For a picturesque weekend or midweek hideaway, visiting here is a timely reminder of the natural world around us.
Leaving the small town of Canungra, the road winds its way upwards to the passage into Lamington National Park; past paddocks, polo fields and award-winning wineries. The narrowing road and lack of roadside barriers is a challenge for each driver and tests every passenger’s nerves. As the road plateaus there is a chance to indulge in the largest, tastiest, freshest lamington at Mountview Alpaca Farm. The irony of having a lamington in Lamington National Park is irresistible. As the name suggests the view over the valley is spectacular but be sure to allow enough time to hand feed the alpacas whose only interest in you is when you are holding a paper bag of feed purchased from the café for a tidy $3.
The road continues through what can only be described as an enchanted forest. Fairies are more likely to be seen here than at the bottom of the garden. Striking scenery and commanding Antarctic Beech forest transport you into a fairytale, even for a moment until you arrive at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
For over 100 years the O’Reilly family has accumulated a deep knowledge of the area and love to share with visitors. Still operating as a family business the multicultural staff and O’Reilly family alike welcome visitors into their home. Now owned and operated by 3rd generation O’Reilly’s, the Retreat and surrounding land have a colourful history and continue to expand with the growing interest and appreciation for conservation and natural wonders.
Boasting comfort and amenities far above those at the original 1923 guesthouse, the Retreat leaves no want for even the most demanding traveller. From the campground to standard hotel rooms to 2-3 bedrooms self-contained villas overlooking the ‘Green Cauldron’, there is ample accommodation to suit every traveller and their purse.
Money aside, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is the centre of all in the Green Mountains region of the National Park. Complementary morning and afternoon tea is provided in the Dining Room; a la carte dining is available and stunning sunsets can be witnessed from the Rainforest Room Bar.
Walking is the only way to see many of the natural features of the Park. It boasts an impressive 160km of walking tracks. A variety of half and full day walks are available for the enthusiastic bushwalker, but beware, the tracks are for experienced walkers who are prepared to face the elements. For those visitors who care to stay closer to the Retreat there are many walks to choose from. In close proximity you can visit Morans Falls, Balancing Rock, Moonlight Crag lookout and a breathtaking tree top walk.
The Booyong Walk opened in 2002 and allows access to the temperate rainforest regardless of fitness or ability. The entrance of the walk is located across from O’Reilly’s Reception. Popularity makes it busy so visit early in the morning and hear the rainforest awaken to a new day without the crowds. Hear the impressive calls of the Eastern Whipbird, Green Catbird and Wonga Pigeon while giving way to a brush turkey on the path. Pass by a prime example of the Wonga Vine as it climbs a Black Booyong, loops over to a Scrub Bloodwood and then high up to the Red Carabeen beside the walkway.
Continuing on Booyong Walk is the entrance to the Tree Top Walk. Built in 1986, it was the first rainforest Tree Top Walkway in the world and has since set a trend for similar walkways across Australia and the world. This engineering feat is a spectacular way to gain a birds-eye view of the rainforest including an opportunity to climb a ladder for an even higher view that stands 30m above the rainforest floor.
A Stinson aeroplane replica proudly sits on the lawn next to Reception. In an impressive display of bush skills, Bernard O’Reilly led a rescue mission to the wreckage in the Park after it crashed in 1937. In an incredible story of survival, 2 passengers were stretchered to safety 11 days after the crash. It is possible to take a guided walk on the trail to the wreck site, although it is not advised for inexperienced walkers.
O’Reilly’s offer a wide selection of optional activities which provide new perspectives on the commanding surrounds. Examples of experiences include guided history and nature walks, Segway Safari, Wildlife Encounters Animal Show, Birds of Prey flight show, flying fox, glow worm tours and audiovisual presentations. The O’Reilly’s Discovery Program is available from Reception and outlines the coming days activities. The Lost World Spa is a nature haven for those seeking rejuvenation, relaxation and balance.
Lamington National Park has walks, activities and sights to amuse all types of visitors. A weekend can easily be spent meandering the paths and photographing the natural beauty. When civilisation eventually calls, be sure to stop at Canungra Hub; a café and deli specialising in local and organic produce, and take time to reflect on the natural beauty surrounds. A slice of Heavenly Cake is the perfect end to a weekend in pristine wilderness.
Lamington National Park is located 110km, a 2-hour drive from Brisbane. Due to the narrow and windy road into the park, RV’s and caravans are not permitted. Having just celebrated 100 years of conversation Lamington NP is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, which includes the most extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world. Covering over 21,176 ha the park is divided into two areas: Green Mountains and Binna Burra.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat offers a variety of accommodation styles: Visit http://www.oreillys.com.au. Campsites must be pre-booked through Parks Queensland. Canungra Hub Café and Deli is located on Beaudesert Nerang Rd, Canungra.