrong and why it sat untouched for so many years. My imagination started to run wild with ideas for future plots…

But then again it might be that it was just too far away and not the kind of place for bus loads of day trippers looking for an ‘all you can eat‘ buffet? Tourism was a very unpredictable business. Christina observes this when she goes to a second-hand store to buy kitchen equipment for her holiday house…

During the week, I went to Cairns to look at second hand catering equipment. I fancied I might like to cook a little more now that I had so much time on my hands. I struck gold with a free standing stainless steel kitchen bench and small commercial oven. A warehouse full of used equipment spoke volumes about the fickle nature of tourism and the restaurant market.

Daintree2711 By 5 pm it was time to head back, we had a ferry to catch and didn’t want to end up stranded in the abandoned resort overnight! That would’ve been way too creepy!?

CaneBurning2749We drove back down the deserted highway and noticed the almost post apocalyptic fire ahead. We looked warily at one another wondering if it was serious or if in fact the world had ended while we were off exploring paradise. But it was nothing so dramatic…just a sugarcane farmer burning off rubbish after his crop had been harvested.

OakBeach2781 We returned to our beautiful beach side sanctuary, chatting away like excited children who had just been on an Enid Blighton Adventure. My father-in-law knew nothing of the abandoned resort and its story remained a mystery. A calming gin and tonic in the hammock quieted things down a little.

I was glad to be a writer and not some hapless hotel owner waiting for the trade to pick up. Wondering when the next load of tourists might dare to venture across the river into the beautiful wilderness of the Daintree National park…

OakBeach2790And that evening we watched the sky turn pink, made more brilliant by the smoke from the cane farmers fire and I started to think about what might have been…

‘Cesare stood proudly, surveying his new multimillion dollar hotel…he could never have predicted a cyclone was heading straight for his little piece of paradise…..’

Sorry…couldn’t help myself! It’s a sneak preview of the next book.

Cheers, Anna x

P.S. Andrew and Mel’s Cassowary House is available for holiday rental on air bnb. Check out the photo’s and brilliant reviews their gorgeous place is now getting.

Anna Buckley Books

Love you to read my books

The Lost Woman series follows the sexy adventures of Christina as she makes her way through a world of new media, design, fashion,  travel, and … men.
The complete series is available now at Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Barnes & Noble and iBooks, both as eBooks and print books. They can also be ordered from any book store, or by mail order on the BOOKS page.



24 responses to “We found an abandoned resort.”

  1. SarahfromSydney

    Wow! So sad to hear. We had an amazing time there on our honeymoon in January 1997! We loved it so much we returned (from Sydney) in 2002. I hope it is restored one day. A magical place and we would love to go back!


  2. Hi, my dad worked on a refurbishment of the abandoned resort when it was still in operation. The kitchen dining area and large timber deck from memory. Sadly the generator broke and due to the remote location it was far too expensive to replace it, so the resort operators walked away (I assume in debt).

    My parents visited after the closure and like you they walked through and there were still computers and kitchen equipment in place like someone simply got up and left.


  3. Hi!! My name’s Marlie and am travelling abandoned places at the moment. Any chance where this was?? Or a bit more info so I can find it myself thanks.


  4. I was there in 2009… such good memories


  5. Gillian Corless

    Hi, I’m a Canadian who worked and lived at the resort in 1989-90, it was beautiful. Some staff lived a beach away at staff logding called Manu. At that time, Hamish managed the resort and Joe was the chef. The restaurant was busy with couples and overnight travellers. I had my first experience working at a cocktail bar there. Staff went to PK’s Jungle Lodge or the Village on a night off for a meal and some drinks and dancing. We met Nick and Jeremy who lived at Camelot and worked on the reef trips to McKay Reef. We shopped at Mason’s General Store and walked back to Coconut Beach resort along the road and through the creek. So many great memories on the beach in front of the resort and in Cape Trib at that time. The resort fit perfectly into the rainforest, it’s incredible to see the pictures – thanks for writing this piece. It’s very sad to see it abandoned. I hope someone is caring for it.


  6. i work here in 1998, the place doesn’t look like much has change in 20 years. staft was turning over quick, i was there for 6 mouths and was called a longest person there besides over sea works on 12 mouth permets,when it rain ,it rain in the kitchen, i had a accident in accommodation no worker comp. i was told it was grate before i was there ,as it had a nother resort manger, people turn up for a job and have the interview and be gone next morning. lovely spot. the tree house library was cool but was neve open as of repair need.


  7. Hi Ann.
    My name is Dave and I am glad you found my baby and still in one piece.
    Coconut beach resort and the restaurant I use to manage. God I loved that place.
    If you would like to know more about this beautiful building feel free to contact me.


  8. Wow I worked here and I helped do the place up.
    Vanished that stair case.
    Even on my hands and knees doing the tiles in the bathrooms.
    I was going to run the shop in there

    This is really sad x


    1. robyn summerrell


      I worked there for a season and at the time there was a lovely lady running the gift shop, it was awesome…I recal all the beautifuly polished timber …thanks…did you take any new pics would love to see how its faring not good which is heartbreaking because it was beautiful. ..how lucky were you to stay


  9. Hi all! I have just come back from a week staying at this hotel with the caretakers of the property. Fortunately not squatters, but a couple and a family who look after it all to stop people breaking in, trashing it, or setting up some sort of temporary lodging. Approved by the owner. They’ve been there for three years 🙂


    1. Such good news, so glad it’s being looked after. I bet you had a lovely time in that idyllic location x


    2. robyn summerrell

      My dream is to do just that, go back and stay there again …such a beautiful place so heartbroken its never been brought and restored to its finer glory


      1. Perhaps you could knock on their door x


  10. Hi

    Thanks for sharing you pics on my old home and work Coconut Beach Rainforest Resort at Cape Tribulation.

    I was the Restaurant Manager.

    It was a great place, I have some awesome pics of my staff and I just before it closed celebrating New Year Eve in the Restaurant.

    I held some beautiful weddings in the Long house as the Restaurant was known.

    It saddens me deeply to hear and see these pics, I do hope someone falls in love with it too and brings it back to its former glory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robyn, amazing to connect with someone who can tell more of the story of this beautiful place. I have heard rumours that it has recently been sold. Will investigate, with pics, when I head back there next year.


    2. We stayed there in 1989 before it was fully opened and the owners picked us up at the airport. It was a beautiful place and we had a wonderful time. We have talked of going back many times. So so sad!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Carol, called into the resort in October to find it had been taken over by squatters and in a very sad state of disrepair. Paradise lost? Cheers Anna x


      2. Hi

        Like you I remember how beautiful it once was, it saddens me to hear its been destroyed by people who care so little for it.

        Sadly this is a sign of the times with many once beautiful resorts worldwide just left as they once were, a relic of the past.

        I hope to get up there this year and get some final pics.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Hi Robyn. I use to work in the restaurant when Elmer was GM and Darrel James owned it. One of the best weddings I serviced was a beach wedding then a wedding reception in the rainforest just next to the restaurant. Coloured lights in the trees and a awesome dj they hired from the Sydney Home Club. It was a modeling group and families. Had many good times there. Staff living was good too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robyn Summerrell

        Hi Greg what year did you work there ….I worked there in late 1980’s and it was great, lots of fun ..my fav wedding was an asian couple whose entire family was flown out, stayed at the resort on the wedding day we got a typical tropical downpour lasting all day and night so the search went out amongst guest, staff and everyone far and wide for umbrellas of many sorts and colours…not quiet what the bride anticipated but a beautiful sea of colours amongst the rainforest reminded me of mushrooms popping up here and there

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi I was there mid 2000 to mid 2001 when it was Coconut Beach Rainforest Resort. Wow no deffinately didn’t rain for this wedding I liked. It was more a picture perfect setting colour lights, dj and a big feast banquet outdoors by the beach next to the restaurant and pool on a big clearing. I use to go to port Douglas or cairns on my rdos. Pks was the watering hole for all the staff around Cape tribulation. Was a fun lifestyle up there. Now I see pictures of an IGA supermarket and stuff which if they build up there they will destroy it. When I was there you had in the main area, PKS jungle village, Fern trees resort, Dragonfly cafe an restaurant and The Beach House up the road. Down the road was a small house that sold fuel and supplies and alcohol next to a swimming hole and Coconut Beach Resort that was it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Robyn Summerrell

        Sounded like a beautiful day….our rdos were a trip to town in the company bus as most of us didnt have cars and we generally only had 1 or 2 days off a fortnight ….we use to walk up to PK’s at midnight or whenever we got finished and played the conga line added by a few beveies that was fun more enjoyable when you got the creek crossing when the first person had to wade in and be the cros dinner ….it would be an absolute shame putting a supermarket up there it was great just enough of what was needed and no more…the tourists have destroyed the eco system you just have to stop on the road and see the miles of dead foliage from fumes and other human by products….I wonder if the fire flies, carpet snakes, Ulysses butterflies still exists like they did 20 years ago. ..i had a pet carpet snake who hung off my shower rail, green tree frogs in the toilet, butterflies on my blue shirts and the fire flies only ever appeared in one corner of the beach magic spot…must get back there soon before its all ruined

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi I use to work at the abandoned resort you found back on 2000 to 2001 when it was Coconut Beach Rainforest Resort. It’s weird seeing it like that now. It use to be an awesome location. Had some big functions there too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very weird for us too. Especially that it hadn’t been vandalized. It seemed so ‘end of the world’.


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