This Gold Coast spot left me speechless

Let’s try something. I want you to stop for a moment. I’m going to say two words and I want you to see what pops into your head first. Those words; Gold Coast.

What did you see? Long, sunny beaches? Theme parks, rides and fun? People partying? The Gold Coast often easily gets stuck in a stereotype in many people’s minds, but it’s so much than what it’s thought to be. Having lived here now for seven years, I’ve fallen in love with it for so many reasons. The beaches are always my favourite, but just recently I explored another side to the Gold Coast, and it left me speechless.

That’s right, I was without words.

Recently, on a sunny Friday afternoon, we packed the car and took off for the two hour drive from home to the hinterland, to visit O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Anyone who has ever been before is likely to remark about how ‘interesting’ the drive up is. It’s about 1.5 hours from the coast, and the last thirty minutes are a climb up and around Lamington Plateau, most of which is single lane only. The drive makes it even more special, as it feels like you’re going to a faraway place.

We arrived as the sun was the setting, and teamed with the crisp high altitude air, I could smell relaxation… almost forgetting I’d brought four kids along with me. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is located in Lamington National Park in Queensland, and run by the O’Reilly family and has been since 1926. The family pioneered ecotourism in Australia, with people traveling for days in the very early years to get to the retreat and experience the beauty of the property, which makes me grateful for the short distance we had to travel.

Seeing the uninterrupted view, and that gorgeous sun setting {pictured above, no filter} took my breath away… something I would continue to feel over our weekend in the Hinterland. We checked in and then made our way to our cabin which is nestled discreetly into the sloping hillside. Cabin seems like such an understatement, with it’s two bedrooms, bathrooms, large kitchen and living area, and a huge deck with an outdoor spa bath. I mean, we were hardly roughing it.

On the weekend we stayed there were people from all over the world visiting; Japan, New Zealand, and even a couple from the States. So, why did people take the multi-day trek all the way to O’Reilly’s back in the day? And why do so many come from all over the world to visit it today?

10 Reasons To Take A Family Rainforest Getaway

Get back to nature {without roughing it}
In a world where everything goes so extremely fast paced and our heads buried in our phones most of the time, it’s nice to get back to nature and recharge our batteries a little. While we still had internet reception on the mountain, I didn’t really care to know about it because everything is so beautiful, it’s refreshing to stop looking at a phone and look around at nature instead.

Take a hike
If there’s one thing you need to do when you stay at O’Reilly’s, it’s pack your exercise gear. The walk from the cabins to reception area is a comfortable twenty minute walk, made easier when wearing the right clothes. Sure, you could easily avoid any exercise {if it wasn’t your thing} and hop in your car to get to where you need to go, but there’s something about taking a bush walk to get to breakfast. There are also loads of walking paths to choose from, so you can choose your own adventure over the weekend.

Do the Treetops Walk
When we checked into O’Reilly’s the lady behind the desk told us that there was a Treetops Walk that was compulsory for all guests. I’m completely gullible, and nodded my head and promised I would do it, but I’m glad I did. The suspension walkway sits 16 metres above the rainforest, giving you a bird’s eye view of the greenery below.

Take in the view
It doesn’t matter which way you turn, you’re sure to have a beautiful view from where you stand. One of my favourite things about the weekend way that there was so many activities to do, but no matter where we found ourselves, it was surrounded by the beautiful views around us.

Catch a Bird Show
Get friendly with an owl, eagle or falcon at the bird show with one of O’Reilly’s passionate and experienced bird handlers. The bird show is rated as the best in Australia.

Have a wildlife encounter
I’ve mentioned that the staff at O’Reilly’s are passionate, and it’s during the tours and talks that you can really understand how in love with their jobs they are. During the wildlife encounter you can meet a clever magpie and feed these little possums too. I loved the experience of letting the kids just become so passionate themselves, asking questions and getting up close with the wildlife.

Take a dip!
In-house guests get the exclusive use of the infinity pool that overlooks the valley, and it is breath-taking. There’s also a smaller pool perfect for kids as well, so they can take their pick.

Feed the birds
You can grab some bird feed from inside the store and head outside and let the birds come to you for a little snack. You’ll make friends with King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.

Eat, drink and be merry
O’Reilly’s is the perfect mix of luxury and being back to nature, and it’s nice to be able to grab a cocktail and watch the sunset, a veggie wrap for lunch at the cafe, or even just set up for the night on the deck with a pizza from the restaurant and a bottle of wine. On our last night we chose to eat a two course meal in the restaurant {FYI, the roast lamb sharing plate is delicious} and then we headed back to our room and had a dessert sharing plate brought to our room. Bliss!

See glow worms in the wild
Take a tour at night to the magical Glow Worm Grotto where you can see the millions of tiny glow worms lighting up the cliff face.

Go on a segway safari
Sick of walking? Grab a segway and take a tour of the great dividing range, Lost World Valley and the beautiful rainforests.

After our weekend away, we packed up and headed back down the mountain towards home, taking a pit stop st the O’Reilly winery for lunch. We’d pre-ordered some picnic baskets which we took to the creek and let the kids look for platypus while we sipped wine, and enjoyed cheese and crackers.

What’s the best way to finish off the perfect weekend? Walking an alpaca, of course. The winery is home to a group of alpacas, all with cute haircuts and sweet names that make you giggle {Ed Sheeran, anyone?}. The kids each took a little alpaca for a walk around the winery, fed them and just enjoyed hanging out together. And then we packed up the car, and our tired but happy bodies and headed home with our batteries recharged.

We stayed as guests of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.