A rainforest retreat

AMY REMEIKIS
Last updated 05:00 26/04/2013

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The Basics

Cost It varies, but a bed and breakfast package will set you back $290 per person, which includes two nights' accommodation in a mountain view room, breakfast,  'country-style' morning and afternoon tea, an early morning bird walk and wine tasting.

The resort has a spa, pools, plenty of eco-activities, and accommodation of varying types, ranging from two-bedroom canopy suites to the Bithongabel single rooms. There are no phones or televisions in any of the retreat rooms.

The Room

The ultimate romantic getaway doesn't start with someone showing you to your room. 

It begins with a warm welcome to the reception hall after a long drive (you are going deep into the mountains afterall) a key handover and a mud map.

But once you find your villa, it's your own mountain hideaway for as long as you are there. Open the glass doors and step out onto your large entertainment deck and take in the mountain view.

Sure, there are other villas dotted on the landscape, so you're never actually alone.

But you'll feel as if you are and that's the important thing.  Inside the linen cupboards you'll find plenty of extra pillows - and more importantly blankets - which given the area is about seven degrees cooler than the rest of the east coast, you'll definitely appreciate.

If outside bores you, slink back in, turn on the gas fireplace and laze around on one of the lounges.  Or gaze out the window seat on the other side of the room with Bronte-esque concentration.

Mountain Villas are for those looking for the ultimate hideaway - fully self contained, all but one come with a spa bath, outdoor setting and barbecue on a deck which faces either the valley or the rainforest, a gas fire place, undercover carport,  fully equipped kitchen and either two or three bedrooms - each with its own ensuite. 

These villas have a television - and Austar access - so if reading in the outdoor spa/window nook/by the fireplace gets boring, there is always the E Network.

The Food

The closest village is about 40 minutes away, so your choice for dining is cooking for yourself in your villa kitchen - which has everything you need to whip up a gourmet meal - or the O'Reilly's dining room.

Here you'll find hearty belly warming food.  Aunt Molly's Irish Stew is big enough for two - and comes with mushy peas and mash. And no romantic getaway is complete without cheese, so order a platter.

Make sure you book though - if you have dragged yourself away from your Byron musings to rejoin humanity, you'll be shocked at the number of people who have shared your getaway mentality.

But if the short walk up the mountain to the Dining Room is too much, grab some supplies from either Canungra village on your way up to O'Reilly's or pop in to the general store/cafe on-site and whip up your own grub. As they say, man cannot live on love alone.

The Activities

If you must drag yourself away from the fireplace (an excellent way to spend a rainy day by the way) you'll suddenly remember that you are in the rainforest. Which means there are enough activities to exhaust a troupe of Boy Scouts just at your doorstep. 

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Take the Tree Top walk and get a canopy view of your surrounds - for the brave (or those without a paralysing fear of heights) take it that extra step and scurry up a strangler fig to one of the observation decks.  If you enjoy your view, drop a few dollars into the donation box to help with the walk's upkeep.

There are plenty of walks for all activity levels - you do have 20,200 hectares of Lamington National Park to explore if you so wish.  Four years after the O'Reilly's set up home in 1911, the area around them was declared a national park.

If you are just looking to work off some of that dinner - or pavlova as the case may be - take a guided evening walk and go visit the pademelons and glow worms in all their night time glory.

If you really want to get up close and personal with nature, take in the Birds of Prey show and see what it feels like to be a small furry mammal in its final moments.  Or go on an early morning bird walk and visit some of our less deadly winged friends.

Or just book into the Lost World Spa and let someone massage away the last of your cares regarding the outside world.

The Weekend

The O'Reilly's fourth generation are just starting to make their way back to their family home - this truly is a family enterprise. And it shows. Sure, some of the accommodation might not have the usual kid distractions you employ at home - but generations of children have been raised here.  There was no way they were bored.

If you take a Mountain Villa, don't be surprised if you just don't leave your hide-away.  So stock up on the necessities - wine, chocolate, cheese - and just relax.

No matter what the accommodation style, a menu of activities will be available. But it is just as easy to do nothing.

On the way back down the mountain, drop by Canungra. Once just a town which catered to the nearby army base, it has grown into a little village destination of its own.  Take a peak in the antique shop and make sure you visit both competing bakeries advertising home made pies - just so you can be absolutely fair in your judgement.

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat. Lamington National Park Road, via Canungra. P: 1800 688 722. oreillys.com.au

Amy Remeikis was guest of O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat.

- Brisbane Times

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