Binna Burra Lodge was among the most recognizable casualties of bushfires that devastated the Gold Coast hinterland in early September this year.
But among the charred remains are signs of a hopeful future, as a new partnership project provides opportunities for unemployed locals while supporting the Queensland icon on its first steps to recovery.
Twelve people from the region have participated in the recent traineeship project that has seen them restore the Lodge’s camp grounds while gaining certified skills in conservation and land management. The project is a partnership between Brisbane-based not-for-profit, belong, the Binna Burra Lodge Recovery Team, and the Scenic Rim Regional Council.
The trainees will graduate with a Certificate I in Conservation and Land Management at a ceremony taking place at the Binna Burra campgrounds on Thursday 19 December.
Three of these twelve trainees were directly impacted by the fires, including local Canungra man, Stephane Roy who tirelessly supported farmers relocate their herds from harm’s way to safer grounds.
Others include a young local who worked with the volunteer fire service during the height of the blaze, and an employee of the Binna Burra Lodge who counts among the many who lost their treasured livelihood in the wake of this tragedy.
The traineeship project has seen participants tend to a range of tasks including lopping tree branches, the clean-up and removal of debris surrounding the campsite, and the planting of 3000 trees, all indigenous to the region’s globally unique ecology. It is envisaged the campground and the adjacent Grooms Cottage (the family home of Binna Burra co-founder, Arthur Grooms) will reopen to the public from March 2020 once repairs to access roads are finalised.
It’s clearly just the first step in a lengthy, staged journey to recovery, but an important one, says belong director, Trish Cattermole.
“I’m mindful that this has been a unique and challenging environment for our trainees to work in, and I think this is worth celebrating,” said Ms Cattermole.
“The reopening of the site to campers in a few months will help keep this incredible part of the world on the map and in people’s minds, and will hopefully encourage others to help out however they can with Binna Burra’s longer term recovery,” she said.
This training is proudly funded by the Queensland Government through its Skilling Queenlanders for Work initiative.