We recently spent two nights at the O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast hinterland. We had the most incredible Gold Coast family holiday. O’Reilly’s Retreat had everything that we love – scenery, wildlife, peace and quiet, family activities, great food and wine, fresh air, amazing views of the stars, luxury accommodation…
If you’re considering Queensland retreats to get away from it all (whether you are after a couple’s retreat near the Gold Coast or a family retreat to escape screens and get back to nature), O’Reilly’s hits the mark and is now one of my favourite family resorts in Queensland. It’s a world away from other Gold Coast family holidays – it’s not a place for bright lights and buzzing theme parks. O’Reilly’s is a family resort where you can get back to nature and let time slow down for a while.
Here is everything you need to know to get the most out of your stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat on the Gold Coast in Lamington National Park, Queensland.
If you like this sound of this, you will also enjoy reading about Fraser Island with kids.
This post contains affiliate links. My stay, food and activities at O’Reilly’s were hosted as part of a press trip.
Getting to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland
O’Reilly’s is located about two hours south of Brisbane in the Gold Coast hinterland. Be generous when it comes to planning your arrival time at O’Reilly’s Retreat – the roads to the Gold Coast can be busy on weekends, and the road up to O’Reilly’s is very narrow and winding so it can take much longer at peak times. Also, when we went (in May 2018) roadworks were taking place so please check before you travel as this can cause the road to be closed at certain times and also cause delays.
Top O’Reillys tip: The journey up to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat was totally stunning and it was a real adventure as the road winds up the mountain. If your kids get travel sick, it’s worth getting them travel bands for their wrists (they really do work!) or giving them some travel sick tablets before you set off. It’s also worth being prepared with some sick bags, spare clothes and water. We didn’t realise quite how winding it would be and two of our car-sick prone kids felt a bit green on the journey.
Potential travel sickness aside, the journey is something to get really excited about – it is incredible and it is such an amazing way to begin your adventure! A few people have since told me that it is their all-time favourite place to drive to as it is so stunning. Enjoy it and get the kids excited about spotting wildlife from the car window – we saw our first pademelon (like a small kangaroo) while driving to the resort!
Don’t forget: If you are planning on cooking for yourself during your stay at O’Reilly’s and you like wine, make sure you stop off at Canungra Valley Vineyards on the way up to the O’Reilly’s resort to pick up some bottles to take with you. There is more about the vineyard later in the post so keep reading to find out what there is to see and do there as that is a whole day out in itself.
Lamington National Park Accommodation: O’Reilly’s accommodation villas
We stayed in a two-bedroom O’Reilly’s Rainforest Villa with a spa on the deck overlooking the rainforest. It was really comfortable, stylish and smart and felt very private. It had a great kitchen with dishwasher and we could easily have brought food and enjoyed relaxing evenings in our villa with a bottle of wine. As we were only there for two nights we ended up eating out both nights, but I love the idea of staying in to cook and then jumping in the spa afterwards.
The spa on the deck was awesome – totally private, you can fill it up and leave it covered so you can open it up when you are ready to use it again. It’s not like a hot tub – it is like a bath that you run yourself. My kids say this was one of the highlights of the stay – going in the lovely warm bubbly spa on the deck overlooking the trees, especially as the weather was cool in May when we visited.
Remember the mountains and hinterland are much cooler than Gold Coast. We really appreciated the heater/air con units all around the villa – it kept us toasty warm. And we also loved the electric fire – there is something lovely about turning on the flames as it really makes you feel cosy.
The O’Reilly’s Rainforest Villas are a bit of a walk away from the main resort. Ours was a 10 – 15 mins walk through the forest along tracks. You could also drive back up to the main resort but be aware that parking can get busy with day trippers so walking is easier and it is lovely getting the fresh air and exercise. At nights we found it easier to take the car up to the restaurant at dinner rather than walking back.
O’Reilly’s has a number of different villas available from a range of different hotel rooms through to their largest accommodation which is a three bedroom villa with valley views.
What to pack for your stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
As I mentioned, it is much cooler up in the hinterland so take warmer clothes than you would wear on the Gold Coast. Layers are a good idea, and a jacket in case it gets wet, and warm socks.
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Closed shoes are important for walking – you could get away with walking sandals in summer but I think it’s worth having a pair of trainers/runners in your bag too – especially if you plan on doing some night tours.
Don’t forget to pack a torch, but if you do you can buy one from the resort so it’s not too much of a problem. We found it was helpful to have one for each of us, especially for the glow worm tour.
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A rucksack means you can pack your bag for a few hours and don’t need to keep popping back to your villa for things.
For walking along the roads, it’s a good idea to get some high visibility gear for your kids so driver’s can easily see them, especially when it is dark.
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Refillable water bottles, sunscreen, hats, insect repellent and a travel first aid kit are also essential travel gear.
History at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland
O’Reilly’s is set in Lamington National Park – a 22,000 hectare park that is home to a variety of types of rainforest including ancient Gondwana Rainforests. The O’Reilly family moved from Ireland to the Blue Mountains before settling in the McPherson Ranges in Southern Queensland in 1911 to begin dairy farming. They cleared the tracks and farmland painstakingly by hand. When the area was declared national park, this isolated them but in 1915 they began hosting tourists in the O’Reilly’s Guesthouse. It used to take guests two days via car, train and horseback to get to the resort!
A big part of the O’Reilly’s history relates to a stormy afternoon on 19th February 1937. A Stinson airliner flying from Brisbane to Sydney crashed in the Lamington Ranges. A search didn’t find the wreckage or any survivors, but Bernard O’Reilly used his local knowledge of Lamington National Park to continue searching into the bush and he found the crash site. He found three survivors in desperate need of help – one of them died a short time later, unfortunately, but the other two survived. A replica of the Stinson plane is on show at O’Reilly’s.
Activities and things to do at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in Lamington National Park
There are so many things to do at O’Reilly’s during your stay.
Wildlife Encounter at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
Learn about the animals that call Lamington National Park home in this informative session. Meet a magpie that knows how to tidy up and other feathered and furred friends!
Adults $15, Children $8, Family $40. Runs 10am – 10.30am daily.
Bird of Prey Show at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
Find out about the birds of Lamington National Park and meet a huge wedge tailed eagle and other native birds.
Adults $17.50, Children $10, Family $48. Runs 1pm – 1.45pm daily.
Glow Worm Tour at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
Tramp through the forest at night to see the amazing glow worms in their natural habitat.
Adults $30, Children $15. Runs at 8pm daily.
Flying Fox at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
We didn’t try this but we did watch people coming down on it and it looked like a lot of fun. Launch yourself from the canopy platform and sail on a 180m long zipline with amazing mountain views.
Adults $35, kids $22. Runs 2pm and 4pm daily.
There are many other activities at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat including a Segway Safari, a Sunset Experience and 1 to 1 Wildlife Encounters, not to mention activities like guided walks and daily bird feeding – there is SO much to keep you entertained.
O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk, Gold Coast
You need to make time to do the tree top walk. An iconic part of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, the O’Reilly’s treetop walk is and located just outside the O’Reilly’s guest house. The tree top walk consists of nine suspension bridges that are up to 16 metres above ground. Enjoy being amongst the tree tops and see wildlife from a new vantage point. This Lamington National Park tree top walk is now over 30 years old!
There are many other walks at O’Reilly’s, so if hiking is your thing, you won’t be disappointed.
Eating at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
Villas are self-catering, so you can bring food with you and cook for yourselves or eat out (we ate breakfast and dinner in the restaurants during our stay). The villa we stayed in was a 10 -15 minute walk from the restaurant. For breakfast, we enjoyed taking the walking track through the forest to the main resort. As it was cold at night (in May), we drove up to the restaurant for dinner and we ordered a bottle of wine and took most of it back to our villa to enjoy after. Lots of people did make the walk to the restaurant at night though, so it is definitely doable. If you plan on walking to the restaurant during your stay at O’Reilly’s, make sure you take enough torches for your family, and wear sensible shoes and clothes – the first night I wore a dress and sandals to dinner and even though we drove, it was FREEZING going from the car park to the restaurant and I really regretted not being in jeans and a fleece!
Breakfast: The buffet breakfast in the restaurant was excellent. There was plenty of choices in the hot counter and you could order specials too. The fresh fruit juicer was a big hit with our kids, and so was the big block of honeycomb on the breakfast table. Fill up on everything and grab a piece of fruit as you leave to keep you going. Breakfast is served from 7.30am – 9am.
Lunch: The Mountain Cafe serves cooked meals from 11am – 2.30pm and light snacks until 4pm covering your daytime food needs. We ate so much breakfast that we skipped lunch so didn’t get chance to try it out.
Dinner: You can eat in the bar (opens from 4pm) or in the restaurant (opens from 5.30pm). We ate in the restaurant both nights we stayed. The hand stretched pizzas and garlic bread were divine as was the steak, especially when washed down by a bottle of the local Canungra Valley Vineyard wine. The restaurant can get very busy, so ask about booking your table in advance.
Relaxing at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Lost World Spa
The Lost World Spa is perched beside the stunning infinity pool which has one of the best pool views you’ve ever seen. The pool is open to all resort guests, but if you are having a spa treatment you can sit out on the balcony overlooking the pool and relax as you sip herbal tea. It is honestly the most stunning day spa location I have ever visited.
I loved sitting up on the balcony and watching my crazy three kids and husband jump in the cold pool below! On the plus side, as it was almost winter it meant the pool was quiet and once my kids had run back home to our villa to jump in the spa on the deck, it was idyllic sitting on the balcony enjoying that view all on my own.
Inside the day spa retreat there is a relaxation lounge with large picture windows to take in that view (great in case the weather isn’t balcony weather!) and a divine steam room which was the perfect place to relax before my massage. I choose the relaxing massage as a Mother’s Day treat to myself. I literally floated out of the spa afterwards!
If you are looking for a Gold Coast spa retreat, the Lost World is it!
O’Reilly’s Vineyard: Canungra Valley Vineyard with kids
The O’Reilly’s vineyard – Canungra Valley Vineyard is worth a stop on your way up to the Rainforest Retreat so you can pick up a couple of bottles to drink during your stay, but on your way back home it’s worth dedicating at least half a day to spend here. It’s far more than just a place to taste some amazing wine (obviously, you need to sample the wine but the place has so much more to offer for families!)
Set on the banks of Canungra Creek, the O’Reilly’s vineyard feels a million miles from anywhere as it is surrounded by trees and nature. The 15-acres of manicured grounds are the perfect place to enjoy a picnic or bbq (you can buy gourmet picnic hampers that come complete with a picnic rug or a buy a bbq hamper to cook there) – if you set up your pitch by the creek you might be lucky enough to spot turtles, eels and even platypus! We were lucky to see the eels and turtles but will have to come back to hunt for the platypus again another time.
During our visit they had some fluffy alpacas that you could take on a walk around the grass for a small fee too.
It is the kind of place where your kids can enjoy running around the grass and looking for wildlife while the grown ups can lay back on the grass and relax. Just our kind of place!
We didn’t have much time to spare on our visit, unfortunately, so I’m keen to go back and spend a full day there and buy a bbq pack to make the most of it. Picnics or bbq backs are $70 for two adults and $12.50 for a child’s basket which I think is great value.
Did I mention how delicious the wine is too? Needless to say, the bottles that we bought to take home didn’t last long. Another excuse to go back!
A family tradition at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland
We met three different families at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat that told us their parents had brought them to O’Reillys for a family holiday when they were children. They told us that they loved being able to bring their own children back and keep the family tradition going. I feel really excited that O’Reilly’s is part of our kids’ childhood now. We will be back to visit again, for sure. And one day I’m sure our own kids will bring their kids too – a new Bleakley tradition has begun at this family resort on the Gold Coast!
Start your own family tradition at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat >> Book your stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat here.
A huge thank you to all of the staff at O’Reilly’s that helped to make our stay so wonderful.
This post contains affiliate links. Our stay, food and activities at O’Reilly’s were hosted as I was writing a magazine article. All opinions are my own.