The Southern Cassowary is a rare bird. And big — growing up to two metres in height and weighing up to 75 kilograms. Lucky then, that David Gibson of the Canopy Treehouses is a man with a defining passion for wildlife, because when he had a curious male cassowary give him a peck on the shoulder to check him out, he didn’t run away. In fact, the meeting not only solidified his thoughts that that he was in the right job, but also that the 40 hectares of pristine rainforest that he manages is a piece of paradise in a league of its own.
“One of the most wonderful things about this place is seeing our guests blown away by their experiences here,” he says. “Some places can guarantee bird and wallaby spottings, but it’s nothing like this. You can have red-legged Pademelon wallabies bounding below your balcony while a Coppery Brushtail possum comes to say hello. Northern bandicoots are only metres away on our forest floor, and you can visit turtles by taking a walk through the rainforest paths leading to the river.” He pauses to take a breath. “You might even be lucky enough to see Lumholtz’s Tree kangaroo, and there are platypus living in our river,” he says.
It’s not just the lucky that are privy a continual parade of wildlife here however, because there’s scientific reasoning for the astounding amount of it thriving in the largest untouched tract of rainforest on the Cairns Highlands. CSIRO studies revealed that David’s piece of paradise produces an average of four to seven times the amount of fruit and other food than other nearby rainforests, giving the birds and other animals ample reason to call it home. And most of the time, the local birds (such as Victoria’s riflebirds, King parrots, spotted catbirds, honeyeaters and finches to name a few) are singing joyously about it. Gibson's cassowary friend also comes back every year with his latest chicks in tow.
The timber and glass treehouses almost engulfed by the rainforest canopy are positioned on the banks of Ithaca River, and the sound of its rushing waters mixed with birdcall is like a soundtrack from a meditation centre.
Stepping off the expansive wooden decks and into the loungerooms warmed by the heat of log fire, there's that intoxicating sense of peace that only comes comes from feeling completely disconnected from the outside world. From the bathtubs with surrounding windows that look like oil paintings of lush ferns, to the bedrooms that are as comforting as your mother’s home, each is private and roomy.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be one of the custodians of this precious place,” says David. “Every day I wake up and know that I will see something new and beautiful.”