Turtle Cove – Australia’s Last Remaining 100% Gay Paradise

Turtle CoveIn a country as big as Australia, it’s hard to believe there’s only one LGBT holiday resort. But it just so happens to be the case. Turtle Cove Beach Resort is it.

But hey, if we’re only going to have one resort that’s ‘ours’, it’s great to have one as good as Turtle Cove.

Turtle Cove is located on its own slice of paradise. Literally. It has it’s own private beach! It’s located in Far-North Queensland which is a definite, definite addition to your travel bucket list. It’s such a beautiful part of the world. The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest are the two main attractions, each as breathtaking as you’d expect.

I actually once spent a day at Turtle Cove back in 2001. I was a poor backpacker, so my partner at the time and I weren’t staying at the resort. We just visited for the day. And for me, it was an absolutely amazing experience. Being young (21) and still relatively new to being out, the ability to just be myself in an environment that was not only safe but truly accepting, was something that I had never experienced before.

I remember there being a huge pool and spa. We just spent the day dipping in and out of the pool, and then finished off with a walk on the private beach. Everyone was friendly, from the staff to the other guests. It had a laid-back and very inviting vibe. It was definitely memorable because almost 15 years later, I’m still able to recall the visit vividly.

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I recently had the opportunity to speak with Bert Gerbrands. Bert, better known as Queen B, who is Turtle Cove’s General Manager. Here’s what we chatted about:

Little Gay Blog – Firstly, how is it that there’s only one LGBT holiday resort in Australia? That’s crazy!

B – Every other hotel and resort where smelling the pink dollar and hence all became so called “Gay Friendly”. Attitudes nowadays about being gay have changed and thus, younger gays are happy to stay anywhere.

But the difference is that you still cannot hold hands, cuddle, kiss or do whatever is perceived as being openly gay. The older generation at some hotels may still also frown upon the gay guests. It is never a total relaxed feeling for LGBT people holidaying in these run of the mill resorts.

So, it became that all gay establishments became so called “Straight Friendly”. That is why from the inception of Turtle Cove, we stayed an adults only absolute LGBT only resort.

What’s Turtle Cove’s history? When was it started and by who?

I had been looking for years to start an all gay resort, but nothing was good enough. After all, the LGBT community is pretty particular with their holiday choices.

Nothing was private, or anywhere close to the warm tropical waters, reef and rainforest. Finally after 3 years searching, I saw Turtle Cove Resort with a big sign on the closed gates. The sign read “in receivership and for sale”. I asked a few better healed local friends to join him to purchase  the resort.

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But as the Queensland state government was very homophobic at that time, led by the then Premier Bjelke Petersen, all his friends were not game to invest and said we would never get it off the ground with all the homophobia around.

Then I called some friends from the south. They came to have a look and were instantly blown away with the beauty, the total privacy away from everywhere, right on the private beach, with sea turtles popping up right in front of our shore, the pristine beach and the only freehold property right on the water, smack in the middle of the world heritage listed National Park.

They had friends who had friends and thus a small group came together and the resort was bought by them.

There were only cabins with bunk beds without private bathrooms (which wasn’t ideal). So within 3 months, the cabins were ripped apart and totally refurbished. The resort opened Easter 1993.

The success was instant and within a few years, cabins were replaced by two story buildings and Turtle Cove was voted the best LGBT resort in the world.

You run a number of popular events, including a Nude Week, as well as Mardi Gras recovery weeks. What sort of guys tend to come to these events, and for people who have never been to one, what can they expect?

Although the resort is clothing optional, nude week is really for the guys who are nudists, but not all will be naked and the resort is in no way promoting sleaze.

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Christmas is different here, as after all who wants to get dressed up for 2 hour Christmas lunch in 33 degrees and 94% humidity?!  No way! We do what’s called a grazing lunch.

Guests can stay in their swimmers and we bring out big platters every 40 minutes or so with all sorts of delicacies.

Then every time  a platter comes out, the queen rings the Xmas bell and the guests help them self from the buffet and straight back in the pool. By 3pm everybody is full and we have plates with anti pasta for all guests in case they feel peckish in the evening. But as it so popular, guest must book their stay early.

New Year is a big tropical buffet Carvery with the most famous gay DJ keeping it all going till the big countdown at midnight.

We like to think that lots of overseas guys come to stay for the pre Mardi Gras to get that suntan and work out in our well stocked gym. While after Mardi Gras, we get lots of tired guest glad to get back to normal at the Cove.

The resort is clothing-optional which I think is really great. For guys who may have body image issues, what would you say to them if they might feel uncomfortable being naked in public?

Although the resort is clothing optional, no one is forced to be naked and only a few do. For the shy guys our private beach is perfect.


For more information, please visit the Turtle Cove website.