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Gold Coast hinterland weekend

Thursday, June 4, 2009
As Catriona Rowntree discovered, when Queenslander's proudly refer to "the green behind the gold", they aren't talking about a Wallabies rugby jersey; it's the lush rainforest that sits behind the long stretch of Gold Coast beaches.

Just an hour south of Brisbane, the hinterland is a place to get away from it all and relax among some of Mother Nature's best. World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park is Queensland's second oldest. It has lush rainforests, ancient trees, walking tracks and is of exceptional ecological importance.

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

This hinterland institution was opened by the O'Reilly family in 1926. Three generations have been running what began as slab huts all those years ago.

Today, there are 66 guesthouse rooms and 48 mountain villas, 47 with a balcony spa. Villas were built on stilts 8m above ground and resemble birds' nests. Two-bedroom villas sleep up to seven people and three-bedroom villas sleep up to nine. They have either rainforest of valley views and the stunning Lamington National Park surrounds you wherever you are on the property.

O'Reilly's Lost World Spa is simply marvellous! It's a true nature haven embracing the surrounding beauty. All-natural Australian Sodashi products are used, as well as vinotherapy utilising grapes from O'Reilly's Canungra Valley vineyards. Once you're totally relaxed, you can curl up in front of a fire and soak in the views.

The latest activity at O'Reilly's is "Reptile Encounter", featuring Australian snakes — including three of the top-10 most venomous in the world. There are lizards, turtles and monitors along with chat-and-pat sessions to allow visitors to get up close — if they want to! Animal handler Phillip Ghamraoui has 16 years' experience and loves sharing his passion.

If you'd rather steer clear of the reptiles, there are more than 160km of walking trails at O'Reilly's. They cross 500 waterfalls. There are four-wheel drive adventures, bird watching, a flying fox and the treetop walk offers the chance to see the rainforest from a bird's point of view. You climb into the canopy on a series of suspension bridges, reaching up to 30m above the ground.

Mount Tamborine

On your way back to the coast, you will come to a village of cafes, galleries, tea rooms, shops, wineries and orchards. By the way, its name derives not from the musical instrument but from the Koori name for the area — hence, the spelling.

Witches Chase Cheese Factory

This place has everyone talking. Witches Chase Cheese Factory is the realisation of Meredith and Andre Morris' dream to combine a cheese factory with a brewery and restaurant. They produce award-winning premium cheeses, including fresh, soft, blue and hard, using traditional methods, without preservatives and with vegetarian rennet.

In shared premises with MT Brewery and five-star Liquid Amber Bistro & Grill, they have everything covered for an enjoyable time in Mount Tamborine.

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk

The perfect place for rainforest skywalks, this one is a rigid raised walkway over 11 hectares of pristine, privately owned rainforest and eucalypt forest. A 40m cantilever soars 30m above the ground.

The adventure begins in the Eco Info Gallery which has flora and fauna interpretive panels and displays, as well as a freshwater aquarium. The walk gradually descends to the densely vegetated rainforest floor beside Cedar Creek and takes in rock pools and waterfalls, a butterfly lookout, views across Cedar Creek Valley and sheltered rest areas. It takes about 50 minutes to complete the walk.

The centre has a cafe, gift shop and toilet facilities. It's open every day from 9am. The last walk starts at 4pm.


Lamington National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland.


O'Reilly's Mountain Villas and Lost World Spa accommodation starts at $435 a villa a night for up to four people.

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk costs $18.50 for adults, $9,50 for children and $47 for a family of two adults and two children.

Virgin Blue has flights to Brisbane.

  • Sydney $85
  • Canberra $119
  • Hobart $139
  • Melbourne $139
  • Adelaide $149
  • Darwin $199
  • Perth $269

There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at June 4, 2009, and are subject to change.

For further information

Virgin Blue
Ph: 136 789

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat
Lamington National Park Road
Near Canungra 4275
Ph: 1800 688 722
Fax: (07) 5502 0988

Witches Chase Cheese Factory
165 Long Road
North Tamborine 4272
Ph: (07) 5545 2032

MT Brewery
Ph: (07) 5545 2032

Liquid Amber Bistro & Grill
Ph: (07) 5545 2032

Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
Ph: (07) 5545 2222

Check out Catriona's latest blog entry

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