HomeNewsBundaberg Now Podcast #20

Bundaberg Now Podcast #20

In today's episode we learn about Utilitas bioHub, the Botanic Garden's rare fruit tree orchard and hear a new Art as an Act of Optimism song from Chelsea Stutchbury.

Local news highlights include Bundaberg Regional Council's seeking Eco Destination status, deployment of innovative technology on farms in the region, the upgrading of the Gregory River Water Treatment Plant, the Federal budget, plus much more.

You can also listen on Google, Apple, Spotify and now on TuneIn.

Podcast transcript

Dana Maggacis 0:06
Hello and welcome to the weekly Bundaberg Now podcast. I'm Dana Maggacis from Bundaberg Regional Council, and today we have another interesting programme with news and information from across the Bundaberg Region. Soon we'll hear about the Utilitas bioHub, rare fruit trees in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, and hear a new tune from Art as an Act of Optimism. But first, here's Michael Gorey with the news headlines.

Michael Gorey 0:34
Thank you Dana. Making news this week Bundaberg Regional Council is seeking eco destination status to recognise the area's green credentials and boost tourism. Eco Tourism Australia has globally recognised guidelines for environmental sustainability. Only four other locations in Australia have successfully gained accreditation so far. Bundaberg leads the way with technology being deployed on farms to improve management and productivity. Suncoast Gold Macadamias has gizmos and gadgets to measure everything from tree health to soil moisture and weeds. Here's Jason Fleming from Oztech.

Jason Fleming 1:13
So we specialise in spray drones. So we do a lot of for the biggest growers around this area. We do different spray applications in hard to reach areas, wet areas, just crops that they don't want to damage their crop a lot of different stuff with the spray drones.

Michael Gorey 1:28
Work is on schedule to upgrade the Gregory River Water Treatment Plant. Project Engineer Lee Wheeler and Mayor Jack Dempsey tell us more about the $18 million project to future proof water supply to Childers and Woodgate.

Lee Wheeler 1:42
Earthworks around site are approaching completion, with activities now focusing on the sludge drying beds, the majority of structural concrete is now complete with the project transitioning into a building phase with interconnecting pipework and mechanical and electrical fitout.

Jack Dempsey 1:58
The Gregory Water Treatment Facility is so vitally important to the residents of this part of the Bundaberg Region, but also to the growth in this particular part of the Region.

Michael Gorey 2:09
The Federal Budget has delivered good news for jobs and infrastructure. Mayor Jack Dempsey gives his commentary on what it means for the Bundaberg Region.

Jack Dempsey 2:19
While the Federal Government has delivered a positive budget which offers a roadmap for recovery from the pandemic which is affecting not just Australia but the whole of the world. There are welcome funds here for local roads and community infrastructure, which will be fantastic for the Bundaberg Region if we get our fair share. This will help to create jobs and provide lasting benefits. I'm also pleased to see the Building Better Regions Fund extended for a fifth round. The Bundaberg Region missed out last time, but hopefully we'll be successful with our next application for a Regional Aquatic Centre. Extra funding for water infrastructure is potentially positive for our region. I hope that those discussions will also occur between the Federal and State Governments to tap into this for reinstatement of Paradise Dam to its full capacity, so we can implement our pipeline of investment opportunities.

Michael Gorey 3:16
In sport, Peter O'Reilly won the richest ever Greyhound race in Bundaberg with ‘Flying Jet' taking out the $25,000 winners cheque in the Bundaberg Cup final on Monday. Flying Jet has now chalked up 15 wins from 52 starts. Finally, the Bundaberg Bio Hub Industrial Park is now open for business at the former East Bundaberg Wastewater Treatment Plant. Our reporter Wayne Heidrich spoke with Utilitas CEO Fiona Waterhouse.

Wayne Heidrich 3:46
Hi Fiana, lovely to be here today of the obviously a momentous occasion for you Utilitas.

Fiona Waterhouse 3:51
Yes thank you Wayne, it is a big day today. It's taken seven years in partnership with the Council to be able to start the process of repurposing this retired sewage treatment plant into a next generation Industrial Park that makes energy from waste agriculture and industry organic material.

Wayne Heidrich 4:12
So you've had the official unveiling of the plaque today. So where to from here Fiona?

Fiona Waterhouse 4:17
Yes, I think being on a plaque, it's momentous. I'm down on a plaque, there you go. So where to from here today we're open for tenancies, and so we've already been having some discussions with potential tenants to come and locate so people from aquaculture, food processing, different organic material, processing fertiliser, we've got some Biogas companies like Energy 360, that are looking to locate their Biogas facilities here. We're going to build our own Biogas Facility here, and we've got Recarbon who are from Silicon Valley, who we're going to produce hydrogen here on one of the tenancies from our Biogas, and hopefully we've just cleared over here, we're going to get a tenant who wants to come in and make food products or, yeah, we're kind of putting the call out today. And we want aquaculture tenants over here so we've got some vessels that are available to be repurposed for land based aquaculture, we already have a master plan for the approvals on the site. So, so long as the various tenants fit with the requirements of the site, then the planning process should be a lot more streamlined than perhaps if they were trying to start from scratch on their own on their own site, and I think we heard that today that one of the challenges when you were a manufacturing company, or a new processor, when you come into a new community is trying to find a place where you can plug and play your manufacturing facility, and that's what we've set up here. We want people to be able to come in and plug and play, we can provide them organic waste treatment, we can provide them wastewater treatment, we can provide them electricity, gas, hot water, carbon dioxide, laboratory services, because of course the Council have their nadar accredited water services laboratory here, and we have a specialist biorefining Laura tree, including our pilot plant that's out the front,

Wayne Heidrich 6:21
How big a role is the Bundaberg Region going to play in supplying raw materials to this facility?

Fiona Waterhouse 6:27
Over time, a very very big role because we hope to scale this facility to be a significant player in the bio methane and hydrogen space and so over time, a lot, and I think in the in the first instance, about 30,40,50,000 tonnes a year of material, but who knows where that can go in the future, because some of the some of the opportunities we have is being able to put crops that are really conducive to digestion and producing energy from the digestion process, we can actually pay farmers for cash crop during the spelling time, the fellow time for their land. So there's always time that they have to give their land a break, and in that time, sometimes they pay to grow their own crop, but we should be able to now pay them to grow a crop, and so it means they can restore their soil with a different kind of crop and achieve that outcome, but also potentially make some money off that. So that's our longer term aim is to really fully embed the agricultural supply chain at the front end and including at the back end the fertiliser end as well. So that's that's a key long term objective for us.

Wayne Heidrich 7:41
Are you having any luck in getting the corporate sector lined up to to invest in these types of facilities?

Fiona Waterhouse 7:47
We're very fortunate that we have finally found Smart Capital Invest and their Ethical Development Fund of Australia, and now not only have they helped us finance the, and carry out the demolition works to get the site prepared for tenencies, but they also have this fund that has an appetite that attracts investors that want to invest in exactly this kind of opportunity, and I think that for us has been the game changer. The traditional approach to financing, to financing projects is a little bit naive that hasn't really kept up with where the bioeconomy and other things are heading, and I think now that we've got this Ethical Development Fund, and the capability within Smart Capital Invest, to help us originate these financing, financing arrangements. We're in a different, we're in a different place.

Michael Gorey 8:40
Thank you Wayne and Fiona. For more local news visit bundabergnow.com. Back to you, Dana.

Dana Maggacis 8:47
Thanks, Michael. Now, here's Ray Johnson from Rare Fruits Australia, chatting with us about a beautiful part of our Botanic Gardens.

Ray Johnson 8:55
We're at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens, and we're in the midst of a rare fruit collection that we have here. We started about 10 years ago, and over those years, it's grown quite substantially, and a number of fruiting trees here. The trees in this collection here we call them all rare fruits. And there was a time when all of them would have been quite rare to Australia because they're mostly nearly all exotics. They've come from overseas and some of them have slowly been introduced to Australia. It's unlikely you'll find some of these fruits in a fruit shop. Mainly because they don't transport well. They don't last long. They need to be picked off the tree and eaten straightaway.

Dana Maggacis 9:39
So Ray, we're almost halfway through Spring already. How are the plants going?

Ray Johnson 9:43
This spring has been an amazing flowering of all sorts of trees and no less here in the gardens. We've had trees flowering that haven't done much flowering in the past but now are just looking fantastic. Well the giant Lau Lau or New Guinea Lau Lau, beautiful, bright red, scarlet red flowers, they're really outstanding, and then the fruit continues on to be red as well. Another interesting one that we have here is the Emby, which is a West African tree, and it has just literally thousands and thousands of small flowers. The branches are actually solid flowers, but as it goes on, a lot of the flowers fall away, and we finish up having just a few odd fruit along the branch.

Dana Maggacis 10:27
Do we have any Australian native plants in the rear fruit tree orchid?

Ray Johnson 10:31
One of the native plants that we have in our garden here is the finger lime, and we have one here that's doing very very well. There a rainforest tree, Australian rainforest tree, and the fruit of this one has a black skin and red flesh, and we at the moment, we have quite a substantial crop. They're very popular, you can use the fruit in drinks, in salads, stir fries, and is a lot of interest in them at the moment.

Dana Maggacis 10:59
Wow, there's so many interesting fruits. Can you tell us a bit more about a few more?

Ray Johnson 11:03
Another interesting fruit that we have here is the Javadi Kava, and the interesting thing about your Javadi Kava is that they grow right on the trunk of the tree, even from the base of the trunk all the way up to the upper branches. So it's, it's an interesting one to look at as well. One of the trees we have in the collection here is the Panama Berry, and it's very sweet. It's about the size of a small strawberry I suppose. Matter of fact, sometimes they call it the strawberry tree, you have to be quick to get them there because the birds also love them. Matter of fact, the fig bird is usually sitting there waiting for them to ripen. The taste is, I suppose a strawberry fairy floss type, tastes a bit unusual. Like all the things in here, they're all a bit unusual. The Jackfruit is, takes quite a few months to ripen and they can grow very large. It's, I think, known to be one of the biggest fruits in the world. This one here is not quite the biggest in the world, but it's still interesting to look at fruit tree we have here in front of us is the cherry of the Rio Grande. It's a Brazilian tree and was introduced to Australia quite a few years ago, but it's never been good in the marketplace, the fruit is way too soft, and wouldn't transport well, but to have one in your backyard is a great asset. So one of the trees that we have in the collection here is called a Miracle Fruit, and the reason it's called the Miracle Fruit is because when the fruit is ripe, and you can eat it, and you think well there's nothing very interesting about that, but if you have a lemon nearby, and taste that lemon, it will make the lemon taste sweet, and that's a miracle. The rare fruit garden collection here is well worth having a look at. Bring your camera along because you never know what you're going to find, they flower and fruit at different times, mainly through the warmer months, but even in the winter, you can get some things.

Dana Maggacis 13:02
And for those of us interested, can we try any of the fruits?

Ray Johnson 13:06
Yes, come along and it theres fruit on and it's ripe, and you know it's ripe, be sure it's ripe then have a taste.

Dana Maggacis 13:13
Thanks Ray. Now we've got another great tune. The Arts and Culture Services Team has been working with local artists through the Regional Arts Development Fund to showcase their original work right here on the Bundaberg Now podcast. A total of 11 artists will be featured throughout the upcoming weeks, and this week we will hear from Chelsea Stutchbury.

Arts Bundaberg Advertisement 13:33
The Moncrief Entertainment Centre, Bundaberg Regional Galleries and Bundaberg Regional Libraries and together we're Arts Bundaberg. We love the Arts just as much as you do, and whether you're a book lover, an art lover, or a theatre lover, the Arts and Cultural Services of the Bundaberg Regional Council are connecting locals all in one place. To keep up to date with the things you love, jump online to artsbundaberg.com.au

Chelsea Stutchbury 14:04
Hi, my name is Chelsea Stutchbury. I'm a singer, songwriter and producer currently completing my honours year of a Bachelor of Music Contemporary at the Sydney University Conservatorium of Music. I wrote, recorded and produced this song titled ‘The Butterfly', which is about my grandfather who passed away when I was 16. He was like a father to me and although he's no longer with me in person, every time I see a butterfly, I like to think it is his Spirit watching over me. I hope you enjoyed this heartfelt track.

Song – The Butterfly

Arts Bundaberg Advertisement 18:43
Art as an Act of Optimism the podcast series brought to you by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council, to support local Arts and Culture in Regional Queensland. Keep listening to the Bundaberg Now podcast to discover more talented artists within our Region. To keep up to date with all things arts, jump online to artsbundaberg.com.au.

Dana Maggacis 19:11
That's all for today, we hope you enjoyed the programme. Join us next week for more news and stories from across the Bundaberg Region. Bye for now.

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