In the late 1980’s Bert, a well known local identity around the Cairns region, had a dream and a vision to create a true All-Gay-Only resort.
Having a local knowledge of resorts and hospitality in the area, he searched for almost 3 years throughout Cairns and the northern beaches area, but could never find the perfect, secluded, safe place, perfect for gay people. He asked local gay business people and associates to invest with him in the project, but keep in mind, it was the 80's, the state of Queensland and especially the northern region was still very homophobic and therefore his local friends were not quite game enough to co-invest in the type of venture Bert was looking for.
Finally in 1992 he found the ideal home for what would become Turtle Cove Beach Resort, sitting right on the beach and wrapped by the Captain Cook Highway between Cairns and Port Douglas, smack-bang in the middle of the national park with a complete private beach at the door. Film stars Lee Marvin and Nicole Kidman had both looked at the place as a possible private retreat in the sun, but were less enthused with the prospect of paparazzi photographers in helicopters and boats able to intrude in their privacy on the beach, chose not take the resort.
Bert was a bit apprehensive at first as the property only had cabins and was totally run down and in financial receivership. His very best friends for many years, the famous STD and HIV AIDS specialist Dr. David Bradford and his partner Michael came up for a holiday so when Bert showed them the Resort site they were totally blown away with the amazingly private, secluded total beach front property with two very private sandy beaches and uninterrupted views over the coral sea. It was at that moment they decided that this would be the ideal property for LGBT people.
So they got some additional friends together and the property was purchased. Within three months they managed to practically re-build the entire property to make it suitable for the gay community and his gay friends. Following the grand opening over Easter 1993, the resort was more or less booked out solid, with a staff of 26 and two 14-seat coaches running 24 hours a day to the Airport, City and Port Douglas. By 1998 all the accommodation cabins were gone and a two-story Resort building stood in their place.
Seeing the resort at such a success Bert (alias Queen “B”) retired from the business and moved to Thailand in February. But by 2005 economy issues, declining tourism, finance restrictions and a broadening community, the decline set in and by 2008 the resort was struggling on empty. There were many reasons why Turtle Cove Resort hit hard times and it would take some doing to get it back on its feet again.
Then in September 2009 a couple from Melbourne saw the resort empty, totally neglected and run down. They instantly fell in love with the location and the memories the resort had provided to the community in its glory, their gay son suggested to give it another try to keep it an All Gay Resort. But after two years and many managers, the place was still struggling, despite the owner's massive spending to upgrade, modify and enhance the facilities, for some reason it didn't work.
They had heard stories from old resort regulars about Queen “B” and his successful days gone by, but locals said that they thought Bert had died in Thailand during the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. When the decision came close to either battle on or close and just make the resort their holiday retreat, they heard that Bert was actually still alive and in Bangkok. It was not long before they flew to Bangkok and found him working in his restaurant. After long conversations they got Bert back at the Helm at Turtle Cove. And the old Queen “B” returned to bring life back to the resort.
After 23 years, while many gay clubs and accommodation places throughout Australia have gone, Turtle Cove Beach Resort is still here for the LGBTI community.