Image L-R: Cr Greg Christensen, Mayor of Scenic Rim Regional Council, Binna Burra Board members Steve Noakes, Rachel Brown and Helen Moore; and Hon Murray Watt, Senator for Queensland and Australian Minister for Emergency Management – on the new deck at the Binna Burra Tea House
Another milestone in the long road to recovery for a leading Scenic Rim visitor destination following the 2019 Black Summer bushfires has been marked with the opening of new facilities at Binna Burra Lodge.
Federal Minister for Emergency Management Senator Murray Watt; Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen joined Binna Burra Board, staff and Friends of Binna Burra (FoBBs) volunteers for the official opening of the new facilities – the extension of the Tea House deck and the construction of showers, toilets, a first aid room and storage areas under the Tea House, the addition of four safari tents to the camping ground and new amenities blocks – at the safari tents and at the base of Mount Roberts.
The projects were co-funded by the Australian and Queensland governments through the Local Economic Recovery Program, with a grant of $500,000 auspiced by Scenic Rim Regional Council. A further $107,000 was contributed by Binna Burra, bringing the total project costs to $607,000.
Mayor Christensen said the bushfire on 8 September 2019 not only destroyed the heritage-listed Binna Burra Lodge and pioneer cabins but also the jobs of some 60 staff, who had to be retrenched after the cancellation of 4000 bookings including 15 weddings.
“In so many ways, this was a particularly black time for our region,” Mayor Christensen said.
“Today marks another milestone of the long road to recovery, which began in September 2020 when the first visitors could be welcomed back to the Binna Burra side of Lamington National Park.
“By accessing and managing the grant which provided for the new facilities, Scenic Rim Regional Council is proud to have been associated with this landmark project for our region.”
It recognises the importance of Lamington National Park reserve for the protection of native birds and animals and the role of Binna Burra Lodge in fostering environmental awareness through eco-tourism.
Planning for the new facilities has taken account of the changing environment, with the construction of buildings more resilient to natural disasters.
“As the bushfire destroyed the main lodge, kitchen, dining room, library, reception and retail areas as well as 42 cabins, this project has provided the infrastructure enabling Binna Burra to rebuild on its foundation as a leading visitor destination, restoring and expanding job opportunities in the Scenic Rim,” Mayor Christensen said.
“The value of financial support to an eco-tourism destination such as Binna Burra in the wake of such a devastating event cannot be underestimated, as investment in tourism plays a key role in supporting regional recovery from natural disasters.”
Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said he was pleased to see the historic lodge, which has been on the map since 1933, now back on its feet and welcoming guests.
“Binna Burra Lodge is an iconic destination for visitors and locals alike, and it was devastating to see the fire rip through.
“I’ve stayed at Binna Burra with my own family and I know how distressing it was for people to see this ecotourism jewel’s natural environment destroyed.
“This investment in tourism plays a key role in supporting regional recovery from natural disasters and we will continue to stand with communities as they recover from the devastating 2019-20 bushfire season.”
Binna Burra Lodge Chair Steve Noakes paid tribute to the Federal Government, the Queensland Reconstruction Authority and Scenic Rim Regional Council for their partnership in Binna Burra’s recovery.
“Without the support of the Queensland Government and the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, there was no way we would have been able to progress as far as we have in the recovery after the bushfires in September 2019,” he said