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East Water Tower visit emotional for family

Easdt Water Tower
Brother and sister duo Doug King and Val Gaal visit the Easte Water Tower which their great grandfather built in the 1900s.

A special trip to the Bundaberg East Water Tower has proven to be an emotional one for brother and sister duo Doug King and Val Gaal.

The pair were recently given access to the heritage listed tower by Bundaberg Regional Council after they enquired about the building their great-grandfather had once constructed in the early 1900s.

Neils Carl Steffensen, known as the “Builder of Bundaberg” was the contractor assigned to the task and completed the construction of the iconic tower in just two years.

It was one of the main water sources of its time and the original water tower for the region.

Doug and Val said it was a privilege to be able to see inside the tower and view the work and skillset of their great-grandfather.

“I have been wanting to do this for a lot of years,” Doug said.

“Just the fact it was built by a family member, it is special and I am amazed that he could do that type of thing back in those times.”

The pair said it wasn't just the East Water Tower that Neils Carl Steffensen had famously constructed.

The local man was also the builder of the Bundaberg Post Office, original National Bank and the police station – just to name a few.

“He was obviously very busy,” Val laughed.

An obituary printed in the Maryborough Chronicle on Thursday, 18 September 1947 details the many amazing works that Neils Carl Steffensen was involved in.

Many of the historic buildings are still iconic features in the region today:

“The death occurred on Saturday at the Bundaberg General Hospital of Mr. Niels Carl Steffensen, who had been aptly named the ‘Builder of Bundaberg'— not only in brick and stone, but also of families,” the obituary reads.

“He was the proud head of five generations.“Buildings he constructed in Bundaberg and Maryborough stand as monuments to his memory.

“Born at Zeeland, Denmark, on August 27, 1853, Mr. Steffensen came to Queensland in the sailing ship ‘Alardus,' which reached Maryborough on June 20,1873.

“He was then not quite 20.”

The obituary read that Neils received a sound education in the building trade.

“He went to Brisbane during the slump in building in Maryborough and worked on many fine buildings there.

“His first work in this country was building punts for the transporting of sugar cane and log timber on the Mary River.

“Attracted to Bundaberg, Steffensen's first local job with his business partner and shipmate Hansen was the erection of the Q.N. Bank premises.”

The pair also built the Bundaberg Post Office and Queen's Theatre.

“After a period in cane farming, Mr. Steffensen erected several business premises in Bourbon [sic] Street and other parts of the city.

“He also constructed the piers and wings of the Burnett and Kennedy bridges, the police station and watch house, and the East Bundaberg water tower.

“When a disastrous fire destroyed many business premises in Childers Mr. Steffensen was engaged there for many months erecting brick buildings.

“Many of the Bourbong Street buildings are also credited to Mr Steffensen including the third storey of the Federal Hotel and Wyper Bros factory.

“Other buildings which stand as examples of his ability are the Church of England, the Bundaberg General Hospital, the Ambulance Centre, the Holy Rosary Church, and the Olympia Airdome,” the Maryborough Chronicle reported.

“Thus it was that he became known as the ‘Builder of Bundaberg'.”

Take a virtual tour of the East Water Tower:

Related stories: Drone survey assesses condition of water towers

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  1. Ashley, I own the house Neil's Steffensen and his wife built in the early 1900s and brought up their family in

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