Nestled away in the Gold Coast Hinterland, in the Lamington National Park – O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is the perfect place to escape for a few days. The retreat offers a huge array of family friendly activities, so there is no chance of the kids getting bored, and with stunning views across the western McPherson Ranges, it is also the ideal spot to relax and unwind.
As much as O’Reillys is the perfect place for a family getaway – it is equally ideal for a much needed parents break. We were lucky enough to do just that recently and sneak away for a fabulous adults only weekend. We had a wonderful time relaxing around the gorgeous property as well as enjoying a few of the retreat’s activities.
Whether you’re considering a few days away with the kids or a bit of downtime with your partner – this guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan the perfect getaway.
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Where is O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is surrounded by the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Lamington National Park, part of Australia’s ancient Gondwana Rainforests. The Lamington National Park is just gorgeous, consisting of mountains with breathtaking vistas, lush, dense rainforests, numerous flowing creeks and waterfalls and an array of Australian wildlife.
The O’Reillys Retreat is located at the top of a mountain within the National Park – and it is a bit of a hike to get there. It’s around a 90 minute drive from the Gold Coast or around 2 hours from Brisbane and at least 1 hour of that is driving up the narrow windy Lamington National Park Road.
While the drive up to the retreat is slow going, it is a beautiful drive and well worth it once you arrive.
O’Reilly’s Accommodation Options
In terms of O’Reilly’s accommodation, there is a range of different options to choose from. The main guesthouse has the majority of the rooms, or for something a little more secluded, you can opt to stay in one of the gorgeous architecturally designed self contained villas which are perched on the hillside.
Below is a brief overview of the different accommodation options at O’Reilly’s.
The main O’Reilly’s guesthouse features 66 eco retreat style rooms suitable for couples up to small families. Below is a brief overview of the various rooms available.
Mountain View Studio Rooms:
The smallest of all the rooms available, the Mountain View Studio Rooms are perfect for those wanting a budget option. These small rooms which can accommodate up to two people come with a queen bed, an ensuite bathroom, a small balcony, tea and coffee making facilities and a bar fridge.
Mountain View Rooms:
These rooms have a spacious balcony, complete with outdoor furniture, to really make the most of the stunning views across the McPherson Mountain ranges.
Coming with a queen or the addition of a single bed (and the option of a trundle bed), these rooms can accommodate up to four people. The rooms also feature an ensuite bathroom, a small balcony, tea and coffee making facilities and a bar fridge.
For the best views, book into the Queen Mountain View rooms. The rooms coming with the additional single bed have their views partially blocked by other rooms as can be seen from the photo above.
Located close to the replica Stinson Plane, these spacious rooms feature gorgeous red cedar shutters and handcrafted maple furniture, giving the room a lovely luxurious feel.
These rooms can accommodate up to two people and overlook the retreat. The rooms come with a queen bed, an ensuite bathroom, a small balcony, tea and coffee making facilities and a bar fridge.
For those requiring additional space, the canopy suites are a great option. These spacious one or two bedroom suites feature a four posted bed in the master bedroom as well as a couples spa, while the second bedroom has two single beds.
The suite also includes a fireplace, living room, two bathrooms, tea and coffee making facilities, a bar fridge and large decks with outdoor furniture to make the most of those sensational views.
These rooms can accommodate up to six people.
For the ultimate luxurious weekend away, a stay in one of the 48 O’Reillys villas is a must. These villas are located in a private area of the retreat, just 400 metres away via walking tracks from the main building.
Coming with the choice of one, two or three bedrooms, these villas are ideal whether you’re a couple or family. They are all self contained too, so perfect for those wanting to prepare their own meals while away. The villas also come with a washing machine and dryer, which is great for those away for more than a few days.
Each villa comes with a fireplace, TV, ensuite bedrooms and spacious decks complete with a spa, BBQ, outdoor furniture and views of either the valley or rainforest.
The one bedrooms villas can sleep up to two people, two bedroom villas can sleep up to seven people and three bedroom villas can sleep up to nine people.
The villas are located a short distance from the main part of the retreat. There is a 400 metre walking track between the two areas, but it is very steep and I wouldn’t recommend it during the dark. You’re probably best to drive up to the retreat area.
There is also a campground on the property if your family enjoys camping. They have some glamping tents too.
Free Things to do at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
The beauty about staying at O’Reilly’s is that once you’ve paid for your accommodation – there is absolutely no need to pay for anything else if you don’t want to – because there are loads of free activities here. You could stay a week here and not run out of free things to do.
Below is a list of all the awesome free things there are to do at O’Reilly’s.
Guided Bird Walk
The Lamington National Park is home to some amazing birdlife, many of which can be seen just a few hundred metres from your room. A great way to learn about the birds that call the local area home is to join an experienced guide for a bird walk around the property.
Tours are held bright and early each morning at 6.45 am and are completely free of charge for those staying at the property.
If you’re just a day visitor, you can also join the guided bird walk, but it is $10 per adult and $5 per child.
As well as bird watching, each day you can participate in feeding the birds. These are wild birds, so their visit is not guaranteed, but most days you’re bound to see friendly Crimson Rosella’s and King Parrots come down to the area just outside the Gift Shop for a bit of a nibble.
If you’d like to feed the birds yourself, you can purchase some birdseed from the gift shop between 10 am to 4 pm each day. Or you can just watch others feed the birds for free.
O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk (Booyong Walk)
A super popular activity for everyone that visits O’Reilly’s is the Tree Top Walk. Built in 1986, this was the very first tree top walkway in the world.
The Tree Top Walk is 160 metres in length and made up of 9 suspension bridges perched some 15 metres above the ground. It is the perfect way to get a bird’s eye view of the rainforest canopy.
For an awesome view of the Tree Top Walk itself, be sure to climb the ladder straight up a Strangler Fig. Once you reach the top, you’ll be 30 metres from the ground and well above the walkway.
This is not a very long walk with a return distance of around 1km, so allow around 20 minutes or so.
The Tree Top Walk is free for overnight and day guests, although a donation is requested.
Of course being located in the Lamington National Park, there are some gorgeous bush walks you can do from O’Reilly’s. In fact, many say that Lamington National Park has some of the most beautiful rainforest bushwalks in all of Queensland!
Two sections make up the National Park – Green Mountains and Binna Burra. The Green Mountains area is the section that surrounds O’Reilly’s Retreat. Over 320 km of walking tracks within the Park take you through some beautiful rainforest and to some amazing lookouts and waterfalls.
There is a range of walks you can do right from the property. There is something for everyone here, from super short and easy walks to full day hikes. Be sure to grab a walking track map before you go and take photos of any instructions you find on signs etc, to ensure you stay on the track.
Below is a brief overview of the various walks you can do from O’Reilly’s.
Wishing Tree and Micks Tower: Return Distance 3.4 KM
Commencing just below the main guesthouse accommodation. The track takes you across a suspension bridge over a tree fern gully.
Before you reach the Wishing Tree, after around 330 metres, take a right where after 120 metres or so, you reach an 18 metre high observation tower – Mick’s Tower. You can climb the tower and stop at its various decks, which provide information about the surrounding rainforest.
Make your way back to the main track and keep going until you reach the Wishing Tree. From here, you can turn left into Glow Worm Gully or continue to Morans Creek for a longer circuit walk. Otherwise, return the same way you came.
Allow around 2 hours to complete this walk.
Morans Falls: Return Distance 4.6 KM
This track commences opposite the National Park day visitor car park, around 1 km before you reach the O’Reilly’s Retreat. The track descends quite steeply into the rainforest, where you eventually reach the lookout for views across Moran Falls. From here, you can continue and walk across the creek and out to the other side of the falls for a view across the valley. Then return the same way you came.
Allow around 2.5 hours for this walk.
For a longer walk, you can combine this walk with Moonlight Crag or Balancing Rock walks (see below).
For a shorter walk, you can drive your car down to the Lost World Day Spa car park. To do this, you will need your room key to open the boom gate. From here, walk towards the infinity swimming pool and just before you enter, you’ll see a sign on the right saying Moran Falls 500 metres. From here, walk down the road and continue to follow the signs to the falls.
The shorter walk is around 30 minutes each way.
Python Rock: Return Distance 3.4 KM
This track commences where the Moran Falls track is – opposite the National Park day visitor car park, which is around 1 km before you reach the O’Reilly’s Retreat. The walk takes you down into the rainforest to the Python Rock Lookout, which overlooks the Castle Crag to the Lost World with Mount Throakban on the left and Moran’s Falls.
This is an easy walk suitable for all kinds of ability including wheelchairs and strollers. Allow around 2hours for this walk.
West Cliff / Pat’s Bluff: Return Distance 5.4 KM
To commence this walk, take the Python Rock track and then around 700 metres into the track, you’ll take the West Cliff track, which branches off on the right – it’s not signposted but easy enough to find as there is a seat and a sign here about Albert’s lyrebird. Walk behind the seat in between the trees and you’ll see the trail to the left.
The trail takes you through the rainforest and out onto the cliff face, where the track ends at Pat’s Bluff. Here you’ll enjoy views across the Albert and Logan Rivers and out across the valleys to the Great Dividing Range. Return along the same track.
Allow around 3 hours for this walk.
Moonlight Crag Lookout and Balancing Rock: Return Distance 7 KM
The track entrance is off Red Road, the road the villas and day spa are on. Continue down along this road which takes you downhill to the valley behind the retreat.
Follow the road to the right, over Moran’s Creek and continue along the dirt road until you come to a fork in the road. Stay to the left and follow the road uphill until you reach Balancing Rock Road to the right. Take a short steep walk uphill and follow the trail past a viewing area and along the ridge past the national park signs until you reach Balancing Rock.
Continue on the dirt road for Moonlight Crag, go uphill until it flattens out and there is a clearing. Keep going for another 50 metres and stay to the left of the dirt road until you reach a timber walkway that takes you out to a viewing platform of Moonlight Crag. The lookout offers spectacular views of the Lost World Plateau, including Mt Worendo, Mt Razorback, and the Albert River valley. This is a popular place for sunset due to its western lookout.
Continue back along the same track. It is possible to combine this walk with the shorter Moran Falls Walk – see details above.
Allow around 3.5 hours for this walk.
Border Track: One Way 21.4 KM
The Border Track is a long 21.4 km one way track that connects the Green Mountains and Binna Burra sections of the Lamington National Park. The entrance to the walk is opposite the main entry of O’Reilly’s and next to the entry to the Tree Top Walk.
The track is a beautiful way to explore the Lamington National Park as it takes you through the gorgeous subtropical rainforest, past various lookouts and spectacular waterfalls. However, it is unnecessary to do the entire track; various smaller tracks branch off the main track, which are well worth doing. See below the various walks that stem off from the Border Track.
If you do decide to do the entire one way track – on Saturdays, you can get a bus transfer ($33 per adult) which departs at 8 am from O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra and then walk back at your own pace. You can also arrange for a packed lunch which is $22 per adult. Just book it the day before by 5 pm.
It is recommended that you allow around 7 hours to do the entire one way track.
Rainforest Walk: Return Distance 1.4 KM
The Rainforest Walk is a really nice short and easy walk that takes you down the first 700 metres of the Main Border Track. Along the walk, you’ll see magnificent old trees, plants, large boulders and birdlife.
This section of the track is flat and paved, so perfect for strollers or wheelchairs. Allow around 20 minutes for the return walk.
Picnic Rock and Elabana Falls: Return Distance 7.6 KM
The Elabana Falls is one of the beautiful waterfalls you’ll see from the Main Border Track. After around 1.7km from the commencement of the track, you’ll branch off and down into the valley. First, you’ll pass Picnic Rock and then continue to the stunning Elabana Falls. Return along the same track as you came.
Allow around 2 hours for this walk.
Box Forest Circuit: Return Distance 11 KM
The Box Forest Circuit is another track that branches off from the Main Border Track. Commence the main track and follow the Border Track signs until at around 3.2kms you reach a junction. It is recommended that from here, you take the circuit in a clockwise direction.
The walk takes you down into the rainforest and past several breathtaking waterfalls, finishing with Elabana Falls and Picnic Rock.
Allow around 3.5-4.5 hours for this walk.
Toolona Creek Circuit: Return Distance 17.4 KMS
If you’re wanting to do as much of the Border Track as possible without having to take a return shuttle bus, then the Tooloona Creek is a good option. This is the perfect track for those that love a good waterfall because this track is just one stunning waterfall after another. In fact, the track includes a huge 13 waterfalls!
To start the track, follow the Main Border Track and then follow the above directions to Picnic Rock. A further 200 metres is the track for Toolona Creek – however, you may first want to continue to Elabana Falls and then return to this point.
As you take the Toolona Creek Track, you’ll climb 360 metres upstream, past various waterfalls and lush subtropical rainforest. You’ll then reach Wanungara Lookout, which offers fabulous views across the Limpinwood Valley and Murwillumbah. Here on a clear day, you can even see as far as Byron Bay (south), Mount Warning (right), and even Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island (left).
The circuit returns mostly downhill and takes you past a few more lookouts.
Allow around 6.5 hours for this walk.
West Canungra Creek and Yerralahla (Blue Pool) Circuit: Return Distance 13.9 KM
Start the Main Border Track and after 230 metres, you’ll find the West Canungra Creek track, which branches off to the left of the Main Border Track. The track winds down through the rainforest and past several waterfalls, including Darraboola Falls and Yerralahla (blue pool). The walk continues along the creek and returns via the Box Forest Circuit or Elabana Falls.
It is recommended that you take this circuit in a clockwise direction.
Allow around 5.5 hours for this walk.
Albert River Valley of Echoes Circuit: Return Distance 21.8 KM
Starting along the Main Border Track, at around 5kms along, you’ll come to the Albert River track. It is recommended that you take the second entrance, which is a short distance after the first and walk the circuit in an anticlockwise direction.
The track takes you down into the rainforest to Echo Falls and then follows a branch of the Albert River upstream to Echo Point Lookout. From here, you’ll enjoy views of Mount Wupwan and Mount Durigan, as well as south to the Tweed Range. The track continues, eventually connecting back to the Main Border Track.
Allow around 7 hours for this walk.
There is a range of swimming pools at O’Reilly’s. Outside the main guest house, you’ll find a few different plunge pools and a spa bath, however for the ultimate swimming experience, head on down to the Lost World Day Spa, where the gorgeous infinity swimming pool is located, which has spectacular views across the valley.
A great way to learn about what’s going on around the place is to attend the Managers Welcome on the day you arrive. These are held in the dining room each day at 3.30 pm, which is perfect timing because this is the same time as the daily free afternoon tea. So you can grab some cake and a cuppa and hear all about what’s going on. At the Managers Welcome you’ll also receive a free glass of Champagne.
One thing you’ll quickly learn when staying at O’Reilly’s is what an interesting history the property has. One interesting event in 1937 was the crash of a Stinson Plane in the nearby Lamington National Park.
The plane was on its daily flight from Brisbane to Sydney. However, on 19 February 1937, it was a stormy day and unfortunately, the plane crashed, killing all but three of its passengers. Seven days after the crash, Bernard O’Reilly set out on foot to search for the plane and found it three days later.
When Bernard found the plane crash, there were only two survivors, as the third crash survivor had set out on foot in search of help. Unfortunately, before finding help, he fell off the side of a cliff and died.
Bernard returned to the plane crash the following day with help and stretchered the men out to safety.
In 1987 a movie was made about this fascinating story of triumph and tragedy featuring Jack Thompson and Richard Roxburgh. Today the replica of the plane used in the movie sits proudly on the property’s grounds as it has done so since 2012.
One of the places I find fascinating at O’Reilly’s is the Library. Here you’ll find huge scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings, letters, photographs and diary notes showcasing the rich and interesting history of the O’Reilly’s property.
The Library even has all of its guest books dating back to the 1940s, so you can view comments from past guests who once had to travel for two days from Brisbane before arriving at the property.
Guests are also welcome to use the library throughout the day to relax or take their meals. At night, the staff light the fire in this room, making it the perfect place to relax. You can order meals and drinks at the bar upstairs and they will deliver them to you here.
Film in the Theatrette
To learn even more about the history of the O’Reilly’s, each afternoon at 4.30 pm guests are invited to the theatrette where they show historical and educational movies. Movies are either about the rainforest, the history of the O’Reilly’s or the Stinson plane crash.
The movies go for around 45 minutes each and change each day, so check with reception as to what is showing during your stay.
Other Things to do at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
As well as all the free activities to do, there is a range of activities you can do that have an additional cost.
A fun way to check out the property and explore some of the surrounding rainforest is to join a 2 hour guided segway tour.
Kids must be at least 12 years to join and a minimum weight of 45kgs and a maximum weight of 120kgs.
When: Tours are daily at 11.30 am and 1.30 pm
Price: $79 per person.
Birds of Prey Show
Lamington National Park is home to some spectacular birdlife and a great way to see some of these amazing birds is at the Birds of Prey Show. At the show, you’ll see Owls, Wedge Tail Eagles, Kestrels and Black Kites perform a range of amazing maneuvers.
When: Daily 1 to 1.45 pm
Price: Adults $17.50 | Kids $10 | Family Pass $48
Each morning one of the trained O’Reilly’s animal handlers will introduce you to some of the local wildlife. Some animals you might meet include a gorgeous sooty owl, a friendly carpet python, a magpie, super cute squirrel gliders and even mice.
We attended this show as it was part of the special accommodation deal we had. If you’ve attended these types of shows before at theme parks or zoos, I probably wouldn’t bother paying the extra money – sure it was interesting, but it was nothing special.
When: Daily 10 to 10.30 am
Price: Adults $15 | Kids $8 | Family Pass $40
Flying Fox Adventure
For those that enjoy getting the adrenaline pumping, then how about launching yourself from a platform some 25 metres above the rainforest? Then you’ll soar across a 180 metre zipline with fantastic views of Morans Creek below.
When: Daily 2 pm to 4 pm
Price: Adults $35 | Kids $22
Glow Worm Experience
If you’ve never seen glow worms before – this is definitely the place to check them out. A tour guide will take you for a short 4WD ride into the glow worm grotto, where you’ll see millions of ancient glow worms. You may even see other nocturnal animals like pademelons, possums, bandicoots, frogs, insects and more.
You’ll need a torch for this tour, so be sure to bring one with you or you can purchase one at the Gift Shop.
When: Daily 8 – 9.15 pm
Price: Adults $30 | Kids $15
A really nice thing to do while at O’Reilly’s is the Sunset Experience. We did this during our stay and were taken on a 4WD bus to a private part of the property, which had absolutely fantastic views across the valley. It was just epic!
On arrival, you’re served a glass of wine or champagne and pillows and blankets are provided so you can get yourself nice and comfortable while watching the brilliant sunset.
When: Depends on the time of year – but roughly 30 minutes or so before sunset.
Price: $20 per person
Billy Tea History Tour
A fun way to learn about the local history is to join the Billy Tea History Tour, where via 4WD, you’re taken to a beautiful lookout point and served a billy tea and damper, which has been cooked over an open fire. Your guide will then entertain you with some great stories and history about life on the mountain. Tours are 2.5 hours in duration.
Price: Adults $29 | Kids $15
Guided O’Reilly’s 4WD Tours
While you can explore the region at your own pace, for those that enjoy a guided tour, there are two hour 4WD tours where your guide will take you to various places within the Lamington National Park and share with you some interesting facts along the way.
Price: Adults $25 | Kids $10
Guided Bush Walks
If you feel more comfortable with a guide while doing some of the various walks around the Lamington National Park, you can join a guided tour for some of the more popular walks. This is a great way to ensure you don’t miss anything along the way, as well as learning about the region.
When: Guided walks run at various times, so check with reception on arrival.
Price: From $25 per adult and $10 per child.
A great time for families to visit O’Reilly’s is during school holidays when they have their Eco Rangers program on. Kids aged between 5-12 can join the program, which runs two sessions daily.
The Eco Rangers have their very own dedicated room and daily activities include bushwalking, scavenger hunts, campfire cookouts, games, art and more.
I think it’s great that they have an evening program too, where they even provide the kids with dinner. This means the parents can enjoy a nice quiet meal alone.
Price: Morning Session (9 am to 12 pm) $20 per child including morning tea | Afternoon Sessions (5.30 pm to 8 pm) $30 per child including dinner.
When: Daily during the school holidays
Lost World Day Spa
Now, after all that hiking, you’re going to need a bit of pampering, which is where the Lost World Day Spa comes in handy. Here you can choose from a range of massages and treatments as well as make use of their steam rooms.
There is a gorgeous couples suite for those wanting a bit of romance, where you can enjoy a hot bath together in a handcrafted wooden tub before your treatment with spectacular views across the valley below.
Every treatment at the Day Spa starts and finishes in the relaxation lounge. Guests are provided with robes and slippers to put on and given a drink to enjoy while sitting down by the fireplace, unwinding while soaking in the stunning views.
Dining at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
There is a range of eating options available while staying at O’Reilly’s, including a cafe, dining room, bar and mini mart.
O’Reilly’s Mountain Cafe
The Rainforest Cafe is the place to go for lunch, coffee and snacks throughout the day. They have a wide variety of food on their menu, from gourmet rolls, burgers, pizzas and more. Prices are a little on the high side as you’d expect at a resort but nothing too crazy.
The Rainforest Cafe is open daily from 11 am to 2.30 pm.
The Retreat Dining Room
The Retreat Dining Room serves a full buffet breakfast and three course dinner daily.
The buffet breakfast has a great selection, including the ability to order eggs to your liking and have them served to your table, as well as all the usual breakfast items like bacon, baked beans, fruit, cereal, pastries and more.
For dinner, the Dining Room serves guests a three course meal which is $55 per person. You can see the menu here. While for the kids, $20 will get them a main meal and dessert. You can see the kids menu here.
There is also the option to have meals ordered and delivered to your room. See the in room dining menu here.
Breakfast is served daily from 7 am to 9.30 am and dinner starts at 5.30 pm.
Located above the reception area is a great little cosy bar where you can either sit on the balcony and watch the sunset or cosy up inside by the fireplace.
As well as a great drinks menu, the Rainforest Bars serve lighter dinner options. These menu items can also be ordered and delivered to your room – or even to enjoy downstairs in the library, which is a really nice place to relax.
The bar is open from 4 pm daily.
Mini Mart and Takeaway
There is a small Mini Mart and Takeaway store where you can pick up some basic grocery items likes snacks, toiletries and ice creams. They also serve things like pies and sausage rolls – so great for a light lunch.
There is also a Gift Shop right by the Mini Mart, which is the perfect place to come and get your O’Reilly’s wine.
The Mini Mart is open weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm and at weekends from 8 am to 5 pm.
Where to Book your Stay
I recommend booking through Booking.com for the best flexibility (you can always cancel and book elsewhere if you find a better deal). Rooms start at around $250 per night for a family of 4 in a basic room and go up from there. However often O’Reilly’s have some great deals where they include a few extras with your accommodation – so look out for these too.
Our Verdict: O’Reillys Rainforest Review
Andy and I stayed at O’Reilly’s as part of an adults only weekend away. We had a fabulous time relaxing at the bar each night, exploring the National Park and wandering around the property throughout the day.
There is plenty to do at O’Reilly’s though – so it’s not necessarily the place to come for a relaxing few days – although of course, you don’t have to do any of the activities if you don’t want to. We didn’t participate in too many of the activities that had cost attached to it – there are so many wonderful walks to do in the region – it’s really hard to fit everything in, to be honest.
A few negatives – the cheaper rooms are a bit tired looking – although more than comfortable. We were hardly in our room anyway, given there was so much to do. There were many lines around the place too – not sure if this is an understaffing issue – but be prepared to wait for food and drinks wherever you go. The staff are all lovely though and very friendly.
Overall – I really enjoyed my stay at O’Reilly’s – it really has something for everyone – couples who want to relax, couples that want to do loads of activities without the kids, families that want to keep the kids busy, there were even quite a few people we met on their own just coming for some downtime. We went in May, which was pretty cold but made it nice to sit by the fire. Given that it is much cooler on the mountain, it would also be a great place to go during the warmer months, particularly with all the great swimming pools on the property.
We 100% enjoyed our stay at O’Reilly’s and look forward to visiting again someday.