Weekender: Sounds of joy on key CBD

Eco Think forum showcases Bundaberg Region

Ashley Schipper

Tourism industry delegates from across the nation were treated to a showcase of the Bundaberg Region as part of this week’s Eco Think Destination Forum.

It’s the first time the region and Queensland has played host to the event, with sustainability the theme of the 2023 program.

Over three days more than 80 representatives from a wide range of organisations visited Mon Repos Turtle Centre, Macadamias Australia, undertook a Taribelang Bunda Cultural Tour and more as part of their visit.

Ecotourism Australia Chief Executive Elissa Keenan said the Bundaberg Region was chosen to host the forum after becoming the second certified ECO Destination in Queensland earlier this year.

“Back in January we announced Bundaberg as our latest Eco Destination, certified by global standards, so it was the perfect opportunity to come back to the region and bring the best destination managers from around the country right here,” she said.

“It is really important for us to bring an event like this to regional Australia and it is wonderful for us to be able to showcase an Eco Certified Destination.

“We have had the opportunity to go down to Mon Repos, an advanced eco-certified operator, and to have our industry representatives from other parts of Australia see this offering is really powerful.

“This forum is also about supporting local community and recognising local culture.

“It is about having the opportunity to do something unique, like go on a tour with a ranger to hear about the conservation efforts going on for the turtles and more.”

With the 2023 theme of “sustainability is a journey” Elissa said there were plenty of conversations had about what could be done in the future.

“It is about every region and operator really doing what they can do every day to make that positive change,” she said.

“The commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism is absolutely an obligation on us all.”

Cr Steve Cooper, who officially opened the event, said the Eco Think Destination Forum was a major coup for the region.

“It is absolutely fantastic to have visitors from all over the country seeing what we have on offer here in the Bundaberg Region,” he said.

“We have been a well-kept secret for a long time, but that secret is definitely out there now.

“With the latest achievement of becoming Eco Destination certified, this forum is another feather in the cap for our local community and tourism industry.”

Hallee’s perseverance to break records

Emma Turnbull

Bundaberg’s Hallee McCoombes isn’t just overcoming her challenges to compete, she's breaking Australian records with perseverance and a fighting spirit.

At 11 years of age, Hallee is the youngest para-athlete to hold Australian records in multiple events.

Born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, along with several other medical conditions, doctors said the chances of Hallee talking let alone walking, were very slim.

But the fighting spirit of the 11-year-old shone through and she’s now not just running, Hallee holds seven Australian records after recently competing at the Queensland Athletics State Championships.

And she won’t be held back with her big dream of one day becoming an Australian Paralympian edging closer.

At the Queensland Athletics State Championships Hallee competed in the 100 m, 400 m, 800 m, long jump and javelin events.

It’s been a busy month for Hallee.

After she competed in the Queensland Athletics State Championships, she jetted off to Tasmania for the All Schools National Aquathlon, and this week underwent neurological surgery to fix a malfunctioning shunt.

“There aren’t many para-athletes that I know of who hold multiple Australian records at this young of an age,” she said.

“Categories are ever-changing which may allow some younger athletes to achieve records. 

“I beat my current Australian record in the 100 m and added a new Australian record in javelin (records to be ratified).

“I now hold seven Australian records.

“I was going into the competition not expecting to break any records as I have been experiencing knee pain and have been unwell, so I was very thrilled with my results. 

“Training of late has been reduced due to knee pain and other health issues however when I’m at full health I train five days per week over varying sports – athletics, swimming and wheelchair tennis.”

Hallee’s drive often rubs off on those who compete alongside her, and during the Schools Nationals Aquathlon in Tasmania this was evident as her teammates surrounded her with encouragement.

She had just started her run leg of the relay when Queensland Girls captain Aspen Anderson ran behind Hallee pushing her wheelchair, and Boys captain Ben Rudd carried Hallee to and from the water in the transition, as the rest of the State team spontaneously gathered behind her in support as she persevered.

“I just returned from Tassie, (I) competed at the Australian School Sport National Aquathlon Championships with my twin sister,” Hallee said.

“Both coming away with gold in our categories and also in the relay team.

“The team support I received down there was amazing and definitely helped get me to those finish lines!” 

Hallee said having a disability shouldn’t hold anyone back from following their dreams.

“At times it is hard to remain dedicated to training due to my disabilities even more so as mine being physical, it takes a lot more toll on your body,” she said.

“I am lucky enough to have coaches, friends and family support me and keep me on track.

“I currently compete in track and field, triathlons and aquathlons, wheelchair tennis and I’ve just been classified for cycling.

“I am currently competing at a national level for track and field and triathlon/aquathlons as these are my favourite sports, however I am looking forward to getting more serious about cycling and wheelchair tennis.

“There are so many highlights from the past couple of years!

“I really look up to the senior athletes in my sports especially the ones who show an interest in encouraging and supporting the juniors.

“I’d have to say one of the highlights is having been given the chance to talkb[to] these athletes such as Dylan Alcott – he is my hero!

“A close second would be inspiring other para-athletes to give sports a go!”

To follow Hallee McCoombes’ journey as she conquers goals follow her Facebook page.

Kids to get moving with Skills and Drills

Emma Turnbull

Skills and Drills will get kids moving these school holidays and feature a special appearance from the Surfing Scientist.

Held as part of the Eat Breathe Move program, the sessions are being codelivered by renowned scientist Ruben Meerman and Bundaberg Regional COunci.

Skills and Drills encourages students to get involved with local sporting clubs and increase their physical activity.

During the Easter break kids will enjoy learning new sports skills at Shalom College, Childers State School and Gin Gin State School in a half day event facilitated by a network of sporting clubs, schools and more.

Skills and Drills will provide students with the opportunity to practice basic skills and try a variety of sporting and physical activities.

Ruben will also make an appearance to share the fascinating science behind how the food you eat becomes the carbon dioxide you exhale, why we all breathe more during exercise and what this means for your health.

“I will perform some exciting liquid nitrogen demonstrations to kick off each Skills and Drills event,” Ruben said.

“My experiments and explosions will explain how our bodies get the energy to move our muscles by converting food into carbon dioxide and water.

“Most sporty people have heard of ‘VO2 max’ and everybody knows that moving more makes us breathe more air.

“I want Bundaberg, Childers and Gin Gin kids to be the first in the world to learn how their bodies actually work and what all this exercise science stuff really means.”

Ruben believes it’s important to encourage children to increase physical activity from a young age.

“Physical activity is absolutely essential for literally every aspect of human health,” he said.

“It’s not just great for your muscles, it also improves your mood and your ability to learn.

“Playing sport also helps you make new friends which is excellent for our mental health and wellbeing.

“If you could put it in a bottle, physical activity would be the most effective medicine ever invented.”

Ruben said the program was aimed towards primary school kids but their parents would be just as amazed to learn how the food they eat turns into the carbon dioxide they exhale.

“Come along and I’ll blow your mind with science,” he said.

The Skills and Drills is designed to reduce cost and commitment barriers for youth involvement, increase participation in sports clubs, and assist with resources to run events.

Eat, Breathe, Move is an initiative of the Building a Healthy Bundaberg Alliance, supported by Bundaberg Region Council and its members.

The project is funded with support from the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport and Health and Wellbeing Queensland under Round 2 of the ActiveKIT program.

Skills and Drills will take place at:

  • Bundaberg – Tuesday, 4 April from 9 am – noon at Shalom College
  • Childers – Thursday, 6 April from 9 am – noon at Childers State School
  • Gin Gin – Wednesday, 12 April from 9 am- noon at Gin Gin State School

To register for Skills and Drills click here.

Bargara Kebab coming soon to the region

Ashley Schipper

After moving to the region for work two years ago and falling in love with the lifestyle, Hammad Mustafa has decided to take on a new career venture with the opening of Bargara Kebab.

The shop is currently being constructed at the Bargara Central Shopping Centre, adjacent to Woolworths, with Hammad and brother Fahad hopeful they will be able to open the doors to the community on 1 May.

Hammad said he was thrilled to take on the business opportunity in a place he loved and was already receiving plenty of support from locals.

“I moved to Bundaberg two years ago for work but now have decided to continue living here as the quality of life here is exclusively great,” he said.

“Bargara offers unique business opportunities as the region grows exponentially.

“We’ve seized the opportunity to offer widely-loved food and fill the gap in the area.

“Our Facebook page has attracted an overwhelming response from the community which is welcoming and encouraging.”

Hammad said Bargara Kebab would provide an offering of delicious kebabs and other options.

“As our business name suggests most of the food items will be involving the kebab, mainly doner kebab with a variety of options to chose from,” he said.

“The menu will include chicken, lamb, beef and vegetarian based recipes with the option is add salad and sauce.

“Along with that fries and soft drinks are offered to make it a complete meal.

“We will be initially serving the takeaway orders with expectations to start at door delivery in the future.”

Hammad said opening his business would mean supporting the local community.

“I plan on to give back to the community by offering employment to locals and by participating and supporting community events,” he said.

“Our staff will consist of six to eight personnel.

“The business hours are set to be 10 am to 10 pm during Monday to Thursday and Sunday while 10 am to 10.30 pm on Friday and Saturday.”

Hammad said he was excited to welcome customers when Bargara Kebabs opens in May.

“Running a business has always been a dream, over the years many ideas were born and abandoned,” he said.

“However, this opportunity seems promising and propelled me to take the risk.

“With working experience in hospitality and fast-food restaurants the value of a satisfied customer has always been fulfilling which I am looking forward to continue.”

Find out more about Bargara Kebab on the Facebook page here.

SOTA 23 quilt exhibition launches in Childers

Emma Orford

The State of the Art (SOTA) 23 exhibition by Queensland Quilters will officially open at Childers Art Space before beginning its state-wide tour.

The launch event takes place on Saturday 15 April at noon.

Under the theme ‘Flora’, artists have used a wide range of techniques, including painting, printing, eco dyeing, collage, hand and machine stitching and more.  

The exhibition is a judged and juried collection of textile art and will go on to tour regional galleries before being displayed at the Convention Centre in Brisbane.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said Bundaberg Regional Galleries was proud to be hosting the opening event.

“With such a vibrant and active quilting and textile community throughout our region, this event is a coup, and an opportunity to engage with quilters from throughout the state,” he said.

The exhibition features the work of local quilter Sandra Sullivan who said she was honoured to join the other artists in this collection.

“I have been a member of Queensland Quilters for over 10 years and part of our local group, Bundaberg Quilters, since 2009,” she said.

“It’s a very active social club with a progressive textile art group.

“It keeps me on my toes, up to date and inspired.”

Plenty of quilts on show at Childers exhibition

Exhibition curator Julie Tasker said visitors could expect to see a diverse range of quilts made using many different techniques.

“It is our hope that visitors to the exhibition will gain a fuller understanding of what art quilt is, and what techniques and materials can be used to create such work,” she said.

“It is incredibly important to tour these kinds of exhibitions because they promote art quilts to a broader section of the community, give due recognition to the role of the art quilt as an art form and demonstrate the changing role of the quilting arts.”

Julie said they hoped the exhibition would inspire people to have a go at making an art quilt themselves.

“During the pandemic many hundreds of sewing machines were dusted off, oiled and put to work again,” she said.

“The quilting community is very strong in Queensland, and I believe it is growing.”

State of the Art 23 Official Opening

Where: Childers Art Space

When: 15 April, 12 pm

Cost: Free event, no booking required

The exhibition runs from 14 April to 9 July, to find out more click here.

Community grant helps Orchid Society save lives

Emma Turnbull

Bundaberg Orchid Society now has the ability to help save a life in an emergency situation thanks to a Bundaberg Regional Council Community Grant.

The local organisation received a grant of $1500 in October to purchase a mobile defibrillator that will be transported with the group for meetings, social outings and events such as their upcoming popular Mother’s Day show.

A defibrillator is a medical device that uses electricity to restart the heart or shock it back into its correct rhythm.

It is used when someone has a sudden cardiac arrest – when the heart suddenly stops pumping.

Secretary Andrew Straume said the vital piece of equipment was essential to have in community groups such as the Bundaberg Orchid Society.

He said the benefit of having a defibrillator was that it could help save lives and without the assistance of a community grant, it would not be possible for the group to own such a device. 

“Our members are mostly quite elderly, and they feel that we need to have one of these devices on hand at all our activities,” Andrew said.

“I keep it at my home, being the secretary, and keep it fit for purpose.  

“It is mobile and we will have it available at all of our meetings and activities – including our show.”

Thousands of people are expected to attend the Bundaberg Orchid Society’s Mother’s Day Show and 50th anniversary celebrations, to be held on 12 to 14 May at Bundaberg Civic Centre.

Bundaberg Orchid Society president Alwyn Heidke said the three-day event had flourished in the Bundaberg Region for decades and it continued to attract thousands of people to check out the beautiful blossoming orchid displays.

He said Bundaberg Orchid Society provided one of the best orchid shows in Australia, showcasing orchids that are locally grown and others featured by growers that travel from around the country to be displayed.

Bundaberg Orchid Society member Karen Honey said the group was also proud to be celebrating 50 years of existence this year, and they continued to have social field trips, where the defibrillator would come in handy if ever needed.

“Not too many organisations last that long, and our society continues to grow,” Karen said.

“In addition to our regular meetings on the third Thursday of each month from February to November, we also have a field trip to the home and shade houses of some of our members on the first Sunday of each month.  

“We regularly have over 50 members attending these days, which are promoted for new and interested growers.

“They are so popular it’s frequently standing room only, and it’s great to see how other people grow their orchids, what potting media they use, watering and fertilising regimes and how they deal with pests and weeds.”

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 Bundaberg Region.

What's on

Libraries will keep kids busy these school holidays

Emma Orford

There’s no time for boredom these school holidays with everything on offer at Bundaberg Regional Council's local libraries.

Explore Gin Gin by taking part in the Reading Hunt, a fun way to improve early literacy skills for little ones.

Follow the map to discover six small signs at each of the nine different locations and see if you can complete all the activities.

You can also bring a picnic rug and morning tea and enjoy Pop-Up story play with Easter stories and craft.

If it’s more craft you’re after, then there is plenty on offer at all library locations but make sure you book to secure your spot.

At Gin Gin Library you can get creative with Easter paper crafts or make your own mini space rocket and see how far you can launch it!

Or visit Childers Library to build your own paper kite or create your own imaginary alien from outer space.

You can also join in at the board game and Lego mornings at Bundaberg Library and Childers Library and while you're there help to complete the 100-piece jigsaw puzzle before the holidays come to an end.

Find out more about school holiday activities here.

Learn to skate and celebrate Youth Week

Emma Turnbull

Learn to skate sessions will be held throughout the region these Easter School holidays in celebration of National Youth Week.

National Youth Week is the largest celebration of young people in Australia with events and activities happening all over the country.

Bundaberg Regional Council has teamed up with Fastplant Skateboarding which will travel to the region to host the learn to skate workshops in April.

After the success of last year’s sessions Fastplant Skateboarding coaches Taniah Meyers and Mikayla Senior are excited to return to share their skills again with young community members.

Fastplant Skateboarding strives to build confidence in both beginner and intermediate skaters in a supportive environment, while having fun along the way.

Thousands of young people aged 12-25 years will be involved this year in organising and celebrating national Youth Week across the country.

Council's Community Services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee said Youth Week was an important annual event which focused on providing young people with a voice.

“As a community we all understand the importance of ensuring our young people are supported,” Cr McPhee said.

“Youth Week is a chance for young locals to share ideas, have their voices heard while showcasing their talents and having fun!”

Cr McPhee said it was fantastic to see the learn to skate workshops spread across the Bundaberg Region in seven locations this year.

“Workshops will be held in Bundaberg, Burnett Heads, Moore Park Beach, Bargara, Woodgate, Childers and Gin Gin,” Cr McPhee said.

“Our team at Childers Neighbourhood Centre will be supporting at the Childers and Woodgate sessions, with Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre helping at their location.

“The workshops will be run by the amazing Fastplant Skateboarding team.

“No matter if you’re new to skateboarding or an advanced skater there is sure to be something fun to learn at one of the workshops during Youth Week.”

At each location and session there will be a free barbecue, fun activities and local youth-based services to connect with.

Youth Week Fastplant Skateboarding workshops bookings:

  • Woodgate – 11 April, 2 – 3.30 pm to book click here
  • Bundaberg – 12 April, 8.30 – 10 am and intermediate session 10.30 am – 12 pm to book click here
  • Bargara – 12 April 2023 2 – 3.30 pm to book click here
  • Moore Park Beach – 13 April 2023 2 – 3.30 pm to book click here
  • Burnett Heads – 13 April 2023 8.30 – 10 am to book click here
  • Childers – 14 April 2023 9 – 10.30 am to book click here
  • Gin Gin – 14 April 2023 2 – 3.30 pm to book click here

For more school holiday fun for the kids throughout the region, check out Council’s Autumn School Holiday Guide here.

In Our Group with Bullyard Hall,Sports and Recreation Club

Emma Turnbull

Bullyard Hall was built in 1908 and is ideally located between a number of regional towns which makes it a fantastic place for the community to catch up.

Secretary Wendi Guy shares the details of why it’s a wonderful community hub.

Tell us about the organisation?

The Bullyard Hall, Sports and Recreation Club Inc has been fully active for four years now, after it nearly went into remission, with a new committee running the hall.

Since then, we have held annual car rallies, rock 'n' roll dance night, monthly markets, Santa fair, family days and music concerts.

We recently had a brand-new kitchen put in, solar power, new wiring in the hall, two new water tanks/pumps and irrigation installed.

We also host the annual mower races and the remote-control racing cars events.

What’s the history of Bullyard Hall, Sports and Recreation Club?

Bullyard Hall was built in 1908 by Samuel Kent on 10 acres of land purchased for that purpose.

It was connected to electricity in 1952 and the hall was extended in 1957 with a bigger dance floor.

Other additions included a stage, kitchen and ladies' room.

The hall was repainted in the 1960s with linseed oil and burnt umber - giving it a distinctive appearance.

The hall was, like other local public halls, used for social events such as dances.

Movies were shown at the hall from the 1920s and it was also used for church services.

Newspaper references from the 1930s through to the 1950s indicate the hall being used as a venue to sign up workers for the local cane crushing season.

The grounds were also used for a range of sporting events.

There are references to athletics competitions held at Bullyard from 1911 and the track was improved in 1913.

A tennis club was formed in 1928 and tennis courts were constructed using crushed ant bed.

Cricket was popular, so much so that the cricket club merged with the hall committee in 1930.

Bullyard hosted cricket matches against local teams including Wallaville, Albionville, Gin Gin, Bucca and Bundaberg and the pitch was also constructed from ant bed, similar to the tennis courts.

Bullyard Hall is located in the south-western corner of a four hectare reserve that, in turn, is located in the northern part of town on the eastern side of Bucca Road.

A mostly circular fenced sports ground extends from the hall to the north and east.

Most of the fenced, predominantly levelled grassed site has been cleared, some remaining scrub vegetation exists in the north and northeast and on the boundaries and it appears that the ring of trees on the perimeter of the sports ground have been deliberately planted.

Why is the group important to the Bundaberg Region?

It provides a great location for large events in the oval, as it is located close to several towns.

It is a beautiful location.

How can the community be involved?

We encourage the locals to come along and join our group as it is their hall.

It caters for many functions and events throughout the year.

We are always looking for volunteers to help run the canteen at our monthly markets and help out at our events we hold.

What significant event is held during the year?

We hold a family day Halloween Party every year in October.

This has always been a great success, especially our haunted house.

Lots of games, dancing with a live DJ and prizes for the kids. It's a traditional fancy dress as well.

What are some of the plans for the future?

To hold a 70s disco night fundraiser, more car rallies, fancy dress events, dinner nights.

When and where do you meet?

We meet every second month at the hall at 6 pm for a committee meeting at 7 pm for a general meeting since February.

How to

Eye on the prize for boxer Shannan Davey

Emma Turnbull

Bundaberg amateur boxer Shannan Davey has his eye on the prize as he prepares to head to the world championships to represent Australia in Uzbekistan.

The Australian champion will travel to Uzbekistan, north of Afghanistan, for the Men’s World Boxing Championship in the 71kg division at the end of April.

With nerves of steel and quick footwork, Shannan said he was honoured to represent his country, and he has hopes to make the Australian Olympic team next year.

Boxing for 10 years, it was a deal with his older brother that persuaded Shannan at the age of 13 to put on the gloves for the first time to see what he was made of.

“I was living in Narrabri and playing footy and let’s just say I was a bit overweight at that time,” Shannan said.

“I was eating pizza, when my brother said if I put down the slice he’d let me go to boxing with him – I loved every second of it and now I watch what I eat, and it’s not pizza!”

Moving to Bundaberg secures Shannan's potential

It was a few years later when Shannan realised his boxing potential and he sought to move to a region with a dedicated boxing academy.

“In the small country town of Narrabri there wasn’t much opportunity to advance my boxing,” Shannan said.

“My sister lived up here in Bundaberg, and I knew who the Kovacs boys were, so I jumped at the opportunity to move here and train with Attila Kovacs.

“That was three years ago and now my parents live here too.

“I am the only boxer from Bundaberg going to the world championships.

“I feel very excited and honoured to represent my country.”

Working as a local support worker Shannan finds time to dedicate long hours to the sport he is passionate about as he trains up to three times each day.

“I really have had a lot of help from Attila, and I know he is a very proud coach,” Shannan said.

“It’s the third time I have competed overseas – in New Zealand and Europe before.

“I am in a really good position to be part of the Paris Olympics in 2024 and that’s my goal!”

Shannan thanked the many people who had helped him during his boxing career, including his coaches and his parents and family.

To find out more and follow his boxing journey click here.