New Lodge and Accommodation

Information regarding the proposed new Lodge and accommodation at Mt Roberts on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape, based on shareholder/stakeholder feedback to date. Further feedback is welcomed.

Q & A – aboout the new Lodge and accommodation at Mt Roberts

1. Why build a new lodge and accommodation at Mt Roberts?

Following the 2019 bushfires and at the AGMs in 2019, 2020 and 2021, shareholders overwhelmingly indicated to the Board of Directors that a new lodge and accommodation should be rebuilt at Mt Roberts on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape. As with the original lodge and accommodation, the purpose is to provide a venue for easy access to the adjacent Woonoongoora (Lamington National Park) for healthy relaxation and nature appreciation in all its forms.

For more than two years, different options were considered on how to raise the necessary capital (initially estimated at about $20 million) for such a rebuild. On 21 June 2022, the 51st Treasurer of the Queensland announced in the State budget a grant of $18 million to Binna Burra to rebuild a lodge and accommodation. The initial concepts for about $20 million will be scaled back to fit the $18 million grant. Terms and conditions will apply and these are still being negotiated in a final agreement between Binna Burra and the State Government.

2. Where can I see the proposed design of the new lodge and accommodation?

You can see the proposed design by clicking the ‘draft plans’ button on this page, or by scrolling below and viewing the ‘fly-through’ video presentations.

3. What shareholder consultation has been undertaken and what will be undertaken?

Potential new lodge and accommodation designs have been part of the Binna Burra Masterplan document that has been ongoing since immediately after the devastating 2019 bushfires. The new Masterplan has been guided by a review of the 2008 Masterplan, significant shareholder and stakeholder feedback and input to future plans for Binna Burra post the 2019 bushfires. A background summary report that was tabled at the November 2020 AGM and shareholder consultations followed the AGMs in 2020 and 2021.

Draft editions including an initial new lodge concept have been available on the Binna Burra website since 2020 which invited shareholder comments and publicised range of other stakeholder and individual shareholder consultations up to mid 2022. Shareholder communications were emailed/mailed in February 2022, July 2022, September 2021 and May 2021 and in 2020 a total of four ‘zoom’ online shareholder consultations were undertaken. Community consultation on the Draft Master Plan for Binna Burra was undertaken at the Beechmont Community Centre (the old school site at the round-about) on Saturday 31 July 2021 when local community members were welcome to attend and share their views on the future of Binna Burra.

This followed an intensive six months of fortnightly meetings of some 24 Binna Burra representatives who participated in the Binna Burra Recovery Council process after the bushfires. All these processes formed the basis of the final Masterplan approved by the Board of Directors of Binna Burra on 24 July 2022.

4. Is $18 million enough to build the new lodge and accommodation?

Initial lodge and accommodation designs, based on shareholder and stakeholder feedback to date, had to be prepared as part of some major funding opportunities Binna Burra has pursued since the bushfires. For the current concepts, $18 million is less than the Quantity Surveyor’s figure of $20.5 million, however the $18 million announced by the Treasurer is $18 million more than Binna Burra had before the June announcement! The Binna Burra Board has decided not to enter into additional debt to raise the extra $2.5 million, but rather scale the Lodge design or number of cabins to fit within the $18 million. The State Government funds do not include furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) which is estimated to cost between $600,000 and $1 million. One option the Board will consider is another ‘Offer Information Statement’ (OIS) to raise the necessary FF&E funds in 2023 and 2024.

5. Why should a private enterprise company like Binna Burra Lodge Ltd get taxpayers money to rebuild their lodge?

For many years there have been numerous Commonwealth and State programs where the private sector can submit for funding support on a variety of projects. Examples of current grant programs for the Queensland tourism industry can be found here.  The Queensland Tourism Industry Council hosts a site which assist private sector business research such grants. In the past, Binna Burra Lodge Ltd has been successful with government funding to support heritage works and designing/building innovative new tourism products. 

Since the Black Summer bushfires, the Commonwealth Government has had disaster recovery programs to support private sector enterprises rebuild. 

6. How big will the new lodge and accommodation be?

The size is designed to fit within the current development approvals and is of similar scale in terms of ‘Gross Floor Area’ (GFA)* to the ‘foot-print’ of the lodge and accommodation lost in the fires. Parts of the former lodge (basement admin, kitchen, reading room) were three stories high, and it is anticipated any new structures will be three stories or less in height. At this stage there will be 36 rooms adjacent to the new lodge.

*Gross Floor Area, for a building, means the total floor area of all storeys of the building, measured from the outside of the external walls and the centre of any common walls of the building, other than areas used for— (a) building services, plant or equipment; or (b) access between levels; or (c) a ground floor public lobby; or (d) a mall; or (e) parking, loading or manoeuvring vehicles; or (f) unenclosed private balconies, whether roofed or not. 9Scenic Rim Regional Council).

7. Will the new building be timber like the old lodge and some of the cabins?

No. Whilst some shareholders would like to rebuild what was there before, because that is what they know and loved, current building regulations will not allow Binna Burra to replicate what was lost. For example, current fire rating requirements will not allow the rebuilding of slab cabins. There are requirements on the distance any building must be from the nearest large trees – and the four current large trees near Coomera Lookout will remain. For wheelchair accessibility lifts are a requirement of current building standards.

The neighbouring Sky Lodges, built in 2011 to modern standards and regulations are made of core filled concrete, covered in stone, tin and timber. For a range of reasons the Sky Lodges largely survived the bushfire and are now used by the Insurance Council of Australia as a role model of how to build in a bushfire prone area. The current proposal for the new lodge and accommodation is to use similar materials and construction techniques to the Sky Lodges. That does not mean they will look identical, but the project team will be asked to come up with creative solutions to ensure that taking into account the fire regulations, there will be a warm and attractive lodge to stay in which suits the Mt. Roberts location.

8. What will be the size and configuration of the new accommodation rooms?

The attached plans show the current proposed room designs. In summary, there are 4 room types – 8 accessible rooms on the upper level (same level as carpark), 4 larger family rooms and 12 smaller King Rooms on the middle level and 12 larger King Rooms on the lower level. All rooms will have a deck and all will be dual keyed. As well as the larger family rooms, any two dual keyed rooms can be used as a 2 bedroom accommodation with the one entrance door.

The current design of almost underground looking cabins is a positive response and design inspired by ‘cubic architecture’ for building in a bushfire prone area. One positive outcome of this design is that part of the roof-top level cabins will be fully covered in grass. This will more than double the size of the open grassed area on the top of Mt Roberts. Every effort is being made to have each room airy and light regardless of its number and style of beds. As in the past, forest-fringed views will be east out over Nixon’s Creek valley towards Ships stern and beyond, as well eight new rooms that will have northern views.  

9. Will the accommodation rooms have ensuites or separate bathroom facilities? What about spa baths?

Each room will have its own ensuite toilet and shower facilities. There will not be spa baths in the new rooms to encourage water saving behaviour and differentiation from the value proposition of the Sky Lodges. 

10. Will there be TVs in the rooms?

Based on the success of hiding TV’s behind a closed panelled doors in the Sky Lodges, a similar concept is proposed for the new accommodation rooms. The TV will also provide the opportunity for welcome messages and well as information about Binna Burra and Woonoongoora (Lamington National Park). 

11. Why are ‘lifts’ planned for the new building?

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, building certifiers and people involved in designing, constructing and managing a building must comply with standards to provide building access to people with disability. Binna Burra has a responsibility under law to ensure that people with disability have dignified, equitable, costeffective and reasonably achievable access to buildings, and facilities and services within buildings. Additionally, the idea of including lifts’ come from very clear shareholder and stakeholder feedback that the new design must be accessible to wheelchairs and people with a disability. A regular previous complaint from guests was related to Binna Burra‘s lack of access to people with a disability.

12. Is there a dining room planned in the new lodge?

Yes. There was a strong view from feedback to have a toplevel dining room with 270 degree views. Current building regulations will require lifts to such a dining room.  

13. Will there be a reading room/library in the new lodge?

The new Lodge won’t have a separate reading room. Instead, the lounge on the ground floor’s North-East end will have bookshelves along the Southern wall, making it a shared space for reading. Currently, there’s a library on the second floor of Grooms Cottage, and it’s likely to stay the same when the new lodge opens in 2025.

14. Will guests be able to access rooms and the lodge under shelter?

Yes, every accommodation room, the lodge and the basement carpark will have sheltered access.

15. Will there be a fireplace?

Yes. There will be a double sided (indoor/outdoor) fireplace facing the lounge on the ground floor level and as well as a fireplace on the firstfloor level facing the dining room, and a small fireplace proposed in the reading room. 

16. Will the new lodge have WiFi?

Yes. Wi-Fi will be available to guests.

17. Will there be a chance to become a ‘Chair-Holder’ again?

Yes. Before the bushfire, many people had sponsored a chair in the dining room which included the family name on the rear side. While those chairs came with a lot of ‘affection’, from a day-to-day operations viewpoint they were heavy and not suitable to stack when furniture movements needed to be made for events or re-organising the seating arrangements. It’s still a couple of years away, but yes, Binna Burra will come up with a suitable chair design where ‘Chair-Holders’ can again support the company in this way and make a lasting connection to place.

18. Will there be a ‘pool’?

No. There has been considerable discussion on this matter. Having a large body of water nearby could help with the fire approvals and accessing water, if ever needed again for bushfires or other fires.  There have always been mixed views on the topic  of whether Binna Burra should have a swimming pool for guests. Some shareholder feedback to date has supported including a pool which is appropriate to the overall design and landscape.  Nevertheless, considering the cost of construction, the potential for noise by pool users, and the ongoing maintenance costs, the Board has made the decision not to include a swimming pool. Another option was to have some form of infinity rock pool for primarily ‘ornamental’ and fire mitigation purposes rather than for swimming purposes.  

However, given there are other fire mitigation measures which can be undertaken (e.g. enhanced sprinkler systems) the Board has resolved not to proceed with a large rock pool but will revive ‘Win’s Garden’ with native plantings and a rock garden that includes a small pond for birds and other small wildlife (‘Win’s Garden’ was a feature of the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape included on the Queensland Heritage Register). 

19. How many carparks will there be?

There will be a total of 17 undercover parking spaces available under the East terrace, along with an additional 8 undercover spaces under the family rooms. On the East side of the access road to the lower-level accommodation, there will be 11 parking spaces that are not covered. Additionally, there will be open parking spaces along the access road to the lodge.

20. What about Office/Admin staff space

Both the 2008 and current 2022 master plans for Binna Burra have a welcome/reception building in the ‘saddle’ area. The welcome building has been designed to cater for office staff – Senior Management, Finance, Marketing, Reception, Activities etc. The concept is to remove the previous congestion at the Lodge and current congestion at the Teahouse, by having this Welcome Building in the ‘saddle’ – on the left as you enter the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape. As guests arrive they will go to reception in the Welcome Building to check in and then drive to their accommodation (Lodge, Sky Lodges, Tiny Houses, Campground Hill etc), park their car and hopefully then walk around for the duration of their stay. Binna Burra has recently been awarded a $2 million Commonwealth Government grant to build this welcome building and ‘back of house’ (housekeeping and maintenance shed) below the Barn. These will be constructed and operating before the new lodge is constructed. 

21. What happens to guest activities?

One outcome of the master planning process since the fires is a designated Adventure Activities Precinct (AAP) from the saddle down to Bellbird Cliffs and centred around Bellbird Clearing. This will include the via ferrata on the cliff, a new netted activity up in the trees (for ages 3-80+) at the site of the old ropes course and a luge from the saddle down to Bellbird Clearing. The development of a new all-access senses trail is planned. Guest activities will have their independent reception desk within the welcome building. 

22. Where does the power come from?

Whilst BBL will remain connected to the grid for the foreseeable future, there are plans to cover the roofs of the Teahouse and new lodge with solar panels which will be connected to the grid and to batteries. In due course, as battery technology continues to improve, Binna Burra would ideally like to be fully powered by solar (with grid back-up). 

23. Where does the water for the new lodge come from?

As it has for many years now, Binna Burra water supply is fed from the Coomera River to the tanks just inside the Park where the water is treated. It is then gravity fed downhill to all the buildings and taps at Binna Burra. Whilst the Hydraulics Engineer will review the needs of the new lodge and accommodation, we expect the existing gravity fed pressure will be more than sufficient.

24. What is the indicative timeline for building the new lodge and accommodation?

The current schedule (subject to change):

June 2022 Treasurer announces potential funding support of $18M, BBL apply for RTRP Grant
Jul – Sep 2022 Lodge Design Committee (LDC) progresses designs
Oct 2022 – Jan 2023 Feedback on two-level Lodge design from shareholders/stakeholders
Nov 2022 DTIS approve RTRP Grant of $18M, Agreement signed in Feb 2023
Feb – May 2023 LDC refines design and materials to be as cost-effective as possible
Jun – Jul 2023
  • LDC advises BBL Board that the cost of the current design is still $2.5-$3M more than Grant funds
  • BBL Board considers borrowing extra funds and decides to stay within grant funds for construction
  • BBL Board agrees with LDC proposal to reduce Lodge to one level and keep 36 accommodation rooms
Aug – Sep 2023 Feedback on one-level Lodge design from shareholders/stakeholders
Sep – Oct 2023 Detailed documentation
Nov – Dec 2023 Major building tender to be finalized
Dec 2023 – Jan 2024 Building works commence
Dec 2024 Target date for completion of construction
2025 Opening of the new Lodge and accommodation
25. What happens to the current large marquee at Mt Roberts?

The marquee has been used for events including weddings. When the building works start at Mt Roberts, Binna Burra will either (a) sell the marquee or (b) relocate it to the flat (land-fil space opposite the Pottery Shed where the former Discovery Forest was located). In that location it could still be used for events and for wet-weather activities.

26. What are the plans for security and access?

All people who act in a responsible way will be welcome to visit the new lodge and stay in the new accommodation. We have the responsibility to provide comfortable and secure accommodation also to guarantee the safety of people and their property staying overnight in any form of accommodation on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape.  

Our safety and security tasks include: 

  • ensuring guest safety, protection and personal property during their stay 
  • protection of Binna Burra property from hostile actions (theft, acts of vandalism)  
  • maintaining public order and ensuring proper behaviour in all public places at Binna Burra  
  • providing our guests with their required level of peace and privacy during their stay  
  • ensuring the possibility of immediate and effective response in the case of any event that requires the intervention of our staff or representatives of third parties (e.g. police, ambulance, rural fire service, national parks rangers) 
  • guaranteeing proper behaviour, as well as the honesty and integrity of all our staff members. 
27. Questions of furniture types and layout

The furniture and layout of furniture shown in the plans and fly throughs are for display purposes only to give the sense of scale at this stage. The final types of furniture and layouts are yet to be determined. 

28. Can shareholders give further input to the new lodge design?

The design team is always open to ideas and suggestions to help ensure that what we end up with is the best possible outcome for Binna Burra lodge Ltd.  Just use the feedback submission form below, or send an email directly to the design team at [email protected]

29. Will there be noise during the construction of the new lodge and accommodation at Mt Roberts?

Yes. However, whilst there will be some impact on Sky Lodge guests whilst construction of the new Lodge and Accomodation is underway, it will be significantly less that the impact on guests in the old cabins when the Sky Lodges were being built.

The main reason for this is that many of the old cabins looked north and east towards the Sky Lodges, and more importantly the main complaints were actually about the noise of utes and trucks driving along the access road to Sky Lodges which was only a few metres away from the lower level of old cabins. This time, we wont have that same situation with the new Lodge/Accommodation.

For our Sky Lodge guests, as these buildings are core filled concrete walls with rooms facing to the north, they are better sound insulated than the old cabins. Generally, we expect that the impact on Sky Lodge guests of noise from building the new Lodge and Accommodation will be similar to the impact of the noise from the rebuilding of Tony Groom’s Alcheringa (2 years from Sept 2020 – Sept 2022).

30. When will the construction of the new buildings at Binna Burra begin in 2023?

Subject to final build costs and builder availability current estimated start times for projects are:

  • Back of House (housekeeping and maintenance sheds below the Barn) – to start in late 2023
  • Welcome/Arrivals building – to start in late 2023
  • New Lodge/Accommodation – to start early 2024 with expected completion of buildings early 2025
31. How has Binna Burra handled the Politics, People, Partners and Process?

Politics. People. Partners. Process.
Designing and building a new lodge and accommodation on the Binna Burra Cultural Landscape. Click here to download the background paper.

Video Presentations

Recent stakeholder consultation on new lodge & accommodation design

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