O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Queenslands Lamington National Park is something else, it's like something out of Jurassic Park. Ancient rainforests, towering cliffs and endless waterfalls just waiting to be explored. Located only a 1.5hr drive from the Gold Coast and a 2hr drive south of Brisbane, in the World Heritage listed Lamington National Park, it is the starting point to explore over 500 world-class waterfalls accessible via 160-kilometres of nature trails.
O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Queenslands Lamington National Park is one of those places that should be on every nature lovers bucket list destinations. With lush rainforests, ancient trees and spectacular views, it literally is a Lost World right on our doorstep.With walks from as short as 800mtrs return to full day treks of upto 20km, it’s suitable for all fitness levels. With it’s abundance of native wildlife and more than 160 species of sub-tropical birds, this place is a nature lovers paradise. Cheeky Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots will come and land on your shoulders, arms and head if they suspect you're carrying food, purchase some bird feed from the shop and make your way to the bird feeding area for an up close and personal experience. At dawn and dusk you will see the local population of Pademelon (a small marsupial, kind of like a small wallaby) feeding on the grassy areas around the guesthouse and if you're lucky enough you will see a joey in their pouch.
O’Reilly’s has a vast array of activities and experiences, from Self Guided Walks, Guided Walks, a must see Birds of Prey and Wildlife show, Segway Tours, Flying Fox, Sunset and Glow Worm Tours. It’s perfect for families, couples, friends or solo travellers. You can do a day trip to O’Reilly’s, however I would highly recommend staying a few nights to really experience all that O’Reilly’s has to offer.
Accommodation ranges from Camping, to Mountain View rooms, Canopy Suites and Family Villas, there is something for every budget. One of my favourite things about this retreat hidden in the mountains, is the Lost World Day Spa – a perfect place to relax after a long day of trekking. Choose from one of their many massages, facials and body treatments, to their steam room and 25-metre wet edge infinity lap pool (which we made full use of after hiking the Moran Falls track in the middle of the day). O'Reilly's often have special packages available so make sure you check out their website. They also have a great selection of dining options, Gran’s Kitchen, Gran’s Pantry, the Dining Room and the Rainforest Bar, which are open for all of their guests including day visitors.
O'Reilly's is rich in history, the O'Reilly's brothers started farming here in 1912 and then turned it into the Rainforest Retreat in 1926. Outside the guesthouse you will see a replica of the Stinson Plane which crashed in dense rainforest just over 8km from O'Reilly's in 1937. The Stinson Model A airliner disappeared during a flight from Brisbane to Sydney, carrying five passengers and two pilots. The wreckage was found by Bernard O'Reilly after he trekked through the rainforest to locate the survivors. Make sure you spend some time in the guesthouse library while you are there, it is filled with old paper cuttings, books and diaries, it's like a step back in time, we spent a few hours in there, a perfect spot to sit by the fire with a glass of wine and read the afternoon away after a long day of exploring.
Here’s what we got upto on our recent stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat..
We were lucky enough to stay for three nights in a Canopy Suite, tucked up right next to the rainforest featuring balconies with spectacular views of the western ranges, perfect for kicking back and watching the sunset. It’s also a great spot for watching the wildlife, Pademelon on the grass below and crimson rosellas will come and hang out with you on the balcony. A spacious bedroom features a king-size four-poster bed, sofa, open fireplace and a spa bath with views through a full-length window of the breathtaking mountains (which we made full use of after a day of trekking through the rainforest, a spa bath here at sunset is a must!).
Ellabana Falls Walk
Return Distance 7.6 km – approx. 4hrs
Elabana Falls is one of the most popular walks in the park. The track descends through a stand of Antarctic Beech and then past the largest Brush Box trees in the National Park. It’s a moderate walking track and the reward at the end is well worth it. A magical waterfall in the middle of one of the most beautiful sections of rainforest I’ve ever laid my eyes on. If there is just one walk you are going to do in Lamington National Park, then this is the one to do.
Birds of Prey Show
This show allows you to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful aerial predators including owls, falcons or eagles in free flight as they perform amazing displays of natural aerobatics. Afterwards, have a chance to meet the ‘stars’ of the show to have your photo taken with them. I couldn’t say no to the chance and got to hold a Wedge Tailed Eagle on my arm, these guys are massive! Most of the birds here have been rescued and are being rehabilitated due to human interaction, loss of habitat and being injured by cars. It's such a beautiful way to learn about our native birds.
Spend some time with one of O’Reilly’s wildlife warriors as you learn about a range of native animals, their habitats, the impacts humans have on their ecosystems and conservation efforts to save our native fauna. They will bring out some native wildlife for you to get close to, we were lucky enough to get to hang out with a family of Squirrel Gliders, my new favourite animal! These little guys spend most of their time curled up together sleeping and coming out to eat nectar and insects, they are so cute!
Squirrel Gliders ~ my new favourite animals, they are so tiny!
Guided Bird Walk with renowned naturalist Glen Threlfo
We spent about an hour walking through the rainforest around the Tree Top Walk with one of O’Reilly’s most experienced guides Glen Threlfo, who showed us a whole array of native birds and taught us about the ecosystems up here at O’Reilly’s. Glen is a wealth of knowledge and one of the most loveliest and animated people i’ve ever met. I could have sat and listened to him talk for hours. He's like Australia's version of David Attenborough. If you are a bird lover this is a must do, it also makes for some pretty amazing photo opportunities.
Bird Watching ~ how cute is this little guy!
Treetops Walk - Booyong Walk
Return Distance 800 metres – 30mins
This is the most popular walk in the park, as it’s just opposite the entrance to O’Reilly’s Reception and quite a short and easy walk.
The Tree Top Walk consists of 9 suspension bridges up to 16 metres above ground. Enjoy a bird’s eye view from a deck 30 metres above ground in a fig tree over the walkway. Open for the public and in house guests all day, every day. The best time to see birdlife is early morning or late afternoon. The Tree Top Walk is free to experience at your own leisure.
Taking in the majesty of the Brush Box Trees
Moonlight Crag Sunset Experience
This is one for the sunset lovers (like me). On this guided tour you are driven to the track leading to Moonlight Crag Lookout, a giant two-tiered wooden platform overlooking one of the most spectacular views in the Park.
Views of the Lost World looms ahead, framed by grass trees clinging to the cliff edge on either side, the cliffs of Castle Crag to the right and Mt Barney and the western ranges out on the horizon. You are treated to a glass of champagne, beer or wine and nibbles as you sit and watch the sunset behind the mountains. I have to say this was one of my all time favourite sunset views and i've seen alot in my lifetime. It’s a popular spot for weddings and I can definitely see why.
Moonlight Crag at sunset ~ one of the most beautiful views i have ever laid eyes on
Moran Falls Walk
4.6 km – 2hours
Moran Falls track descends 140 metres through a sub-tropical rainforest of booyongs, figs and brush box, from either the carpark or accommodation at O’Reilly’s. The view is pretty spectacular any time of the day (we were there in the middle of the day and the spray from the waterfall was creating the most beautiful rainbows), but sunset here is a must. A picnic area is located 400 metres further on from the lookout at the top of the falls, a perfect spot for a relax and a bite to eat.
If you come to O'Reilly's you just have to buy some bird seed from the shop and hang out in the bird feeding area. Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots flock from the trees above to land on your head, arms, any part of you that they can, to get to the bird seed. In the chaos it's a beautiful thing to experience, and you'll laugh and squeal alot too.
Wishing Tree Walk
Return Distance 2.4 km – 1hour
The Wishing Tree is one of the main things I remember about O’Reilly’s as a kid. Standing inside the base of a massive Brush Box Tree, it always made me feel like a was a fairy (kids have great imaginations I know). The track meanders through rainforest, past large Brush Box and over a tree fern gully spanned by a suspension bridge.
Glow Worm Tour
A guided walk through the rainforest at night to see these ancient creatures is a must. Seeing Glow Worms in such abundance is amazing, it’s like a million twinkling stars right in front of you. It's quite difficult to photograph them, but imagine staring at the Milky Way, but they're living creatures. Another once in a lifetime must see experience.
These are just a handful of the walks and activities on offer at O'Reilly's that we got to experience, there really is something for everyone. There are so many more walks and experiences, i know i can't wait to go back and do some of the full day walks. If you haven't already been, then do yourself a favour and plan a trip to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park, i promise you won't be disappointed.
Thankyou so much for following along on my weekend away at O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. For my full gallery of O'Reilly's images make sure you visit my O'Reilly's Portfolio. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments below, i'd love to hear your thoughts.
Until the next adventure...
Disclaimer - All photos in this Blog Post were taken and edited by myself. This stay was in partnership with O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. All opinions are my own, honest and unbiased.