“Looking out to the view, it’s all lush, tropical greenery that surrounds you but right behind you is the sheer, linear austerity of the house. It’s almost as if a giant spaceship has just crashed into this tropical rainforest.”
Such is the setting of The Edge, an architectural marvel that looms over the blues and greens of tropical Port Douglas. Designed by Australian architect Charles Wright, this otherworldly Airbnb home at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef captures the curve of Four Mile Beach from expansive windows that wrap almost around the entirety of the building.
“It really looks like it’s not meant to be here – but in the best possible way,” says Sydney-based designer Lachie Mackay, whose family purchased the one-of-a-kind home in 2016. “It really reacts against its environment and the landscape. What that does is it allows you to project outwards and take in that incredible view.”
That view can be admired from almost anywhere in the two bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home. Where are the non-negotiable viewing spots? The 10-metre long infinity pool that borders the windowed edge of the home or the little platform below the house, which Lachie pegs as the perfect place to situate when cocktail hour commences.
“The first thing guests usually say when they walk in the door is, ‘Wow!’” says Airbnb Host and property manager Johnny Riley – a Port Douglas local of over 25 years. “The house and view combined is very unique. It’s a real local icon.”
Although the view alone would be reason enough to book The Edge, there are plenty more reasons to stay.
“You can probably throw a stone down to the main street of Port Douglas but it’s about a 15-minute walk into town – and a tougher one back up the hill,” laughs Johnny. “There’s also a walking track that takes you down to Four Mile Beach in about seven minutes. It’s one of the best beaches in Australia.”
Amid the sharp and precise design, guests can expect luxurious add-ons such as a built-in fireplace, coffee machine, gas barbecue, wine fridge, twin bathrooms attached to the master suite, air-conditioning and a built-in daybed on the balcony.
“It’s essentially a Brutalist design with a lot of off-form concrete,” adds Lachie. “But it’s been softened by luxurious touches like beautiful soft furnishings, marble and sleek furniture.”
About the Host
“When our family bought the property in 2016, we originally wanted a block of land and we were going to design a house on it. A real estate agent said to us, ‘Let me show you this house for sale and we’ll give you an idea of what you could build.’ We came to The Edge and just fell in love with it,” Lachie says.
“We’ve had some great family times in the house but we’re from Melbourne and Sydney so we can’t be here all the time. It makes us happy to know other people can enjoy it.
“I love that anyone who stays here has a really unforgettable experience. Friends of ours did a surprise weekend away for their mum’s birthday – and they said she had the time of her life. She was crying; she couldn't believe she was staying here and how beautiful it was. As a Host, that feels amazing.”
Just for you
“On arrival, we supply a bottle of Moet for guests,” says Johnny. “We go and get fresh flowers from a local farm and fill up the vases.
“We always leave something extra, like a couple of boxes of chocolates or fruit platters or cheese platters, depending on the guests coming in and what we think they’ll like.
“We can also organise massages, private chefs, limo transfers, tours – if a guest wants something, we can make it happen.”
Where to eat and drink (and grab coffee!)
“For morning coffee to go, I love Sparrow Coffee. If you want breakfast, definitely try Choo Choos at the Marina,” says Lachie. “It’s the most perfect indoor/outdoor tropical Queensland eating experience. I usually get the coconut rice pudding with tropical fruit and a watermelon, pineapple and mint juice.
“My number one favourite restaurant would have to be La Cucina + Bar, which is kind of like a local icon. They do really delicious, authentic Italian food.
“Also Nu Nu in Palm Cove. You’re about 10 metres back from the beach and in front of you are all these beautiful tall coconut trees. And the food is spectacular; they do amazing things with local ingredients. One of their specials is a betel leaf, which is laden with crab and Thai basil and mint. It’s really fresh with incredible bursts of tropical flavour in your mouth.”
Things to do
“If you’re keen on snorkelling, tours to the reef leave from the marina,” says Johnny. “The best tours are full day but there are half days, too. They usually take you to three sites on the reef, depending on the company and it’s just sensational.”
“My favourite beach spot? I’d have to say Oak Beach, which is about 15 minutes south. It’s just stunning. There’s hiking and mountain biking in that area, too.”
“We love Mossman Gorge, which is less than half an hour away,” adds Lachie. “There’s a one-hour loop walk through the jungle called the Mossman Gorge Rainforest Circuit Track and it’s unlike a lot of the other trails in the area. You walk around amazing boulders at the edge of the clear water and the rainforest is so lush and beautiful.”
Stay a little longer
“Every single time we come here we drive up to the Daintree, even though we’ve done it a million times,” says Lachie. “If you have time, you can drive all the way up to Cape Tribulation, which is two hours north in total but all along the way there are tons of boardwalks and beaches that are completely deserted.
“Stop along the way at the Daintree Ice Cream Company. It’s open air, it’s really beautiful and you can walk through the orchard where they grow the tropical fruits.
“Port Douglas is the kind of place where once you get here, you don’t want to leave. We had one group of guests stay for two months and they worked from the house. The idea that you can get online when you have your meeting and then jump in the pool… it’s really cool.
“The house is really well set up for work. There’s actually a lot of desk space – there’s the office space in the main living area but there’s also desk space in both bedrooms. I’ve spent a lot of time up here over the last couple of years and it’s probably been one of the happiest times of my life!”