There are moments in time that are forever etched in memory. Often it’s minute details of where we were, or what we were doing that linger, such as when we heard the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the tragedy of 9/11, the Brisbane floods, the burning down of Binna Burra…
So it was in September 2019, as we prepared to take a car journey through drought-stricken NSW, that devastating bushfires close to home ripped through a section of the Lamington National Park destroying the heritage-listed Binna Burra Lodge and several houses.
I clearly remember the sense of dread we felt as we heard the news, hoping that no one was hurt, feeling the loss of local heritage, the grief of those who had given their lives to this amazing place.
One year later, we stand with CEO Jonathan Fisher on the site where the lodge had once stood, the only reminder of its history being the memorial and campsite dedicated to Binna Burra’s early pioneers, its recent history referenced in the Bushfire Gallery.
In the early 1930s, Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey had purchased this 34-hectare site, the last freehold land on the boundary of Lamington National Park, forming a public company to fund the establishment of what was to become Binna Burra Mountain Lodge. In 1933, their first camp was held, their vision being that if people experienced this unique rainforest through guided walks and education, there would be a better chance of preserving this natural wilderness for future generations.
Groom and Lahey’s grand vision bore fruit. Bushwalkers, campers, conservationists, and scientists were some of the visitors who enjoyed the resort’s unique eco-tourism experience.
It was a difficult journey in the early days, an 8-hour bus trip from Queen Street, Brisbane, luggage hauled up by hand from the end of the road, the final leg of the journey a steep 90-minute walk.
By comparison, when the road reopened in September 2020, the beauty of the drive is immediately apparent. Its long sweeping curves give breathtaking panoramic views across the beautiful Numinbah Valley to the Gold Coast and Brisbane beyond, from one of the best drives in Australia, Jonathan Fisher notes.
We’re staying in one of the stunning Sky Lodges, a luxury two-bedroom self-contained apartment that is perched on a north-east facing cliff face, up with the birds. We linger with a glass of wine, soaking up the breathtaking view from the balcony across Numinbah Valley. The main bedroom’s large picture window also frames magnificent views of rolling hills, the Gold Coast a mere glimmer on the horizon.
It’s not the only choice of accommodation, Binna Burra campground also offering compact or family safari tents, van and tent camp sites, welcoming guests to a more communal experience close to facilities and walks.
The Tea House Café at the entrance to Lamington National Park, and Groom’s Cottage, which was once an educational facility, have both opened to the public, offering meals and drinks to visitors.
As we sit in front of Groom’s Cottage enjoying a coffee to unwind, taking in the view, we strike up a conversation with fellow travellers, discussing walking trails in the local area and recounting stories of journeys and discoveries elsewhere.
Years ago, if Arthur Groom were there, he would have been welcoming guests, introducing people to each other. The communal fireplace nearby is still the place to gather, sit and chat each evening, just as it was so many years ago.
“Binna Burra Lodge was famous as the place where you would arrive as strangers but leave as friends,” Jonathan Fisher tells us. It still is.
In this spectacular place, the main attraction has always been the national park, the incredible views, uniquely diverse flora, fauna and landscapes traversed by 180km of walking tracks that give us the chance to reconnect with nature.
Here, also, we find the perfect escape from the stresses of technology and everyday life. Whether we visit for a week or a day, it gives us the chance to take time out, rediscover romance, have a picnic with one of the best views of the hinterland, ‘rewild’ our children, and experience the freedom and sense of peace that embodies the spirit of Binna Burra.
They’re the moments we want to embed in our memory, Binna Burra reborn.
Binna Burra Lodge, 1040 Binna Burra Rd, Beechmont Ph: 07 5533 3622
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast visited Binna Burra Lodge as a guest of Binna Burra Lodge and Destination Gold Coast.