The Bourne family memories of Binna Burra

Written by Binna Burra

July 8, 2021

Binna Burra is a place special to many generations of families. This is one of them.

The Bourne Family (information supplied from family records)

John Bourne first visited Binna Burra in 1944 at age 21. His next visit was in September 1948. In July 1950 John first met his future wife, Joan Murray and her sister Irene (Tim) at Binna Burra, and next day they set off on a two-day trip to Rat-a-tat. John and Joan went on to have five children and they were all introduced to Binna Burra at an early age. At age 72 John walked from Binna Burra to O’Reilly’s and back in 12 hours. Over the years there have been many visits by members of the family to Binna Burra. Most memorable was the celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of John and Joan in January 2001, when all the children, their spouses and children stayed for two or three days – 22 persons in all, occupying six cabins!

In 2018, Joan Bourne attended the 85th-anniversary lunch at the Binna Burra dining room, which was lost in the bushfires on 8 September 2019.

John passed away in Stanthorpe in September 2015. Joan passed away in Stanthorpe in June 2021; not long after she purchased 15,000 new shares to support the bushfire recovery of Binna Burra Lodge.

“Even at 100 years of age, Joan wanted to help Binna Burra and purchased an additional 15,000 in shares and $1 each,” said Steve Noakes, Chairperson of Binna Burra Lodge. “That just tells the story about how Binna Burra resonates with people and it really sends me a message about our responsibility as custodians to bring it back and make the business survive.” 

1. Binna Burra’s Blitz truck in front of the Lodge – September 1948
2. Jane, Jenny, Elizabeth, Roger (in stroller), Joan, Richard, Tim Murray at Surprise Rock – January 1961
3. Outdoor adventures with the kids on Flat Rock (Yangahla Lookout) – August 1958
4. Binna Burra bus and the blitz at the Dump – 17th September 1948 (near where the current Visitor Information Centre is located)

Extracts from John Bourne’s autobiography - click to open

(1944 – 1988)

In the August vacation a few of us went to Binna Burra for five days; my first visit. At that time the bus only took us as far as the ‘Dump’ below Binna Burra, and we walked up from there. Our luggage went up in the flying fox. On the second day we went to O’Reilly’s and back, with a detour down the Coomera track on the return, so that we covered 33 miles in eleven hours.

In September I went to Binna Burra for two weeks. There was a very active group of young people, and we were out every day doing interesting trips. We had two trips down the `Mystery Track` into the Coomera Gorge. We did a three-day trip to Rat-a-Tat led by Arthur Groom. The group included his three sons, Don, Tony, and Richard. On another day a group of us went to Egg Rock. We chose the wrong route and Stewart Patterson and I had a very `hairy’ climb to the top.

In July I went to Binna Burra for a couple of weeks holiday, travelling up with Larry Loveday. At dinner one evening the two girls across the table were proposing to go to Rat-a-Tat and back in a day. I suggested that it was too far – better to make it a two-day trip; I had been there with Arthur Groom and knew the way. So it was agreed and Larry and I and the girls set off next morning. We learnt then that their names were Joan and Tim Murray. The trip went well, and I walked with the girls for the rest of the week – even talked them into staying a couple of extra days.

In January Jane (8), Elizabeth (7) and I had a week at Binna Burra. We did a lot of walking, the girls doing at least 55 miles in the week. In September we had an interesting day trip to Binna Burra. It was raining but we went anyway. Roger was 11 months old and went in the stroller, towed in turn by the other children while I steered. We went to Surprise Rock, carrying the stroller to the top with Roger still in it, enveloped in a plastic raincoat. A memorable day.

On Friday 22nd May Jane, Elizabeth and I went to Binna Burra in the evening, hoping to find a guest who would join us on a two-day trip to Rat-a-Tat. There were no takers. We slept in the car near the entrance to the Park. We set off from there early, and reached Wanungra at 11.45am. We took the shortcut down the spur from Bithongabel, and at the bottom realised that we had lost one of the ‘tiffin billies’ that the girls were carrying. I went back some distance to look for it but was unsuccessful, so we carried on to Rat-a-Tat by 4.30pm. None of us was very hungry, which was fortunate, as much of our food was in the missing tiffin billy. So we had soup and went to bed early. Next day we were up early and set off on the return trip at 6.15am. The girls were in good spirits, and it was a fine day. We were back up the main track to Bithongabel by 10.30am. I found the missing billy at the start of the short cut, so we had a good lunch there. We got back to the car by 4.45pm. My diary records that the girls were wonderful. Jane was 12, and Elizabeth 10.

During the year we were very active with day trips to Coochiemudlo Island, Binna Burra, Fort Buchanan, Running Creek, etc. On one of these Roger, aged 4 1/2, walked more than 6 miles. In August we were at Binna Burra for a week. One day Jane (13), Richard (9), Alison Bruce (13) and I walked to O’Reilly’s and back in 12 hours.

During the year there were many activities involving most of the family – days at Greenbank, sailing at Coochiemudlo and Redcliffe, trips to Binna Burra and O’Reilly’s, and for me occasional sails on Laurabada. On one of the trips, Roger aged 5 ½, walked 11 miles.

We all went to Binna Burra for a week and went somewhere every day. Richard, Roger and I climbed the ‘Cathedral Tree’, a hollow strangler fig, which has subsequently died, fallen, and rotted away. We all did a walk to Ships Stern, climbed down over the end to Turtle Rock and down for a barbecue at Natural Arch. One day I took a party of 15 via the ‘Mystery Track’ to Lower Coomera, and the base of the falls. In the evening there was a fancy dress ball. We entered as a caterpillar, with six children bending down, head to tail, under an old tarp that I had in the car. The head had two colourful eyes, – the stuffed top of Jane’s bikini swimming togs, and antenna made from a piece of hoop iron that we found near a gum tree. I led the creature in with a piece of old rope. We were well received and won a prize. Roger went as a climber, which was rather prophetic. We had a couple of swims in the Bell Bird Creek pool, which no longer exists.

In August I took Richard and Tim Way to camp at Christmas Creek for a night, and then to Binna Burra to camp. Next day we joined a group of inexperienced young people led by Donn Groom to the Coomera Crevice. We descended into the crevice, and then to the base of the falls. There were 23 in
the party and it took four hours to get everyone down. After Donn, I was the most experienced – I had abseiled once before!! So Donn went down first, and I was responsible for sending the others down. We had no harnesses or karabiners, but I suppose we used a safety rope, except for me who went down last. The abseil rope was used in the old ‘classic’ way, led between the legs and up over one shoulder. We got to the Lodge by 6pm, and home by 8pm, and then I went to a Sailing Committee meeting! (What you can do when you are young !!)

On 5th November we were at Binna Burra for the run to O’Reilly’s. Joan and Roger walked to O’Reilly’s in 4 hours and 10 minutes. Richard ran it in 1 hour 30 minutes and won the race.

On 16th December we had a trip to Lamington – Jenny and seven friends. We walked from Binna Burra, and down the ‘Mystery Track’ (now closed), to the Coomera River. Rock hopped down the river to the swimming hole and back up the track to the ‘Dump’.

October – One day we drove to O’Reilly’s and Roger and I ran to Binna Burra, in 1 hour 45 minutes and 2 hours 15 minutes respectively.

10 Sept – This was the weekend of one of the Lamington runs on the cross-country calendar. We drove to Binna Burra. Joan walked to O’Reilly’s, taking 5 hours. I set off at 1.30 pm and ran across in 2 hours 16 minutes. The boys started in the race at 2 pm. Richard was 3rd in 1 hour 26 minutes 6 seconds and Roger 12th in 1 hour 47 minutes 24 seconds. The boys camped and Joan and I had a room in the resort. On Sunday Joan and I walked to Binna Burra in 5 hours. The boys ran in the race back, Richard winning in 1 hour 22 minutes 51 seconds.

In September we went to Binna Burra for the annual Lamington Run. Joan walked to O’Reilly’s in under 5 hours, I ran it in 2 hours 9 minutes, and Richard won the race in 1 hour 26 minutes 41.9 seconds. Roger’s time was 1 hour 38 minutes 9.7 seconds. We walked back next day.

Joan and I drove to Binna Burra on 18th October and walked to O’Reilly’s, staying the night there and walking back the next day.

I went to the Running High week at Binna Burra. There were about 20 in the group, and we took part in many activities during the week. On the Saturday of the final weekend, we all started in the Lamington in a Day run at 6am. The route was the Caves Circuit, Illinbah Circuit, across to Ships Stern via the Lower Bellbird Track, Daves Creek Circuit, then out to Wagawn and Hobwee, and then return via the Coomera Track. It was about 70 km. Only about seven completed the course. I managed to do it, finishing in 10 hours 47 minutes. I was met about 2 km out by three of the group, who escorted me to the finish at the Lodge. As we ran up the last bit they were playing ‘Chariots of Fire’. I got a great reception and was very excited about having done it.

In November I went to the Shareholders Week at Binna Burra. I missed several of the planned activities as I did the fieldwork for a map of the area.

In March I went to the Running High week at Binna Burra.

In March I went to Running High at Binna Burra and enjoyed another good week. I started in the Lamington in a Day run but withdrew at midday, after doing about 40 km.

In the 1950s Joan and her sister Tim once walked from Binna Burra to O’Reilly’s return in a day, adding in Dave’s Creek circuit for good measure.

In August 1996, Richard attended a Running High week with John, organised by Barry Davies at Binna Burra and with guest presenter Arthur Lydiard, a famous New Zealand running coach. The week included a run to O’Reilly’s, followed by a bike ride from O’Reilly’s to Canungra. On a subsequent occasion Jenny also attended a Running High week with John. Jenny recalls “Dad did the 90 metre abseil to celebrate his 75th? birthday. Arthur Lydiard was there again and I was invited on the basis of giving a talk about orienteering; it was after I had won a World Masters orienteering event. I really didn’t want to abseil 90 metres, but thought that if Dad can do it, I should. Being Dad, he offered to be the person who stopped part way down and changed people from one rope to another, so I had to sit on the small ledge with him as people came and went. Barry Davies was the guide, I think. Having done the abseil down from Bellbird Lookout, we then had to hurry back (on foot) to Binna so we could do a beep test!”

In the 1970s, Liz (Elizabeth) recalls “I abseiled down beside the Coomera Falls, but I think it might have been during my “schoolies week” with friend, Ruth. We met up with a couple of Churchie boys that week and one of them, Tim Atherton(?), many years later became a Binna board member”.

Historical Recollection of time spent at Binna Burra

Binna Burra Pump House

In 1993 there was a request for volunteers to restore, or partially restore, the pump engines that were in the pump house. John Bourne worked on the engines, taking two of them to his home at The Summit, near Stanthorpe, to work on them. At the time the pump house was badly overgrown with vines and branches on the roof, and the weight of these was damaging the roof. John spent some time removing these, to avoid further damage to the roof.

The pump house was constructed so that a watercourse flowed through the southern end of the house, and the water was collected in a pump well in the end of the house.
This was the water supply to the Lodge until 1969.
The pumps would have been located adjacent to the well and were belt-driven by engines located in the northern half of the building. Apparently there was trouble with the engines, as there are the remains of four in the building:-
Two similar ones (possible Ruston make)
One large, Ruston Hornsby
One Southern Cross Farm Pump Engine

One of the former and the latter were taken to The Summit, restored as much as possible, painted, and returned to the pump house.

The Southern Cross engine was manufactured at the Toowoomba Foundry. It was made for use at a farm bore, the engine being clamped to the bore casing. On each side of the engine is a short stub shaft – on the ring casting on one side and on a crank arm on the other side. These drove two vertical links which connected to the pump rod about 1.5 metres above the engine. The flywheel has a short-hinged handle which was used for starting the engine. A perspex plate has been fitted to the side of the engine so that the crankshaft may be seen as the engine is turned.

The large Ruston Hornsby engine had been removed from its plinth and was lying on the ground. It was replaced on its plinth and cleaned up and painted in situ.

More Key Images From Bourne Family at Binna Burra

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