Weekender: community creations for zoo animals

Morning tea a chance to thank volunteers

Emma Turnbull

To celebrate National Volunteers Week and to thank local volunteers for their tireless efforts within the community, Bundaberg Regional Council will host a special morning tea next month.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said volunteers were the beating heart of every community and in Council alone, more than 150 volunteers made up the organisation.

He said the morning tea would be a chance for these volunteers, and many more from right around the region, to be thanked for their time.

“The Bundaberg Region is renowned for its generous and caring spirit, made up of thousands of volunteers who give their time and dedication to help others,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“We all know someone who volunteers, whether it is a local firefighter, a tuckshop assistant or the person who delivers Meals on Wheels.

“Our volunteers are all worth their weight in gold.

“During National Volunteer Week the community has the chance to recognise these community members and say thank you to each and every one of them.”

This year the volunteers morning tea will be held on Wednesday 16 May at the Bundaberg Multiplex with local organisations and volunteers invited to attend.

Guest speaker Senior Australian of the Year 2022 Valmai Dempsey will be discussing her passion for volunteering at the event.

Volunteer role lifelong for Val

Starting as a cadet volunteer while still in primary school, Valmai (Val) Dempsey has dedicated her life to St John Ambulance.

With more than 50 years of selfless service to others under her belt, she is one of the Australian Capital Territory’s longest-serving volunteers.

In 2020, Val faced her biggest challenge yet as a St John Ambulance volunteer.

First with the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, Val led 40 fellow volunteers as they supported fire-affected communities during the emergency that stretched over many weeks.

Then when the pandemic hit, she displayed unwavering commitment to the St John team, despite heavy impacts on team morale.

Without hesitation, Val personally contacted every volunteer to check they were ‘doing okay’ in terms of welfare, mental health and morale.

It is these tireless commitments to St John that has led many in the community to know her lovingly as ‘Aunty Val’.

For those interested in hearing Val speak about her incredible volunteering journey, at the Council’s volunteer morning tea, click here to purchase a ticket. 

Council’s volunteer morning tea

When: 10 am to 11.30 am on Tuesday, 16 May
Where: Bundaberg Multiplex
Cost: $15 per person – please note ticketing closes Friday 5 May.

Carinbundi gets creative to help zoo animals

Emma Orford

Carinbundi clients have been working closely with Alexandra Park Zoo to create interactive items for the animals through a new collaborative enrichment program.

The program, which runs from March to November, sees interested participants provided with a monthly box of items and instructions to create something stimulating for the animals to enjoy.

The items are created at the Carinbundi Day Services Centre and then brought back to the zoo where keepers put them in the animals' exhibits so clients can watch the interaction.

They then collect their next box to start working on.

Caribundi’s EA and Community Relations Manager Tina Marshall said the project had a range of benefits for their clients.

“For us it’s a win-win because it’s a really good community engagement activity for those that are interested in it but it’s also hands on work skills and life skills,” she said.

“Part of our community access and inclusion program is that we have lots of options and choices, so on any given day there are things that [are] available to do or not do.

“The versatility of this particular activity means there’s something for everybody who wants to be in it.”

Amber Clarkson, who attends the Carinbundi Day Service Program four days a week, has been one of the keenest participants in the project thanks to her great love of animals.

“I love working and helping the animals,” Amber said, adding that her favourite thing was seeing them play with what they had created.

“[The best part is] being able to help in the community.”

The importance of enrichment

As a Zoo and Aquarium Association accredited zoo, Alexandra Park Zoo follows the Five Domains Model, a scientific structure used to assess the welfare of animals.

The first four domains of nutrition, environment, health and behaviour, help to inform the animal’s various experiences, which make up the final domain – the mental one.

The idea behind the program is that the enrichment items created by Carinbundi clients will provide positive activities for the animals by allowing them to practice seeking out food, searching for items with other animals or playing with things in their enclosure to keep them mentally stimulated.

For the February box, clients created paper mache structures to put food into so the dingoes could practice foraging, while the March box contained a range of wooden items and chains which were assembled into structures for birds to climb, chew and interact with.

Zoo Group Supervisor Kate Beskeen said that the project had been a great opportunity for collaboration.

“This initiative is a great way to better connect the Carinbundi group with animals and gain an understanding of how enrichment items make up an important part of zookeeping promoting natural behaviours,” Kate said.

“The more varied and complex or novel enrichment is, individuals are kept occupied for longer periods and are stimulated to exhibit natural behaviours.

“It is also good knowing we are making the zoo space as accessible as possible to various groups and are able to show how important the enrichment items are.”

2023 Bundaberg Cup kicks goals for region

Megan Dean

A total of 968 people participated in the 2023 Bundaberg Cup touch football competition in February, injecting more than $700,000 into the local economy.

Queensland Touch Football has released the registration data from this year’s event revealing the growing interest and its continued benefit to the Bundaberg Region.

All up there were 845 competitors registered for the 2023 Bundaberg Cup across 69 teams, which was a 33 per cent increase in team numbers from the previous year.

When combined with the 69 referees and 1632 spectators the event saw a huge injection into the local economy.

A whopping 76 per cent of participants came from outside of the Bundaberg Region for the event, resulting in about 3538 visitor nights.

Queensland Touch Football CEO Greg Denny said it was fantastic to have so many teams from outside the region travel to Bundaberg this year to support the event.

“This year the Bundaberg Cup was a roaring success, and one of the biggest years' for the event to date,” Denny said.

“It was fantastic to see so many teams from right across the state making the trip to Bundaberg to kick start the touch football season.

“Events like this would not be possible without our partners, and I'd like to thank the Bundaberg Regional Council for their ongoing support.

“Thank you to our community for participating in the Bundaberg Cup this year, and we're looking forward to it being bigger and better in 2024,” he said.

The Bundaberg Touch Cup has been secured for the region in a three year partnership with Bundaberg Regional Council which will also see it return in 2024.

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said the Bundaberg Cup was a fantastic initiative which Bundaberg Regional Council proudly supported.

“Events like the Bundy Cup can have such a positive impact on the communities which host them, from an economic boost to the inspiration for the young and young at heart to become more active and involved in their community,” he said.

“The Bundaberg Cup has attracted thousands of competitors and their families to the region since it kicked off in Bundaberg and we’re pleased to see the tradition continue.”

The 2023 Bundaberg Cup was as hotly contested as in previous years and with a $20,000 prize pool is one of Australia’s richest touch football carnivals.

New to the 2023 event QTF also hosted a Beach Activation on the Friday afternoon prior to the competition to showcase touch football to the wider community.

More than 130 attendees engaged with the activation in the afternoon and Surf Lifesaving Queensland supported the event.

Be Active Be Alive kicks off for winter

Ashley Schipper

The cooler weather is the perfect excuse to get up and at 'em as part of the upcoming Be Active Be Alive program.

Round two of the 2023 program will begin on 1 May, with more than 120 free fitness classes available for the community to get involved in across eight weeks.

Bundaberg Regional Council Sport and Recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Vince Habermann said the health and fitness program had already experienced great success this year.

“Round one of the 2023 program was extremely well attended, with many community members utilising our fantastic facilities, parks and providers to kickstart their health and fitness goals,” he said.

“Now that the weather is cooling down, we are anticipating even more people to get involved, get warmed up and get healthy with Be Active Be Alive.”

Cr Habermann said during May and June a range of classes for all skill sets and fitness levels would be on offer.

“From the popular pickleball to disco boxing, aerials, tennis and more, there is plenty to get the heart rate pumping,” he said.

“For those looking for something a little more low key, there will be yoga, mindful movement classes, strength and stretch and Pilates available across the region.”

The Be Active Be Alive Round two program is available to view online here.

About the Be Active Be Alive program

Initiated by Bundaberg Regional Council in 2012, the award-winning free parks and pools program was commenced with the help of State Government funding.

The program continues to be developed and refined under Council's ‘Healthy and Active' charter to provide an inclusive mix of activities across our region's parks, pools and open spaces.

Fitness class types are dependant on fitness provider registrations.

Community grant brings fun to Childers Show

Emma Orford

Visitors to this year’s Childers Show can enjoy the antics of The CrackUp Sisters thanks to funding from a Bundaberg Regional Council Community Grant.

The Isis District Agricultural Pastoral and Industrial Society secured $3,500 in October to use towards providing entertainment at the popular local event.

Society President Chloe Johnson said their committee was excited about bringing The CrackUp Sisters to deliver both performances and workshops with a little something for everyone.

“Their shows incorporate aerial stunts and the art of cracking stock whips into an eye-catching uniquely Australian comedy performance which highlights the trials and tribulations of the bush,” Chloe said.

“Not only will the patrons be treated to three iconic Australian comedy performances throughout the day, the CrackUp Sisters will also deliver a whip cracking and hula hoops workshop passing these skills on to Childers residents both young and old.”

Bundaberg Regional Council's Community Grants aim to provide assistance to local community groups or organisations who make positive contributions to the quality of life in the region.

The Isis District PA&I Society works to serve Childers and the broader Isis community and each year brings together the well-loved Childers Show, celebrating its 106th anniversary on 27 May this year.

Chloe said that, as a fully self-funded and community-based organisation, Council's Community Grant funding had been invaluable to their society.

“In a year which has seen our insurance expenses nearly triple, which has also flowed on to our contractors, exhibitors and entertainers, our budget was looking tighter than ever to be able to deliver free entertainment at the Childers Show,” she explained.

“Each year the Isis District AP&I Society aims to deliver a vibrant local agricultural show to celebrate Childers and the broader Isis community, provide a platform for friendly competition, champion our districts' strong connections with agriculture and unite our community in celebrating what is great about our region.”  

Volunteers always welcome

Chloe said their committee was always looking for eager volunteers who play a vital role in arranging a successful show.

“If you have an hour or two to spare, the Childers Show organising committee are looking for volunteers to assist in preparation and running of this year’s show,” she said.

“Being a volunteer is a rewarding position that will not only benefit the Childers community but is also rewarding on a personal level.”

If you would like to volunteer then visit the Childers Show website or email isisdistrict.pai@outlook.com.

To find out more about Council’s community grants click here.

What's on

Local firefighter in Anzac Day NRL curtain raiser

Emma Turnbull

Bundaberg's Jack Battleday will join the Australian Firefighter Rugby League Squad to compete against the Australian Defence Force in the NRL curtain raiser on Anzac Day.

Since its inception in 2002, the Anzac Day match between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons has become one of the most significant occasions on the NRL calendar.

The local firefighter will be part of the first ever Australian Firefighter Rugby League Squad.

In the annual event, Australian Defence Force Rugby League will take on the Australian firefighters squad, with the match set to kick off at 1.50 pm on Anzac Day.

The winning team will be awarded the Gallipoli Cup.

Jack said it would be a huge honour to play on such a special day.

“I am incredibly honoured to be playing in this match as a firefighter representing my community,” Jack said.

“Anzac Day holds a great deal of significance for me personally, as it is a day to remember and honour the sacrifices made by those who have served and continue to serve our country.

“As a firefighter, I am acutely aware of the sacrifices that are made by our service men and women, and the important role they play in protecting our nation and its people.”

Growing up in South West Surrey, near London, Jack said he had played a lot of rugby union and it was on his move to Australia seven years ago that he became more involved in rugby league.

“My dad was born here in Australia, so I’m a dual citizen, I came here as [a] professional wake boarder when I was 19.

“I originally planned to come here for six months, but then I realised I loved the country.

“Honestly, I thought I should get a proper job too.

“I thought it would be cool to work with the sole intention of helping people in the community.

“I applied for the fire service, and it all seemed to just work.”

Jack will join six other Queenslanders to be part of the first ever Australian Firefighter Rugby League squad; they will meet with other teammates in Sydney to take on the Australian Defence Force Team on Anzac Day, as a curtain raiser to Roosters v Dragons at Allianz Stadium.

Anzac Day NRL match

  • Australian Defence Force Rugby League vs Australian Fire Fighters Rugby League kick-off 1.50 pm and is live streamed on the NRL app and website
  • Anzac Day Commemorative Ceremony 3.30 pm
  • Sydney Roosters vs St George-Illawarra Dragons NRL kick-off 4.05 pm

Lady Sings the Maroons to perform at Moncrieff

Emma Turnbull

A cross-genre love letter to Queensland, Lady Sings the Maroons showcases the art behind making a great song, and those who write them.

The show will hit the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre stage next month.

Following the success of Are You Lonesome Tonight, Opera Queensland takes a deep dive into the Queensland songbook to celebrate some of Australia’s most loved musical artists.

Lady Sings the Maroons is inspired by Bundaberg’s own musical powerhouse Gladys Moncrieff and The Saints, Savage Garden and Harold Blair to name a few.

The performance is directed by Laura Hansford and stars renowned vocalists and artistic collaborators Jess Hitchcock, Irena Lysiuk and Marcus Corowa with musical director Luke Volker on keys, all of whom trace their roots to regional Queensland.

“As an opera company exploring the range of phenomenal musicians that have been born in this great state, we couldn’t go past Gladys Moncrieff,” Laura said.

“Our Gladys was an amazing performer and has left a brilliant legacy for classical and contemporary performers alike.

“We can’t wait [to] sing homage to her on the stage at the Moncrieff in Bundy!”

Laura said Opera Queensland often returned to Bundaberg and local music fans would be treated to a unique performance with Lady Sings the Maroons.

“We love coming to Bundaberg,” she said.

“So many of our singers have connection to this place and there is clearly music in the waters of the Burnett River because the community chorus we get to work with are so talented.”

The concept is the brainchild of Opera Queensland’s CEO and Artistic Director Patrick Nolan.

Sharing the inspiration behind the production, Laura said music from Queensland had the power to transport an audience.

“My Queensland, your Queensland and the next person’s Queensland are vastly different things, and that’s reflected in the music that’s come out of this state,” she said.

“Lady Sings the Maroons holds a mirror up to our extraordinary state with pride.

“On this tour, we are debuting a show that sings about the diversity of this state and its people as we try to capture ‘our Queensland’.”

Bundaberg community members have also been invited to join the local community chorus and will perform with the cast at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre.

Lady Sings the Maroons

When: 7.30 pm on Thursday 4 May
Where: Moncrieff Entertainment Centre
Tickets: $39 adults, $35 concessions and $20 children. Click here to purchase.

Childers Festival’s Chilli Chomp Comp has bite

Emma Turnbull

The heat will be turned up at this year’s Childers Festival as the popular, and daring, chilli eating competition returns with bite!

Following the huge success of the inaugural chilli eating competition last year, Childers Fine Foods owners Mark and Nat Albert are excited to spread the burning sensation once again with a new Chilli Chomp Comp.

Those brave enough to stand the hottest of hot peppers drenched in the spiciest of sauces will battle it out in three excruciating rounds of competition.

The winner will be crowned the one and only Chilli Chomp Comp Champion.

Mark said if, during the final round of the Chilli Chomp Comp, the competitors had to go to a sudden death tiebreaker it would be more than just eye-watering.

“We have three rounds this year, with three different roasted chillies and the heat ramps up as the competition continues,” he said.

“The first round will begin with our Reaper Sauce, then move on to our Grim Reaper Sauce, and for those who make it to the third round, we have our signature sauce – Kiss the Reaper.”

Mark said he hoped there wouldn’t be a need for a tiebreak, as the final competition would be unbearable for most, as it would involve a serve of reaper laced candy.

Nat said The Childers Festival Chilli Wing Eating Competition last year attracted competitors from far and wide to get up on stage and prove they had what it takes.

“We had 12 or 13 competitors, which was pretty good considering it was our first competition,” she said.

“It really was a crowd pleaser as people packed in around the main stage to watch the competition unfold.”

Mark said, after taking on feedback at the first event, they had decided to focus on the heat and moved away from a chicken wing eating competition.

“This is a serious competition, it’s definitely not just for the hungry,” Mark said.

“The thing we notice is that the girls are just as tough as the guys, but did struggle with the volume of chicken wings. 

“So, by changing the focus to heat in sauce and peppers will give an equal opportunity to show us all what they are made of.  

“As our products are gluten free and vegan friendly, the competition is open for everyone!

“Young people seem to handle the heat so well too, they didn’t grow up on diets of lamb and veg for dinner, so they can handle some spice so we would like to see people between 18 and 25 really give this a go!”

Register to take part in the competition here.

In Our Group with
CLAG - Crafty Ladies Activity Group

Emma Turnbull

Two decades ago a number of women at Burnett Heads formed a group that became known as CLAG, and today they continue to meet weekly to keep each other company and share their interests with one another.

CLAG’s secretary Ruth Reynolds shares the importance of the social aspect and the history of the Crafty Ladies Activity Group.

Tell us about CLAG?

Twenty years ago, several local Burnett Heads ladies formed a group to be a meeting place for any local woman to have a venue to meet, have a cuppa and a chat.

This happened on Tuesday mornings at the local community hall.

These ladies would take their craft items hence the name of CLAG, a shortened version of Crafty Ladies Activity Group.

They very quickly realised that they could also help other volunteer community groups to prosper and continue their work.

This group continues on today.

We still meet on a Tuesday morning at the Community Hall in Zunker Street at 9 am until about noon.

CLAG is a subcommittee of Burnett Heads Progress and Sports Association Inc.

How does the community become involved?

We welcome all ladies from Burnett Heads and the surrounding areas, especially those new to the area.

Some of our ladies start the day with line dancing for an hour guided by Gayle.

Gayle is happy to have beginners as well as more proficient ladies and this is a great way to start the day and get some exercise.

The dancers certainly seem to have a happy time from the laughter and chatter that we hear upstairs.

The older of our members spend the morning upstairs either doing their own craft or helping us by making cards, which are donated for all the clients at Tricare for Mother’s and Father’s Day, or birthday cards for our members.

We also crochet, knit care bears and other goods for the craft table which we have at the monthly hoy and cent sales.

The hall does have a stair lift for those who cannot manage the stairs which is great for our members, some of them over 80 years of age.

Why is the group important to the Bundaberg Region?

Our chorus provides an opportunity for women of all ages to experience the joy of singing, especially in part harmony.

There is a wealth of research that proves the benefits of singing on health and wellbeing across the lifespan.

Singing as a chorus promotes a strong sense of community and social inclusion, which is claimed as a major factor in recovery for people with mental health needs, beneficial to all communities.

What are some of the group’s highlights throughout the year?

The monthly hoy and cent sales are held on the third Sunday of each month in the Community Hall.

These are usually well attended with guests coming from Bundaberg, other areas along the coast.

We also have some who are holidaying in the area.

Any profits that are made are donated back to the community as we still support our local volunteer groups.

During the year we try to have special days for our members, sometimes in the hall and other times we will organise to have lunch out as a group.

For the past few years CLAG has hosted the Biggest Morning Tea with great success.

This year it will be held on Thursday, 2 June at the Community Hall Zunker Street.

This event is always very well attended by our community with close to a hundred or more guests attending.

The CLAG ladies host this on behalf of our local community.

How to

Paris Olympics hopeful Jessica Borg to inspire

Emma Turnbull

Dual athlete and Paris Olympics hopeful Jessica Borg will return home to Bundaberg to inspire the next generation to unleash their potential through primary school visits.

Jess is currently ranked number one in Australia in the female -57kg division in Taekwondo, and she has just qualified as an amateur boxer.

Jess will share her journey in elite sport, motivating and inspiring the young students at Kalkie State School, Bundaberg East State School, Moore Park Beach State School and Gooburrum State School, to chase their own dreams as part of the Australian Olympic Committee’s Olympics Unleashed program, next week.  

Jess grew up in the Bundaberg Region, attending Moore Park Beach State School, and she is excited to return to the community that inspired her to follow her dreams.

Olympics Unleashed program shares personal experience

Throughout her Olympics Unleashed program presentation, Jess will pass on tips to help students find their passion, set goals, build resilience and overcome challenges.  

“I am really keen to come home and share my experience and engage with young children,” Jess said.

“I’m actually pretty excited as we didn’t really have this guidance, that I remember, from aspiring Olympians when I was in primary.

“This is about giving inspiration to the kids to prove that no matter what they are passionate about, it doesn’t have to be sport, if they find balance in life, they can pursue their dreams.”

Jess will share her personal achievements and journey telling the students how she has had to overcome challenges to be where she is today.

“Back in 2007, I was diagnosed with a low muscle tone disorder,” she said.

“At the time I was struggling with the things the average child could do – I couldn’t even pull myself up on the swings at school.

“The doctors told my parents I either needed to start swimming, which I already was, or get into martial arts.

“Fortunately, we knew Mario Rejtano from ASP Taekwondo and he said to my parents: ‘bring her to me and I will fix her!’

“I had zero talent whatsoever, and I knew it was going to be tough, but my mindset was to get involved.

“Unfortunately, Mario passed away in 2009, but he taught me so much and really inspired me to pursue my dreams.”

Now some 15 years later, as a 23-year-old, Jess is smashing goals with her eyes set on the prize of qualifying for the Paris Olympics next year.

“I share my lows and highs through my career with the students, including mental health, which I think is important at that age,” she said.

“I think for a young person to hear first hand the real life experience, including when it comes to mental health and how important it can be to have support around you to help you get out of that low.

“A big highlight for me in taking part in the Olympics Unleashed program is having the opportunity to go out to the regional areas and speak to people from a perspective of someone who has been where they are – I think it's heard different that way.

“I say to the children, ‘show me a kick’ and they are so engaged and happy.

“The questions they ask also are great, it really is inspiring in itself to be there with them.”

Olympics Unleashed takes Olympians and aspiring Olympians into Australian schools to inspire and motivate students to be their personal best.

Queensland was the first state to receive the benefit of the Olympics Unleashed program, launching in 2018. 

Since then more than 1,000 schools have been visited with more than 150,000 young Queenslanders coming face to face with Olympians in their classroom.

Local schools are encouraged to register here for more information on how to be involved.