Be social

Living in restored water tanks right on the beach might sound unusual, but for Anthony Hadleigh who runs Australian Kite Surfari at Elim Beach in FNQ, it’s the perfect place for this kite surfer to call home.

australian kite surfariNestled amongst the sand dunes on the beach at Coloured Sands, about an hour north of Cooktown, the water tanks are a bit of an attraction and talking point for tourists four wheel driving down the beach.

You can’t miss them and you can’t help but be curious about what they look like inside.

And to be honest, they weren’t what we expected at all.

I had heard about the water tank homes and had imagined a fairly primitive set up, but Anthony (also known as Ant) has turned each of the water tanks into living quarters with carefully constructed windows, doors, decks and pathways.

sitting-roomAnd of course a woman’s touch doesn’t hurt either, with a range of funky beachy furniture chosen by his partner Paully.

They live here with their six year old daughter Trinity, who does her schooling through School of the Air.

Their four dogs and giant pig called Miss Piggy also call this home.

Miss Piggy was supposed to be a miniature pig but at five months old, she is certainly not miniature anymore and will usually greet you on the beach when you arrive.

The other water tanks are used as accommodation for guests staying on a kite surfari.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]why water tanks?[/headline]

kite surfing elim beachAnt was living and working in the aboriginal community of Hope Vale as a mechanic for many years and spent his weekends kite surfing out at the Coloured Sands.

A friend told him about some water tanks for sale and one thing led to another.

He says it was never intended to be a business but the world class location turned itself into a business.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]assisting traditional owners[/headline]

kite surfersUsing wind and solar for powering the water tanks and using the tradewinds from Cape Flattery to power their sport (kite surfing), it means the money they make from their kite surfaris allow them to pay the true owner of the land rent.

It also allows Ant to show his clients that life in an aboriginal community can actually be a beautiful life changing experience.

He explains that the traditional owners of the area allow them to live there and it’s great to have a system in place where the traditional owner gets paid for them actually using his land.

“I believe this is the way forward for many aboriginal people, allowing people to live on their property and in turn helping them by providing an income. When you live around these people you get a great appreciation for the connection they have with the land and it is just incredible,” Ant says.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]work in progress[/headline]

elim beach crayfishAnt says turning the water tanks into a home has been an ongoing process but that he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

And I admit, I am just a tinsy bit jealous, it seems an idyllic lifestyle.

Their water tank home can sleep up to 10 people, it has two communal bathrooms and one private outdoor bathroom with a bath, there is an outdoor kitchen, dining area and a water tank sitting room with built-in bench seating and a telescope for star gazing.

Ant and Paully have also started a veggie garden, they catch a lot of fish and crayfish straight off the beach and they run everything on solar and wind power, so they are pretty self-sufficient.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]living in isolation[/headline]

australian kite surfariThe Coloured Sands can only be reached when the tide is out so once the tide comes in, this family is completely isolated and they have the entire beach to themselves.

Ant and Paully agree that the Coloured Sands and Elim Beach is the most amazing place to live as every day is different and the tide changes constantly so the sand bars and pockets of water along the vast stretch of beach outside their home changes on a daily basis.

Considering this is where a lot of the kite surfing takes place, the fact that the beach landscape changes daily means it is the perfect spot for novice kite surfers.

sunset elim beachThe fact that the water is so clear along their stretch of beach also means they can always spot the four metre crocodile that lives in the area.

It may be unusual and isolated but its easy to see what’s so appealing about this lifestyle. It really is one of the most beautiful places in Queensland.

[headline size=”small” align=”left”]travel nq fast facts:[/headline]

  • kite surfing coloured sandsKite surfaris are all-inclusive including food, drink, accommodation, kite surfing and collection from Cairns and return. Kite hire and lessons are extra.
  • Australian Kite Surfaris offer four days/three nights or seven days/six nights surfaris
  • Kite surfing season in Elim Beach only runs from April through til October each year as this is the start of stinger season and crocodile breeding season
  • For more information on Australian Kite Surfaris visit


Photos: Big thank you to photographer and keen kitesurfer Matt Stevens for letting us use some of his photos. Other photos taken by Amanda from Travel NQ.