Weekender: Hop to holiday fun with guide

Trial restricts vehicle beach access at night

Megan Dean

A trial to restrict vehicle access to the Moore Park Beach shoreline during turtle season will be undertaken in the next nesting season following overwhelming community support.

Following a request from residents, the community was invited to provide its feedback on the proposed between October 2022 and January 2023.

More than three quarters of the 775 submissions were in favour of a night-time closure to vehicle access on Moore Park Beach during the turtle nesting season.

As a result, Council has agreed to trial a voluntary seasonal closure of night-time beach vehicle access from 1 November 2023 to 31 March 2024.

The night-time closure would apply to all vehicles including, four-wheel-drives, motorbikes and ATVs, from dusk to dawn.

The trail aims to reduce the potential impacts of vehicles on marine turtles, public safety and environmental values during the next turtle nesting season.

It will be voluntary in nature as, without making changes to its local laws, Council currently has no regulatory mechanism to restrict the hours of vehicle access on the currently permitted beach driving areas of Moore Park Beach.

Divisional representative Cr Jason Bartels said many Moore Park Beach residents would welcome the news of the restricted beach access trial.

“We were presented with a request to restrict vehicle access on Moore Park Beach during turtle season by locals and undertook the survey because we acknowledged the validity of the concerns raised,” Cr Bartels said.

“The submitters felt that safety and environmental concerns would be resolved simply by asking vehicles to stay off the beach at night.

“The majority of survey respondents agreed that this was the best course of action and it certainly created a lot of interest in the local area with more than half of the surveys received completed by residents of Moore Park Beach.

“The trial closure period is an opportunity for Council and the community to develop a better understanding of the usage, impacts and issues.”

During the trial closure period Council will monitor beach driving activity and continue to liaise with relevant community groups.

It’s important to remember that when driving on the beach, all relevant Queensland road rules apply. The community should report any unlawful behaviour to the Queensland Police Service.

Council will provide updates related to the implementation of the trial closure on its project page.

Giant Easter egg hunt a community collaboration

Ashley Schipper

The hunt for hidden bunnies and giant eggs will be on at the Botanic Gardens soon as the very first Wide Bay Kids Easter in the Gardens event kicks off for the young and the young at heart.

For 30 days in April the community is invited to download or pick up a special map and explore the gardens while searching for some special Easter surprises.

Wide Bay Kids' Gayle Reynolds organised the event after consultation with the community about the need for more fun and engaging activities in the region.

“Easter in the Gardens is a community connection project of Wide Bay Kids,” Gayle said.

“Our goal is to bring together various businesses, the arts sector, community groups and individuals to work together to create a magical experience for families living and visiting the region.”

The event was awarded Regional Arts Development Funding through Bundaberg Regional Council, with $2000 going towards the project.

RADF promotes the role and value of arts, culture and heritage as key drivers of diverse and inclusive communities and strong regions. 

The organisation invests in local arts and cultural priorities, as determined by local communities, across Queensland.

Gayle said participants would be hunting far and wide across the gardens to find the bunnies and ten giant Easter eggs, which had been created by various local artists.

“The giant eggs are one metre high, made from marine wood and have been especially designed by local artists to capture the magic of Easter,” Gayle said.

“In addition to giant eggs there will also be giant carrots and cheeky giant bunnies at the gardens to help guide people through the egg hunt.”

Gayle said the aim of the hunt was to locate all of the giant eggs then enter the draw to win weekly prizes.

“There is also a special golden egg and if you are the lucky person to find it you will receive a great prize thanks to Hinkler Hall of Aviation and Bundaberg Botanic Gardens,” she said.

“You can also join in on one of the artist walks and learn about what inspired the beautiful and creative designs.

“Local artists are working to create magical egg murals for families to fall in love with and people can come any day during April to soak up the beauty of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens in Autumn.”

Businesses, artists and community come on board to support Easter egg hunt

The Wide Bay Kids team said Easter in the Gardens was made possible through the involvement of the whole community.

“Last year we conducted community consultation around what events families would like to see in the region,” Gayle said.

“We spoke to individuals, groups, the arts sector, community organisations and businesses who all had their say about what the project may look like.

“We are now all working together to celebrate community connection.

“Easter in the Gardens has been made possible by the support of local businesses who have sponsored a giant egg.”

The Easter in the Gardens event is free for all and will be held from 1 to 30 April, with no bookings necessary.

Where can you get a map?

A printed map is part of the Wide Bay Kids Easter School Holiday Pocket Guide which will be delivered to schools and childcare centres from 27 March.

Copies of the guide, including the map, is also available on the brochure stand located inside Cafe 1928, at the Botanic Gardens.

A digital map will also be available from 27 March on the Wide Bay Kids website or via scanning a QR Code at the gardens.

Find out more here.

Plenty of activities happening for school holidays

Emma Orford

Bundaberg Regional Council’s Autumn school holiday guide is packed full of activities to make the most of family time over the Easter break.

Get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather this time of year with a range of outdoor options on offer.

Join in a very special storytime with the animals at Alexandra Park Zoo and get the chance to meet some of the residents up close.

Don’t forget to pick up a red-winged parrot colouring in sheet while you’re there and see if you can spot one!

Learn more about where local birds make their homes at Baldwin Swamp and create your own nest out of natural materials you find in the park.

Those needing a run around can register for the free Skills and Drills sessions as part of the Eat, Breathe, Move initiative where kids aged six and up can practice their skills across a variety of sports.

Get ready for Easter with a variety of craft activities on offer at the Bundaberg, Childers and Gin Gin libraries including making decorations, cards and baskets.

If you’re still feeling crafty then head to the the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery to make your own zine – a small DIY magazine filled with everything you want to say, draw, type, collage and stamp.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said that the holiday program had a little something for everyone.

“There is a range of indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy,” Cr Learmonth said.

“A lot of the activities are free as well, meaning everyone can make the most of the holidays and enjoy our wonderful local facilities!”

You can find the full Autumn school holiday guide here.

Gin Gin service station upgrade proposed

Ashley Schipper

An aging service station in Gin Gin could be redeveloped to include a new Caltex and food and drink facility if a development application is approved.

Bundaberg Regional Council recently received the application for Material Change of Use (Service Station and Food and Drink Outlet) from applicant Chevron Downstream Fuels Australia Pty Ltd.

The proposal includes the redevelopment of an existing service station/truck stop facility on Mulgrave Street, allowing improved separation between light and heavy vehicles, as well as access to a nearby caravan park.

If approved, the Gin Gin Service Station development will include:

  • food and drink outlet
  • service station building
  • separate refuelling areas for both heavy and light vehicles
  • three underground fuel tanks and associated car parking and landscaping.
  • access to the service station/truck-stop facility will be via three existing crossovers onto Bruce Highway/ Mulgrave Street at appropriate separation distances along the road
  • a dedicated truck egress cross-over , separate to the main site entry / exit, for traffic safety purposes
  • 25 formal car parks in total including one space for persons with disabilities and two spaces for air/water
  • car refuelling canopy over four refuelling dispensers with eight filling positions for general vehicles
  • 24 hours, seven days a week operation

The application states if approved, the benefits of the development include providing modern and attractive building design and landscaping with an enhancement to the Mulgrave Street frontage and improving safety and efficiency of the site for vehicles.

Entrepreneurs launch fashion label Balaquin

Emma Turnbull

Two Bundaberg entrepreneurs who are committed to reducing microplastics in the ocean have started new fashion label Balaquin.

Living in the Bundaberg Region, Natalie Turner and Kiara-Bella Moore have teamed up with Tamara Benetti to combat the environmental issue.

Natalie said the fashion industry was responsible for a significant portion of the microplastics in the ocean and each time synthetic clothes were washed, tiny fibres were released into the water.

She said they were too small to be filtered out and would end up in the ocean.

By producing feminine pieces made from 100 per cent natural fibre the new Australian fashion brand aims to combat the growing problem.

“When I searched for natural fibre clothing, there’s plenty of choice if you’re after a potato sack dress, or something plain, but not a lot of choice if you want something pretty,” Natalie said.

As the designer, Kiara-Bella said the inspiration to start the Balaquin fashion label was to make environmentally friendly and attractive clothing, that was all designed here in the Bundaberg Region.

“This was the inspiration for Balaquin,” Kiara-Bella said.

“We are creating unique clothes that are beautiful and sustainable.

“By choosing natural fibres, we can significantly reduce the amount of microplastics that end up in the ocean. Even our accessories are plastic-free.

“Our buttons are shell, and our buckles are made from rattan.”

Kiara-Bella said Balaquin's debut collection was made of a global organic textile standard and from certified organic cotton.

The range, described as an Australian first, features dresses, blouses, and mix-and-match sets.

“We’ve designed each of our separates in our first collection to go together,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter which bottoms or tops you choose, they all match.”

In addition to being a natural fibre brand, Tamara said Balaquin was manufactured ethically in Vietnam.

“Our production partners are small family run businesses.

“For us it is important that our seamstresses have regular days off, limited overtime, and access to proper health care,” Tamara said.

She said the brand was committed to providing fair wages and safe working conditions for all of its employees.

Natalie said Balaquin was excited to join the movement of brands that were committed to creating positive change in the fashion industry.

“With its dedication to sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices, Balaquin is poised to become a leader in sustainable fashion,” she said.

To check out Balaquin’s fashion range, click here.

Fundraiser brings community together for Harmony Week

Ashley Schipper

A Harmony Week movie fundraiser will donate proceeds to the Bundaberg Friends for Refugees Group and their mission of bringing a refugee family to the region for settlement.

The Bundaberg Regional Council movie night will be on at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Saturday 25 March and will showcase the documentary, Rosemary's Way.

The film follows Rosemary Kariuki and one of the groups of vulnerable migrant women of suburban Sydney whose lives she helps transform from isolation to connection. 

Pre-screening will also welcome some of the region’s local migrant community to speak about their culture and life as a migrant in Australia.

Lorraine’s story

Lorraine Chipangura said she was looking forward to sharing her story about her journey from Zimbabwe to Bundaberg.

“It’s nice for people to have an understanding about a migrant person’s life and journey and what they go through,” Lorraine said.

“My story is different because I came as a student not as someone looking for work.

“I came alone as well, not with a family to support me, so I had to create my own community.”

Lorraine left Zimbabwe in 2003 to study a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Geelong where she majored in accounting and e-commerce.

She got a job straight out of university and after getting her Permanent Residence, she decided to stay and lived mostly in Victoria and then Perth.

Lorraine moved to Bundaberg in 2015 to join her husband who works as a pharmacist.

“It was so funny because we just got off the plane from our wedding in Zim straight to Bundy and I’d never even been here before,” Lorraine said.

“At first it was a bit isolating because I didn’t know anyone, but we met people through church and the people here are nice.

“I’ve mostly lived in smaller towns in Australia and see myself as a country girl, so Bundaberg was a good fit.

“There’s a big African community here too which makes a big difference.”

While she said being so far away from family has been her biggest challenge, Lorraine has felt more at home since having her own children who are now three and four years old.

“All my family are back in Zim so that’s hard especially with Covid,” she said.

“But this is a beautiful place to raise kids, so I don’t think we’ll be leaving here anytime soon!”

Council's community services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee said Harmony Week was all about recognising diversity and bringing together Australians from all different backgrounds.

She said the movie fundraiser was a great opportunity to get together as a community and hear stories of residents from all walks of life.

“Harmony Week is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone,” Cr McPhee said.

“The movie fundraiser is not only an opportunity to find out more about the challenges that some of those in our community face but is also a chance to reflect on how we can come together in support.

“Attending this event will help to transform our understanding of our local migrant community while encouraging some greater connections.”

Fundraiser for Friends for Refugees

Raffles on the night will help to fundraise for local organisation, Friends of the Refugees, which has been working to move a mother and her two children from Iran to Bundaberg.

In the short five months since establishing Bundaberg Friends of Refugees, the group of 13 locals has gained momentum and recently announced they will welcome their first refugee family to the region in April.

Friends of Refugees’ Geoff Brennan said the group had followed the guidelines of the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP), which was announced by the Australian Government in December 2021.

CRISP is a new settlement program and under the program, refugee visa holders receive settlement support directly from trained community groups, called Community Supporter Groups (CSGs).

The aim is achieving optimal settlement outcomes with the help of community members who want to help refugees settle into life in Australia.

A total of 1500 refugees will be settled through CRISP up until 30 June 2025.

Geoff said the refugee family relocating to Bundaberg would be the 21st family to find a new home in Australia through the program, and the local community should be very pleased to know it made this a possibility.

“I think this is an exciting thing, it will be a challenge, but I know our group will surround them and be up for the task,” Geoff said.

“I want the whole of Bundaberg to be wildly, wildly excited and to welcome them.”

Rosemary's Way event details:

When 25 March, 4 pm

Cost: $12 per ticket

Where: Moncrieff Entertainment Centre

Book here.

What's on

Full house at first Bundaberg Voice Collective

Emma Turnbull

Singers of all experience levels are coming together to learn how to belt out a tune in harmony as a new choir called the Bundaberg Voice Collective takes shape.

The community orientated choir is giving locals a new set of lungs as director Christie McLucas provides a fast-paced, fun, yet focused learning environment.

It was a full house at the very first meeting of Bundaberg Voice Collective when those who love to sing met at Oodies Café for the initial catch up.

Christie is an old hat when it comes to the local music scene as she is also a pianist, music teacher, conductor and all-round entertainer.

“We had 43 people attend on the first night, I was hoping for 30 so it was pretty fantastic to see the interest,” Christie said.

“I have been doing a lot of stuff in town for many, many years, so people know my name which is helpful, and they know I just like to make things fun.

“Over the last year people have been at me to start a choir and I guess it just seems like the right time now.”

Bundaberg Voice Collective caters to all experience levels and is open to community members 18 years and older.

“We're a choir that has everything!” Christie said.

“The best songs, the best musicians, the best company, and the best opportunity for your voice to grow.

“Whether you want to hone your skills or grow some, the Bundaberg Voice Collective is the setting to do that.”

Christie said each week would be different with other local musicians popping in to showcase their talent.

“It’s so good to roll with talented people,” Christie said.

“Let’s just say I know a lot of fantastic artists in Bundaberg and some owe me a favour or two, so I’m really looking forward to what the future of BVC will bring.

“Seriously – it’s more fun when you are singing in a group too.”

Bundaberg Voice Collective meet at Oodies Café, Bundaberg North each Tuesday between 6.30 – 8.30 pm. For more information check out the website or Facebook page.

In Our Group with
Relay for Life Bundaberg

Emma Turnbull

Celebrating 20 years in the community Relay for Life has helped to rally locals together in Bundaberg to raise $1.8 million to help Cancer Council Queensland support people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Senior Community Development Specialist Rebecca Field shares the not-for-profit organisation’s 20-year history.

Tell us about Relay for Life?

Bundaberg Fraser Coast Relay for Life is an annual event that raises much needed funds for Cancer Council by bringing the community together for a common cause.

In 2023, the volunteer organising committee will be recruiting teams of locals to join in an event that is fun and takes people on an awareness journey about cancer through its elements of Celebrate, Remember and Fightback.

Participants in teams take turns at taking an individualised baton around the relay track with at least one member of the team on the track the entire event.

Why is this year so special?

2023 is the 20th annual Cancer Council Queensland Relay for Life event held in Bundaberg.

Our survivors and carers walk is a significant moment as we witness and celebrate those who have been down the path of cancer diagnosis and treatment and have beaten this disease.

If you’re a cancer survivor and/or cared for someone who has experienced cancer; you are invited to join us for a very special lap of honour at the start of Relay for Life.

Survivors and carers do a lap of our relay track as a group whilst everyone else assembles around the track to celebrate them and the inspiration that even when you hear the word Cancer you know that there is hope!

Cancer is an indiscriminate disease that can strike anyone in the community.

Because of this, Relay for Life is more than just a fundraising event.

The event is designed to take participants on a journey as they celebrate those that have fought the battle against cancer and won, remember those who have fought the battle and not survived, and commit to continuing the fightback against the disease.

Relay is also about educating each other and the wider community. 

Fundraising money from Bundaberg positively impacts all regional cancer patients.

Bundaberg contributes to a local wigs and turbans service that allows patients to choose a wig, hat, scarf or turban that feel comfortable in.

The money Bundaberg has contributed through Relay for Life continues to help fund accommodation lodges that cancer patients travelling to Brisbane for treatment can take advantage of.

It has also contributed to ensuring that the 131120 helpline is available for anyone dealing with cancer is available Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm.

This helpline provides cancer information, as well as emotional and practical support.

We can also refer you to Cancer Council Queensland’s support program and services.

Most importantly fundraising dollars are put back into research.

Cancer Council Queensland research is directed at understanding how to prevent cancer, how to diagnose cancer earlier, how to help patients achieve the best possible quality of life after a cancer diagnosis, and how to best support cancer patients and their families.

What’s Bundaberg’s Relay for Life's history?

Since Relay for Life began in Bundaberg in 2004, the Bundaberg community has raised over 1.8 million dollars for Cancer Council Queensland.

This is despite floods, drought, rises in cost of living and a global pandemic.

Relay for Life has changed over the years. The event has changed venues, changed organising committees, teams have come and gone, and even the format has changed from an 18-hour event originally to a virtual 4-hour event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now to a 9 hour format.

What hasn’t changed is Bundaberg’s passion and commitment to raising money for Cancer Council Queensland with Relay for Life being one of the most popular events among schools and workplaces to come together as a team to support.

The message also hasn’t changed – Celebrate, Remember and Fightback.

One of the more extreme and memorable fundraising efforts was a run in 2010 from Brisbane to Bundaberg culminating in an arrival at the Relay for Life Event at the old showgrounds.

Why is the group important to the Bundaberg Region?

Relay for Life allows the local community to engage with fundraising for a cause that aims to not only find a cure and treatment for cancer; but also to assist patients and family members through their cancer journey; and educate on the cause and prevention of cancer.

Cancer Council Queensland is one of Australia’s leading and most highly rated charities involving itself in the support of those impacted by ALL cancers.

Relay provides everyone with the opportunity to share their own story about how cancer has impacted their life.

Whether it’s from the loss of a friend or family member or just the toll the diagnosis and treatment takes on the entire community of a patient.

Relay for Life is fun. Most of the hard work of fundraising is done before the event itself, allowing participants to enjoy a theme, dress up, create memories as they take to the track and enjoy the relay aspect as they take turns in representing their team on the relay track the entire event.

There is also live entertainment from local performers who donate their time and talent in supporting the cause of raising money in the fightback against cancer.

How can the community become involved?

This year’s Bundaberg Fraser Coast Relay for Life will be held at the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct on October 21 from noon until 9 pm.

Taking part in this year’s Relay for Life is easy. Firstly, ask some friends or colleagues or family members to form a Relay team.

Then sign up yourself, and any others on your team, by clicking here.

Once you’ve signed up you will be given assistance to do as much fundraising as your time and imagination allows as everyone involved in this year’s Relay works towards raising $105,000.

Also join our Facebook group for all the latest information about the event, what’s happening on the day and how they can get involved with volunteering and event organisation.

How to

Jarrod Wessel’s debut race calling in Abu Dhabi

Vince Habermann

The sudden departure of United Arab Emirates (UAE) racecaller Alistair Cohen presented Bundaberg’s Jarrod Wessel with an amazing opportunity, taking up a short-term appointment to replace him for the last nine meetings of the UAE’s racing season and making his debut at the Abu Dhabi meeting last Thursday.

Jarrod, who turned 24 this week, took up race calling in Bundaberg seven years ago and has built his portfolio to be the emerging voice of horse and greyhound racing throughout South Queensland.

He called the last race at the Albion Park dogs last Wednesday afternoon and only a few hours later was on a flight to Dubai.

His name had been recommended as a stop-gap solution to replace Alistair for the rest of the UAE season.

Dialogue between the Emirates Racing Authority and Tabcorp confirmed Jarrod’s appointment with only hours to spare before the flight departure.

“Incredible opportunity and just a crazy few hours,” Jarrod reflected after broadcasting the Abu Dhabi meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Top racecaller David Fowler, who has mentored Jarrod since he began his career at RadioTAB in 2017, was similarly gobsmacked by the chain of events.

“We sat down for dinner and he had to depart with a schooner and a veal dish still sitting there,” David said.

In a hectic schedule, Jarrod also called at three other tracks over the weekend, Al Ain, Jebel Ali and Sharjah Longines, and again at Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Jarrod admitted “a mixture of nerves and excitement was certainly there for my first call that’s for sure”.

“At Abu Dhabi, there were probably around 1000 people on track but the weekend meeting at Jebel Ali, they probably had 5000 people on track,” Jarrod said.

“I am the English broadcaster for the club, so my call was broadcast to the US, UK, Australia (all the English-speaking countries).

“I was the on-course caller at Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah. At Jebel Ali, they take the Arabic call.”

With four meetings remaining, the last being on 7 April, Jarrod will fly back to Australia the following day, but he is hopeful he could get the job for all of next season, although his dream is to one day become the top metropolitan caller in one of the Australian eastern seaboard capitals.

“The contract is seasonal over here, the season being six months, but as the previous caller has headed home for good, I would assume I would be in consideration for the contract next season,” Jarrod said.

“My career goal would to be the number one caller in Brisbane Sydney or Melbourne, so if nothing else, this (nine-meeting stint) would be a great stepping stone and awesome to have on my CV.”