We then jumped back in the car and continued the drive south towards Lamington National Park. On the way we stopped at O'reilly's Vineyard which has a large picnic area and FREE wine tasting if you are a guest at O'reilly's Rainforest Retreat (which we were). At the back of the vineyard is a creek full of turtles and eels.
There's a turtle!
Don't ask me what they were laughing about, but yet again they almost wet their pants about something.
After stretching our legs and the vineyard, we jumped back in the car for the tortuous trip up the mountain. I'm not exaggerating that either. If you ask your phone to plot the rout for you, it will literally look like a child scribbled on the screen it is so twisty and turny. To make it even worse, a lot of the road is only wide enough for a single car and practically every corner is a blind corner. It's a good thing we went up on a week day. On the weekend it would have been hell. Interestingly, the O'reilly boys originally wanted to start a dairy farm.... on top of a mountain.... in the middle of a rainforest.... miles from the nearest town.... typical Irish. A few years after starting this crazy endeavour, the government decided to turn all the land around them into a national park. Soon after tourists started visiting and needed somewhere to stay and a warm meal. And so, the O'reilly's guest house was born.
We arrived and checked in to find that there had been a mix up with our booking and we had been upgraded to a 3 bedroom villa! Happy days!
While dad and I took all our luggage down to the villa, Jihyeon's mum fed the birds.
The 3 bedroom villa was really nice. I think it normally goes for around $600 or $700 per night! It had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a garage, a spar, a full sized kitchen/dining/living area and a huge balcony overlooking the rainforest and the valley below.
The birds were super friendly here too.
A storm rolled in around 4pm, so we stayed in and watched the lightning crack over the valley all evening.
The next morning the skies were blue again and no sign of a storm anywhere. We had breakfast on the balcony before heading off to spend the day exploring the rainforest.
Jihyeon's parents admiring the huge trees and their root systems.
First stop was the tree top walk which allows you to walk through the rainforest canopy, giving you and up close look at the orchids and ferns that grow in the tree tops.
The tree top walk recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It's 180 meters long and made up of 9 suspension bridges, most of which are 15 meters above the ground. How much does it cost? Nothing! It's FREE!
There is a limit to how many people can walk on each section of the bridges. I can't remember exactly, but I think it was 6 people at a time.
Part way along the walk is a strangler fig tree with ladders going up it to two observation decks, the highest being 30 meters above the ground.
The view from the top lookout, 30 meters above the ground.
What are you so happy about?
My mother in-law wasn't brave enough to scale the tree.
Back down we go.
Jumpy jumpy jumpy, make the bridge shake!
In amongst regrowth rainforest and large boulders are some botanical gardens planted by Mick O'Reilly, one of the original pioneers.
Once out of the gardens, we headed back to the guest house to do a different walk. The Wishing Tree and Mick's Tower (2.4km). Mick's tower is a steel tower in the middle of the rainforest 18 meters high which you can climb and get a closer look at the rainforest canopy. Again, Jihyeon's mum was too scared to come up.
We kept walking along the track to the wishing tree. Here is a huge old stump covered in moss that the walking track passes through.
And here is a hollow tree along the walking trail. Jihyeon's parents were amazed to see it. They don't have stuff like this in Korea.
Another hollow tree. Slightly less amazing the 2nd time around.
Jump jump jump!
Through the jungle on an almost invisible walking track.
Finally, we reached the wishing tree. Time for another group photo.
Past glow worm gully.
It looks like a wallaby, but it's actually called a Pademelon. Pademelons, wallabies and kangaroos are very alike in body structure, and the names mainly refer to the three different size groups. Originally wallabies were divided into small and large wallabies, but a more suitable name was needed to differentiate between them.
Pademelon meat used to be eaten by settlers and aborigines, but aside from being killed for their meat and soft fur, their numbers have drastically reduced since the introduction of predators such as feral cats, dogs and foxes.
A storm started rolling in, so we picked up the pace and managed to get back just as the rain started. While we sat and waited for the rain to clear, we had a visitor.
We had brought some steak and vegetables with us. We picked up some instant pasta at the very small supermarket in the corner of the souvenir shop and cooked up a storm.
We were up early the next morning and back on the road soon after breakfast. The plan was to go to the natural bridge in Springbrook National Park. As the crow flies, it's only a few kilometers, but because of the mountainous terrain and the twisty turny road, it would take us about an hour to get there.
We headed back down the mountain along the narrow road...
with blind corners every few hundred meters.
We stopped at a small park in town to stretch our legs
before driving back out to the natural bridge. Just near the natural bridge is a large picnic ground where we stopped for lunch.
Had the place just about to ourselves. There were a couple of electric BBQ's there too. We'll have to come back one night to see the glow worms and have a BBQ dinner in the park.
By the park is a creek and a large swimming hole.
filled with turtles (and possibly eels too, though I didn't see any).
I convinced Hyung Suk to hug one of the huge eucalyptus trees that shade the park.
With full stomachs, we traveled another few hundred meters up the road to the Natural Bridge. The natural bridge is a very popular attraction, so the walking track is well paved. it's only a short walk from the car park to the natural arch. Just our luck, another storm started rolling in. Quick! Take some photos and keep walking.
This is at the top of the natural bridge. The water has over time washed a hole in the rock...
and created a cave underneath...
which the water falls into.
The plan was originally to stay late into the evening to see the glow worms which inhabit the cave and the forest round the cave, but due to the weather and having to go to the airport early the next morning, we called it a day and headed home. The next morning we were up bright and early to drop Woon Young and Hyung Suk back off at the Brisbane International Airport. It was a whirlwind couple of weeks, but I think they had a good time and now feel more comfortable about their daughter living in Australia. I just hope I didn't set the bar too high for next time.