Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen has welcomed the state government's announcement today of more than $2.68 million in financial support to assist two of the region's leading tourism operators in their recovery following the recent bushfires.
The mayor said in addition to tourism campaigns to be launched in coming weeks, the Queensland government would provide more than $1.48 million to partner with Binna Burra Lodge to build Australia's first commercial cliff climbing course, the Via Ferrata, and $1.2 million to partner with the O'Reilly family in a major redevelopment of the Green Mountain camping ground at Lamington National Park.
"These are exciting announcements at any time but particularly so in the context of the difficult circumstances of the past few weeks," Cr Christensen said.
"While we already shared a vision for the future, these two projects will provide a foundation for a 'new normal' that I am confident will be bigger, more exciting and transformative following the recent tragic events."
Binna Burra Lodge Chairman Steve Noakes said that although the lodge, dining room, kitchen, administration building, library and cabins were totally destroyed in the bushfire, most of the Sky Lodges were undamaged and historic Groom's Cottage, the Tea House, campsite, pottery shed and barn were unscathed, providing a strong foundation for the future of Binna Burra with the creation of the Via Ferrata or "iron way".
"Since our founding back in 1933, Binna Burra Lodge has always had plenty to get the heart pumping and help people enjoy the great outdoors - from bushwalking to abseiling, flying fox, archery, camping and wild treks," he said.
"As we recover from the devastation of the recent bushfires, we will be bringing into Queensland a new adventure activity that has its origins back many centuries in Europe, where simple protected paths, with ladders and basic protection aids, gave local communities access to the Alps.
"As Australia's first commercial Via Ferrata, we will also provide packages which combine multi-day climbing along with our other outdoor activities that will add to the great range of activities that are good for mind, body and soul."
O'Reilly's Managing Director Shane O'Reilly said the funding announcement marked the beginning of a new era for the Green Mountain camping ground, allowing more visitors to experience the beauty of Lamington National Park.
"The new facilities will open up the area to a range of new visitors, not only from interstate and overseas but also for locals and educational groups," he said.
"It will provide a community centre that will seat up to 40 people, under cover facilities for visiting educational groups and a covered area for cooking with a communal fire pit where visitors can enjoy sitting safely around a campfire.
"The addition of permanent tents means people who may never have experienced camping before can give it a go and there will be a few powered sites for RVs which will be welcomed by our grey nomads."
Cr Christensen said that council executives and officers had been working closely with the Binna Burra Board and staff, and talking at length with O'Reilly's and other tourism operators throughout the region, to gauge the impact of the bushfires, help identify and address immediate needs and plan a way forward.
"While those tourism operations directly in the path of the fires have obviously suffered heavy losses, even those not directly affected by the fire are being affected and are losing customers when they can least afford it," he said.
"We are working hard to promote the message that the region is safe and open for business and encourage people to continue to come to the Scenic Rim," he said.
"With the school holidays coming up, and the October long weekend not far away, I urge Queenslanders and our friends interstate to visit our beautiful townships and natural attractions, stay in our award-winning accommodation and help our tourism industry to recover."