Silky Oaks Lodge, Mossman, review: Queensland lodge's $20 million face-lift

THE PLACE

Silky Oaks Lodge has been a preferred base for exploring the Daintree Rainforest for several decades. Fresh from a major refurbishment, it remains a place to detach from modern life and savour one of Australia's most remarkable landscapes.

THE LOCATION

Far north Queensland is famously the place where the rainforest meets the reef and Silky Oaks Lodge – one hour and 15 minutes drive north of Cairns – makes a luxurious base from which to explore two of our greatest natural wonders: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

THE LOOK

The moment you arrive at Silky Oaks Lodge, you are immersed in the rainforest, with trees towering above you and a soothing soundtrack of trilling insects and tumbling water.

The main lodge building, overlooking the swift-flowing Mossman River, is virtually hidden amid the trees, its airy design inviting the outside in.

Silky Oaks Lodge recently joined the Baillie Lodges group and underwent a $20 million refurbishment but the design remains understated. Natural textures and a soft palette of muted blues, greens and greys ensure nothing detracts from the spectacular natural setting.

THE ROOM

Unusually for a luxury lodge, Silky Oaks offers six accommodation categories across its 40 villas, making a stay here accessible to more people than you might expect.

I'm in a Billabong Suite, the second-top tier, which covers 92 square metres and comes kitted out with an oversized al fresco bath tub, a view of the river and an expansive deck complete with a hammock.

The mini-bar is packed with complimentary goodies and Baillie Lodge's aromatic amenities (love that lavender and mint combo) remain among the best in the business.

THE FOOD

Breakfast, evening canapes and dinner are included in your room rate, and chef Mark Godbeer makes sure every meal is memorable. (A visit to the impressive kitchen garden, where the team is experimenting with a range of plants, is highly recommended.)

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Breakfast choices range from granola or avocado toast to more exotic fare such as coconut waffles.

Evening drinks are accompanied by canapes such as cauliflower pakora with finger lime and snapper ceviche, and entree options at dinner include confit duck larb salad or koji cured kingfish tataki, followed by mains such as tempura reef fish in red curry sauce or kangaroo sausage with five-spice potato.

Dessert can be as light as a tropical sorbet or as indulgent as a chocolate cake with matcha icing. As at all Baillie Lodges' properties, the drinks list offers a well-chosen range of wines and beers and the cocktails are outstanding. Try the Sunset Sip – a mix of sake, yuzu and passionfruit - or the Mossman Kick, which blends local Iridium rum with lime and ginger.

STEPPING OUT

You can explore the Daintree on your own, but a tour with Walkabout Adventures lets you see this landscape through the eyes of the Kuku-Yalandji people who made their home here for tens of thousands of years.

Alternatively, if you want some reef action, a half-day trip to the Low Islands with Calypso Reef Cruises is a chance to marvel at colourful corals and the marine species that live among them.

Also recommended: a river snorkelling excursion with Back Country Bliss. Still need more action? You can also go exploring on the in-house mountain bikes, take to the water in the lodge's kayaks, join the morning yoga class or head to the spa.

THE VERDICT

The refurbished Silky Oaks Lodge is now one of the country's best luxury retreats.

ESSENTIALS

Room rates start at $480 a person per night twin share. Billabong Suite from $1050 a person per night twin share. All rates include breakfast, cocktails and canapes hour, and dinner with matched wines. Two-night minimum stay.

HIGHLIGHT

Forget the pool – plunging into the cold, clear (croc-free) waters of the river that runs through the resort is the ultimate refresher.

LOWLIGHT

The fact that you have to leave.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★★

Ute Junker was a guest of Silky Oaks Lodge and Tourism Queensland.