One of Kingfisher Bay Resort’s pioneering architects, Ralph Bailey, returns to the resort and to Fraser Island as a special guest presenter and for a little R&R – January 2012.
As Jenny (my wife) and I sat on our hotel balcony (the afternoon we arrived at Kingfisher Bay Resort) enjoying a cold drink, a Lewin’s Honeyeater flew down and perched on the railing in front of us. These bids love sugar and given half the chance will steal a sip of your beverage!
Over the years we’ve visited, we’ve chatted to the resort rangers, who lead the bird watching tours, believe there are actually more birds around the resort than elsewhere on the entire island – “so the birds must love the resort as much as we do!” we exclaimed.
That night we indulged in bush tucker-infused cuisine at Kingfisher’s Seabelle restaurant. We had the lamb with a wattleseed jus (for those that don’t know, wattleseed is actually the crushed seed of an Acacia plant which has a mild coffee- like flavour) and the stuffed chicken breast with a lemon myrtle dressing. I have written various articles on Australian Bush Tucker, so to see restaurants utilising local native produce in such creative and delicious ways is a real treat for us.
The next morning I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Wallum and up around and through the villa areas and even around the hotel itself. There is always a different plant in flower and this visit I found two special plants in full flower including Meliocope elleryana ( Pink Euodia) – all the branches covered in large clusters of pink flowers are which are highly attractive to honeyeaters and a wide range of spectacular butterflies.
Later with Peter, the Landscape Manager, and Ivor Davies (the resort’s General Manager) we took a tour together to look at landscape maintenance with the idea of maintaining our vigilance against any weeds taking hold on the site. Weeds can be brought in by birds or under mudguards or on tyres of vehicles visiting the island. If weeds are not kept in check they form seeds and spread and could change the ecology of the site and increase the cost of landscape maintenance. – so our stroll was actually vitally important to the eco-system.
That afternoon, Tim Guymer, the principal architect of the Resort (and partner at Guymer Bailey) announced to us his plans to visit the resort during our stay and assist me with Saturday night’s presentation to guests. The presentation went well with a few guests and plenty of staff showing up, eager to learn more about the sustainable design of Kingfisher Bay Resort.
We spoke together on our architectural design inspiration for the Resort and our desire to design buildings that reflect Australian lifestyle and culture.
“Queenslanders love their verandas and outdoor living areas” proclaimed Tim as we reminisced about the design process. Tim who has been travelling around the world in his yacht with his partner Karen, also gave a powerpoint presentation on his “Reflections on Architecture” showing examples of architecture he has seen on his travels through the Pacific over the last three years.
On Sunday, I took three of the Resort Rangers on a walk around the resort grounds to discuss landscaping and why particular species of plants were used in certain areas. Ferns and palms are more suited to low lying areas around the main complex that are moist and well shaded, while Eucalypt species are suited to more exposed areas. I hope I have added a few more botanical plant names to their every expanding repertoire!
That evening myself, Ranger Jermaine and Chef Toby held a Bush Tucker Talk and Taste session which allows guests to learn about and taste some of Australia’s amazing native food plants. Ranger Jermaine, a Butchalla descendent explained to guests about his ancestors usage of bush foods, while I talked a bit about where they grow and the best way to grow them at home. Chef Toby then made our mouths water with explanations of how they use bush tucker in Seabelle restaurant.
On Sunday night I delivered a presentation on the topic of “Native Flora and Landscape Design” to staff and guests. This presentation is based on my book “Gardening with Australian Rainforest Plants”. I am passionate about using Australian plants in Australian gardens. This was also my aim at Kingfisher, to keep it “pure”, as in eradicating exotics and only planting native plants from the island, so as to keep it a true eco experience unlike other resorts.
We look forward to returning again in the not-too-distant future.