We are now a family of 5! Our little girl, Connie, entered our crazy household mid June. Luckily, she’s super cruisey and fell into a routine fairly quickly and easily. That means we’ve been able to get out and about for some day trips; firstly with Stephen’s parents, who were staying with us for a month, and recently, on our own, proving life doesn’t have to stop with a new born.
Our in-laws have been to Australia numerous times and we have done many day trips with them up to the crisp air of the Gold Coast Hinterland. But for some reason, we’d all neglected the wonder that is O’Reilly’s. Despite living in Brisbane for 3/4 of my life, it took 38 years for me to visit this rainforest retreat. Connie managed to make it there at just 2 weeks old!
The drive (2 hours south west of Brisbane) is an adventure in itself. The road winds and weaves up to the Lamington Plateau through fragrant gums, lush rolling hill-faces and higher up, sub-tropical rainforest. At one point, a hairpin bend is cut right through the rock, which was certainly a surprise. The views for the passengers were truly spectacular but my eyes were decidedly fixed on those turns.
Our boys amused themselves in part by counting the number of bends. I would tell you how many bends there were but counting past 20 with a toddler and a pre-schooler doesn’t lend itself too much to accuracy.
Once we’d arrived, we took the opportunity to feed wild native birds. We bought a bowl of feed for a few dollars and headed to the feeding area where we were surrounded by scores of Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots. Everyone enjoyed the experience but were especially excited when a bird would land on their shoulder or head. It made for some great photos.
After lunch, we moved on to the Tree Top walk (or Booyong walk), a 180 metre series of suspension bridges, much of which is 15 metres above the ground.
Bouncing along the walkway in amongst the tree boughs was exciting enough, but half way along, you are given the opportunity to climb an enormous fig tree. This isn’t for someone with a fear of heights; the top observation deck is 30 metres above the ground.
Neither of my boys blinked at the almost vertical ladder, although the adults were understandably nervous about letting them climb. It was fairly enclosed but still, we put our foot down with the 2 year old (cue massive tantrum). I climbed up behind the 4 year old, tense as a violin string, ready to catch him should he slip. There were great views from the top but it was more about the experience of conquering the ladder for both of us.
The boardwalk that takes you to the bridges is a perfect little rainforest taster. It takes you to a strangler fig whose host tree has decayed leaving just the criss-crossed fig with a massive hollow inside. And there were plenty of signs along the way to introduce the little ones to what they could observe and hear in the rainforest.
On display on O’Reilly’s main lawn, is also a full-sized replica of the Stinson plane that crashed in the area in February 1937. It was certainly interesting for my little transport enthusiasts.
Although there are plenty of other activities and walks on offer, most are suited to older children. So it was time to start our descent to Brisbane. However, there was still one more stop on the itinerary. On the way back down the mountain, we called in at Mountview Alpaca Farm (about 10km before O’Reilly’s) so I could get my fix of my favourite animal. We bought a bag of feed from the cafe and fed the hungry alpacas in the paddock next door.
Afterwards,we fed our hungry boys with an ice-cream while I fed Connie on the back deck, taking in the glorious views over to Tamborine Mountain and the Gold coast.
So as you can see, getting out is not the hard part. Unfortunately, as this trip was a month ago, finding some time to write about it is.