It all started with a fluff ball named Brandy

Written by Jessica Palmer

It all started with a fluff ball alpaca named Brandy and it was love at first. We had embarked on a family weekend getaway to the Gold Coast hinterlands and met Brandy at Mountview Alpaca Farm, located within the grounds of O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards.

Brandy was led out first, followed by her doting mum, Macca. I knew that baby alpaca (crias) were cute, but Brandy took it to a whole new level. We all fell in love with her huge eyes and luxuriously soft fur.

Not only can you feed and walk the alpacas around the vineyard grounds, but you can also level up the experience by ordering a picnic basket from the homestead. The picnic can be enjoyed anywhere on the grounds but spread out on a BYO blanket right next to Canungra Creek is a great spot!

I made an executive decision to spend time with the alpacas before enjoying our picnic. We were booked in for the “Alpaca Experience” which meant we had just 30 minutes with Brandy and Macca and I definitely did not want to waste any of that time eating.

With a little help from the bags of alpaca food in hand, we instantly bonded with Macca and Brandy. The kids had a great conversation with the quiet alpacas (they’re great listeners) as we strolled towards Canungra Creek together, stopping along the way to munch on grass and melt our hearts with their large brown eyes and friendly nature.

Sadly, the 30-minutes was over in a flash and we reluctantly said goodbye to our new friends and headed over to the homestead to pick up our pre-ordered picnic lunch. Of course, I forgot to pack a picnic rug so we enacted plan B and found an empty table under a tree by the Creek. It was such a carefree experience.

Time ticked on and it was time to leave. We followed the Lamington National Park Road up the mountain to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat where we were to spend the next two nights. The retreat is set amongst the beauty of World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park so the good things just come naturally here.

The O’Reilly family have been welcoming visitors since 1917 and it’s a haven for those seeking to escape crowds in a stunning, natural location. Strolling along the well known Tree Top Walk had been on my bucket list for years and I felt very blessed to be able to share this with the kids, who thankfully, were just as excited as I was.

Staying in a mountain view room, we spent time in the evening before dinner relaxing in our comfortable room. Sometimes playing a game on the bed, sometimes watching a movie on the kids’ tablet, but mostly sitting on the balcony and taking in the spectacular views of the mountains as a procession of birds flittered on and off the balcony railings, including the stunning King Parrots.

There is an amazing array of activities for families at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. The Birds of Prey and Wildlife Encounters shows are great for all ages. Expect to get finger-licked by a squirrel glider, cuddle a snake, and get up close and personal with majestic birds of prey such as Stella the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, Conan the Kestral and Twinkle the Owl.

Visitors can feed the birds, embark on a Segway Safari Tour (over 12 years of age), soar on a flying fox, head out on a glow worm tour or order a picnic hamper and adventure off to one of 500 world-class waterfalls accessible via 160km of nature trails.

Whatever you decide to do while you are there, this is one weekender to add to your bucket list.
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The author visited Mountview Alpaca Farm and Oreilly’s in partnership with Destination Gold Coast.