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Weekly podcast reflects on Childers tragedy

In this week's podcast we hear from Childers firefighter Colin Santacaterina about his reflections of the Childers Backpackers Hostel fire.

We learn about things happening on the local foodie scene, how you can get involved with the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment, and the history of the Bundaberg Post Office.

Local news highlights include commemorating of the 20th anniversary of the Childers Backpacker Hostel fire, steam train rides resuming this weekend at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, and a local PhD candidate.

Podcast transcript

Dana Maggacis 0:06
Hello, and welcome to the Bundaberg Now podcast. I'm Dana Maggacis from Bundaberg Regional Council. This week on Tuesday the 23rd of June, we commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Childers Backpacker Hostel fire. And today, we'll hear an excerpt from the memorial video created for the event. We'll also hear about what's happening on the local foodie scene in place of Taste Bundaberg Festival. Learn more about how you can get involved with the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment. And step back in time for the history of the Bundaberg post office. But first, here is Michael Gorey with the news headlines.

Michael Gorey 0:48
Thank you, Dana. The 20th anniversary of the Childers Backpacker Hostel Fire was commemorated on Tuesday 23rd of June. The fire was deliberately lit and claimed 15 young lives. Plans for a major memorial event had to be curtailed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, people silently paid their respects, including Mayor jack Dempsey and Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor, who laid a wreath on behalf of the Bundaberg Region community.

In happier news, members of the Australian sugarcane railway are looking forward to letting off a little steam this weekend. Their popular steam train rides through the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens will resume on Sunday. The first run will be at the earlier time of 9am going through until the last train at 3.30.

Congratulations to local Indigenous woman Kristie Dillon, who has began a PhD in marine research at Central Queensland University. Kristie has overcome adversity to raise a family and complete further study after the loss of her husband in 2013. Her research will focus on restoring native seagrass.

On Tuesday, June 30, Bundaberg Regional Council will deliver its annual budget for the coming financial year. The special budget meeting will begin at 9am and be live streamed online. We'll have budget reports in next week's podcast. Back to you, Dana.

Dana Maggacis 2:11
Thanks, Michael. Now, here's Colin Santacaterina, former captain of the Childers Auxiliary Firefighters, who shares with us his reflection of the tragic events of the Childers Backpacker Hostel fire 20 years ago.

Colin Santacaterina 2:27
The night of the fire was captain of the Childers Auxiliary Firefighters. That means I'm in charge of the Childers station and either my, my role was just search and rescue. I don't know what time it was. We got a page on our page system that there was a fire at the Childers Backpackers. I got out of bed and came down to the station which was just up behind the Council Chambers. I actually drove past the backpackers hostel here and saw nothing because it was so foggy. I saw some people walking around but I just thought they were getting up going to work. And then we got to the station, got dressed and were told there was a fire at the backpackers. We arrived at the fire. It was a ‘going fire' which means it was was virtually fully involved. Our procedure is live property environments. So we proceeded to search the building for people to get all them out first and then extinguish. On arrival we saw, I think about 23 people up on the building, up on the roof on the butcher shop awning there and they couldn't go any further because of the power lines so we put up a ladder. One firefighter went up and got them down. You couldn't actually get in there because it was just too hot, too dangerous. We'd been in there before at the bottom level but yeah, all our helmets started to melt and our boss told us to get out. When that was over we went into extinguish mode. And then we just – it took a while for the Bundaberg crew to get over here because it was so foggy, they were down I think to about 30 or 40 kilometres an hour. So it took them a while to get here. But we had backup coming from Bundaberg. We had a job to do, we done it to the best of our ability. And yeah it has affected me and some of the firefighters that were there. We've got a good, good thing in the fire service where you can get peer support. That's other firefighters come in and they're trained and you have a talk to them and and yeah, and they know what you're going through and you know what they're all about, makes it easier and we have good support that way through the fire service.

Dana Maggacis 4:52
Thank you, Colin, for that powerful reflection. Now, I'll hand over to Sue-Anne Chapman who's joined by Kylie Lane to discuss some delicious content with us.

Sue-Anne Chapman 5:03
Thanks so much Dana. Hello, my name is Sue-Anne Chapman I look after the tourism and events portfolio at Bundaberg Regional Council and today I have a very special guest with me Kylie Lane, who works in our events unit and has been with us for a couple of years now. And Kylie and I wanted to talk to you today a little bit about our wonderful food and drink that we have in the region coming off what should have been quite a special week, Kylie, welcome.

Kylie Lane 5:33
Thank you Sue-Anne. Yes, we should have actually been celebrating the Taste Bundaberg Festival, but unfortunately due to the COVID restrictions, we've had to put that on hold for this year. But we are all ready to cook up a storm with some great ideas for the 2021 event.

Sue-Anne Chapman 5:50
Fantastic. Now you have a rather long list in front of you, which I'm very excited to hear about. Tell us a little bit about where we can eat, drink and be merry.

Kylie Lane 6:00
Okay, absolutely. Well there's so many options within our region and to get out and about to enjoy our amazing winter weather and divulge in our abundant local produce. So a couple of the places we found that are ready to welcome you with open arms. HSG at the Gardens and H2O Restaurant are offering exclusive dining experiences amongst beautifully landscaped gardens or overlooking the Burnett River, Restaurants and cafes, including Water Street Kitchen and The Windmill at Bargara have been offering their takeaway options filled with local produce, but both are ready to welcome you back for dining when you're ready. Ohana Winery and The Brewhouse for some drinks options have reopened after undertaking renovations during the downtime and they're ready to serve you a cold brew.

Whilst Bundaberg Brewed Drinks have not yet reopened to the public, they have expanded their production line to include their famous Bundaberg Ginger Beer in cans. Bundaberg Rum remains closed but their gift shop is open so there's no excuse to miss out on a wonderful souvenir of some local spirit. In our main street in Bourbong Strett, Alowishus Delicious have expanded to allow for social distancing measures. They have an inviting new street entrance to the shop front which complements the adjacent recently rebranded Street Bean Cafe. The Club Hotel, Spotted Dog Tavern, The Brothers Club and many others have all re-opened their doors ready to welcome you back.

If you're chasing healthy, fresh ingredients to make your own tasty options to feed the family, keep in mind that the Lettuce Patch are offering free packed produce boxes for sale or you can create your own custom order and One Little Farm have an abundance of fresh produce and flowers for sale. Joel's Herb Farm have single bunches of herbs available to enhance your favourite recipes, or for something really quirky, you can have a herb bouquet delivered to a special friend.

Sue-Anne Chapman 7:59
A herb bouquet? That sounds lovely.

Kylie Lane 8:02
It's an amazing idea and they smell divine.

Sue-Anne Chapman 8:07
And there was a really interesting statistic about the produce in our community.

Kylie Lane 8:12
Absolutely Sue-Anne. So 25% of Australia's fresh produce is grown right here in the Bundaberg region.

Sue-Anne Chapman 8:20
So that's everything from sweet potatoes, avocados. We're coming into blueberry season, strawberry season. Yes, that's an amazing statistic.

Kylie Lane 8:31
Yep, everything from A to Z. Basically, avocado to zucchini. We grow it.

Sue-Anne Chapman 8:36
Wonderful. So something that's not quite fresh but just as sweet and delicious.

Kylie Lane 8:41
Macadamias Australia for a nice little treat to munch on with lots of options that they have available out there. So pop in store and grab yourself a treat. And on sweet things, while we're talking about that, the strawberry season has begun, you're correct. Bargara Berries fruit and veggie market and their adjoining Artisans 4670 markets have reopened and they stock delightful locally made homewares and gifts. You can also grab fresh strawberries out at Tinaberries and their ice cream is available everyday.

Sue-Anne Chapman 9:15
Every day! Yay!

Kylie Lane 9:16
Every day. If you're heading north Triple S Strawberries shop is also now open and pick your own patches usually commence in August, so stay tuned for that announcement. And to finish off on the sweet things, Cha Cha Chocolate is currently in the process of moving to a new shopfront in Bourbong Street, and it will be twice the size of the current location. But Mel promises us that she will keep all of her specialties treats in stock and the shop will maintain its amazing feel when you walk in there.

Sue-Anne Chapman 9:48
That is fantastic news. Now what if I can't be bothered driving around and finding all of those places? Is there an option for me?

Kylie Lane 9:58
Absolutely. So you can jump on board a Bundy Food Tour with Susie Clark. And there are self drive itinerary options available in our region as well. If you do want to make your way around to the farm gate stalls to stock up on all your fresh goodies.

Sue-Anne Chapman 10:16
Yum. And you can find some of those self drive itineraries on the Bundaberg Tourism website, which is Bundabergregion.org and do a search for farm gate hotspots. Well, I definitely have quite a few places that I need to be exploring over the next week and coming months, especially as COVID restrictions ease and we can start getting back out there getting social, engaging with our family and friends and eating all of our beautiful local produce. Kylie, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kylie Lane 10:49
You're welcome. Thank you.

Dana Maggacis 10:51
Thanks for joining us ladies. Today I'm joined by Amber Lutter who works in Council's Economic Development team. And she's here today to tell us a little bit more about the Bundaberg Jobs Committment that we spoke about with Ben last week. So Amber, what employer lead opportunities are facilitated through this programme?

Amber Lutter 11:08
Hey, Dana, thanks for having me. There's actually quite a few. Some employers have chosen to come into schools to speak about their career journeys, and to give some advice on how best to prepare yourself for entry into the workforce. We've had some incredible speakers so far who have had the most eclectic career journeys, it's really fascinating to listen to. As the programme continues other opportunities like industry evenings work experience opportunities, insight tours of local businesses, will be offered to students as part of the commitment which will give students a valuable insight into what is realistically involved in a chosen industry pathway,

Dana Maggacis 11:42
Which industries around our region have been involved so far with the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment?

Amber Lutter 11:47
So as Ben kind of alluded to last week, we've had a great community sentiment generated through this programme. And as a result, we've had a wide range of industry representatives who are keen to be involved and shine a light on their industry. We have people in agriculture, multimedia production, engineering, the Defence Force, tourism events, project management, accounting. How much time do you have Dana? Of course, the team here in Economic Development wanted to be involved as well.

Dana Maggacis 12:13
Lovely, it sounds like you've got a great array of industries from across our region to be involved. Did you find that the programme had to adapt due to the interruption of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Amber Lutter 12:24
Yes, definitely. I think I think most things definitely did due to government restrictions we couldn't facilitate employees going into schools to speak on the commitment, so we had to adapt to using technology by recording videos in the interim. We've been able to build up quite a comprehensive library of videos which can be accessed by schools within the Bundaberg region upon request. However, now with restrictions beginning to ease we've been able to bring back the Jobs Committment in its original format while working with schools individually to ensure we're still adhering to Queensland Health guidelines.

Dana Maggacis 12:52
Great. I'm sure you're keen to get back into those schools and keep this going. So Amber, if a business or industry representative listening wanted to get involved with the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment, who should they get in contact with?

Amber Lutter 13:04
I would be probably the best point of contact and I'm more than happy to answer any calls or emails regarding to the programme. You can contact me through Council's call centre at 1300 883 699 if you wish to learn a little bit more about the commitment. But if you want to know some more first, you can jump onto the Bundaberg Regional Council website and search for Bundaberg Jobs Commitment in the search bar.

Dana Maggacis 13:24
Thank you so much for chatting with me today Amber about this great initiative. And finally today we're stepping back in time to learn about the history of the Bundaberg post office with Dave Bunyoung, a retired Australia Post employee

Dave Bunyoung 13:39
When I started in 1968 in actual fact I saw the changeover from the old telephone exchange, an old plug in exchange to the automatic exchange and I was one of the first to be trained on the exchange. I used to start work at 10 o'clock at night and then finish at seven in the morning. We used to have telegrams and the phonogram operators used to take the messages over the phone and then relay them to the tele printer and the telegraphist use to send them off. I was only a telegram boy then I'd pushbike all over Bundaberg , an old brown uniform and with the cap. I used to have a person booking you out and he used to say, Oh, you know, go to Perry Street and then he'd say now, that'll take you 15 minutes or something like that. And you'd write it in but then they'd write back when you got back in but it never ever on I think anyone ever got any straw for a wrong time. I loved the passport when I've gone into passports – not so much when we moved in the electronic area. You know when we when we used to just serve your postage stamps out of a folder and things like that. Now you gotta put it through eftpos and things like that. I thought, Oh, I'm not gonna do that. But in the end, you had to do it and it worked out good, there was a big change, a big change when electronic services took over. But then everyone handles it, I think. You get well trained. Well, it is a special place. It's very well known for its historical significance. A lot of people meet there. In the old days, we used to work seven days a week, on the Saturdays too. And Saturdays was always a busy day. I think it was the biggest joint in town. If ever you say I'll meet you in town, ah well I'll meet you at the post office. Used to be always that nearly, I even said that when I went out on Saturday nights and things like that myself.

Dana Maggacis 15:54
Thanks, Dave, for sharing that rich history with us. That's all for today's programme. We hope you enjoyed it. Tune in next week for more news and stories from our wonderful Bundaberg region. Bye for now!

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