Binna Burra, one of Australia’s first nature-based resorts, is turning 85.
First opened in the 1930s, the heritage-listed lodge now attracts around 250,000 guests from across the globe annually.
Though it still stands mostly in its original buildings, the lodge has taken a more modern approach to ecotourism and environmental protection.
Binna Burra Lodge was founded in 1933 by Arthur Groom (right) and Romeo Lahey.
The pair wanted to build a place for people to stay and experience the beauty of Lamington National Park.
They bought the last remaining free-hold title on the edge of the park and formed a public company to fund it.
Living through history
Arthur Groom’s son Richard knows the history of Binna Burra better than most.
He said guests in the early days had to walk a long way through heavy bushland to get there.
Their luggage was transported up the hill on a zipline.
“We didn’t have transport up the mountain until 1947,” he said.
“It was quite an effort.”
“Binna Burra has always been for all people,” Richard Groom said.
The park has been owned by shareholders since it was established.
Mr Groom said his father and Mr Lahey were trying to build a socialist dream using capitalist means.
“Dad was quite an eccentric jackaroo,” he said.
“If a jackaroo and a timber man were to stand up today and propose a lodge totally surrounded by national park, they’d be chopped down in 10 minutes.”
Down through the generations
Richard Groom is just one of three generations of the family still involved with Binna Burra
Founder Arthur Groom’s great-granddaughter Inari Beyer is now a guide there.
It was not until recently that she realised how special it was growing up with Binna Burra as your backyard.
“Now that I’m a guide and I have to know the plants and know the animals and I’m walking people through it, I have a whole new appreciation for it,” she said.
“I never met my great-grandad but I know he’d be proud of me,” Inari Beyer said.
She remembers picking wild raspberries in the park with her brother when they were children.
“We’d go out dressed head to toe in long pants, long shirts because they are covered in thorns,” she said.
“[We’d] come back and my granddad’s eaten half of our container.”
Arthur Groom’s grand-daughter Lisa Groom has life-long memories of Binna Burra.
Her mother had brought her home from the hospital as a baby to the original Grooms cottage on the grounds.
“She walked in one morning and found me with a great big huntsman spider on my face,” she said.
“That was the [reason for the] creation of the manager’s house that was down the road,” Ms Groom added with a smile.
It was a magical place for her grow up, but Ms Groom said she did not realise until she had grown up and moved away.
“It’s a sacred place for me,” she said.
“I’m not a religious person but for me this is my church,” Ms Groom said.
It is hoped Binna Burra can continue introducing people to the national park long into the future.