Inside the Lamington National Park, Queensland
‘Reflection Benches’ at the Barn
‘It’s about people dealing with the emotional impact of the bushfire devastation on the spirit Binna Burra’ said Steve Noakes, Chairperson of Binna Burra Lodge which was devastated in the September 2019 bushfires.
The bushfires across Australia last year and into this year have become known as the ‘Black Summer’ fires. They started in Australia’s hottest and driest year on record and set a new benchmark for an extreme fire season in the continent’s temperate forests. The Royal Commission into the bushfires noted: ‘Tragically, 33 people died, and smoke may well have caused many other deaths. Others suffered serious physical and emotional/psychological injuries. It is estimated that nearly 3 billion animals were killed or displaced by the bushfires, and many threatened species and other ecological communities were extensively damaged. Over 3,000 homes and many other buildings were destroyed. For many people, it will take years to recover and rebuild.’
Beechmont and the Binna Burra side of Lamington National Park experienced bushfires for six months – from August 2019 until some good rain fell in January 2020. Fortunately, no lives were lost in bushfires in Queensland. Nine of the people who died in the southern States were firefighters and while there were some close calls, Binna Burra is thankful that we lost none of our local Rural Fire volunteers and all the Emergency Services personnel who saved hundreds of houses, and no doubt lives, when the bushfires raged here last year.
People experience grief in different ways and the bushfire devastation at Binna Burra Lodge and Beechmont in September 2019 continues to impact many who have visited the site and even those who have not been able to have that opportunity.
‘Over the past year, it’s been important for us to acknowledge the individuality of each person’s emotions about what we lost here at Binna Burra and for each of us to be careful not to impose our own expectations of coming to terms with the loss on others.’ said Noakes, a local resident of bushfire impacted Beechmont.
‘One of the important things to do is simply to listen. Since we had the official opening of the Binna Burra Bushfire Gallery on the one year anniversary of the fire destruction at Binna Burra, many of us have spent time on the ‘Reflection Benches’ next to the campfire at the Barn listening to the stories that generations of families and individuals have shared over the decades at Binna Burra. Every story is rich, personal and enduring for Binna Burra.’
The Reflection Benches give the opportunity to look back so our collective view looking forward becomes clearer. Occasionally, there’s a campfire billy tea to have a chat over.
Three locally-made hardwood timber ‘Reflection Benches’ have been donated to the Bushfire Gallery campfire at Binna Burra by One Light Charity Foundation, Bartercard and Qoin Digital Currency. Local Beech Mountain firm, Oak & Iron, used 70 year old recycled Australian hardwoods to construct the benches.