Community News - The Rebuild of Binna Burra Lodge
Binna Burra Lodge, Lamington National Park
The seed of conception for Banksia Blue was born from the absolute horror of watching our unique and ancient native forests being destroyed by the Black Summer fires of 2019. Quite literally Australia was on fire and the results of an angry mother nature was beyond devasting for those personally effected and for the rest of us that felt nothing short of a helpless despair.
Just a short drive from our homes on the Gold Coast resides a national treasure in the form of Lamington National Park and the famous Binna Burra Mountain Lodge.
The devastation of the 2019 Bush Fires for Binna Burra was felt by all living on the Gold Coast. It was hard to view let alone comprehend what we had lost that day and what it meant to our precious environment, wildlife and community at large.
A haunting photo of Binna Burra Chair, Board of Directors Steve Noakes in the local paper viewing the devastation of Binna Burra a day after the Black Summer fires of 2019 swept through this magnificent national park reverberated throughout Australia and the world.
“We will turn disaster into opportunity” Steve declared to the press, seemed an almost impossible undertaking yet speaking with Steve via Zoom last week on the progress of the rebuild some very exciting undertakings are well underway.
But a little about Binna Burra first….
One of Australia's longest-established nature-based resorts, Binna Burra Mountain Lodge was founded in 1933 by Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey and others who previously (1930) had formed Australia's first dedicated conservation organisation, the National Parks Association of Queensland.
Positioned 800 metres above sea level amidst the subtropical rainforest of Lamington National Park, Binna Burra Lodge has been welcoming guests since the early 1930’s.
This UNESCO listed world heritage area comprises of Australia’s largest remnant sub-tropical rainforest and the home to ancient Antarctic beech trees on the highest peaks dating back over 2000 years.
Lamington National Park’s earliest human inhabitants were an Aboriginal kinship group, the Yugambeh who lived in this area, carefully managing and using its rich natural resources. Known as ‘Woonoongoora’ to the Yugambeh, the mountains are sacred and spiritual, places to be nurtured and respected.
Boosting an incredible variety of Australian wildlife including the endangered Blue Lamington Crayfish, it’s also home for over 200 species of birds making it the largest collection of Australia’s sub-tropical birds.
Binna Burra Lodge and the Lamington National Park, tranquil natural sanctuary to enjoy nature walks, swimming in mountain pools under waterfalls, camping, bird spotting and a variety of eco-tourism activities that have been enjoyed by all ages for decades. The Lodge holds the enviable status of being the first Australian property to attain the internationally-recognised Green Globe Certification for its best practice environmental performance, and was listed in the top 10 Eco-Lodges and Green Hotels in the World.
From the Ashes …
Appreciating local community Steve Noakes generously accepted out request to connect and chat about Binna Burra to us, sharing his optimistic and eager approach to the rebuild.
Fourteen months after the devasting bush fires the main roads into Binna Burra were reopened in November Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).2020. The reconstruction works of over $30 million were jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments under the Disaster
‘The road is also a symbol of our collective human drive to keep moving and persist, no matter the circumstances of disasters such as a major bushfire season and now what will most likely be a few years of living with and managing the COVID pandemic’ said Noakes. ‘The remarkable engineering, construction and project management skills applied to the rebuilding of the road now makes the road itself an attraction!’
“Binna Burra is Australia’s largest ‘ecotourism collective’, with over 1,300 small investors who support our generation’s turn to be stewards of the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape, inside the world heritage listed Lamington National Park. Founded in 1933
it is a social enterprise with an environmental focus. Since the beginning, no individual shareholder can own more than 2.5% of the shares, Steve shared with us.
Bolstered with the confirmation in June this year of substantial government funding,18million to rebuild the lodge and cabins, “means the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape is emerging from the catastrophe stronger, smarter, and more resilient. The legacy of the founders is underpinned by our contemporary PALs – Partnerships, Alliances, Linkages. And there has been no bigger PAL for Binna Burra than the Government of Queensland and in particular the Hon. Cameron Dick, Treasurer and Minister for Trade and Investment.’
“At Binna Burra, we talk about our post bushfire PALs – Partnerships, Alliances and Linkages. Two of those PALs have been Cameron Dick and Meaghan Scanlon, both members of the Parliament of Queensland.”
‘Senior politicians make decisions every day that impact on our tourism industry – from a range of the policies, laws and regulations that we have to do business within. They can even influence public opinion about a particular destination such as the Lamington National Park. So, especially since the 2019 bushfire devastation we’ve consistently collaborated with and appreciated the support of all sides of politics at the local, state and federal levels’ said Steve Noakes.
This was the underpinning theme from Steve in our conversation, the importance of engaging influential partnerships in continuing the support and awareness of this landmark area.
Our conversation was not without reflection of the past pain and emotion when Steve teared up recapping the devasting job of retrenching 60 employees in the wake of the fires. “Many had lost homes or property themselves in the area, so it was a difficult thing to do.”
And what about nature herself, is she rejuvenating and enticing wildlife to inhabit this area once again?
“The floods from January this year have not been helpful. Fires, floods Covid have all been challenging but both the fauna and flora are rejuvenating. The pademelon (small rainforest dwelling Kangaroo) has yet to reappear as yet but the dingo population, probably because of the lack of human exposure, has increased”.
On a recent trip “up the mountain” Lisa and I were pleased to hear for ourselves an abundance of singing birds amongst the new growth of forest. Walking tracks have been reopened along with the campsite and a new clamping accommodation is underway.
Where from Here.
Binna Burra received some exciting news in 2019 just before the bush fires hit. The State Government had given confidential advice to Binna Burra that it was about to announce the company had been successful in the competitive tendering process (Attracting Tourism Fund) for the new via ferrata adventure experience to open in 2022. As the then Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Ms Scanlon participated in the official announcement event at Parliament House, Brisbane.
“You can think of VIA FERRATA as the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb but on a cliﬀ face. It will be adrenaline pumping, give spectacular views in a dramatic location not normally accessible” Steve explained.
So, from now to 2025 the rebuild for Binna Burra is looking an exceptional place to book a holiday, enjoy a day’s bush walk or simply bask amongst the vast nature at the UNESCO heritage listed national park right we are so privileged to have right on our doorstep.
| Posted on August 18 2022