Weekender: Gloria's century celebrated

Washpool Creek naturalisation to begin

Ashley Schipper

An outdated concrete drain that makes up Washpool Creek will be transformed into a thriving natural space filled with pathways, parks and more for the community to enjoy.

Work will soon begin on the Washpool Creek Naturalisation Project, converting the underutilised area into a waterway with opportunity for nature play and plenty of open space.

Bundaberg Regional Council has appointed Evolve Environmental Pty Ltd as principal contractor to undertake the project.

The initial stage of the work includes naturalising a section of Washpool Creek.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was an exciting first step in the physical transformation of the space.

“Over time the Washpool Creek corridor has been heavily modified due to urbanisation,” he said.

“This project aims to turn the space back to its natural state while also transforming it into an active and connected area that will become a pleasant place to walk, run, play, and explore.”

The overall project has included extensive community consultation during its design phase, with surveys, drop-in sessions and more, offered to residents.

Now plans will be put into action, with construction due to commence late September 2022 and scheduled for completion by May 2023, weather permitting.

“The area will feature plenty of new paths, additional trees for shade and open spaces for active play,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“A rehabilitated, reconnected, and revitalised Washpool Creek will play a vitally important role in delivering Council’s vision of building Australia’s best regional community.”

Construction activities are expected to be carried out between the hours of 7 am and 6 pm, Monday to Saturday.

During construction, footpaths will be subject to temporary closures.

To minimise the impact on residents, and retain parkland access, the works will be undertaken in two separate stages, starting upstream between Ford and Hargreaves Streets.

Bundaberg Regional Council is aware of the inconvenience construction work causes and thanks residents, businesses, and park users in advance for their patience and co-operation.

The Washpool Creek Naturalisation project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Government’s through the Local Economic Recovery Program.

Find out more here.

Gloria celebrates 100 years of living life to the fullest

Emma Turnbull

A former movie stuntwoman, magistrate and racehorse trainer, Gloria Benwell has lived a bold life and on Saturday she became the Bundaberg Region's newest centenarian.

Living through more tragic events than most, Gloria has always focused on the brighter side of life and believed in looking forward and never back, which has helped her reach such a magnificent milestone.

Now spending her days at Carinity Kepnock Grove aged care, Gloria's life has been celebrated in all of its challenges and triumphs.

She has survived cancer, recovered from a broken back and been widowed four times.

Gloria also made local headlines in 2009 as the oldest woman, at 86 years of age, to participate in the Relay for Life two years running.

Shelley Sishton has shared her aunt’s passion for life, which is the reason she believed has led Gloria to reaching such longevity.

Shelley said Gloria is on of two daughter's of John and Mill Dawson.

The family grew up in Melbourne, taking on a boarding house on the outskirts of Melbourne.

“Gloria often talked about cold nights sleeping with her sister on the verandah in winter, so that the paying boarders could have their usual shared bedroom for nights on end,” Shelley said.

“Both girls helped with cooking and cleaning and Gloria was also responsible for the daily milking of their cow.”

Shelley said Gloria had lived through hard times but always seemed to pull through stronger than before.

Growing up during the Great Depression, the family could not afford for the children to go to high school.

Gloria left school at 14 and worked, initially as a florist, to bring in extra income for the family.

She spent her holidays with cousins at a farm near the Dandenong Range, where she learnt bareback horse-riding skills.

In her early-20s, Gloria met and married an American GI, Johnnie Soyken, and moved with him to California at the end of World War II.

Sadly, Johnnie died in a car accident two years later.

Putting her horse-riding talents to use Gloria worked as a horsewoman and stunt double in Hollywood.

It's where she gained a reputation for her skills and forged a willingness to give anything a go.

Tragedy struck when Gloria broke her back in a fall while performing a stunt as a stand-in for American actress Barbara Stanwyck.

The ordeal left Gloria in an iron lung in hospital, where doctors told her she would never walk again.

She started treatments devised by Iridology pioneer, natural health practitioner and chiropractor, Dr Bernard Jensen, and learned to walk at his California retreat.

“She became an advocate of his pioneering ways and adhered to his health, nutrition and wellbeing philosophies, which were completely unknown to most people until the 1970s,” Shelley said.

“Gloria developed a lifelong interest to learn about many other so-called ‘unorthodox’ health practices too.

“She was definitely always ahead of her time.”

Moving back to Melbourne in the 1950s, Gloria met and married Jack Banks-Smith who owned wedding hire car and tour companies.

Gloria turned her hand to new ventures such has breeding English setter dogs and training racehorses.

Jack died unexpectedly, leaving Gloria a widow once again.

She inherited her late husband’s company which she sold and bought land in Terrigal on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

In the late 60s, Gloria met her third husband Ron Bibb, they were married for three years before Ron suffered a heart attack and died.

Gloria then established dog kennels and started a dog grooming service.

“Her reputation for knowing and handling all breeds of dogs, her way with animals and her talents as a dog groomer drew clients to Terrigal from as far away as Sydney – a long way with no highways to travel on back then,” Shelley said.

In the 1970s Gloria met Ben Benwell.

They were happily married for 30 years and had many adventures travelling around Asia and Europe before Ben died in 2005.

Gloria was by that stage a magistrate in Terrigal and served on the town council.

Gloria moves to Woodgate to settle down

Gloria sold her kennels and bought land at Woodgate, where she built a house.

Shelley said her aunt was a very smart, bright lady who was always interested in new things.

“I feel her happiest times came when she started her world travelling in later years, something she had dreamt of doing since she was a little girl,” Shelley said.

“She and Ben went on many cruises around Australia, and she was always interested to learn as much as she could about the history, wildlife and nature of the places they visited.”

Gloria always had a love for nature, flowers and good wine, and she invested in a number of start-up vineyards around Australia.

These days, she enjoys beauty therapy and on the odd occasion a glass of wine with a mini platter.

Gloria has become the first Kepnock Grove aged care resident in four years to be inducted into the Carinity 100 Club for centenarians.

Shelley believes love and laughter has helped Bundaberg’s newest centenarian to reach 100 years.

“Another thing I know she would say is to only look forward, not back at the past,” Shelley said.

Rotary, Northside Produce support farmers

Ashley Schipper

More than $620,000 in funding and animal food packs have been distributed to struggling farmers throughout the region to help support their welfare and emotional wellbeing.

Facilitated by Rotary Club of Bundaberg Central, The Bundaberg Drought Relief program has helped farmers adversely affected by drought, with an aim of improving sustainability prospects for impacted communities.

Past District Governor and Drought Coordinator Rod Medew said four parts to the program were rolled out over 18 months

“The program has delivered funds predominantly through third parties in the form of debit cards,” he said.

“This not only assists the farmers but also helps communities as the funds are spent in local stores.”

“The club was very aware that the program should also promote emotional well-being for those enduring the extended drought.”

Rod said The Drought Relief Program came about after its successfully implementation in Longreach.

“It was here that years of drought had an economic, social and health impact,” he said.

“Rotary clubs were donating money and food to farmers in the Longreach area and at the same time the drought was extending East to Bundaberg.

“The Rotary Club of Bundaberg Central decided to focus on the farmers in the Bundaberg Regional Council area.”

Rod said the first part of the program involved delivering food packs for animals affected by drought.

“This was achieved through a partnership with Northside Produce,” he said.

“Farmers were identified in need and supplied with $1000 worth of animal food packs.

“The packs represented a mixture of hay, protein pellets, lick blocks, dry licks, and various other hard feeds.

“Money for this program came from donations from Rotary clubs in Australia and overseas and funds were also obtained from the International Rotary Foundation.

“Approximately $120,000 of packs were delivered using these systems.”

Rod said the second part of the program involved the distribution of debit cards valued at $1,000 each.

“These cards could be used by farmers/graziers for purchase of any item (personal or farm items),” he said.

“The cards were obtained from the National Recovery and Resilience Agency who recognised that drought impacts our social, economic and environmental systems and that impact expands to businesses in small communities such as Bundaberg.

“Rotary engaged with NRRA to distribute the cards which was achieved through the Rotary club again partnering with Northside Produce.

“Field days were held where farmers came together to learn about modern farming techniques while Rotary distributed application forms.”

Rod said the third part of the program aimed at assisting farmers who were impacted by fire.

“This was regarded by Rotary as resulting from the extreme drought,” he said.

“Northside Produce identified farmers and the needs of farmers and Rotary supplied money for fencing, pumps and water tanks that had been destroyed as a result of the fires.

“The money came from Rotary Australia World Community Services and resulted in $80,000 being distributed to farmers in the Bundaberg area.”

Finally, Rod said the fourth part of the program aimed at providing $250 debit cards to be donated to farmers for their own personal use.

“Rotary placed a number of restrictions on these cards so they could only be used for personal use such as food, clothes, books and more,” he said.

“Rotary believes farmers have sacrificed time and money in order to sustain their farms and it was time to spend money on the family.

“These cards have been distributed by Rotary, Rural Financial Services and Northside Produce with the total amount in the Bundaberg area at $170,000.”

Rod's special connection to farmers

Rod said he was particularly passionate about The Drought Relief Program due to his own experience in witnessing the struggles of farming communities throughout Australia.

“As a District Governor for Rotary, my wife and I travelled through Central Queensland during the worst of the drought and spoke to farmers,” he said.

“The same story was told whichever town we went to – no water, no food for animals and no income.

“Mental health was also an ongoing issue, and I became passionate about assisting the plight of farmers using Rotary as a vehicle to deliver services.”

Rod said since the program had kicked off there was a notable change in mindset within the local farming community, with benefits also impacting the region as a whole.

“The real achievement has been in the form of a change in morale, the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude, along with encouragement and hope,” he said.

“As mentioned, the money is now circulating in Bundaberg areas and also helping small business.”

Kate Victoria Creative Studio to open in CBD

Emma Turnbull

Final touches have been added to Kate Victoria Creative Studio in a notable Bundaberg CBD building, with art workshops about to begin.

Kate Neal’s desire to share her love of art has now been fulfilled as she transforms the studio on the corner of Bourbong and Maryborough Streets into a hub of creativity.

The new business will soon offer up paint-and-sip style classes as well as children's workshops and more.

Moving to Bundaberg from Mackay to be closer to family a little more than a year ago, Kate said her creative journey had started at a young age and she was now finally feeling accomplished.

“When I finished school I wanted to have a creative career so I studied and became a graphic designer, and worked at a signage company for several years, but never really felt fulfilled,” she said.

“I had strayed away from my art for a little while; then a few years ago I realised how much I missed creating, and I was most myself while I was making art and doing what I love.

“I started drawing and painting again and finding my creative identity and style.

“That’s when I decided I wanted to make a career out of my art and so Kate Victoria Creative was born.”

Kate said the location, which was previously a café, was ideal for her art workshops and she looked forward to inviting the community members in to inspire their own creativity.

“I feel so lucky to have secured such an amazing location and building to turn into my dream studio,” Kate said.

“Moving here has definitely been the right thing for me, especially in my creative career.

“It’s a beautiful region and there is such an amazing, supportive community of small businesswomen here that have shown so much love and support to me.”

 It’s been a busy few months for Kate while transforming the studio.

“I’ve had so much fun with the renovation and seeing the transformation of everything coming together has been so rewarding, especially as I’ve done most of the work myself,” she said.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but I’ve loved the challenge and the journey so much!

“I’ve never run a business like this before, but (I) have worked in one, which made me realise how much I loved it.

“If you had told me a year ago that I’d be opening my own studio in the CBD of Bundaberg I would have said you were dreaming. Looks like dreams do come true.

“It’s such a beautiful building with so much character that just needed a bit of love and it has really come to life since.”

At Kate Victoria Creative Studio, painting workshops will be offered for children seven years and older through to adults, with various artwork to choose from.

“These are group workshops that anyone can book in for via online booking through my website, but seating will be limited for each session, and I will also take bookings for private groups/parties,” Kate said.

“In each session I will go through step-by-step instructions for creating artwork on either a canvas board, a pot or an assortment of timber pieces, all offered at different times throughout the year.

“All equipment will be supplied, and no painting experience is necessary.

“I’m really looking forward to spreading my love of art and offering a happy space for people to have some fun, unleash some creativity and have a few laughs.”

To find out more about Kate Victoria Creative Studio click here.

NuGrow expands composting operations

Ashley Schipper

A multi-million-dollar composting facility which will recycle organic waste streams, including green waste and food waste, into high-quality compost and soil conditioner products has just finished construction in Bundaberg.

The NuGrow development will take on organic waste from Council areas throughout the Wide Bay Region at its new location on Tardas Road, Gregory River.

The company is Queensland’s largest organics waste recycler by volume and geographical reach, and the local facility is expected to compost more than 30,000 tonnes of organic waste per annum.

Organics which normally go to landfill will be incorporated with green waste from the region to make new products for reuse in the local economy.

Chief Commercial Officer Jacob Wilson said establishing a NuGrow facility in Bundaberg ticked many boxes.

“Given the lack of organic recycling infrastructure in the region and the high demand from the agricultural industry for quality compost and soil conditioners it was a logical choice for NuGrow’s next facility to be located in Bundaberg,” he said.

“Furthermore, as Queensland Council’s begin to explore ways to achieve the waste diversion and recycling targets set out in the State Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy, NuGrow believes that the Bundaberg facility can provide a competitive and sustainable organics recycling solution.

“The facility also offers a closer disposal and recycling option for commercial waste collection operators who previously had to drive large distances until a suitable facility was available.”

Jacob said adjacent to the composting facility existed additional land owned by NuGrow, which would be used as a demonstration site to show the positive impacts the company's compost and soil conditioners have on soil and plant health.

“NuGrow also plan to conduct research and development activities on this site as our team continually explores the latest innovations in waste and land management,” he said.

“This process of ‘innovate, test, measure, deliver’ is a key point of difference that keeps NuGrow at the leading edge.”

The new facility conforms to NuGrow's mission statement of ‘healthier environments, supporting healthier communities', according to Jacob.

“Our team is committed to raising awareness of sustainable waste management and soil health,” he said.

“We develop our products and services to ensure we are always improving environmental, social, and economic outcomes.

“As an environmentally conscious organisation, we understand that future generations depend on sustainable, responsible development to protect, preserve, and enhance the environment now and into the future.

“Consequently, there are numerous benefits to the community as a result of NuGrow’s new Bundaberg facility.

"These include employment opportunities and economic benefits as NuGrow use local suppliers and contractors where possible and environmental benefits that stem from diverting organic waste from landfill and using compost/soil conditioners to improve soil health.

“Our aim is to employ and to source services and goods from the regions we operate in; so, we welcome suppliers to reach out to our teams”.

NuGrow’s Bundaberg facility is located at 19 Tardas Road, Gregory River and is currently open Monday to Friday 7 am to 4 pm.

Find out more here https://nugrow.com.au/facilities/

Community groups join Christmas appeal

Georgia Neville

A number of local community groups have continued to rally together to support the Mayor's Christmas Cheer Appeal, hoping to lend a helping hand in spreading joy this festive season.

The annual appeal raises funds to buy food hampers for local residents who are doing it tough, with over $15,000 collated so far.

Lions Club of Bundaberg North is one of many community groups who have donated to the appeal.

President Michael Brown said the club was proud to support initiatives that helped make a difference to the lives of community members.

“Our club looks regularly to make donations to worthy community causes where funds provided will be able to make a difference, and/or benefit those in need,” Michael said.

“As such, the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal targets families who are doing it tough and need community assistance from time to time.

“The hampers will provide a benefit at a time when many families will be struggling to meet the rising costs of living, and as such our club sees this as an important community project to support.”

Michael said the club encouraged other community groups to think about contributing where they could, to assist in continuing to support the community during Christmas.

“Where community groups have the capacity to provide some funds they should look at this project."

Other groups that have supported the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal include Buxton Friendship Association and Lions Club of Bundaberg Hinkler.

Buxton Friendship Association's Tara Duffy said the group was proud to support local initiatives which helped the community.

“Being a community-based organisation, we like to help out as many hands make light work,” Tara said.

“Christmas is an important part of the year in which no family should go needing or wanting.”

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey thanked those who had come on board.

“Christmas is a time of giving and local organisations have certainly proved that with their ongoing support for this appeal,” he said.

“I want to thank everyone who has signed on to support this important fundraiser, it is truly heart-warming to see the community come together for the good of others.”

How to get involved:

Anyone interested in learning more about how to volunteer for the Mayor’s Christmas Cheer Appeal can submit an Expression of Interest form here.

Make a donation here.

To sponsor the appeal please download the sponsorship proposal here.

New boards to keep nippers afloat

Georgia Neville

Nippers from Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club will have even more opportunity to get out and into the ocean thanks to new boards purchased through the help of Bundaberg Regional Council funding.

As part of the club’s expansion of its nippers project eight new boards were purchased at a total cost of $11,000, partially funded by the Community Services Sport and Recreation Grant.

Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club Junior Activities Chairperson Janine Lester said the boards would replace old equipment that was reaching its end of life.

“The new fibreglass nipper boards will replace very old boards and add to the club training stock,” Janine said.

“They will help develop surf knowledge and awareness, rescue skills, fitness, and endurance in the U11 to U13 group of junior lifesavers.

“The nipper boards will be used extensively during the Sunday Nipper Program, board training sessions during the week and junior carnivals.”

Janine said this season had seen an increase in participants who had signed up to take part in the nipper season.

“More than 200 nippers have signed up for the season which is an increase on previous years,” she said.

“The junior’s program is designed for children from five to 14 years and the new season just started, with the beginning of volunteer patrols on Sunday 18 September.”

The season is only just beginning for the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club, with a number of new volunteers graduating to the patrol team and carnivals set to kick off come November.

“Bundaberg will host the first of the region's junior carnivals on Sunday 6 November with competitors travelling from Elliott Heads and Moore Park Surf Life Saving Clubs as well as Hervey Bay and Agnes Water,” she said.

“Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club's volunteer patrol teams were boosted recently by the addition of eleven U14 members who achieved their Surf Rescue Certificate.

“Volunteer patrols during weekends and public holidays have helped keep thousands of visitors to Nielson Park safe since 1921.”

Sport and Recreation grants aim to provide financial assistance to sport and active recreation organisations towards opportunities to increase participation and towards new or upgraded sport and recreation facilities.

You can find out more about Council’s community grants here.

What's on

Volunteers needed to protect turtles


With the 2022-2023 turtle nesting season fast approaching the Woongarra Coast Turtle Volunteers group is seeking assistance from residents.

The group is putting the call out for volunteers who would like to participate in turtle conservation research.

Member Nikki Somerfield said the group was run under the direction of Dr Col Limpus’ Marine Turtle Research Conservation Program.

She said volunteers began patrols in early November until mid-February along Bargara, Innes Park and Elliot Heads beaches gathering data from the loggerhead, green and flatback turtles that nest on the beaches.

“The research is vital as the data collected assists in protecting the endangered turtles to ensure that these beautiful creatures will still be nesting on our beaches for generations to come,” Nikki said.

“Partnerships are also formed with Bundaberg Regional Council, Burnett Mary Regional Group, Sea Turtle Alliance and Landcare groups to help educate members of the public and assist in protecting the dunes from erosion and light pollution so that the nesting turtles have safe and suitable areas to nest and hatchlings can safely make their way to the ocean.”

Locals interested in volunteering in Bargara, Innes Park or Elliot Head beaches will need to follow these conditions:

- Spend one night a week for the duration of the season on the beach in all kinds of weather. Rosters are provided each fortnight.

- Need to be physically able to walk along the beaches in the moonlight looking for turtles

- Like working as part of a team and enjoy other people’s company

- Be willing to communicate with your team and members of the public to educate them about turtle conservation

- Be willing to learn new skills, such as measuring turtles, reading ID tags and counting eggs and filling in data sheets

- Be able to transport yourself to and from a local beach

- Be 18 years of age and have photo ID

All new volunteers will be partnered up with an experienced volunteer for the season and training sessions will be run prior to the season commencing.

To find out more chat to the Woongarra Coast Turtle Volunteers at the Welcome to Bargara event being held on the 15 October at Bargara State School from 10 am to 3 pm.

Alternatively, you can contact volunteers directly via email turtle.vols@gmail.com.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll at the Moncrieff

Emma Turnbull

Community members will have the chance to be immersed in the Australian classic, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll when it comes to Bundaberg as part of Milbi Festival.

Ray Lawler’s much-loved stage performance follows two Queensland cane cutters who, for 16 years, worked in the sugar cane fields of North Queensland and travelled back to Melbourne for five months of partying and romance with their barmaid girlfriends.

A beautifully observed, humorous and emotional play experience, the production was first a triumph at its 1955 Melbourne premiere.

It was also the first Australian play to tour internationally and enjoyed an award-winning season in England.

The new production of the iconic Australian classic Summer of the Seventeenth Doll will be directed by award winning Denny Lawrence and is a must see when it graces the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre stage during the Milbi Festival.

Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the production of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll shared a story about workers in an industry close to Bundaberg Region’s heart.

“Although set in a different era there is sure to be something in this production that hits home with the local audience,” Cr Learmonth said.

“This play is said to have changed the direction of Australian drama and will be one not to miss.

“It is just one of the fantastic events lined up for this year’s Milbi Festival.”

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll has become an Australian classic, praised for its accurate portrayal of ordinary Australia.

It will appear at Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Tuesday 1 November at 7.30 pm. Cost is $49 for adults, $45 for concessions, $20 for Under 25 years, and $40 each for groups of six or more.

For more details or to book click here.

Got You Covered library column

Junior sport stars shine

This month Bundaberg recently played host to The Queensland Schools Rowing Championships and Netball Queensland's Primary Schools Cup, attracting thousands of visitors to the region.

St. Joseph's Bundaberg 2.

St. Joseph's Bundaberg 2.

St Luke's Anglican School's team.

St Luke's Anglican School's team.

Norville Sapphires.

Norville Sapphires.

Norville Sapphires.

Norville Sapphires.

Lily and Sophie from the Shalom Catholic College.

Lily and Sophie from the Shalom Catholic College.

Item 1 of 8

St. Joseph's Bundaberg 2.

St. Joseph's Bundaberg 2.

St Luke's Anglican School's team.

St Luke's Anglican School's team.

Norville Sapphires.

Norville Sapphires.

Norville Sapphires.

Norville Sapphires.

Lily and Sophie from the Shalom Catholic College.

Lily and Sophie from the Shalom Catholic College.