O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat open for business
Gold Coast hinterland icon reopens to visitors.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat has reopened its doors to visitors in time for the June/July school holidays.
Managing Director Shane O’Reilly said the Gold Coast Hinterland icon used the coronavirus shutdown period to revamp facilities.
“If you’ve been up lately, you’ll notice there has been a lot of painting and a lot of gardening done by our 80 staff on JobKeeper,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“The place probably hasn’t looked this good for years.”
Mr O’Reilly said it was mostly business as usual since the park reopened on 12 June.
“A lot of what we do includes bushwalks, glow worms and the flying fox and all that will continue but there’ll be some changes to allow social distancing and coping to our approved COVID-safe plans,” he said.
“Winter is the best time to visit. It’s dry, the views are spectacular and you couldn’t get better weather for bushwalking.”
With the school holidays approaching, Mr O’Reilly said Queenslanders were keen to explore the natural beauty of their “backyard”.
“We’re expecting a lot more people will want to do self-guided walks in the national park,” he said.
“We’ve seen a distinct increase in the numbers of people doing self-guided walks on the weekend and even during the week.”
Mr O’Reilly’s said bushwalking was particularly appealing to budget-conscious families.
“I think people are seeing it as a day out that they don’t have to pay for,” he said.
“They can take a picnic and they’ll very rarely run in to anyone else so it’s an attractive recreational activity at the moment.”
The park’s range of bushwalking trails suit various fitness levels.
“Lamington National Park has more than 300km of fantastic walking tracks and trails with beautiful scenery, including waterfalls and vegetation,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“We’ve got walking tracks that go from a few 100m to 23km, so there’s a lot of different options.
“Elabana Falls and Moran Falls are only about 3km away and you can do circuits along the Albert River which take in a number of waterfalls and pools, so it’s just up to the individual which one you decide on.”
Campers will have to wait until spring to pitch a tent at O’Reilly’s, however villa and retreat accommodation is available.
“The campground that was run by National Parks closed last year and we’ve taken on a joint venture with the government to redevelop camping area,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“We were about halfway through when COVID-19 came on to the scene in February and we’ve been going continuously since then, but it should be open in time for the September school holidays.”
Mr O’Reilly said the new and improved site would cater to a wider range of campers.
“There were no facilities there before, apart from some showers and toilets built in the ’70s, so it will be fantastic when it’s finished,” he said.
“Everything is absolutely brand new and will have permanent tents, normal tent sites, RV sites, a kitchen and communal fireplace.”
Despite living and breathing O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Mr O’Reilly said his favourite attraction was one of the simplest.
“It may seem a bit boring, but my favourite thing is the glow worms,” he said.
“It’s a great example of sustainable tourism where we’ve been walking down to the creek almost every night for the past 15 years but there’s nothing artificial there. The only man-made thing around is a bench for people to sit down, relax and take in the glow.
“I still think it’s one of our nicest experiences.”
Mr O’Reilly said sustainable tourism had been an ongoing focus for O’Reilly’s for more almost a century.
“We’ve been in business for 94 years so if we were hurting or degrading the environment we wouldn’t still be around,” he said.
“Hopefully we’re still here for the 100-year mark.”