Within Australia’s largest remnant of subtropical rainforest sits the 200-sq-km Lamington National Park. Known as Woonoongoor to the local Yugambeh people, meaning ‘quiet and timeless’, after spending a weekend exploring some of its winding roads, 360km of walking trails, deep valleys, steep cliffs and waterfalls, the sense of ‘quiet and timelessness’ of Lamington National Park will linger in your memory until you give in to the inevitable begging to return.
Exactly two hours drive south of Brisbane, or an hour directly west of the Gold Coast, sits the overwhelmingly green beauty of Lamington National Park. That such a wonder of nature is so close to two of Queensland’s most populated cities is an absolute gift, so loading a family into the Brand-New Mazda BT-50 (the dual-cab comfort and premium leather interior doesn’t hurt, either) means the dreaded “are we there yet?” questions are virtually non-existent. It’s a smooth drive on the M1 before hitting the excitingly windy roads that lead up to Lamington Plateau, 1100m above sea level. Using the wireless CarPlay® to map the twisty roads ahead, the punchy 3.0-litre diesel makes short work of the hair-raising corners, gliding the 2-tonne ute effortlessly to the top of Lamington National Park Road.
Keep an eye out for wildlife as you make your way up to the epic Kamarun Lookout for a rewarding pit stop, before checking in to the Valley View Villa at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. Take a moment to step out on the expansive deck before being hit with the surround-sound of some 230 bird species that call this place home. The view is immersive, and it’s not long before the desire to set out on-foot to explore the deep green below kicks in.
With over 500 waterfalls at your doorstep, it’s time to get wet. The thunderous (unless you’re visiting in the dry season) Moran’s Falls is an approximately 5 kilometre round trip from the retreat and plummets 80m into the valley below. Above it sits a near perfect picnic spot to stop, rest, and take in your surroundings before continuing on. Following the track over a crystal-clear fresh-water creek to Moran’s Clearing lookout, the sweeping oil-painting views over the valley below reveal Mount Lindsey and Mount Barney in the distance. If you’ve got a camera, now would be the time to pull it out.
For those keen to tick off as many species of wildlife as possible, continue on the track as it rises steeply before reaching a clearing and the start of a boardwalk to the lookout at Moonlight Crag, one of the more popular lookout spots that has been privy to a few private dinners and weddings in its time. It’s little wonder why.
The park is open for walking 24/7, so apart from the fading daylight, there’s no real rush to head back to the retreat. As the rainforest shifts from day to night, so too do the noises of the surrounding wildlife. Experiencing this up-close-and-personal is a goosebump-inducing must before you find your way back to the warm glow of the retreat.
Speaking of glow, O’Reilly’s hosts guided evening tours to a nearby grotto filled with millions of glow worms that create a Milky Way-like effect on the cliffs and walls surrounding you. With no cameras allowed, it’s the kind of be-in-the-moment activity that’ll evoke memories of childhood wonder.
Returning to O’Reilly’s with whetted appetites, you’re faced with the tough choice of dining at The Rainforest Bar for a wood-fired pizza, or settling in for a more traditional meal at The Dining Room – where you may be privy to a siting of a sugar glider or a couple of possums through the window. Wrapping up the evening in the villa’s private spa, the sounds of the nighttime rainforest are in full song.
Relaxing among the treetops is a trend that would be nice to continue throughout the day, and at Lamington National Park, it does. Just 800m from your accommodation is the Tree Top Walk, a 180m long treetop adventure, 15m above the forest floor. In terms of experiencing a rainforest from a different perspective, this is about as close as you’ll get to a ‘bird’s eye view’. The flurry of activity and surrounding flowers and fruits is intoxicating on all of your senses. For those looking for a heightened experience, you’re able to climb an additional 15m from the elevated walkway to an observatory platform, where the views are some of the best that the park has to offer.
As an afternoon mist settles through the rainforest, the BT-50’s LED fog lamps ensure a safe journey down the winding roads of Lamington National Park Road. With blind corners a-plenty, it’s hard to imagine making it out of the park at a reasonable pace without them. The magic of an epic weekend spent in one of Queensland’s most magnificent natural beauties also magically sends the back-seat crew to a gentle sleep.
This article is part of a series, proudly presented in partnership with the Brand-New Mazda BT-50. Thank you for supporting the brands who support Boss Hunting.