CELEBRATING 90 YEARS AS AN UNLISTED PUBLIC COMPANY

Written by Binna Burra

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February 29, 2024

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Sunday 3 March 2024 is the 90 year anniversary of the legal registration of Queensland Holiday Resort Limited, now known as Binna Burra Lodge Ltd.

The 1930s was the decade shaped by a global economic and political crisis that culminated in World War 2.  Beginning with the Wall Street Crash in 1929 which saw the collapse of the international financial system, a ‘Great Depression’ hit Australia in the early 1930s leading into great social disruption and distress across the country.

It was in this setting that visionary conservationists Romeo Lahey and Arthur Groom played leading roles to establish the  National Parks Association of Queensland (NPAQ) in 1930. In 1934 when Qantas and Imperial Airways joined forces and establish Qantas Empire Airways, the founders of Binna Burra successfully attracted over 90 initial investors, many of whom were also associated with the NPAQ, to witness the incorporation of Queensland Holiday Resorts Limited (Binna Burra Lodge).

The founding Chair of the Board was Lieutenant Colonel Roy Graeme Groom (1876 – 1946). He was a chartered accountant who in the early 1900s formed the firm of R.G. Groom & Co. (initially in the T&G Building, Queen Street, Brisbane). His distinguished professional and military career is documented here. Apart from R.G. Groom, Romeo Lahey and Arthur Groom, the other two initial shareholders who served on the first Board of Directors were the engineer Philip Lewis Day (serving 20 years on the Board from 1934 to 1953) and the Medical Doctor Edward (Ted) Oswald Marks who was also a qualified Engineer who served on the Board for 24 years from 1934 until 1957.

Approximately 65 people have served on the Board of Directors over the past 90 years. The longest serving Board member was John Muller with 41 years on the Board from 1962. John’s father, Rudolph (Rud) Muller (1898 – 1986) served on the Board for seven years from 1953, including a period as the Chair of the Board. John’s brother, Graeme was a Board member between 1958 and 1962, including two years as the Chair.

It took 40 years before the first woman became a Board member with Ngairetta Brennan (1929 – 2019) serving for nine months in 1984. The next woman to join the Board was former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Sally-Anne Atkinson who served from 1998 until 2005, including a period as the first woman Chair of the Board. Since then a further seven women have been on the Board.  Some 88 years after the first Board met, in 2021, for the first time, more women than men were on the Board of the company (Sally Trestrail, Helen Moore and Rachel Brown).

Steve Noakes, the current Chair of Binna Burra Lodge Ltd. said: ‘Back in 1934 when Binna Burra Lodge became a legal entity the world was facing enormous uncertainty and turmoil. The visionary and resilient supporters of Binna Burra stuck it out and laid the foundations for our remarkable social business with an environmental focus.’

He added: ‘The 2019 bushfire devastation bought the company to its knees. Again, a remarkable group of committed shareholders and others have come together to save the business and continue the ongoing disaster recovery process.  Current generations continue to work hard to get Binna Burra into its ‘new normal’ with a new lodge and other infrastructure and services. The opening of the new lodge in the second half of 2025 will mark the end of recovery process needed after the 2019 bushfires. By then, this current generation of leaders, volunteers, staff and shareholders will have provided a solid foundation for the next 90 years of Binna Burra.’

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Links:

Binna Burra history items here.

Binna Burra stories: Dr David Croll, joined the Board in 1936 here.

Binna Burra family stories here.

Romeo Lahey memorial lecture extracts (1969) here.

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