Wedding Planner

Throw your wedding plans to the side (for 48 hours)

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Can you remember a time when there was no seating plan to discuss; no required guest-lists to talk over with your parents, and no reception themes and wedding colour combos to choose? Yes, while wedding planning is one of the most exciting times of a couple’s life (you’re planning one of your biggest life parties, after all!), it can be an extended period between the first ‘yes’ and the final ‘i-do’. With the average wedding planning duration ranging between 12-18 months, we’re here to tell you that it is ok for you to stretch your legs and leave the plans to burn for a weekend, while the focus is put fair and squarely back on the most important aspect of your marriage: both of you!

Nikki Ernst has discovered a perfect destination – a mere two hours from Brisbane – and itinerary for couples looking to de-stress and reconnect. So, throw your wedding plans to the side (for 48 hours!) and head off to one of Queensland’s unique mountaintop resorts to enjoy some serious ‘couple time’.


O'Reilly's Lamington National Park Road

As we pushed our way through M1 peak hour traffic on a hot summer’s afternoon, we could feel the itch of excitement building in our bodies. Behind us, the city limits of Brisbane began to fade into the distance. Ahead of us, awaiting 1000 metres high in the Gold Coast Hinterland, was a place so special and unique, it has beckoned travellers from all over the world since 1926. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Villas & Lost World Spa is nestled in a verdant landscape of 20,000 sub-tropical hectares of ancient Gondwana rainforest in the Lamington National Park, and this was to be our home-away-from-home for two nights of pure bliss and relaxation.

They say ‘it’s’ about the journey, not the destination. Well, I can assure you that it is about both when you’re heading to O’Reilly’s! Passing through the quaint town of Canungra Valley, you quickly start your ascent up the mountain ridge. It is utterly picturesque with valley’s seemingly folding out before you on both sides, but the road is winding, with many single lanes, so do take care.

O'Reilly's Villa External

O'Reilly's Villa Internal

Stay

After our quick and friendly check in at the main guesthouse, we found our private abode amongst an enclave of 48 luxurious eco villas – each of which offers either a rainforest or valley view. With its fresh and modern décor, comfortable lounge setting, full kitchen and a double bedroom and en-suite, we quickly realised that this was going to be more than sufficient as our home-away-from-home for the weekend.

The interior could wait, though! Throwing our bags down, we promptly made a beeline out to our balcony (with jacuzzi, no less!) to savour the glorious sunset and view stretching out before us and beyond, overlooking a valley of green and gold. A truly mesmerising setting, with the only sounds coming from our two newly founded King Parrot friends – happily chatting away beside us – and the occasional murmur from either one of us as we devoured our complimentary sparkling wine and choc-dipped strawberries. The scene for our happy, stress-less weekend was set!

Sunset from Moonlight Crag

See & Do

Two words. Glow. Worms.

No visit to O’Reilly’s is complete without seeing these little guys in the open air of the rainforest.

Following a quick meet and greet at the main guest house, a short bus drive, and a quick night-time guided stroll, we arrived at the banks of a creek to witness a display of living lights with beauty so stunning it simply has to be seen to be believed! Sitting there staring at a wall of tiny pulsating stars, we were completely mesmerised with the illuminating carpet of twinkling stars before us. We had both seen Glow Worms before in a cave – but to see them in the wild and open forest was phenomenal and a real weekend highlight.

With over 320 km’s of walking tracks that lead to spectacular lookouts, waterfalls and some of Queensland’s most significant wilderness areas, the Lamington National Park provides ample opportunity to get back to nature.

Of course being a National Park, there are loads of other nature-based and wildlife activities on hand to fill your itinerary. Set off on a Segway Safari, take a thrilling glide on the Flying Fox and enjoy the daily Birds of Prey show, just to name a few options.

O'Reilly's Lost World Spa

Relax

The Lost World Spa. Honestly, can you think of a better name for a place from where – after spending near on two hours on a rain-misted Saturday morning – we emerged back into life having lost ourselves to a world of bliss and relaxation? Under the deft hands of our two therapists we experienced the therapeutic benefits of a Vino-therapy body treatment (think grape seed extracts). Followed by a luxurious Couple’s Relaxation Massage, which proceeded to dissolve all traces of tension from our stressed bodies (ok, seeing my better half in a paper g-string certainly helped relieve some stress through laughter too!). The spa menu is extensive, and many of the treatments will leave you in a state of bliss. For those serious about getting the most out of their relaxation time at O’Reilly’s, at least one visit is a must.

O'Reilly's Wine Selection

Eat & Drink

The retreat’s main dining room is the heart of the resort where travellers can indulge in hearty country breakfasts and delicious dinners prepared lovingly by the head chef and his team. While the Mountain Cafe is the place to enjoy lunch, and the Mountain Bar, which opens from 4:00 pm daily is a great option for a light dinner and pre-dinner drinks.

For something truly spectacular, though, you should pre-arrange a sunset outing to Moonlight Crag – a specially built cantilevered deck overlooking the Lost World and western McPherson Ranges, and just a short drive from the retreat.

Standing, with just one other couple and our guide, and a glass of bubbles in hand, we all took the time to stop, stare and savour another magical sunset. It was a complete feeling of detachment from our everyday lives, and we felt seemingly on top of the world. Indeed, this was a perfect prelude to our exclusive Candlelight Degustation dinner which was to follow promptly on our return to the retreat.

As we settled in for a romantic couple’s dinner and proceeded to enjoy a delectable assortment of small meals lovingly prepared by the head chef and his team, the conversation was on high recounting the day’s adventures. Each of the seven small dishes came paired with a matching wine – our favourite being the Roasted Duck leg confit with Herb Risotto and Citrus Glaze – and finished with an indulgence of chocolate desserts.

Sunset from Moonlight Crag

Mission Complete

As far as two-day sojourns go, we could not have asked for a better setting in which to indulge our quest of ‘us time’. The combination of luxury accommodation, breathtaking fresh mountain air, magical sunsets, delicious food, wildlife adventures and spa treatments to boot, plus the feeling of taking part in a piece of Queensland history, worked for us on all fronts. As we left O’Reilly’s on the mountaintop and descended the mountain road back to reality, we reflected on how refreshed and reinvigorated in life and love we felt.


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