In this week's Bundaberg Now Podcast we learn more about Cochrane's Artificial Reef and hear the story of Alloway Farm Markets.
There are also updates from the local arts scene and events.
Local news highlights include mobile phone black spot nominations, flood water sensor installations, and tourism and sporting updates.
Dana Maggacis 0:06
Hello and welcome to the weekly Bundaberg Now podcast. I'm Dana Maggacis from Bundaberg Regional Council. Today we have another interesting programme with news and information from across the Bundaberg region. Soon, we'll hear about what's happening in the events and gallery spaces. Learn more about the Cochrane Artificial Reef and discover the Alloway Farm Markets. But first, here's Michael Gorey with the news headlines.
Michael Gorey 0:35
Thank you, Dana. Making news this week Bundaberg Regional Council is encouraging residents to nominate mobile phone blackspots to help improve coverage. Mayor Jack Dempsey says residents can help to identify problem areas. Nominations under the federal government programme close on 24th of July. New sensors will provide important data to help model floodwaters in urban creeks and tidal irrigation channels. A dozen gauges have been placed around the Bundaberg region. Roads and Drainage portfolio spokesman Bill Trevor says they will give Council more visibility over what's happening around stormwater drains to manage localised flooding. Visitors are flocking to the Bundaberg region during school holidays now that many travel restrictions have been eased, providing a much needed boost for local business and tourism operators. Here is Katherine Reid, CEO of Bundaberg Tourism.
Katherine Reid 1:30
The Bundaberg region is the perfect holiday destination. We've definitely had an increase across the region in inquiries for accommodation and our tours and attractions. After the announcement of the borders opening, especially from New South Wales we saw a spike on our website, looking at accommodation, looking at things to do and see around the region and also exploring what events were available over the next six months.
Michael Gorey 1:57
Sports fans are also getting back to normal. Bundaberg Indoor Sports Centre will reopen next week for netball, cricket, softball and more. Owner, Colin Kinnest says the centre underwent extensive renovations during the covid lockdown.
Colin Kinnest 2:12
At the moment we're in the process of redoing our courts and nets. We had these works in our plans to actually do this on the year anyway, but I'm actually already closed for two weeks so over that time, but as it happened we brought a few things forward and got some stuff started earlier. The government restrictions have lifted now since last Friday, but we're not quite ready to open yet. So we're looking at opening on the 13th of July. We've got a kitchen upstairs which is almost ready to be fully open as well as sports here. It's pretty much five nights a week – we do ladies netball, mixed netball, indoor cricket and junior sports as well.
Michael Gorey 2:45
For more local news visit Bundaberg Now.com. Back to you Dana.
Dana Maggacis 2:50
Thanks Michael. Now I'll hand over to Sue-Anne Chapman from Events.
Sue-Anne Chapman 2:55
Hello, this is Sue-Anne the Tourism and Events Manager with Bundaberg Regional Council and today I have a very special guest with me. It is Heidi Mason. Welcome, Heidi.
Heidi Mason 3:07
Thank you for having me.
Sue-Anne Chapman 3:08
Now Heidi is the Team Leader of the Events portfolio here at Bundaberg Regional Council and today we're going to talk a little bit about Heidi's journey, how she got to this role, and also all about events in our region and what's been and what's coming up. So, Heidi, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you end up looking after this fabulous events portfolio?
Heidi Mason 3:36
Well, I am started in Council 24 years ago. I actually started as a library assistant and have really worked my way into events. I've held a number of roles in Council, but primarily it started as an executive assistant back in our Community Services Branch. Before we had a formalised events unit, we used to do a number of different events. People might remember local government week. And that really gave me the experience that I needed from an events perspective and I also looked after a lot of the financial programmes around grants and sponsorships.
Sue-Anne Chapman 4:18
Fantastic. So what do you think is the best bit of your job? Can you narrow it down to one thing.
Heidi Mason 4:25
I think always working with community is the best bit, we've you know, got some great relationships with our community members, our stallholders, and even our contractors we all work really well together to deliver positive events for the community.
Sue-Anne Chapman 4:41
Thats wonderful. Another tough question, Do you have a favourite event?
Heidi Mason 4:47
Taste Bundaberg would have to be my favourite event. Anyone who knows me knows that I love food so you can't go past that one.
Sue-Anne Chapman 4:54
Fantastic. Now looking to the future events in the age COVID our industry has been decimated as with tourism and arts and culture, and we're starting to see a little glimmer of light with our state government roadmap to recovery. What do you feel optimistic about the future? Or, you know, do you want to let us know what the events team is working on as far as the next 6/12 months?
Heidi Mason 5:22
Yeah, we have been quietly. I guess, after sitting on our bums and feeling sorry for ourselves for a little while. We've been talking and chatting and talking to counterparts at other councils and have a number of ideas that we're quietly putting into play in the background, to give the region a number of events that they can come to, but also feel safe and comply with the state government restrictions.
Sue-Anne Chapman 5:50
Fantastic. Thank you for joining us today, Heidi. And yeah, we look forward to seeing what those events evolve over the next few months.
Heidi Mason 5:57
That's my pleasure.
Dana Maggacis 5:58
Thank you, ladies. We're now going to hear from Rebecca Macduff, our gallery curator. She's going to introduce an interesting new exhibition to us.
Rebecca McDuff 6:07
On Friday the 28th of August galleries are excited to be reopening across the region. At our Childers art space located on Churchill Street in Childers, we are opening with an exhibition that is in response to the COVID crisis that we've all faced. This exhibition, titled Art As An Act of Optimism is about the wonderful response that artists have had during this difficult time. This has been a time when the flexibility and the creative approach to life has seen people blossom, despite the difficult circumstances they've been living in. The gallery was able to react really quickly when the COVID crisis struck, and turned a lot of its programming into a digital platform. One of the great things that happened during this time was the daily art challenge. This was pretty much the work of our marketing officer Toni Schuch, and everyday Toni set a challenge for artists, professional, non professional ,amateur, across the region, actually across the country to be part of this challenge. We had responses from our regional artists, artists from across the state, artists from across the country, even some international artists responded. So what Toni did was she would set a word each day. A simple word – vintage, dog, tea – it could be anything. And the artist had to respond in whatever way they did. What was great to see was the breadth of responses that came in with this exhibition. So artists are able to do drawings, they shared art journals. We had this amazing artist that made me laugh all the time, called Rob Andrews. And he made these fantastic little daily vignettes that were all about the challenge that we'd set. There were digital films that were made. I really enjoyed watching Emma Thorpe. Emma is an artist from Hervey Bay, and she would put up these really interesting digital films every day in response to the challenge. And so we also saw our regional artists Sue Hutton, Jenny McDuff, we also saw Adrianne Williams, Julie Highlands, Debbie Bennett. Most people are artists who just daily would respond in their own arts practice to the challenge that we put out. We've ended up with thousands of images under the hashtag Arts Bundy At Home on Instagram and Facebook. And so this Art Is An Act of Optimism exhibition is actually about those images that we received. So what we want to do is create an exhibition that's joyful, that brings a smile, that shows that in the midst of adversity, art can flourish. And it can blossom, and it can actually bring a smile. There'll be examples of the Instagram posts, some of the digital films will be shown, they'll actually be some of the actual artworks that were created during the COVID lock down that we're actually going to be showing in this exhibition as well. So it's going to be a real mixture, but it's going to be also a little bit of a sneak inside people's homes because I don't know whether you like me, but I noticed during COVID we suddenly got to see people in their own environments, and to see artists in their own studios or environments is particularly exciting for me. So I really enjoyed that part of the Arts Bundy At Home challenge. And that's what we really want to bring forth in this exhibition. So it's going to be something a little bit different to what we normally show, it won't all be professional artists or late stage career artists or anything like that will actually be everyday people that have created works for us. So some of them are even children's works. And it really is a celebratery exhibition for where we're at now – coming out slowly from the tunnel of COVID. Also in this exhibition will be a pod in which people can record stories for the space between projects that was launched by Arts Bundaberg. This project is about looking at what happens in social isolation, that when it's a time of such historical importance, we need to tell our stories. And we're asking people to tell theirs. The thoughts and words shared at this time will be treated with utmost care. But it's a way that we can start to talk about what does the space between now and then look like? So these stories we recorded in this pod during the exhibition, and they then later will actually possibly become works that are used in exhibitions or plays or other arts outcomes that will be produced by the Arts Bundaberg team. So this is also a great interactive element and to this exhibition. So really excited to be welcoming people to Art As An Act of Optimism at our Childers Arts Space from Friday the 28th of August, and I look forward to chatting next time. Bye.
Dana Maggacis 10:29
Thank you for that, Rebecca. Now, here's Paul Donaldson, with more on the Cochrane Artificial Reef that we heard about last week.
Paul Donaldson 10:36
What was the first item that started the reef and how did it feel to get that first item in place on the sea bed?
Alan Cochrane 10:45
We were numb and ecstatic if you can believe the two. We wanted something first up that would be very, very interesting to spear fishermen type divers. We didn't want spearing on there. But we wanted scuba divers. We wanted recreational divers to see something interesting on the bottom. So we acquired through Smiths Premix their gravel dredge off Tomato Island. And 350 tonne, we had to explode ordinances in it to blow the bottom out. And it was absolutely fantastic.
Brenda Cochrane 11:28
For a first experience it was very overwhelming because we started the day at about five o'clock on a lot of time we went down the river and down the coast towing this thing and it all happened. I think we got back about 10 o'clock at night back to bed, you know, the Burnett Bridge. It was – we were absolutely worn out with just the adrenaline rush and but that was the first thing, our big dredge from Smiths Premix and Smiths Premix, and a lot of the local businesses in town, even though they couldn't help us with money donations – they'd lend us equipment, trucks, loads of back up, oxy gear, welders, in-kind donations. It was absolutely fabulous.
Paul Donaldson 12:09
Now I've sat in the aircraft down there many times, lots of fun. How exciting was it and what was the response from divers once you've got those planes down?
Alan Cochrane 12:20
The response from divers was absolutely fantastic. The aircraft came through….
Brenda Cochrane 12:25
We got a phone call to say that Majestic Airlines have gone brock and they had two aircraft – three actually – and so we were – they asked us if we'd like to put in a quote, you know, a tender to buy them. So we hurredly called a committee meeting and I think some of the committee members thought we were a bit mad. So we offered $1,000 each, but by the time we took all the rivets and all that the stuff that we could salvage off, we got that thousand dollars back anyway for each aircraft in all the stuff that we took off it. So that was a challenge to get them down to the coast.
Alan Cochrane 13:00
That's correct. We had to cut the wings off unfortunately to get past signs on the way down. We had trucks linked to a slow loaders, cranes to lift them on, lift them off to get down to Elliott Heads where people still go to the artificial reef and looking at them on the bottom, and I've sat in the cockpit so many times and played pilot, as everyone does when they go there. I had one very good experience with a girl who went down with me and we sat in the cockpit, copilot and pilot's seat with the one joystick left between us. And I kept trying to pull her away from the window and the vice chairman of our committee, Roger Cowl was outside trying to take a photo and I kept pulling her away and she couldn't understand why I was pulling her away, but she was going to kneel on a stone fish in the cockpit. So we had a few words underwater. The whole thing with the doors off it, the windows taken out, etc. They end up being called a and b. And in the end because we're Alan and Brenda, one got called Alan one got called Brenda.
Brenda Cochrane 14:20
And Brenda was always the one with the best fish you.
Alan Cochrane 14:22
You have to start don't you (laughter)
Brenda Cochrane 14:26
Apparently the way it landed, it was in the right position for the currents to go through it. And I got the best (laughter)
Alan Cochrane 14:33
You swim up to Brenda's rear hatch, and they'd be a mangrove jack that long just sitting, lying, hovering in the side with these big fangs sticking out. Wonderful and there's a rubble trail between the two A and B. And ironically enough, if people dive at the rubble trail in winter can have many snapper on it because they like that rubbly bottom. So it was they were beautifully received. We floated them out, which was a major project in itself (with our hearts in our mouths) that they would make it out there and not end up on the bottom so all the divers who have dived it and we've had a couple who could freedive it and that's what 73 feet Brenda in the old…
Brenda Cochrane 15:26
Alan Cochrane 15:29
And the fish live is … sometimes I have had to, when I want to take a photo, of a fellow underwater like a photo Julian that we've shown you and I used to have to hold the camera and then go (loud whistle) and that used to … the yellow tailed scab would be there by the thousands and thousands. So yeah, that was one way. Oh, I forgot to say before that the first ship we sank appropriately was called Ceratodus. And of course ceratodus, in the Burnett River, lungfish. So yeah.
Dana Maggacis 16:10
And finally today, here's the story behind the Alloway Farm Markets.
Alloway Farm Markets started about five or six years ago with the purpose of supporting local farmers helping them get rid of their seconds and thirds produce. As farmers ourselves we know that type of produce is skin blemish. Internally the fruit is still just as delicious if not better, as it can be bit rougher. So that was just an outlet for our local area to start with. As it went on, business increased. We expanded to Bundaberg and surrounds and then over the time we've just increased. We've added coffee espresso machine now. Tom from Barking Dog Coffee is now roasting his coffee out here. So yeah, just like Tom, just keep adding things like that. As for Redridge Produce, I'm third generation there. We've been operating for close to 30 years now moving out of small crop farming into greenhouse farming in the early 2000s. And moving to figs in late 2000s to 2007-2008. And that's our main focus today. We're slowly trying to learn the fig crop better as it was very new to us and learn how to extend its season as well. So we are now picking 365 days a year. That was just in in time we just decided that we could go to the next level I guess we'll add something different so yeah, we decided to start making our own jams, sauces, relishes. Mainly starting with just our figs and fig products and cherry tomatoes. We'll make tomato sauce out of them. Moving on from that to them we started with making homemade biscuits and stuff like that using our family recipes that we loved growing up, well that I loved growing up as a kid as well as well, my parents when they were growing up, so just stocking our produce. All our produce as well with avocados and our figs and also supporting other local business not just farms, well farmers in a way but bakers and fruit trees and stuff like that as well. Just trying to find you know, get through as many local businesses in involved in our business is the main key there. Yeah, just we just let let the demand take us where it needs to go. So at that moment, that's our main focus is just increasing our food and food production probably. As a business really well, especially with having a fresh produce market as we are pretty large fruit bowl for Australia and the world. Having a lot of local produce a lot of different variety of local produce available all year round, really helps us having a nice consistent stock and being able to showcase a lot of the local region's flavours off too I guess.
That's all for today. We hope you enjoyed the programme. Join us next week for more news and stories from the wonderful Bundaberg region. Bye for now.