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Community gets into the spirit for Australia Day

Australia Day Railway Picnic
Finding a way to combine patriotism and sensible headwear were (back row from left) Wendy Culic, Leeanne Connally, Rhonda Jago, Mandy Stevens, (front) Tim Stevens and Maurice Johnston at the Great Australia Bites Railway Picnic today.

About 2000 people gathered to celebrate Australia Day in true dinky-di Aussie fashion at the Great Australian Bites Railway Picnic at Nielson Park today.

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was a fantastic display of community spirit.

“We definitely had a tough year in 2020 but it's great to see people enjoying themselves again while still observing COVID-19 restrictions,” he said.

“Congratulations to the organisers and thank you to everyone who helped to make this such a successful event.”

Bundaberg Region families and friends mingled with visitors to commemorate where we are as a modern nation even while honouring a bygone era, as those enjoying snags, pies and beers mixed freely with those sampling international cuisine.

Yet others tapped into the event’s history by enjoying a picnic hamper on the lawn, just as it was done when the first Bundaberg Railway Picnic was hosted in 1922.

Having revived the Railway Picnic with great success last year, event organisers Rotary Club of Bundaberg City Daybreak again hosted today’s celebrations on behalf of Bundaberg Regional Council.

Australia Day Railway Picnic
Mel Anderson (from left) Ross Christ, Janine Cutmore, Baz Cutmore and Katie McLucas were in a tropical mood at the Great Australian Bites Railway Picnic at Bargara's Nielson Park today.

Club president Dave Facer was pleased that the picnic, which coincided with 100 years of Rotary in Australia, had again proved a hit with the Bundaberg Region community.

“Keeping the event COVID-safe was a big challenge but one that was certainly worthwhile,” Dave said.

“Everyone has been appreciative of the efforts to put this together, the entertainment has been great and so has the weather, so it has been another success.

“The fact that we are celebrating 100 years of Rotary has made this special for us and it’s been good to have all of the Rotary groups of Bundaberg here to be a part of that.”

Initially restricted to railway workers and their families only, the event was later opened to the public, becoming popular with residents who would catch the steam train to Nielson Park to enjoy the beach activities on offer.

There were no trains to catch today but that there was plenty of entertainment on offer with beach activities, mini sports, a labyrinth beach walk, sand sculpture competition, artisan barbecue cooking demonstration and popular local musicians providing the soundtrack for the day.

Stallholders were busy but also enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere that pervaded Nielson Park with Geoff Smith of Chic’s Pies believing it had been a perfect day to celebrate our nation.

Australia Day Railway Picnic
Geoff and Jane Smith of Chic's Pies were busy but that did not stop them enjoying the atmosphere at the Australia Day celebrations at Bargara today.

“This is what it’s all about, everyone coming together to celebrate,” Geoff said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it ‘s great to see people coming out and celebrating Australia Day.

“This is the second year we have been at the event and it’s great that Rotary, Council and the State Government can get together and put a great day on like this.”

Council’s Australia Day celebrations were supported by the National Australia Day Council and Great Australian Bites, a Queensland Government initiative.