A wide curved verandah sweeps around, following the line of the bay and catching the feisty ocean breeze. Cool natural weave sofas in the colours of the sea and the sand, bright glassware and vibrant fabrics lighten the inner spaces. Very contemporary, the look on Lizard Island, 200 kms north of Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef, is minimalist against the strong background of a remote island national park, yet it all blends perfectly.
The main lodge area is a huge, perfectly proportioned beach house verandah overlooking the turquoise blue of Anchor Bay. This large unwalled area houses the lounge and restaurant areas, reception, the bar and a small boutique. A huge granite back wall has been retained from the original resort and creates a backdrop to the library area at the rear of the lounge. It’s solid presence helping tie the lodge to its site while bringing in the colours of the surrounding rock.
The Aussie beach house design has become a benchmark in Australia for good coastal architecture. Common themes can be seen at Lizard Island in the use of louvred wooden doors and windows, high cathedral ceilings to lift the heat out of room spaces, floor to ceiling glass on the shaded side to maximise the use of natural light, and wide eaves to protect the interior spaces from the ravages of the tropical sun and heavy monsoonal rains and cyclones.
These elements all create a spacious open environment that encompasses the feel of the wide open spaces outside. Wide sliding doors in the villas and suites open to embrace the view to the beach, and the main lounge and restaurant complex has neither walls nor doors to separate it from the surrounding landscape.
The original resort was first suggested in 1972, and in 1973 a Brisbane architect was commissioned to live on the beach in a caravan for three weeks to get a feel for the place. The only prerequisites he was given were that the building had to reflect it’s island location and include an old homestead-style verandah. Thirty years later the resort carries on those exact same themes, although in a modern style.
Flooring is mostly spotted gum and the joinery in the suites is European beech. Wonderfully luxurious Javanese style day beds on the verandahs are of stained hardwood, designed and treated to achieve the look of the weathered driftwood that litters the high tide line after a storm. The shapes and spaces, fabrics and fittings used at Lizard Island all combine to create the perfect beach house, one we would all want to own with the long hot summer in mind.
But it’s probably the oldest residents of the resort that give it that look and feel of really belonging. As the local, lumbering lizards (Gould’s Monitors) amble their way across the lawn, flicking their tongues out lazily over the ground as they go, they appear quite at ease in their nice, new beach house surroundings. They, like everyone else who stays at Lizard Island, definitely feel at home.
(C) by Sue Farley
Sue has visited Lizard Island Resort twice as a freelance writer to document resort refurbishments and to visit the neighbouring Lizard Island Research Station