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‘Bourbon Street' photo highlights a simpler time

Bourbon Street
The image is from the Picture Bundaberg files is of Bourbon Street, Bundaberg looking east, no date. (Goleby collection, bun06616).

A black and white photo of what was once named ‘Bourbon Street' has given residents a glimpse into the simpler times of Bundaberg's past.

Recently posted to the Bundaberg Regional Libraries Facebook page, the photo depicts the main street of town featuring horse and carriage, bicycle riders and both the Royal and Metropolitan hotels visible.

It's an image that has been of keen interest to Facebook commentators, with many marveling at the way of the world and the changes seen today.

“Always amazes me how everybody dressed so immaculately back then but can you imagine walking around town on a hot, sticky summers day like we've been having lately… and no aircon, anywhere?” Brett Voss said.

“If you were really lucky, you got to sit just behind a horses bum in a cloud of dust while your spine was getting bashed through the top of your head.

“Most people have no idea how good they've got it today. Love these photos.”

Bourbon to Bourbong- the history of street naming

According to the Bundaberg Library's History Bytes article titled “Bundaberg's Controversial Main Street” there are many versions of how the main street was named.

From Walker’s Book to a series of letters written to the Bundaberg Mail in 1895 – each story has been written with a slightly different explanation.

Writers and historians have chosen which version they believe is right and confusion reigns to this day as to the ‘correct’ explanation of the meaning of Bourbong Street.

Many versions claim the original name had come from the Aboriginal word ‘Boor-bung’, a chain of waterholes between the town and Rubyanna.

Others stated the word had derived from a type of “rust proof” sugar cane.

It has been noted from 1941 on wards, no reference to “Bourbon” Street was listed, instead, today's version of “Bourbong” Street had been adapted.

To read the full feature article click here.



  1. Re Bourbong street, someone ought to do some in-depth study into Surveyor Charlton. His plan for the township of Bundaberg that was submitted in late 1869, and signed by Charlton does show Bourbong Street. The plan number is B157 – 2 and can be obtained from government archive sources. One old newspaper letter said that some people of the social elite wanted to sound French and made this attempt to change the name. It failed. Another thought as to the meaning is “dead hill” and if you look down Bourbong Street to the east, what do you see? Unfortunately, Bundaberg is not strong on this historical information thus creating a perversion. I have a copy of this survey and can show it any time.

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