real life

TRAVEL: Retreating to the heavens is a perfect weekend.

Views from the Sky Lodge balcony. Yes please.

by RICK MORTON

The Commando punishes people up here.

You know, the muscle-bound former military chap on the television weight loss show Biggest Loser? Well, he takes people on boot camps at Binna Burra and punishes them. Makes them run and leap and skip and fall relentlessly.

Which is strange, because it’s one of the most relaxing places in Australia, nestled on the edge of the Gold Coast Hinterland but far, far away from all that hustle.

Maybe it’s relaxing because, as I sit here, the Commando is not here? His gruelling getaway is next month. Phew.

I live in fear of embarking on one of the myriad rainforest bush walks and having him leap from the undergrowth all scorn and thorns, lashing me for walking too slowly or stopping to take pictures of the fungus.

If I had any wits about me I’d dash back at a fair clip to my sublime accommodation in the brand new Sky Lodge. He wouldn’t get me in here. The front door is solid timber and the building is perched on the top of a cliff that opens to stunning vistas.

Not even a Commando could climb up here.

I’m staying here to get a feel for the newest attraction the well regarded Binna Burra Mountain Lodge has to offer. And, truly, the Sky Lodges are something special.

The $12 million development, featuring timber milled on site and stones from the local quarry, sprang from the desire of guests for something more luxurious. Something extra classy.

So here it is.

We arrived after dark and settled in front of the fireplace as the cool air disappeared. In the morning I woke from the master bedroom and felt like I might have rolled off the edge of the Earth.

The fourth wall in the bedroom of the Lahey Sky Lodge has, for all intents and purposes, been replaced with an enormous expanse of glass window. It opens up to the Gold Coast Hinterland and gives every hint that you are at the top of the world.

The (first) bathroom does the same, giving the feel the bath with water jets is sitting on a daunting but ultimately relaxing precipice.

That’s because it is.

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Founded in 1933, Binna Burra Mountain Lodge (and now the new Sky Lodges) sit on the edge of the UNESCO world heritage listed Lamington National Park, hundreds of metres above sea level and apparently thousands of kilometres from your nearest care.

There’s wireless if you want to stay in touch for $5 an hour or $20 a day. It wasn’t working during my stay (a bug that will be fixed, management assures me) which I suppose is kind of a blessing.

The self-contained Sky Lodges themselves are built for independence, up here. You can bring your own food and prepare it for guests or friends in the full-size kitchen, slide open the balcony doors and throw (not literally) a barbecue or just lounge about with cheese and crackers after a long day’s walking.

And that’s the best thing to do. Walking.

You want trails? There are more than a dozen ranging from the 1.2km Rainforest Walk to the 21.4km Border Track which is probably very beautiful but far beyond my ability area. I could attempt it, of course, but I don’t want to trouble the SES.

The Commando would weep.

We ate breakfast in the cliff-top dining room. Binna Burra people really like their cliff-tops. It’s a buffet affair for $25 so go hungry and you’ll be sitting pretty for most the rest of the day.

If you’re up for it, there’s plenty else to do on site besides bush walking. Go abseiling, leap on to the Flying Fox, check out the ropes courses or even indulge in some bush poetry.

Or, like I did, take a good book and lose yourself in the morning sun as it pours into the Sky Lodge from the East. If the reading is slow going, the views aren’t.

It’s the perfect romantic weekend away, located just 40 minutes from the Gold Coast and 90 minutes from Brisbane. Huge rooms, cosy fireplace, room to make your own fancy meals to impress.

Or, you could do what I did, and take your Mum on a well deserved weekend away from work and life. You can basically hand me the Son of the Year Award now, if you must.

Rick was a guest of Binna Burra Mountain Lodge. The Sky Lodges were opened in February and prices start from $290 per night for a one bedroom studio which sleeps two to three people. We stayed in a two bedroom apartment.

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