Sunday, 4 December 2016

O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat

One of the best things about being an amateur photographer on the Gold Coast is that our tourism board Visit Gold Coast is so active in promoting our beautiful city and they have tapped into the photography and Instagram scene here and this means we get invited to amazing places to take photos!

Recently I was invited to go up to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat with a group of other photographers and it truly was an amazing day.  To have a magnificent rainforest so close to the beach is such a bonus for our community and for the people that love to explore and hike.

Our day started at the Canugra Valley Vineyards for some wine tasting and picnic eating and to say the baskets were more than enough for 2 people is an understatement!  Seriously amazing food and wine to be devoured..
My first try at a flat lay!  

Canugra Valley Vineyards is located about 10 minutes from Canugra on the way up to O'Reilly's and is a gorgeous venue for wine tasting, lunch or even a wedding.  The staff are all so friendly and have so much information regarding the beautiful wines they produce.  I am not a wine drinker but have to admit I did enjoy their red wine and would definitely indulge in it more!
One of the beautiful wines at Canungra Valley Vineyard

One of the grapes O'Reillys grow

After we explored the yards at the Vineyard we all piled onto the buses and began our journey up the mountain to O'Reilly's.  I have made this journey a few times now and I would definitely recommend taking a travel sickness tablet before you go as the road is probably one of the windiest roads you will ever travel on and it does take about 45 minutes to arrive to the location.  Once there though you forget all things travel sickness and immerse yourself in all that O'Reilly's has to offer. 

Our first stop is to the famous Bird show to see my favourite flying creatures whom I have fallen in love with many times before.  This time I was lucky enough to hold the Snow Owl and I fell in love all over again! The birds at O'Reilly's have been rescued from one thing or another and live an amazing life with their keepers as they are not able to be returned to the wild due to injury.
My absolute favourite bird.
The amazing resident Eagle at O'Reilly's
Close up of the Snow Owl

After the bird show we were piled onto another 4 wheel drive bus and driven to a beautiful spot not far from O'Reilly's called Luke's Bluff.  This part of the location has scattered properties on it that house members of the O'Reilly's family and also some pretty friendly cows!  As you drive down a very steep hill through some bush land you come to an gorgeous part of the area which looks over the stunning valley, countryside and rainforest below.
Photographers taking over Luke's Bluff with views for days

One of the best things about Luke's Bluff is learning the amazing history of the O'Reilly's family which we were told by our guide, a lovely Scottish Lass telling us an Australian story about how the family came to buy the land at O'Reilly's. We were also spoilt with some home made Damper and hot Billy tea which came in handy as it was very cold up on the mountain and we were dressed in Summer clothes!
The amazing home made damper which we had toasted over the fire with home made jam - YUM
We spent some time here taking it all in, setting up photos and braving the cold and then it was time to get back on the bus and back to O'Reilly's to tackle the Treetop walk.  The Treetop walk is an 800 metre walk which takes you over 9 Suspension bridges that can get to 16 metres above ground.  It's a cute little walk which gets you back to nature and has an awesome climb that takes you 30 metres above ground in a huge Fig tree.  Definitely something fun to do with the smaller kids who may not be able to do the longer hikes.
One of the suspension bridges along the Treetop walk with Marnie posing for us!
After we got back to the resort out guide went to get some food to feed the many birds around the area who came flocking around us without a shy bone in their bodies!  Such a wonderful experience.
Akiko, Larisa and our guide with the friendly birds
After a little rest it was time to go to Moran Falls for sunset and champagne.  The weather had been quite dreary and cold all day but as the bus arrived to take us we noticed the clouds clearing and we got a little bit excited about the prospect of a nice sunset.  It only takes 10 minutes to drive to Moran Falls but you can actually hike here if you like and it is a short work at 4.6km.  Hiking back is obviously a little harder and definitely not recommended at night!  Once we arrived to the location 20 photographers piled out of the bus and started running to the falls to try and find a great spot, the sky was lighting up and we were all excited.  Moran Falls is a simply stunning location to capture the sunrise as it looks down to an amazing valley and when the sunset pops there really is no words to describe what you are witnessing!
Sunset at Moran Falls

Just had to share 2 cos it was soo good!

So after witnessing this incredible sunset at an beautiful location we walked back up to the look out to be greeted with champagne and the aftermath of the sunset and were entertained with the story of the famous Stinson plane crash that happened back in 1937.  It is an incredible story and you can read it here:

As darkness settled in we climbed back onto the bus all very weary and made our way back up to the resort to have dinner.  O'Reilly's has a lovely restaurant with a private dining room that fits more than 20 people and the food is delicious.  Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take photos of the main course as we all dug in very quickly, but I did capture this one of Dessert just before we all devoured them!!

By 9.30pm we had finished dinner and were ready to pile back onto our busses to take us back down the mountain to the Vineyard and our cars.  The day had been awesome and we had crammed so much into it, experiencing so much of what O'Reilly's can offer and still not getting to do it all.  It is such an gorgeous resort with so much to offer people of all ages.  I would highly recommend visiting for a day trip or even better getting away for a holiday here.  You will not be disappointed!

You can check out all of the information here: and they also have a competition going on so make sure you enter for a chance to win an O'Reilly's getaway!!!

Katie xx

A special thank you to Marnie from Visit Gold Coast and Courtney from O'Reilly's for providing such a fabulous day for all of us.

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