SCENIC Rim Mayor Greg Christensen today opened a bushfire gallery at Binna Burra, on the first anniversary of the bushfire that caused catastrophic damage to the resort.
Also in attendance were Scenic Rim councillors and council officers, former and current Binna Burra executives and employees, rural firefighters and a contingency of scientists from Griffith University who are conducting research on bushfire recovery.
The Welcome to Country was presented by Uncle Ted Williams from the Yugambeh Regional Aboriginal Corporation, followed by a traditional smoking and healing ceremony led by Luther Cora.
Cr Christensen said the day for him had been a difficult one.
"We must take this opportunity to reflect on the heartache, loss and trauma experienced by the close-knit Binna Burra Lodge Board, staff, volunteers and loyal guests and our broader Scenic Rim community, and we will never forget that time," he said.
"But today, one year on from the bushfire which devastated Binna Burra Lodge, we also look to the future with hope and optimism as we carry on the legacy of its co-founders, Arthur Groom and Romeo Lahey's shared vision of creating a place where people could stay and experience the beauty of the Lamington National Park rainforest," he said.
Binna Burra Lodge Chairman Steve Noakes thanked the mayor and council for its support throughout the recovery process.
"Here at Binna Burra, and for many months that followed as the bushfires continued around the Scenic Rim region, the mayor displayed enormous resilience, character, and leadership when the community needed such a person," said Mr Noakes.
"For us at Binna Burra, we are thankful for his immediate support at the time of the bushfires and over the past 12 months of our recovery."
Mr Noakes said it had been a hard road, with Binna Burra having to lay off most of its employees in the months following the bushfire.
"We kept six or seven of them on and now we are starting to build back up again," he said.
Division Three councillor Virginia West said unity had been at the core of Binna Burra Lodge's recovery.
"There has been an immense team effort by the Board and team at Binna Burra Lodge, the community and all levels of government, and an outpouring of support from loyal guests locally, nationally and internationally to band together and ensure our beloved Binna Burra Lodge could open its doors to keep welcoming guests for generations to come," she said.
"The reopening of Binna Burra Lodge is cause for celebration, and I acknowledge that the road to healing is ongoing for the communities of Binna Burra and Beechmont, who will forever remember the bushfires of 2019."
Mr Noakes said the one-year anniversary marked a time of ongoing healing.
"It's a time when thoughts and feelings about the devastating wildfires are reactivated and many of us may feel emotions more intensely than usual. Our Bushfire Gallery is designed to be part of the healing process as individuals find their own ways of coping with the memories," he said.
After unveiling a plaque attached to the Binna Burra shed which now houses the gallery, the mayor and Mr Noakes inspected the storyboards, photos, salvaged artifacts and video coverage of the fire.
During the harshest days of the bushfire, the blaze consumed heritage listed buildings, the original lodge and the dining room.
The shed was saved thanks to efforts of rural firefighters who happened to be on patrol and were able to extinguish flames that had reached as far as the shed, damaging the porch and railings.
At one point during his tour of the gallery, the mayor appeared overwhelmed with emotion.
Mr Noakes said the gallery would remain open for a couple of months and then could become a mobile exhibition.