Nautical nomads boost Bundaberg region economy

Go West Rally's fleet of international yachts arrive at the Bundaberg Port Marina.
Go West Rally's fleet of international yachts arrive at the Bundaberg Port Marina. Photo: Facebook

The Down Under Rally's fleet of international yachts have docked at Bundaberg Port Marina and will be taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of the Bundaberg Region over the next week.

The group of more than 40 yachts, featuring 31 monohulls and 11 catamarans from 18 countries, are part of the 2019 Down Under Rally, Go West, with the trip expected to inject almost $90,000 into the local economy over 10 days.

How the Down Under Rally began

Each year the Down Under Rally supports hundreds of yachts and their crews with all aspects of offshore sailing and provides assistance and information for those planning to arrive in Australia from overseas.

Rally director John Hembrow and his wife Leanne sail from Australia to New Caledonia and then onwards to Vanuatu and Fiji each year in May as part of the Down Under “Go East “ Rally on their Catamaran “Songlines”.

Once there, they spend time promoting Australia and the Go West Rally to the international cruising community before returning to Australia with the Go West Rally in late October.

John said Bundaberg had been chosen as a destination for reasons including the professionalism of Port staff, the deep-water access of the area and the many great things to do on arrival.

“The are many local tourist attractions such as Hinkler Hall and the Bundaberg Rum Distillery to entertain the visitors once they arrive,” he said.

John said the Go West Rally group hailed from all corners of the globe including Austria, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

He said the team had only been in the region for a few days but were already having an amazing time meeting lots of friendly locals.

“The team here at Bundaberg Port Marina have once again delivered the best possible arrival experience and demonstrated why the Port of Bundaberg is the most convenient and friendly of all the Australian ports of entry,” he said.

“Over the past few days I have also received a lot of really positive feedback with the common thread being how friendly and helpful the people of the region have been.

“There has also been much enjoyment had visiting the many local attractions such as the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, who provided our participants with two for one entry vouchers, the Botanic Gardens and the Hinkler Hall of Aviation.

“Many have also commented how much they are enjoying walking along the foreshore paths around the marina, Burnett Heads and Bargara and that they are looking forward to visiting Mon Repos for the turtle experience.”   

Some of the members of the Go West Rally in Bundaberg.
Some of the members of the Go West Rally in the Bundaberg Region. Photo: Facebook

Rally to inject almost $90,000 into economy

The Down Under Rally Welcome Week will officially launch for participants on Wednesday with a special welcome ceremony at Baltimore's Port Marina Cafe before more activities continue.

It's a win not only for the travellers but also for the region, which, according to John should make a nice little profit from the trip.

“Over the past four years the Down Under Rally has determined that on average each vessel that visits Bundaberg with the Down Under Rally stays for about 10 days and spends around $800 on food and entertainment,” he said.

“In addition, each crew will spend another $700 on vessel-related expenses, which comes to a total of $1500 per vessel.

“That results in almost $90,000 being injected into the local economy over a 10-day period. Of course many stay much longer than 10 days which in turn increases the spend and the benefit to the local economy.”

John said the rally would not be the success it was without the support from the local Bundaberg community.

“2019 is the fifth year for the Go West Rally and once again the Down Under Rally have been encouraging yachts sailing to Australia to choose the Port of Bundaberg as the first choice for entry into Australia,” he said.

“This would not be possible without the support of the local business community.

“The Bundaberg Port Marina is subsidising the rally and as such, they are also providing many other local businesses and the economy with the opportunity to benefit from the significant amount of money these visitors spend during their stay.”