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Mists of the Mountains
The Australian Rainforest

By Susan G. Sharp-Anderson

Those visiting Australia will find the country of Lamington National Park and O’Reilly’s Guesthouse an unforgettable experience.  The Rainforest is teeming with wildlife accessible to guests during walks, hikes and 4WD bus tours.

O’Reilly’s Guesthouse is for those who love nature, history and adventure.  Started in 1926, it greeted visitors on horseback with a warm bed and good food.  Bernard O’Reilly, one of the operators of the Guesthouse, was known for his brave rescue of the survivors of the Stinson airliner, which crashed in 1937 near Mr. Throakban.  This crash was immortalized in Bernard’s book, Green Mountains.

Today, the Guesthouse is rustically luxurious, and accommodates different types of travelers.  It is set in the middle of Lamington National Park where there are miles of trails to explore.  The vistas are spectacular, with treks for the stout hearted and the more leisurely hiker alike.

The different accommodation packages, the traditional and the eco-experience, are excellent no matter how one designs his visit.  The Bithongabel rooms boast private bath, vaulted ceiling and private balcony overlooking the McPherson ranges.  For those on a limited budget, the Toolona Rooms are for those choosing the European fashion with communal bathrooms.  With no television or telephones, one rests in simplicity and peace far from the rushes of the world.

The Dining Room serves delicious gourmet cuisine.  The schedule allows for weight gain with teas, meals and late night snacks, including alternative dining at the Bistro.  The atmosphere is distinctively British as Morning and Afternoon Teas include cakes of some sort.

Following a cup of tea or coffee in the Dining Room, there are early morning guided birdwalks, where one looks for Satin and Regent Bowerbirds and hand feeds the King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.  These birds are numerous, large (nearly 24 inches high), and colorful (green/sapphire, black and yellow, orange and green, and crimson and blue, respectively).  The Albert Lyrebird’s range is restricted to within 90km of O’Reilly’s, and a treat to see.  One might also see a pademelon, a marsupial, come for some food spread by Michael O’Reilly, the guide.

For those who like to sleep in, guided walks or four-wheel drive excursions are available. Again, Host Michael shows the bus folks the cabin and hillside meadow where he grew up and farmed, before coming to work with his cousins at the Guesthouse.  At the end of the road, while gazing at incredible vistas to the border of New South Wales and Queensland, Michael, makes the “billy” tea over an open fire, lays out cups and scones, and enlivens the discussions of American movies.  He teaches everyone about the wildlife and plantlife, and to distinguish between the rainforest and the eucalyptus forest, where the division is distinct.  Michael is a gentle soul, who has great love for the birds, animals and surrounding Park.  He is a master host calling the guests by name.

After dinner, evening excursions take the adventurous on a walk to the Glow Worm Grotto, where phosphorescent worms glow along the rocks.  The less energetic guest can take in a slide show, movie or talk in the Audio Visual Room.  Or one can simply relax by the fire in the game room.  

O’Reilly’s Guesthouse, in the Rainforest, surrounded by National Park, is an island of tranquility, where nature, simplicity and serenity reign.

“Let the mists of the mountains dissolve the pressures of a busy lifestyle and open your heart to the warm and friendly mood of O’Reilly’s.”

O’Reilly’s website (http://www.oreillys.com.au)

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Email:  Susan G. Sharp-Anderson

 

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