Have you ever heard of the glow worm’s poem?
We’re deep in the woods in the ancient Lamington National Park sitting 3,000 ft above sea level. The only light we see is the twinkling glow from a massive wall of fairy lights that spans at least 20 metres wide right in front of our eyes. And the only sound we hear is the rippling of creek water surrounding us. Mark, our Park Ranger, begins chanting:
I wish I was a glow worm,
A glow worm’s never glum.
‘Cos how can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum!
“So what we’re staring at here that looks like strings of fairy lights is in fact thousands and thousands of glow worms?”, a little girl raised her voice excitedly as she asked Mark.
Indeed she was quite right. To be exact, there’re over 4,900 living glow worms that perform this nature’s spectacular light show every night of the year. This is my very first time hearing the glow worm’s poem, and it forms part of my fondest memories spending two days at the O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat in the refreshing Gold Coast Hinterland.
My fellow green souls here would already know that I love embracing the many shades of green either at home or while exploring a new destination. While I love city sights and have an intricate love affair with Paris, ‘glamping’ trips and eco-luxe retreats are constantly on my radar too. Because an enjoyable holiday doesn’t have to cost the earth. It can take place right within the natural habitats of wildlife while minimising our carbon footprint, so that the experience can last many more years for our future generations. And this is exactly why my getaway at the O’Reilly’s ticks all my green boxes. Here, follow my itinerary in this two-part story as I relax and unwind in the nature’s playground (editor’s note: a glass of bubbly in hand while reading this is optional but highly recommended).
♥ Wine Tasting & Picnic Lunch @ Canungra Valley Vineyards
852 Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra QLD 4275
There’s something so-oh-satisfying about starting my day with a glass of wine – every sign tells me I’m on holiday! Pairing that with a decadent cheese platter and a picnic rug by the crystal clear creek? Total bliss. 🙂
After a picturesque 60-minute drive from Brisbane, my husband and I arrived thirsty at the Canungra Valley Vineyard in search for a drop of gold. Before we stepped into their cellar door for wine tasting, we found ourselves completely distracted by the tranquility of the countryside and the fine historic Queenslander homestead that was built and preserved beautifully since 1858. No wonder why this place also serves as a popular venue for weddings and live music events – I could totally imagine how beautiful it’d be to have a rustic country vibe wedding here with barefoot brides and grooms (and, of course, floral crowns for the bridal party).
Walking into the beautiful homestead that houses their cellar door and ‘Vintage’ restaurant where they serve breakfast, morning tea and a la carte lunch, we were greeted by Tamil the Venue Manager. He attentively asked what types of wine we prefer, and poured us a glass of their best-selling Lona Sparkling Blush in vivid rose gold colour (only if I have a marble coaster to match!). So refreshing it was that we ended up grabbing a bottle for our cheeky picnic date.
Wine tasting at Canungra Valley Vineyard is available daily until 4:30pm at $3 per head, while it’s complimentary when you dine, picnic or make a wine purchase at the premise. We asked for a mini picnic basket prepared specailly for us with 4 different kinds of cheese, crackers, dried fruits and strawberries, while on the menu they usually serve a full Homestead Picnic with hot and cold meat, salad, Antipasto, dips, chutney, bread and ice cream (bookings have to be made 24 hours in advance).
We marveled at the raw beauty of this place as Tamil walked us through the manicured lawn to their cellar (which doubles as an indoor wedding and function venue), their semi-outdoor marquee overlooking the hanging vines, and the picnic spots by the creek under the shade of ancient Silky Oak trees. The site is indeed as picture perfect as it sounds!
What more to delight is to learn that the vineyard truly embraces various eco-friendly practices, with all cleaning products used are chemicals and toxin free. They also choose environmentally-friendly fertilisers and use grass clippings as compost.
We took a little catnap on our fluffy picnic rug after devouring the entire cheese platter (washed down with a bottle of sparkling Rosé of course). We spotted a few curious turtles peeking their heads above the water from the stream. We were told that on lucky days we could even spot the platypus family. Sadly, those little fellas were a bit camera shy on the day but it didn’t dampen our spirits at all.
The Canungra Valley Vineyard can easily be a destination on its own where you can spend as much time as you like lounging on the grass with flow of O’Reilly’s wine readily available (just make sure you have a designated driver).We spent just over two hours leisurely at the vineyard and it was all too hard to leave, but we had to make our way further up to Lamington National Park as some even more rejuvenating sights await.
♥ Check In @ The Villas at O’Relly’s Rainforest Retreat
Lamington National Park Road via Canungra, Qld 4275, Australia
It’s easy for any holiday homes to win my heart – give me a fireplace and a glorious bath tub and I’m all yours!
As I unlocked the door to our 2 bedroom villa set among the lush rainforest canopy, I was literally like a kid running wild in the candy store. I had this thing with fireplace – it seems to have the magical power to turn any interior into a peaceful cocooning space.
Our 2 bedroom villa artfully furnished in earthy hues is very roomy and can comfortably sleep up to seven people. I simply love how lots of natural lights that shone through the canopy flow into our villa. It’s fully equipped with a contemporary kitchen, while each bedroom has its own ensuite which makes it great for two couples sharing or a family getaway.
Being an eco beauty warrior, I can’t help inspecting each bottle of bathroom amenities and checking their ingredient labels when I check in to my stay these days. It was a BIG pleasant surprise to find that the whole range of body care products supplied in room is reflective of their eco-friendly initiatives – with no parabens, silicones, EDTA and a few other harmful chemicals, I’m relieved to know that my skin does not have to suffer from toxin-laden products while I’m on holiday (I usually pack my own as it’s pretty rare to find toxin-free products in hotels). It’s fair to say that this place has won a massive tick of approval from my green soul with how they maintain their strict green standard down to the very fine details.
♥ Impromptu Bird-feeding Session
Next, it was the expansive entertainment deck with deep Jacuzzi tub, BBQ stove and spectacular views out to the McPherson Range that utterly took my breath away.
While the deck is very private as it’s engulfed by its rainforest setting, be prepared for uninvited guests to stop by and take your almonds. These unpretentiously friendly folks called Crimson Rosella are native to Lamington National Park (and friends of O’Reilly’s staff). My almonds literally brought all the birds to the yard! There were quite a few of them frolicking in the canopy so I reckon you’ll have a pretty good chance to have them swing by when you have a bag of roasted almonds in hand.
Do not despair if not. There’s a designated bird feeding area at the resort where you can purchase a tray of bird’s food for $4 and get up close and personal with some of Lamington’s iconic birds including King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas or Regent Bowerbird (the mascot of O’Reilly’s).
♥ In-room Spa Session on the Verandah
#DoNotDisturb. Enough said, right?
After my bag of roasted almonds was completely devoured, those little fellas have left me and my husband some private me-time on our deck in our spa tub.
Who needs spa music or TV when you have birds chirping and singing in the background from nearby and afar?
I packed along some magnesium salt and wild orange essential oils as bath soak. We both felt like a piece of tender meat and slowly melted away while appreciating in awe the beauty of this whimsical rainforest from our Jacuzzi! It’s worth every cent to stay in one of these spa villas just for an outdoor spa session with that glorious view – I guarantee it’s a bucket list kind of experience to die for!
♥ Glow Worm Tour
Feeling rejuvenated after our pamper session, we gathered at the reception at 6:30pm to meet Mark our Park Ranger who takes the group on to the guided tour to see glow worms in their natural habitat.
To say we were mind-blown is simply an underrated expression.
We’ve seen glow worms a couple of times at the nearby Springbrook National Park, yet this experience was so much more that what we’ve expected. Perhaps it was the short trek in the rainforest at night in complete darkness that sets the scene for our memorable night – the entire experience was so mystical and slightly spiritual. There were no other tour groups in the Glow Worm Grotto apart from the ten of us in the group, as this part of national park belongs to the O’Reilly’s family when they first settled in this ancient land over 100 years ago.
Mark chanted the glow worm’s poem and also told us about the life cycle of these pretty amazing creatures that use their bioluminescent taillight to lure insects into their fishing lines. He also reminded us how these glow worms entirely rely on the health of the stream and the rainforest that forms their habitat. For a moment, we both felt like we were filming with David Attenborough, and all that I had in my mind was that classic Louis Armstrong’s tune:
I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.
This glow worm tour is definitely one of its kind and among my favourites of all eco tourism experiences I’ve had. I’d truly recommend it for my fellow green soul! The tour costs $30 per head and it’s best to bring along a torch and a spray jacket wearing comfortable walking gear.
Part TWO of my enchanting getaway at O’Reilly’s Lost World Spa including a date with the alpacas to come next week, so be sure to sign up to our weekly enewsletter to get new posts delivered straight to your inbox!
So tell me dear fellow eco traveller, have you visited this magnificent part of the Gold Coast Hinterland? Have you had your own O’Reilly’s experience to share? I’d love to know so do leave your words in the comments below!
Till next time. Stay adventurous.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat while all opinions are genuinely my own.