Adventure into 2021 with a festival of a different kind
Posted on 11.01.2021
In a first for South East Queensland, adventurers and conservationists have collaborated to celebrate the regeneration of an ancient landscape of UNESCO World Heritage-listed rainforests in a month-long festival to elevate its environmental significance moving forward following the devastating fires of summer 2019/2020.
Described as a festival of a different kind, the program of events is being held during the month of March 2021. Located within the stunning Scenic Rim, from Lamington National Park to Mt Barney National Park, visitors are being invited to experience some of the most precious and spectacular areas of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, in South East Queensland.
The Gondwana Festival will include guided walks, talks and wild adventures from the base camps (and luxury lodges) of Binna Burra, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and Mt Barney Lodge, with Park Tours taking small specialised groups into some existing and new trails being opened specifically for the Festival.
“The Scenic Rim with its world heritage offerings on Brisbane’s doorstep, provides the region with an incredible experience of international significance, explains Brett Fraser, CEO, Brisbane Economic Development Agency. “This new event brings renewed positivity and profiling for the tourism industry and communities affected.”
“This is such a special place”, explains Binna Burra CEO, Mr Johnathan Fisher. “This is not a festival where you’ll experience hordes of people and the usual trappings of large festivals. This is an immersion experience where people can rediscover and relax in nature and also challenge themselves physically if they chose to. It is something our minds and bodies are craving following the challenges of the past 18 months from drought, fires and COVID.”
“We are supporting the First Nations opening of the Festival at Binna Burra to pay tribute to this ancient, volcanic place that was over 180 million years in the making, sharing the traditional owners’ language of the Yugambeh people and how this spirited place can nurture and change you if you take care of it.”
This has all come about thanks to the initiative of the Brisbane Economic Development Agency with the support of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, Tourism and Events Queensland, and the Scenic Rim Regional Council,” explained Mr Fisher. “We are so excited to be working across the mountain peaks between ourselves at Binna Burra, over to O’Reilly’s on the Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park, and then onto Mt Barney.”
Following the opening ceremony, a program including Great Gondwana trails from Binna Burra will follow with specially curated walks, including the ancient Antarctic beech trees up to 3,000 years old. There will be walks suitable for families with children to treks recommended for the highly experienced adventure seekers.
In week two of Festival, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat will kick off its program on Sunday 7th March with a special walk and talk on the “Forests of Lamington” with leading rainforest ecologist Dr Bill McDonald and expert in plant evolution, Ray Carpenter to help debunk the mysteries of this ancient forest on Brisbane and the Gold Coast’s doorstep.
Shane O’Reilly, Managing Director of O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat further details the program, “Following the Forests of Lamington experience, we will lead into O’Reilly’s Autumn Bird week, ideal for beginner bird watchers hoping to see the unique birds of Lamington National Park in a small, intimate group. We will also be encouraging visitors to explore our famous treetops walk and reveal the glow worm experience by night – something found only in Australia and New Zealand. Uniquely we have a special site within minutes of our retreat, where we invite small groups of visitors to experience this remnant of the Gondwana era.”
Immediately following O’Reilly’s Autumn Bird week, Lisa Groom of Park Tours will guide visitors on an exclusive 5-day trek called “The Arthur Trek Journey” from Binna Burra to O’Reilly’s, onto to the Lost World and culminating at Mt Barney Lodge.
One of Binna Burra’s founders and Australian conservationist, journalist and author, Arthur Groom advocated for a ‘walk of international significance’ around the Scenic Rim as a form of environmental education for visitors. The Arthur Trek Journey will see his aspirations and vision realised, with Lisa Groom – Arthur’s grand-daughter – thrilled to be able to continue to honour his incredible environmental legacy.
“I want to share our family’s knowledge and passion”, explains Lisa Groom of Park Tours. “I normally take Australians on international treks across the world, but during this time we have come to further realise and value this incredible world heritage experience in our own backyard. We’re curating the trek to include never-before open tracks on private land exclusively for the Arthur Trek Journey, including local community experiences.”
On the 3rd weekend of the festival will be the inaugural Scenic Rim Adventure Festival on the 19th – 21st March emanating from Mt Barney Lodge. Owner of Mt Barney Lodge, Innes Larkin said, “Being located at the base of Queensland’s 4th highest mountain (1359m), we are an ideal point of departure for those fit and adventurous enough to climb Mt Barney and its associated peaks,”
Innes Larkin, also Deputy Chair, Ecotourism Australia, and Gondwana Rainforests of Australia Community Advisory Committee member further explains, “Our program will include inspiring speakers, including Michael Groom, unquestionably one of the world’s greatest big mountain climbers, who while descending from the summit of Kangchenjungahe suffered crippling frostbite and had the front third of both feet amputated. He’ll share with us his challenges and how he achieved his childhood dream and returned to the Himalayas and climbed Everest.”
The comprehensive adventure program will include live music, under the stars film festival, adventure trade display and children’s nature play activities, to guided bushwalks, bushcraft and survival activities and epic guided mountain expeditions to the top of Queensland’s most impressive peak.
The Gondwana Festival’s final week will culminate for the advanced bushwalker and adventurer on the 29th – 31st March with the staging of the Stinson Walk from O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat.
The Stinson Walk recounts Australian history and the life of Bernard O’Reilly, who heroically saved the lives of two plane crash survivors over 82 years ago in Lamington National Park, which was highlighted in the Australian film starring Jack Thompson, The Riddle of the Stinson. The Walk will take adventurers through stunning landscapes surrounded by the incredibly diverse and flora and fauna of Lamington National Park.
With the preliminary program just released be sure to mark March in your 2021 diary and get your walking shoes and sense of adventure ready. You can follow the Festival on Facebook and Instagram @gondwanafestival #gondwanafestival, with organisers encouraging visitors who want to be the first to hear about the program and special advance releases to sign-up via their website at www.gondwanafestival.com.au.
The Gondwana Festival is further supported by the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.
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