My Binna Burra Family Story – By Lesley Holt

Written by Binna Burra


June 5, 2023


My father, Gordon Holt, bought shares from Arthur Groom on 15 March, 1933, the story being he bought them in Queen Street and that Arthur Groom used to walk down from the Lamington area to Brisbane at times.

Family folklore has that he knew Arthur Groom and was friendly. I only heard that dad had climed Mt. Flinders not from the easy side and had also climbed Mt. Barney. Mum told me dad would drive and they would picnic in the middle of nowhere with nappies tied steaming while the radiator cooled. I do not know much about dad as he died 6 days after my third birthday.

Independently, my mother, Dorothy Gamble, long before her marriage to Gordon Holt, attended camp/s at Binna Burra (photos with names attached of one query in the war years) in the 1930’s era and also during the war years. (Photos in appendix) The 3 Gamble siblings are shown – and Mum married dad in 1945 so the picture is well before then. As money was a real issue in our family given dad’s death after a protracted illness on 8 November, 1953, it was only when my sister and I went halves when we both worked, we gave her a weekend (all she would accept) at Binna Burra in the 1970’s. Of the earlier camp/s, she spoke of the blister parade held by Arthur after tea around the campfire – if I remember correctly, he pricked them and laced with metho.

I was pleased to see Mum bought 10 shares in the 1969 issue when my sister was in the UK and I was working. She so loved Binna Burra. It broke her heart when Centrelink demanded she get rid of the shares or face a pension cut based on the assumed dividend as her savings were not great. She divided them between my sister and myself, my sister going with the Carnarvon division and myself staying with Binna Burra.

My first real contact with Binna Burra outside of Mum eagerly awaiting each Annual Report, was 1967 when I spent a fortnight trekking the many tracks up there, earning the moniker, Roadrunner. I managed to acquire 140 leech bites many of which became infected. I loved the knapsacks with billy, matches, fruitcake and trailmix, and great meat and salad sandwiches, and I rapidly acquired a taste for billy tea. I guess you could say I was hooked. Each time I went on a walk I bought any black and white photographs of parts of the area covered, which are still in my possession. (Photos in Appendix). I first went up by bus which stopped at the Canungra Arms Hotel for the morning tea, and then those for O’Reillys were left there to be picked up, while I went alone in the bus to Binna Burra. I have a brochure which depicts a bus which seems to look somewhat like the bus I took. I liked the rope through the plank which fitted into a wood slot which served as the door opener.

That first night saw a meal of chicken a la basket, eaten by candlelight and we filled in breakfast cards. I also enjoyed early morning tea for the wake-up early people, and occasionally the later morning tea which hadhot scones – yum. Walks in that fortnight were to the Upper Ballanjui and we saw snakes and blue crayfish walking the tracks; Coomera Circuit; Lower Ballanjui when one of the group showed me an eel which latched onto his finger; the pool; the Caves track to the white and cooking (Kwebana) caves; a separate walk to the swimming pool – only 4 miles return and I noted that it was 216 steps each way; Daves Creek and Surprise Rock (the surprise being the men handed you down the tree to resume the walk and then showed you the track which avoided the tree) and where we had lunch at one lookout there were caves below we explored; Wagawn and a blazed track to the Bushranger’s Cave; Night walks with photographers; Split Rock – another blazed track; Binna Burra-O’Reillys (being by myself and the men toting the backpacks in their couples I did it without lunch as they forgot to tell me where we were having lunch – at Merino Lookout – a lesson learned, I carried a backpack after that as I was famished by the time I got to O’Reillys for the bus back with Tony – I got there ahead of the others so bought food); Shipstern via Hidden Valley and saw the aboriginal cave; Illinbah via the swimming pool track, Old Cedar Road, and then criss-crossing the Coomera River 12 times and then, on the return visited the ranger’s hut, got extra water and came up the old horse track which ended in bar-b-que glade; Bellbird Lookout and Tullawall and the Cathedral tree; Natural Arch at night to see the glow worms; Since then I have been up a number of times, sometimes weekends, midweeks, and for special events, e.g. the Murder Mystery weekend (photos of materials appended), and have been on other walks such as to Orchid Bower and Mt. Hobwee, etc. Sometimes, it has been at the lodge staying in the cabins and once at least in the cabin with teamaking facilities which I think were built/renovated to be slightly upmarket cabins after my first visit, once I put up my own tent, twice got a safari tent, and twice in a skylodge. I also remember playing table tennis (ping pong) and when the roof of the games room leaked on the table and the ball hit the spot, someone would make the comment that we had disturbed the possum again. We also played a lot of board games, and had a library to borrow from.

From my first encounter – the old dining room, the yes-pleases for desserts, the raiding of the kitchen after night walks including one memorable car trip down to the Natural Arch to see the wonder of glowworms, sharing our spoils with the possum who stayed companionably waiting near the kitchen for handouts, and of course the bell for meals and some memories of Old Bill in 1967.While I liked the group hikes, as I have got older, I have loved being in the rainforest by myself enjoying the wildlife and how light plays on the forest. I also have vivid memories of a lunch spent adjacent to a sunny spot where a red bellied black snake was asleep. I quietly had lunch and read keeping very still until he had had enough sun and moved. I remember we used a goat track which I have since learned was used by those scrambling up from where the road stopped/flying fox operated for luggage, if they didn’t want to go up what S. Lahey called the graded “sheep” track. And, after a days trek, there was often a group saying, let’s go down to the swimming pool. I attended the opening of the new dining facilities, the opening of the sky lodges and some of the annual meetings, some of which were held in Mt Coot-tha auditorium if I remember correctly, some quite passionate from the floor.

I know I contemplated the special weeks, but am unsure if I went to any, though I seem to recall a photography weekend, but as I listened to the history of the John Oxley District Orchid Society recently, I learned that that society, of which I am a member contributed to the Green Fingers weeks.

I also went on a camping/walking trip to Fraser Island in 1984 with the Lamington Natural History Association and Murray Browning. I recall both Tony and Don as Managers and Tony showing some slides of Antartica where he had a year as a weather observer on Wilkes Station, and I recall Richard being involved with water issues, having a memory of him on the roof near the shower block


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