A young female wallaby in tropical north Queensland is probably the only wild wallaby in the world with her own hashtag. Given the name Apple by a young guest staying at Thala Beach Nature Reserve, she's certainly the only one that calls Port Douglas home. Not content with making popular red carpet appearances on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, #AppletheWallaby also has a couple of YouTube video clips under her belt. Naturally, like any self-respecting social media star, she also has her own web page.
Despite the demands of looming motherhood (she has a joey developing in her pouch), Apple makes multiple unscheduled daily appearances in Thala's open sided lobby. She's a natural crowd-pleaser, gently bounding across the slate floor, pausing to preen and pose for guests and their cameras. Apples nostrils twitch as she checks out the strange human aromas, her curiosity apparent. As she inches in close, her dark eyes shaded by lashes the envy of women worldwide, she rests her forepaw on a guest's knee in a marsupial version of a handshake.
One of approximately 50 wild agile wallabies that inhabit Thala Beach Nature Reserve, a team of onsite Rangers keep an eye on Apple along with other wildlife that come and go through the seasons. Head Ranger Brett Kelly has been with Thala since its inception in the 1990s. A dedicated naturist just like Thala's owners Robert and Oonagh Prettejohn, Brett has a soft spot for the reserve's wild inhabitants.
'It's hard to say exactly how many wallabies inhabit Thala's forest as there are no fences and wallabies will roam wherever food and water can be found,' says Brett. 'We guess that there are around 50 species of agile and swamp wallabies, but really can't be certain. Recently we've seen a number of joeys so we do know that the population is healthy and growing. '
Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a haven for native wildlife. As well as wallabies, onsite Rangers have spotted three types of possum – long tailed pygmy possums, sugar gliders and the striped possum. The long grass around the Stargazing Observatory is a favourite haunt for these critters. Bandicoots as well as echidnas, which are unique as an egg laying mammal, have also been sighted. Almost 200 bird and 150 butterfly species have also been documented by Rangers and nature-loving guests.
Opened in 1998 and awarded the highest Ecotourism accreditation, Thala offers guests meaningful nature experiences with minimal environmental impact. The land Thala occupies was formerly sugarcane farmland back in the 1970's when the Prettejons purchased it. More than 30 years later they've managed the re-establishment of complex native forests, shunning the use of damaging chemicals and pesticides. Achieving eco-certification through sustainable practices and environmental sensitivity allows guests to assist in the environmental rehabilitation process. Deluxe eco designed timber bungalows are built on stilts within the forest canopy providing a private and unobtrusive approach to nature.
Located 45 minutes north of Cairns International Airport, Thala sits atop a headland surrounded by forest-clad ranges overlooking Great Barrier Reef waters. With wild wallabies roaming free amongst native flora and fauna, Thala is an eco-retreat with environment integrity. With #AppletheWallaby making delightful unscheduled appearances, Thala's guests enjoy an immersive nature experience while minimising their environmental footprint.
Find #AppletheWallaby online at:
Web page: www.thalabeach.com.au/apple-the-wallaby
You Tube: https://youtu.be/jUwA0nDwG6s