A civil engineer and timber merchant, Romeo Watkins Lahey was born at Pimpama in 1887. Owing to his heavy involvement in the family sawmilling enterprises, Lahey was a powerful advocate of reafforestation and extended his interest into the conservation of scenic areas, particularly those in the nearby McPherson Range. Building on the pioneering efforts of the parliamentarian, Robert Collins, Lahey embarked on a vigorous campaign throughout the district. His public lectures, slide exhibitions and the organisation of petitions resulted in the creation of Lamington National Park in 1915, the first in Queensland. Lahey also played an instrumental role in the formation of the Queensland National Parks Association in 1930, and two years later he joined with fellow conservationist Arthur Groom to purchase land around Mount Roberts, adjoining Lamington National Park.
It was here that the pair built Binna Burra Lodge, a concept which aimed to combine conservation with public recreation. One of Queensland’s most powerful national parks advocates, Lahey continued to support the conservation movement right up until the time of his death in 1968, often financing projects at his own expense. In recognition of his services he was appointed an MBE in 1960, and 10 years later a scenic lookout on Mount Cainbable was named in his honour.
Queensland State Archives Item ID 1137569, Digital Image ID 2799, Home Secretary’s Office