I was so excited I hardly slept the night before. Twenty years ago O’Reilly’s was the highlight of my Australian tour, and I was getting to go there again, this time with Lizzie. Lizzie had last been there in the 1960s so she was looking forward to our adventure. I knew I was going to see a lot more of Lamington National Park with a local as my guide.
I carefully drove out from Long Timber at 6:30 am. I was on the “correct side” of the road, but with only one lane, it didn’t help as a huge school bus came across the creek head on towards me. Luckily there was a ditch with grass and not a tree as I scurried over to the left shoulder. He passed without a hit. I manage the right turns up the mountain to Lizzie’s place, but my GPS decided to go crazy just as I neared the last turn. I remembered the way and then encountered another bus at the school bus turn around. Luckily that one was stopped.
At Lizzie’s we switched cars, as it was a three and a half hour drive past Brisbane to get to O’Reilly’s. Lizzie drove and I encouraged her as we slowly proceeded through the Brisbane traffic. To me, the road up the mountain to O’Reilly’s was more challenging than the city traffic. Although it was paved and improved from the horse track it had once been, much of it was one lane up against a cliff with a drop off on the other side. Hitting a car or bus going in the opposite direction was a real possibility.
Occasionally the road widened into what they claimed was two lanes then around the corner it was back to one lane.
Finally the road widened a bit and the sign read guests only. We’d made our reservations so we proceeded onwards parking right next to some beautiful butterflies that were feasting on large blooms next to the door.
The very friendly receptionist gave us our keys and instructions on how to drive to our parking spot. When we drove around to park we were happily surprised to see the same person there to show us the way to our room.
Lizzie’s husband had reserved a room for us with a view. Wow what a view.
“Should we have lunch first or just hit the trail?” Asked Lizzie
“Definitely lunch,” I replied ready for a nap or just time to stare at the view from an unmoving seat.
I quickly changed from sandals into my new balance shoes and we hurried to the cafe. It was already 11:30 and we had hiking to do.
At the cafe I while I was at the restroom a Crimson Rosella came and grabbed one of my chips (French fries) even though Lizzie had tried to protect them. We discussed the situation parrot and I. I had to agree it was too much starch for me, but I said, “It’s probably not good for you either.” He was so polite I didn’t mind sharing. Holding one chip he sat behind me taking delicate little bites.
After lunch, I grabbed my water and we hurried out on our first hike the Tree Top walk, built-in 1986 this was one of the first such walks. I wanted to bounce along, but Lizzie said, “I get motion sick, so please shuffle.” Not wanting an upchuck I obliged, we inched our way towards a giant fig tree getting a birds-eye view of the vines, orchids and tree ferns that thrived in the sunshine above the forest floor. A ladder extended way up into the sky.
An avid tree climber in my youth I decided to give it a go. The ascent with a cage keeping me from falling off was a snap, but that was only halfway up. The wind took over, I swayed with the treetops. I only managed a short video before I quickly descended back to the suspended walkway.
I felt exercised we’d been on a hike, not just a ride. Maybe we should call it a day, I thought, thinking of our beautful room. but Lizzie had other ideas.
“Let’s go to see the wishing tree. It’s a short walk behind our room.”
“That sounds interesting.” I answered. Lizzie did not know the Minnesota definition of interesting which is a long way short of exciting. But I was game as we did come to go hiking, besides she said it was a short walk. It was 2.4km or a mile and a half, but I hadn’t read the sign.
Although the trail seemed to go on forever, I trudged onward following Lizzie often falling behind as I stopped to take multiple pictures. It was cool and beautful twisting through gigantic trees and beautful tree ferns. The trail ended at the largest tree I’d ever seen. I’d love to set up residence inside the wishing tree and gaze out its many windows looking out into the rainforest. Just being instead of seeing.
The day was waining and there was lots more to see, so we left my new abode and started back on the trail. Micks Tower was just 1.2 km off the trail back so we stopped by there too. LIzzie climbed partway up, I thought it was too much work and it wasn’t a tree so I stayed on the ground and took a picture.
We finally got back and went to the dinning room for a marvelous meal. I was disappointed that they no longer had the group seating that I’d enjoyed twenty years ago. However the food, and the atmosphere were wonderful. If we got there early we could get a seat next to windows that often had tropical birds eating on the other side.
Returning to our room, we planned a hike for the next day. I was pleasantly surprized at how wonderful I felt from the days hiking. As we watched the sunset we planned a 10.6 km hike. The Brochure described the hike:” It is a most rewarding circuit walk. The track winds down through stands of Brush Box and Picabean Palms to the lush sub-tropical rainforest along Cunungra Creek. Pepper Vines cling to the trees that often support spectacular tree gardens.” Tune in to O’Reilly’s Day 2 for this adventure.