You know when someone tells you to ‘go to your happy place’? O’Reilly’s is where my mind takes me.
I have been to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat twice now and my first occasion will always hold a special place in my heart however the second time will be special for different reasons. On this occasion my partners parents had decided that this was their ideal honeymoon destination, and like any great honeymoon, what would it be without your adult son and his girlfriend tagging along. We rented a luxurious mountain villa complete with a spa (and Lorikeets) on the balcony. The last time we stayed we were in a mountain view room which was most agreeable indeed and offered a more romantic feel being one bedroom, but romance was not what we were looking for on this honeymoon.
We decided to start with the obligatory walk (more like a short hike) through the rainforest to the wishing tree. Listen out for the catbird call, you can’t miss it, it sounds like a baby crying. I know you will listen to the experienced hikers, and I know you will be prepared but trust me when I say, nothing could prepare us for what happened next. We were casually walking, feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves, avoiding the occasional quagmire, when I suddenly noticed something wriggly on my leg. You know that feeling when you feel as if something is crawling on you, you look down and of course there is nothing there? Well I have come to learn that in Australia, there is always something there. What then followed was a blur of panic, screaming, blood and tears, along with the horrific realisation that we were all covered in leeches from the waist down (some of us were unfortunate enough to have the odd neck leech). The ‘letting them get full and drop off’ technique is much harder to practice in a state of panic.
On a day when leeches are not eating at your nerves as well as your limbs you can take a 5 hour (ish) hike of about 11km. Sounds like a lot for the non hikers amongst you? Well there is plenty to keep you busy along the way, the box walk boasts some spectacular views and breathtaking waterfalls. There are several beauty spots, like the one above, to have a picnic or just a well-earned rest (not for too long, leeches love egg sandwiches too). Keep your eyes peeled for snakes and trapdoor spiders for a sense of the true Australian outback.
Feeling the need to overindulge frequently like myself? Go no further than the spa, there are so many treatments to choose from at varying price ranges. My favorite part is the infinity pool and the shower with a view and the wooden tub and the tea – so pretty much everything.
Now onto my favorite part – the birds, oh the birds. I am not sure when my obsession first started but it is just that, and Lamington National Park has many different fascinating species to offer. If you are lucky enough to spot a male Regent Bower Bird you will be stunned by his yellow plumage. Pictured below is my favorite in this area, the Eastern Yellow Robin, I love how shy he is. The best way to capture all these birds is on the early morning bird walk. You will have a guide who knows how to attract the birds and is a bird guru when it comes to nature . Be mindful of attracting the many variations of Lorikeet in the area as they intimidate the smaller birds. To get some organic shots either hang back from the group or go ahead the following day before the group arrives.
Other than bird stalking and tea drinking there are so many other activities to do here. The glow-worm tour (choose your group wisely!) is amazing and such a rare opportunity. Just by shining your torch on them you can wipe their little lives out which shows just how precious they are. Another unique experience is the flying fox which is a 180m zipline through the trees.
Now I cannot stress how fun this is but do the Segway tour, don’t think twice because you will not be disappointed. Ever wondered what it feels like to whiz through the rainforest untouchable by everything that can kill you? Only to hit a rock and fly face first into everything that can kill you? Well we did just that. They start with a tutorial and then you are off to Moran Falls and what better way to arrive than by Segway.
On a final note, as funky as this fungus looks it is fast spreading and dangerous to the native foliage. This was brought in on people’s shoes, so make sure you clean your shoes on entering and leaving the park!
I would love to hear from you if you have had a similar adventure/bird obsession please leave comments below!
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