Weekender: skate park event

Bundaberg the newest ECO Certified Destination

Megan Dean

The Bundaberg Region has become the second destination in Queensland and fifth in Australia to announce ECO Destination Certification from Ecotourism Australia.

The globally recognised ECO Destination Certification process through Ecotourism Australia is complex and recognises the efforts of the entire community, local government and tourism industry towards all aspects of regional sustainability.

Following independent assessment across 91 criteria, the region achieved the certification at the Ecotourism level which is defined as a “[n]ature-based tourism destination with a strong commitment to ecotourism principles. This involves cultural and natural interpretation and education for visitors, and local business engagement in sustainability”.

The Bundaberg Region is home to some of the most lauded eco-certified experiences on the Great Barrier Reef including Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, Lady Musgrave Experience, Mon Repos Turtle Centre and Kellys Beach Resort.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said Bundaberg Regional Council had led the certification process with support from a range of stakeholders including Bundaberg Tourism, PCCC and local operators and organisations.

“It is a massive coup for the Bundaberg Region to achieve ECO Destination Certification and sees our community become one of only a small number in the country to do so,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“This achievement demonstrates our community’s respect and care for the natural environment and will ensure we continue to grow in a sustainable way into the future.

“Ecotourism Australia’s independent auditor had some wonderful feedback for our region in making their decision and commended Council for its proactive approach to sustainability.

“This achievement has obvious benefits for our economy but it will also benefit our environment by providing a framework to constantly maintain and improve sustainability practices.

“It is also wonderful for our community members who can be proud of the role they play in preserving and protecting this place we are lucky enough to call home.”

The auditor also noted that, of the top five Bundaberg Region attractions and traveller favourites on TripAdvisor in 2022, three were nature-based and included Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and Alexandra Park Zoo.

Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive Elissa Keenan said Ecotourism Australia was proud to award the Bundaberg Region ECO Destination Certification at the Ecotourism level.

“Bundaberg Regional Council’s rigorous efforts to implement sustainable destination management practices at a global standard mark a strengthened environmental focus for the region’s tourism industry,” Ms Keenan said.

“Achieving ECO Destination Certification not only supports local Ecotourism Australia certified operators but inspires local tourism businesses to implement sustainability and achieve certification.

“Bundaberg Regional Council shows an ongoing commitment to developing the region’s responsible tourism product by engaging operators to uptake Ecotourism Australia’s globally recognised programs, through our legacy ECO Certification, and now new sustainable tourism programs available to the wider tourism industry.

“Bundaberg’s application demonstrated a passion for, and dedication to, holistic sustainability within the region, championing initiatives such as the One Million Trees Project and the popular Milbi Festival.

“Congratulations to the Bundaberg region on this significant achievement.”

Bundaberg Tourism played a key role in supporting the ECO Destination Certification process which CEO Katherine Reid said was set to make the region even more popular with travellers.

“The tourism industry of the region has long believed that experiencing our internationally significant but fragile natural assets is the greatest way to educate people about the need for conservation,” Ms Reid said.

“The community and our tourism industry take great pride in our role as custodians of the Great Barrier Reef and the precious land, water and sea Country of the Traditional Owners on which we live and ECO Destination Certification is formal acknowledgement of this.

“The Bundaberg Region continues to shine as one of Australia’s most exciting emerging tourism destinations, with people flocking from around the nation and the globe to experience our unique offerings.

“The knowledge that their holidays are underpinned by respectful, sustainable and, in some cases, regenerative business practices will only strengthen our desirability as a destination.”

What is an ECO Certified Destination?

The ECO Destination Certification program assures travellers that certified destinations are backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices and provide high-quality nature-based tourism experiences within the region.

Becoming a certified ECO Destination means regions will be demonstrating internationally recognised ecotourism credentials to visitors, stakeholders and the community in a manner that is credible and authenticated.

In other words, it’s not just regions saying they’re sustainable – it’s independently assessed, verified and audited.

Auditor gives region ECO tick of approval

Megan Dean

An independent Ecotourism Australia auditor marked the Bundaberg Region as compliant with the 91 criteria for best practice sustainable management standards, granting ECO Destination Certification.

The certification process was led by Bundaberg Regional Council and has seen the region become the second destination in Queensland and fifth in Australia to announce certification.

The globally recognised ECO Destination Certification process through Ecotourism Australia is complex and recognises the efforts of the entire community, Local Government and tourism industry towards all aspects of regional sustainability.

The auditor said “Council is to be praised” for the wealth of information provided for the assessment, with extensive supporting documentation clearly demonstrating the region’s sustainability focus.

Within their closing remarks they said Council and participating stakeholders, which included Bundaberg Tourism, Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service, Port Curtis Coral Coast Trust and tourism operators, were incredibly committed to and focussed on ensuring the future sustainability of the tourism industry in the region.

“Existing operators in the region such as Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Experience are leading the way with their excellent sustainability credentials, and new operators are pursuing ECO Certification for their products,” the auditor said.

“Add to that the passionate and committed community in the Bundaberg Region and there is no doubt this is a destination focussed on being a model eco and sustainable tourism destination now and into the future.”

The auditor noted that, of the top five Bundaberg region attractions and traveller favourites on TripAdvisor in 2022, three were nature-based and included Mon Repos Turtle Encounter, Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and Alexandra Park Zoo.

Of the 91 criteria, four were flagged as compliant with recommendations, including setting regional water consumption reduction targets and compiling up-to-date and consistent visitor data.

The region achieved the certification at the Ecotourism level which is defined as a “[n]ature-based tourism destination with a strong commitment to ecotourism principles. This involves cultural and natural interpretation and education for visitors, and local business engagement in sustainability”.

Matting system trialled at Bargara playground

Megan Dean

A matting system will be trialled at the Bargara Turtle Playground to mitigate microplastic pollution from soft fall “rubber crumbs” as Council continues to work towards a permanent solution.

Much of the soft fall common in modern playgrounds consists of reused tyres to create a product which meets the required safety specifications under the Australian Standards for impact attenuation.

However new research has shown the tendency for this product to disintegrate over time, leading to what is termed rubber crumb which can end up in the ocean.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said Bundaberg Regional Council was committed to finding a solution to rubber crumb but public safety in playgrounds was a priority.

“Council’s parks team has been actively working towards finding a solution to address rubber crumb,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“In consultation with industry and Councils throughout the state we are yet to find a suitable permanent solution which would also adequately protect children from risk of injury.”

Rubber crumb has become more apparent at the Turtle Playground in recent years and has increasingly required additional maintenance and repairs.

Mayor Dempsey said the new matting system would be installed over the top of most of the existing soft fall at the Turtle Playground from next week and would considerably reduce the amount of potential rubber crumb.

“We will continue to investigate alternative solutions to protect our marine environment and our community members and visitors who use our playgrounds.

“With the matting system in place the Turtle Playground will have a slightly different look and feel but it’s important we do what we can to mitigate the risk of microplastics entering the ocean.”

Playground temporarily closed for works

The Bargara Turtle Playground will be temporarily closed from Monday 30 January 2023 to allow for the safe installation of the matting system.

The amenities block will remain accessible during this work.

Weather permitting, the playground is expected to reopen by mid-February.

More about the matting system being trialled:

The playground surface being trialled is Play Matta.

It will see a containment layer placed over the soft fall which will then be topped with tiles made from recycled materials.

Bundaberg hosts ECO Think Destination Forum

Megan Dean

The Bundaberg Region has been selected to host the annual ECO Think Destination Forum to be held just months after it secured ECO Destination Certification.

The three-day forum will be held from 28 to 30 March 2023, presented by Ecotourism Australia and hosted by Bundaberg Regional Council.

The ECO Think Destination Forum is open to a wide variety of destination stakeholders including but not exclusive to, representatives from local councils and tourism organisations, Federal, State and Regional Tourism Organisations, National Parks and Forestry, First Nations organisations, tourism marketing specialists and other destination management organisations.

Attendees will hear from and network with a variety of sustainability specialists who are paving the way in eco and sustainable destination management.

It will be an opportunity to learn about best practice sustainable and ecotourism destination management, network with destination stakeholders, discover what it means to be an Ecotourism Australia certified destination, and explore ways to engage your local industry in sustainable tourism practices.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was a coup for the Bundaberg Region to secure the Eco Think Destination Forum.

“As a newly certified ECO Destination this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase what our region has to offer to other regions and industry representatives committed to sustainability,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“It will also prove a great opportunity for our local operators to network with the nation’s leaders within the ecotourism industry.”

Attend the 2023 ECO Think Destination Forum

When: Tuesday 28 March to Thursday 30 March
Where: Bundaberg Multiplex
Register with Ecotourism Australia here.

Region’s recycling habits protect environment

Ashley Schipper

Recycling, reusing and repurposing was a major theme for the Bundaberg Region in 2022 with plenty of residents taking advantage of programs, initiatives and Council facilities to ensure they were helping to protect the environment.

Waste and Recycling portfolio spokesperson Cr Tanya McLoughlin said there had been plenty of items recycled straight from households last year, with the majority of the community making good use of yellow-lidded bins or the Containers for Change scheme.

“Throughout the region, each household recycled about 133 kg in the yellow-lidded bins last year, which equates to about 2.5 kg in each bin per week,” she said.

“This has all been sorted through the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) which is operated by Impact Community Services under a program established to provide employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities.

“The organisation is also a partner with the Containers for Change initiative which saw 60 kg of cans collected per household, or 1.1 kg a week.

“This is a fantastic result for our region.”

Cr McLoughlin said recycling was a whole-of-community approach that required small lifestyle changes in order to make a big impact in the region.

“It's so important to recycle right in order to reduce unnecessary waste going into landfill and ultimately, help to protect the environment,” she said.

“If every household ensures they are doing a few small things to recycle, it can really have a huge and positive affect.

“From taking e-waste to special collection points, recycling the right items in your garbage bin or utilising free initiatives like Containers for Change – there are so many ways to keep waste out of landfill.”

Last year, materials recycled from Bundaberg Regional Council waste facilities included:

Mattresses: 11,300 items

Irrigation trickle tape: 420 tonnes

Paint: 35 tonnes

Engine oil: 43 tonnes

E-waste: 311 tonnes

Tyres: 90 tonnes

Items and materials recovered or recycled through private operators and Council included:

Green waste: 26,000 tonnes

Steel: 10,000 tonnes

Concrete: 13,000 tonnes

Cardboard: 7000 tonnes

To help with your recycling goals, Bundaberg Regional Council offers a range of programs and initiatives including:

- eWaste (electronic waste)

- Fluorocycle

- Mobile phone recycling (Mobile Muster)

- drumMUSTER

- Paintback

- ChemClear

- Container Refund Scheme

- Batteries

Find out more here.

Turtley aware tips for summer

Claire Dobbins

January marks the beginning of turtle hatchling season and it's also the perfect time to be enjoying the beautiful beaches around the Bundaberg Region.

As part of Bundaberg Regional Council’s Turtle Awareness campaign, beachgoers are reminded to tread lightly at the beach this summer.

There are a few things to be aware of when you are enjoying summer days at the beach:

Tread lightly around the sand dunes. Don’t dig or play around the sand dunes. This is where turtles nest. Set up your umbrellas further down the beach and do your best to stay away from these sensitive areas. 

Enjoying a snack at the beach? Don’t forget to take ALL your rubbish when you leave and dispose of it correctly. You can find information on waste and recycling here.

Spot a little turtle hatchling? If you are lucky enough to see turtle hatchlings emerging, don’t interrupt! Avoid their path and admire them from afar. 

Residents and visitors can learn more about looking out for these turtley cool creatures by visiting the Mon Repos Turtle Centre or by signing up to the Turtley Aware Club.

What's on

First Nations fashion to Strut on Moncrieff stage

Ashley Schipper

Local designer and Gooreng Gooreng woman Julie Appo will join forces with Melbourne's fashion guru Linda Jackson AO to bring her “wearable art” on to the Moncrieff runway in Strut: First Nations Fashion.

The creative collaboration between the designers will be held at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Saturday 4 February and will feature local models showcasing a mix of Julie's hand-painted and plain garments which have been inspired by the Burnett River rocks.

Julie has multiple degrees in fashion and visual arts as well as a passion for flow fashion over fast fashion.

She quickly made a name for herself across Australia after she established her own small business in Bundaberg called Best Dressed Art.

Linda Jackson has been a pioneering figure in fashion design since the early 1970s.

She is known for bold silhouettes and prints drawn from the Australian landscape, her spirituality, as well as rich collaborations with other artists.

Linda's successful label, Bush Couture, has seen her working closely with Indigenous communities on textile designs, in particular Utopia Station in the Northern Territory and Daintree Rainforest Queensland.

Julie said having an opportunity to work alongside Linda was a dream come true.

“Linda has been a very high-profile instigator of the fashion industry and she is my mentor,” she said.

“I wanted to take a new direction with my fashion and Linda has been guiding me.

“I do a lot of digital art but Linda has really encouraged me to paint directly on to the garments – she is encouraging me to be an artist as well as a fashion designer.”

Strut: First Nations Fashion Show to feature dozens of Julie's garments

The fashion show, Strut: First Nations Fashion, will feature up to 40 of Julie's garments, some of which will be hand painted.

“It will probably be the first time that Bundaberg has seen me working in this sort of genre,” Julie said.

“The art will be based on my interpretation of the Burnett rock imagery.

“I am Gooreng Gooreng and the rocks are in my traditional area.”

Tickets are available for Strut: First Nations Fashion and can be purchased here.

The Strut: First Nations Fashion show will begin at 6 pm at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Saturday 4 February.

Old stumps had a purpose for artist John Olsen

Emma Turnbull

During a fishing trip to North Queensland during the 1980s Bundaberg artist John Olsen gathered wooded stumps he knew would one day have a purpose.

Now almost four decades later, that timber has been turned into works of art which will be displayed in John’s upcoming exhibition From the Sea of Life.

Through his 35-year artist career John has had a focus on upcycling metal to represent environmental challenges faced by climate change.

The community will be able to follow John’s journey from a humble fisherman through to becoming one of the region’s most talented artists when they visit his exhibition at the Hazzard Gallery next month.

John said he was well-known for his work creating metal sculptures from scavenged metal tools and discarded material, and he had now returned to working with wood.

“It was a long time back when my wife, Edna, and I decided that I would bring timber home with us on our boat and the back of a ute from the far north,” John said.

“I worked with wood way back, and just kept the wood stored – I knew the old stumps had a purpose for me.

“I thought I needed a change of pace and that was how this all came about.

“It’s just a matter of working out what you want and recognising it, then pursuing it.”

John said his From the Sea of Life exhibition was made up of small-scale, marine life sculptures and he was excited to share the artwork with the local community.

Hazzard Gallery’s Marilyn Batty said this exhibition had evolved from John’s passion for saving things from ending up in landfill.

“His sculptures in timber – fish and stingrays – are pulled from his memories of his time as a professional fisherman,” she said.

“He saved timbers from the Ravenshoe area back in the days of climate change protesters and conscription.

“He brought many of the timbers back to Bundy on his boat and they have sat in his stockpile for years.

“The results are stunning.”

From the Sea of Life will open on Friday 3 February at the Hazzard Gallery.

For more information contact Marilyn on 0487 324 291 or email battymarilyn@gmail.com.

In Our Group with Nardoo Nursery

Emma Turnbull

Nardoo Nursery has grown from a small garden shed to a thriving space where people of all abilities work and learn together to promotes good environmental practices.

Tell us about Nardoo Nursery

Community Lifestyle Support is a not-for-profit disability charitable enterprise that offers best practice programs and services in the areas of disability, social and community health.

Nardoo Nursery is a social enterprise of Community Lifestyle Support that sells plants from our retail outlet and uses the profits to fund social programs run through CLS.

Our plants are propagated from the six acres of gardens on site and grown by our volunteers in our wholesale nursery until they are ready to sell.

Customers can buy healthy, inexpensive plants with help from our qualified horticulturists.

Nardoo Retail Nursery is open weekdays from 8 am to 2 pm and Saturdays from 8 am to noon and is located at 48 Ashfield Road, Kalkie.

Follow the driveway right around to Nardoo Nursery where we are located next to a huge, majestic fig tree.

When and where do you meet?

Nardoo Nursery has a wholesale area that operates Monday to Friday from 6 am to 2 pm and this is where the majority of our volunteers work producing a range of plants including natives, indoor, succulents and exotics.

The volunteers work whatever hours or days suit them although some have Centrelink requirements and do 15 hours per week.

We appreciate our volunteers very much and try to be flexible around the hours that work for them.

We have a lunchroom and outdoor sitting area where we all catch up for morning tea and lunch.

The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly and we always welcome more volunteers.

How can the community be involved?

The community can be involved in several ways from visiting the retail nursery as customers to volunteering.

Nardoo Nursery is on Facebook and the community can follow us there and we post events, plant sales and gardening tips on our site.

We also host fortnightly markets on the front lawns on Saturday mornings.

Volunteers can work in the nursery or in the gardens including our large organic vegetable garden.

Volunteers will require a Blue and Yellow Card which is free and we help them to complete all their paperwork so it is an easy stress free process.

Our grounds, workshops and some rooms are available for hire to the community if they wish to make enquiries through CLS.

Later this year we will be opening a unique outdoor café so people can browse the nursery and enjoy dining on the large deck amongst the giant figs and gardens.

What significant events will take place this year?

Nardoo has several events during the year including sales and workshops which we advertise on Facebook and through our supportive local media including Bundaberg Now.

Currently we have a red spot sale with a large selection of plants reduced in price until the end of January.

Our next event is Friends of Nardoo which is a plant market held at CLS by several private plant growers.

This gives the community access to a range of unusual plants and raises funds for our social programs.

Multiple stalls will be selling plants including orchids, air plants, bromeliads, indoor plants and other garden plants that may be hard to find in most retail nurseries.

This event will be on Saturday, 4 March from 8 am to noon. Keep an eye out for this and more on our Facebook page as I am also looking at doing Garden and Nursery Tours later in the year.

What’s the history behind Nardoo Nursery?

Nardoo Nursery has grown over the past six years from a small garden shed to a thriving space where people of all abilities work and learn together.

Apart from our volunteers we run a gardening and nursery program for people with a disability, which combines skills with a fun social atmosphere. 

Many of our volunteers and myself started working together over ten years ago at another community nursery before we all came over to Nardoo Nursery.

Now we also have many new volunteers and I see so much friendship and support amongst everyone.

This site was originally the old Sugar Research Station and has all the old original buildings including a three-storey high glasshouse that we are renovating to put back into use as a horticultural growing area.

The site also has several large, old established Figs, pines and native trees set amongst lawns and landscaped gardens.

Why is the group important to the Bundaberg Region?

Nardoo Nursery promotes good environmental practices and encourages sustainable gardens that provide habitat in our urban environment.

Apart from healthy plants we love to help our customers make great plant choices that will survive, thrive and to grow gardens that they can enjoy year-round.

We can advise on landscaping, soil improvement and plants for specific areas like coastal or quick growing for privacy.

How to YouTube

ECO Destination marketing campaign set to Go Off

Megan Dean

To celebrate the region’s ECO Destination Certification an out-of-region destination marketing campaign has been launched to encourage visitors to Go Off in Bundaberg.

The campaign was developed in-house by Bundaberg Regional Council’s Marketing Team with the support of Bundaberg Tourism.

Its aim is to share the region’s ECO certified status while staying true to the region and its sustainability goals.

The term ‘Go Off’ became the hook for the campaign, aimed at representing an ‘Aussie’ lifestyle while remaining short, flexible and something that would stop viewers in their tracks.

The phrase expands to:

Bundaberg Region, where nature experiences go off

Go off… the well-worn path

Go off.. the deep end

Go off... the grid

The design strategically uses white space to draw the viewer into the imagery – and colours – of the Bundaberg Region.

The typography was leveraged as a vessel for the imagery, creating a “peek-a-boo” of what the region has to offer.

Speaking at the launch of the region’s ECO Destination Certification, Mayor Jack Dempsey said the Bundaberg Region was more than ready to “Go Off” and share its success with the rest of the country.

“We’re wanting to take it nationally,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“To have that marketing and branding and that logo, it’s quintessential Bundaberg Region.

“We know it’ll be a conversation piece for many people in the streets and at their dining tables."

All residents and local operators are invited to be part of the campaign and spread the word by accessing a content kit to share on their own platforms.

“If they can spread the word, I think we’re all ambassadors for the Bundaberg Region,” Mayor Dempsey said.

Find out more about the ECO achievement, or apply to achieve ECO certification, here.

With the support of Bundaberg Tourism, Council’s marketing team will lead the initial promotion of the Go Off campaign throughout Australia.