Bali Hai - Tropical Living
The energy and charm of this magnificent site overlooking the Daintree Mountains inspired North Queenslanders Wendy and Hans van der Wolf to consider very carefully what style of dwelling, if any, could enhance Paradise.
The well traveled couple were concerned that the wrong style of architecture in this environment could shatter the magic of an ethereal setting.
"We were afraid of spoiling the spirit," Wendy said. "It was just long grass and cane when we first found it. We camped on the top and the views were amazing. Then we camped in the middle and got the cross breezes. We realised if there was to be a house - this was the place"
Wendy and Hans invited respected Cairns designer Chris Vandyke to become part of their dream project, and with the building expertise of Mossman's Keith Tesch the classic simplicity and perfection that characterises Bali Hai - a showpiece in tropical lifestyle design - became a reality.
There were no disappointments and no regrets - Bali Hai has realised all dreams and exceeded all expectations.
The four ivory grass roofed indoor/outdoor bure pavilions stand as testimony that when attuned to the environment, we can enhance, not spoil, the spirit of the land.
"The house had to have a sense of place," said Wendy, "it had to be serene and simple, to suit this location."
Wendy has planted hectares of tropical fruit trees and exotic plants at the bottom of the site, near the crystal clear running creek. The rainforest is in the background but doesn't encroach on the orchard or open spaces around the house.
The house is a statement of freedom and individuality, but isn't for the fainthearted! This is an adventurous design, open to the breezes and the elements, with no walls or windows in one pavilion, which also features a completely open-air bathroom. The crowning glory of this classically simple pavilion home is a natural grass roof. "The grass roofed pavilions give earthy character and charm, integrating the house with its surroundings and creating insulation against the tropical heat. The graff roof has a warm texture and you can have a sound sleep when it's coming down in buckets. The pitch of the roof and the moulds in the corner joins allow the rain to run off quickly."
Placement of the four pavilions was critical to the finished effect. The line of each pavilion is distinct and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
To arrive at the much foliaged Bali Hai entrance is to farewell the hustle and bustle of the world outside and to move into a new symphony of peace and harmony. Nature touches all who enter here as the ever-changing mountain hues filter through the towering tropicana to the secluded pavilions where water and birdsong serenade.
A grey volcanic slate table stands close to the huge Javanese antique wood entrance doors; and the first step inside the main living pavilion reveals an awe-inspiring panorama - the view across the blue of the swimming pool, the foliage around the creek and across to the heritage listed Daintree mountains.
It's a place where ever-changing flamingo pink sunsets, the curious Devils Thumb and Good Shepard rock formations, and a thundering wet season fed waterfall become part of the interior design.
Bali Hai is a part time hacienda for Hans and Wendy and their family, as well as the flagship of their 'Business Executive Retreat Homes' business.It's a prestigious North Queensland hideaway, with an overwhelming feeling of solitude and serenity.
The main living pavilion with kitchen, dining and lounge is one open space, very relaxing, very uncluttered and very cool. The overtone is defined calm, or as Wendy puts it, a lot of space to nourish the soul. The Javanese sandstone steps give the main bure a real pavilion feel. Red cedar doors and spotted gum timber soften the render and team with a seagrass lounge from Java. The coffee table is an antique weaving table from Indonesia. "They picked up their weaving and then slept on it at night" Wendy said.
Part of the credit for the carefully chosen and defined furnishings to Bryce Weren of Exotica in Port Douglas. The heavy hardwood dining table from Indonesia is strategically placed to take in the extraordinarily scenery to the top of the mountain. "At night we have gas flares by the pool with the coconut palms dimly lit for ambience" Wendy said. The bathrooms were designed with specific purpose - to be absolutely luxurious with dominant water features. Two identical bathrooms were created for the two luxury bedroom pavilions. "You can sit in the large walk-in bathtubs and look onto the creek rapids and the mountains. We've got both the European hand showers and big Australian bush showers. Hans did request we didn't have salad bowls as bathroom basins," Wendy jokes. Impressive sandstone statues - male in one bathroom, female in the other, carry through the neutral sandstone theme.
The outside shower and toilet, only very partially covered by roof, is really designed so that you can shower and look at the mountains and the rainforest. It features a mystical entrance with Balinese doors and steps, It's fun, but only something that you can do in the tropics.
Bedroom furnishings are neutral and carry through the theme of uncluttered simplicity, while colour is added throughout with the use of wonderful tropical flowers. Teak Javanese beds with sandstone inlay bedheads, matching bedside tables and Javanese cupboards with inlaid painted flowers in the dressing rooms forecast a peaceful night under a tropical moon. Huge white mosquito nets offer romantic seclusion free from the whine of mosquitoes. The very open, very daring, very different third bedroom pavilion has two king size beds and a four poster. "It's open, but because of the big roof overhand it is protected and has an internal bedroom off it," Wendy said.
Bali Hai is a successful experiment in following one's intuition in the planning and design of a home that is both an extension of the owners' energy and the essence of the surrounding countryside.
It is the epitome of what can be achieved when owner, designer, builder and interior design consultant put their best into a project. Bali Hai is a masterpiece of man made creation, which complements even the best of nature's handiwork.