Winding our way through the Gold Coast Hinterland to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat we had high expectations. Other families had told us the area is stunning and we knew an accessible walk awaited us. Road works made it a slow journey which allowed us to enjoy the views and slowed down Hubby who would have otherwise thought the sharp turns were a good practice run for a future Formula 1 career.
We were only day-trippers to O’Reilly’s but we did take the opportunity to check out the accessible accommodation so we could share it with you. We spent the day enjoying the accessible walks, lunching in the café and watching the show. And we also ran into several of our readers. Quite unbelievable since O’Reilly’s is far from the bright lights of the Gold Coast, but that’s clearly why it’s so attractive.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat has expansive views overlooking the western McPherson Ranges which I found quite mesmerizing and peaceful.
Two accessible rooms are available at O’Reilly’s and we’re told these are going to soon be refurbished as part of a wider refurbishment throughout the retreat.
The room overlooks the range and as always it’s pleasing to see accessible accommodation with a view.
The room can sleep a family with a double-bed, single bed and at the time we were visiting the pull out sofa had been made up as a bed too. Although that sounds squeezy, O’Reilly’s has been designed to keep guests out and about enjoying nature so the rooms are not equipped with a TV. I know, even I was a bit shocked at that but I’m sure people travel with lap tops or shows downloaded on iPads if they can’t detox from television. The rooms also do not have a telephone but the accessible rooms do have access to one for emergencies just outside the door.
I’m hopeful when the refurbishment takes place all facilities are lowered in the rooms, currently the wardrobe has regular height hanging space and the hat rack would not be able to be reached by a wheelchair user.
The accessible bathroom is equipped with rails throughout, lever taps and a hand-held height adjustable shower. A plastic shower chair is available on request.
The divider in the bathroom would make it difficult to transfer from a wheelchair to the shower chair but I’m hopeful this will be changed with the refurbishment.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat attracts nature-lovers looking to embrace the great outdoors. Lamington National Park contains over 320 kms of walking tracks. Two are wheelchair accessible and easily enjoyed by all.
THE TREE TOP WALK
The Tree Top Walk consists of 9 suspension bridges up to 16 metres above the ground. The bounce and wobble of the bridge made this BJ’s favourite and the more he heard us shriek as some heavy-footed guests bounded along, the more he loved it. It’s not often a suspension bridge is wheelchair accessible so this was a real treat.
The weight limit is 6 people per section so I imagine it is fine for a power chair if the weight doesn’t exceed 6 average people. If in doubt, I’d suggest contacting O’Reilly’s to double check.
The best time to see birdlife in the trees and along the tracks is early morning or late afternoon. It was lovely spotting the many birds flitting through the bush, mostly too fast to capture on camera.
This is open to the public and O’Reilly’s guests and is free to access.
Though less exciting than the Tree Top Walk we loved having the choice of another accessible walk to explore. The Centenary Track passes through tall hoop pine at the entrance and slowly descent through subtropical rainforest for 900m. We again loved the opportunity to do birdwatching but it really is more a game of hide and seek. We believe regent and satin bowerbirds, logrunners and Albert’s lyrebirds can be spotted along the track. A few peeked out but the shenanigans going on between AJ and BJ probably had them all bunkered down. It’s lovely to hear AJ’s chatter and BJ’s laughter but it isn’t conducive to birdwatching!
We recommend parking close to the Centenary Track as it’s quite a push back up to O’Reilly’s if you are using a manual chair.
The Wildlife Encounter and Birds of Prey Show are located in a position to make the most of the surrounding stunning views. This is on an incline and therefore has it’s challenges with a wheelchair. A power chair user would probably have no difficulties but Hubby did need to put a bit of oomph in his pushing.
The Wildlife Encounter was led by Mark, an amazingly knowledgeable staff member at O’Reilly’s who ensured the experience was inclusive to both BJ and a little girl visiting who was blind. He ensured no-one missed out. We met Russ the friendly Carpet Snake who was particularly popular with overseas visitors who took family happy snaps with him.
We were encouraged to pop some honey on our finger to entice the honey gliders out of their cosy bed but nothing was as appealing as cuddling up to their mates sharing the wooden nest box.
BIRDS OF PREY SHOW
O’Reilly’s Birds of Prey show is stunning. The birds gliding with the ranges as a backdrop is sensational. Again Mark ensured BJ had the opportunity to get up close with each of the birds. BJ wasn’t quite sure about some of them but we appreciated the inclusive nature of the show.
Both the Animal Encounter and the Birds of Prey show have a fee attached if you are just visiting for the day. Some accommodation packages include these activities.
Bird feeding is carefully controlled by National Parks so you can feed the birds by purchasing ($4) a tray of bird seed which is mixed to ensure the birds have a healthy well-balanced diet.
If you are day tripping to the Hinterland area make sure you pop into O’Reilly’s Mountain Café. The views are uninterrupted and their hearty pies were a good choice considering the slight mountain chill in the air. The café also serves a range of salads, sandwiches, cakes and beverages. Given we were in the Lamington National Park AJ thought it was only fitting to indulge in one of the delicious fluffy lamingtons on offer – any excuse!
Chatting to our reader Tanya and her daughter, it sounds like the dining package was great value with large delicious evening meals served in the dining room. There’s an accessible stand-alone bathroom available near the café however the doorway is not particularly wide to get to the bathroom.
Food is left for the local possums on the tree stumps outside the dining room windows so guests can observe the wildlife dining while they eat dinner too.
Aside from the gorgeous local scenery and birdlife, I think the pool is the jewel in O’Reilly’s crown. I’d spend so long in it admiring the peaceful view, I think I’d turn into a prune. Keep in mind if you visit in winter the pool isn’t heated so it may be rather refreshing.
Access is even made easier with a ramp which runs the full length of the pool.
A pool wheelchair would be a welcome addition to this set-up just to take accessibility to the next level. If staying in an accessible room you would need to drive to the pool as it is at a different side of the resort and being a mountainous area, it’s hilly.
If you are only visiting O’Reilly’s for the day, bypass the main car park and head further up the hill towards reception. On the right you’ll find three accessible parking bays in front of O’Reilly’s Mountain Café.
For guests there is parking underneath the accessible accommodation with a path leading up to the room.
Lamington National Park is nearly 1000 metres above sea level which means not only is the temperature 5-8 degrees cooler than the Gold Coast, but the weather is changeable. We recommend travelling with a jumper and wet weather gear no matter the weather where you’re staying.
There are no shops nearby so arrive with whatever supplies you’ll require for your stay or be prepared for a long drive!
We had a wonderful day at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. It was a big day trip but I suspect this was only because of the extensive roadworks on the day. If you’d like to read more about O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat head to their website.
We didn’t stay at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat but we did receive complimentary Animal & Birds of Prey encounters.