A brown falcon glides into view before perching on a rock cluster in the foreground at the foot of the Border Mountain Ranges.
Further up where the jungle intensifies, the site of the famous Stinson air crash comes into view.
Peering through a telescope atop the ridge at Lamington National Park is a bewitching sight.
So enriched in history and pioneering spirit is this primeval part of the planet, the scene becomes temporary blurred as one swings the telescope in haste to catch the next subject or landmark.
Fortunately there’s an affable guide with a bush wit and learned sense of topography present.
“Five horses fell off that track down the side of the cliff when the O’Reilly’s started coming up here, luckily nobody was riding them at the time,” says Duncan, resident bush tucker man and guide at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Resort.
Lamington National Park is Australia’s largest area of subtropical rainforest and home to an amazing array of wildlife, especially birds which are famous the across the world.
As the cool, crisp mountain air settles on the ridge, winter sun strikes the valley and lights up the landscape as though Drysdale himself had brushed colour upon it.
We travel a bit further, 800m above sea level and absorb the tranquility surrounding the Kurrajong lookout. A pot of billy tea is hung on a branch and later swung like a windmill on fast forward to actuate the brewing process. A branch from a eucalypt is also thrown in for good measure - and taste.
An open fire crackles away and a damper is cooked as happy hikers tell stories about where they’ve been and where they plan to go next. Some plan to discover an aspect of the 160km of graded walking trails, from short leisurely strolls to half-day walks and challenging full-day walks.
There are waterfalls, spectacular lookouts and enchanting rainforest environments, including ancient Antarctic Beech forests with trees several thousand years old. The view from Moonlight Crag is a stunner and a personal favourite.
Days at O’Reilly’s can be soaked up in a spa bath on your personal deck overlooking the mountains toward Mt Lindsay or spent in an activity frenzy aboard giant swings, flying fox rides and solar-powered segway tours.
Some wish to laze away an afternoon in the library while flicking a few pages on local history.
For this writer, it’s back to a private mountain view villa to prepare for an afternoon in the Lost World Spa, to realign the senses. The spa is a nature haven for those seeking rejuvenation, relaxation and balance.
Named after the rugged wilderness area to the southwest of O’Reilly’s, The Lost World Spa embraces the natural elements of the surrounding environment and breathes a nurtured amongst nature philosophy.
Using all natural Australian Sodashi products, the spa offers mind-melting massages, therapeutic skin care treatments and vinotherapy, which uses the powerful anti-ageing action of grapes from O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards. If having them squashed into the skin does not dazzle, the few reds that you sample later in the restaurant will.
While the accommodation – I recommend a private mountain villa – and activities are abundant, kudos must also go to the chef and adept staff in the restaurant, where the menu caters for all tastes. The international contingent of visitors is testament to the worldly flavours on offer.
O’Reilly’s also caters to corporate retreats with world-class facilities proving popular with groups representing companies from the Big Four, down to boutique operators.
General Manager David Smith and his team thrive on the aphorism of treating guests like family and continue the O’Reilly’s quest to position the retreat as an experience destination with a difference.