You know the retreat already sounds enticing when you discover it’s perched in an evergreen rainforest called Lamington National Park. The family-run O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland has been a nature lover’s playground for close to a century.
Its lush location and surplus of outdoor activities have made it a much-loved spot for many to disconnect from the chaos and constant noise of every day. Instead, latch onto the soothing sounds of nature with chirping birds, rustling leaves, and relaxing rainfalls.
Where you’ll be staying
O’Reilly’s is the perfect add-on getaway from a stint in the Gold Coast; once you’ve indulged in Broadbeach and enjoyed the high life along Surfers Paradise. The hillside retreat is located within World-Heritage listed national park and is a one-and-a-half-hour drive east of Surfers Paradise. The drive itself is almost like a tease with anticipation of what good things are to come. It’s a scenic journey; passing through the Canungra Valley, slowly climbing mountains, hugging tight bends, and driving under the forest’s thick canopy until arriving at the secluded plateau.
The decision to embark on the thick of the woods is soon realised to be the right one once arriving. The retreat’s scenery is green-lit gorgeous overlooking the McPherson Ranges and deserves all the panorama shots you are enticed to take.
The historic retreat has several accommodation categories mixed with both old and modern — from cosy studios to very indulgent villas complete with balcony spas for a very lavish outdoor splash.
I stayed in the retreat’s classic One Bedroom Canopy Suite overlooking the mountains. The suite boasts high ceilings with exposed beams, wooden furnishings, and two balconies perfect to enjoy a morning coffee in the mountain mist. The spacious room design is made for couples to linger on with the joys of a four-poster bed and a large spa with views of the ranges.
Things to do at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
O’Reilly’s is not just a place to drop bags and kick off the shoes and fully unwind; it’s a bold, informative, and daring Retreat. There is little time to rest in a place that has so many tempting activities and attractions.
The Retreat offers a plethora of activities ranging from Birds of Prey and Wildlife Encounters tours where you can get up and close with its resident owl, wedge-tail eagle, and carpet snake (if game!) to guided walks in the wilderness.
On the more thrill-seeker side of things, its flying fox adventure is reminiscent of Costa Rica’s famous zip lines, soaring over a verdant canopy 25 metres above ground level. It’s every bit awesome flying over at a not-so-scary speed and the best part about it, is that you choose to fly over again and again until your arms have had enough.
Another incredible highlight is partaking in the glow worm experience. Light up the night by heading on a guided tour into the ancient rainforest to reach a glow worm grotto. It’s simply an enchanted experience of seeing many glow worms illuminating a rock face with their fluorescent light under a starry sky. It’s enthralling and captivating to sit opposite and enjoy the rare magical backdrop in silence. Simply magical.
Where to unwind after all the activities? Choose from either its series of pond-like pools that like to attract a frog population nearby or have a tranquil moment in the Retreat’s dreamy infinity pool overlooking the forest and mountains. It doesn’t get much more serene than that.
Exploring around Lamington National Park
The retreat’s backyard allows you to experience a grand slither of Lamington National Park’s whopping 22,000 hectares of different forest types within moments of stepping outside your room.
It’s considered to be the cherry-picking when it comes to bushwalks in Queensland. With Australia’s spectacular Lewin honey eaters and eastern spinebills, you be looking all around as you discover the reserve. A short walk from the retreat can lead you to the park’s scenic Morans Falls plunging 80 metres to the valley floor. There are other tracks to make a day of it, all met with picturesque scenery of lush brush boxes and fig trees lining your way.
O’Reilly’s is also home to Australia’s first treetop walk located just outside of reception. The birds-eye view walk consists of nine suspension bridges towering 16 metres above ground and almost 200 metres long in and amongst red cedar trees. It’s best to bring your binoculars, too, and try and have a go at spotting one of its 160 bird species including the superb blue wren.
Food and wine
The retreat has branched out over the years to include O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard (outside of the Park) enjoy some of the gorgeous wines made at the retreat in its restaurant and bar.
O’Reilly’s bar and restaurant offers meals that are reasonably priced. Both menus are not exhaustive, but they are flavoursome with what is on them. The house-made pizzas at the Rainforest Bar are good value for their gourmet toppings such as garlic prawn pizza and bush chicken.
The upmarket dining room offers a memorable dining experience with its centrepiece bay windows providing a glimpse into the wildlife found within the park. Its champagne buffet breakfasts make for an opulent morning and can be topped up at your discretion.
O’Reilly’s is one for those who appreciate not only enjoying being in the wilderness but who like to experience it in all kinds of ways. If you’re a traveller who wants to make the most out of one location, O’Reilly’s really is the icing on the cake.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – 3582 Lamington National Park Road, Canungra QLD, 4275
Feature image: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
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