Weekender: Hospital history on display

VMR donation after 50 years of supporting community

Megan Dean

Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg has another reason to celebrate its 50 year anniversary following a donation from Bundaberg Regional Council.

The organisation was established on 1 November 1972 as the Bundaberg Air Sea Rescue Squad and has since served the Bundaberg Region community with a number of operational activities including:

  • an on call 24/7 marine search and rescue (SAR) capability
  • maintaining a 12/7 marine radio safety listening watch
  • supporting local emergency services and State and Federal government agencies
  • providing a free Log On/Off service for local recreational and commercial boaters and vessels in transit
  • promoting safety at sea

Mayor Jack Dempsey, who is also patron of Volunteer Marine Rescue Bundaberg, said Council had resolved to donate $10,000 from its partnerships and sponsorships program.

“On behalf of the Bundaberg Region community we’d like to thank the many volunteers for their years of service and also their families who support them as they give freely of their time,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“VMR is always on hand for boaties in need, whether it’s early morning or the middle of the night and have many times gone into precarious situations to ensure the safety of all.

“This donation doesn’t just recognise the years ahead but the 50 years of dedicated service already provided.”

Mayor Dempsey said VMR Bundaberg’s 50th Anniversary book was gifted to Council and would be donated to Bundaberg Regional Libraries where it would be made available to the community.

VMR Bundaberg President Rod Studholme said the donation would be a big help for the volunteer-run organisation.

“It’s a significant boost to our income and at the same time it relieves volunteers of the requirement to do fundraising,” Rod said.

“There’s a number of things we can use it for.

“We can use it for training and we can also use it to maintain our rescue vessels.”

Rescue crews are highly trained and members receive ongoing training to ensure their skills are of high quality, enabling them to be relied upon in difficult emergency situations.

There were 50 activations last year with 93 people helped to safety.

Rod said his favourite thing about being part of the group was “the rewards you get from volunteering and saving people’s lives at sea”.

“We have 65 operational volunteers consisting of rescue vessel crew, radio operators, fundraisers and support staff.”

But he said more helpers were always welcome.

“You can never have enough volunteers.”

History unveiled on Friendlies wall

Ashley Schipper

More than a century's worth of history has been unveiled by the Friendly Society Private Hospital, now displayed proudly in a special memorial wall in its centre foyer.

A timeline of photos and information is featured in the space, with information dating back to the 1890s when the idea of a society to champion community health was first established.

Cabinetry filled with historic artefacts are also on display as part of the memorial.

The feature was made possible though the successful application of a Regional Arts Development Fund- a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

The grant was partly used to hire local historian Ross Peddlesden to collate information about the history of the organisation.

Ross said the project took many months to complete and was a mix of interviews and digging up information scattered throughout the community.

He said the end product was a timeline showcasing the rich history of the Friendlies pharmacy and hospital and how the community was a driving force behind its establishment.

“It's a history of the Friendlies as a social institution, not just a hospital, not just a pharmacy but its roots in the community,” he said.

“At the time the community thought the medical services that existed were insufficient.

“Rather than complain about it or go to the government, they got together to do something about it.”

It was a movement that saw the creation of the Friendly Society which began working towards improving medical facilities in the region.

Ross said those deep roots in the community only became stronger over time.

“To meet some of the people that have given years of the life to the society, as well as hear the stories of those who made such a huge impact, it's been fantastic,” he said.

Some of those people include Bundaberg born and locally-trained nurse Agnes Novakoski who purchased a home in Crofton Street to transform it into the St Vincent’s Private Hospital.

That hospital was then purchased by the Friendly Society Medical Institute and ultimately became the first part of what is now the hospital.

Design brings Friendly Society Private Hospital historic timeline to life

Friendly Society Private Hospital graphic designer Aimee Courtice was an integral part of the project, using her skills to bring the history to life.

“It was a matter of me sifting through all that information that was out there and putting it all together,” she said.

“The whole project took about nine months and was a labour of love.

“It is lovely to see it all come together.”

The feature wall was officially opened to the public this week at a special ceremony.

Pirates take over home for Halloween

Ashley Schipper

A family home in Belle Eden Estate has been transformed into a gloomy Halloween shipwreck, haunted by pirate skeletons keeping a close watch on their buried treasure.

Bundaberg man Joey Heininger's house at Palmero Avenue now resembles something out of a horror movie, and it's all in the name of celebrating the spookiest time of year.

The local father has spent many months crafting a range of displays to fit into his pirate-themed Halloween house and he said it was something that gave him great enjoyment.

“I’ve been working on this display for the past year, most of which has just been scouring social media and other places for bargain buys,” he said.

“The bulk of the construction has taken place in the three months leading up to October.

“I have been lucky to have my family and so many friends help out here and there.”

Joey's front yard is now filled with buried treasure, the skulls of former plunderers and plenty of warnings from the spirits that now rest in the space.

It's not the first time he has taken part in the Halloween house extravaganza.

Last year he and his wife Alannah took on a toxic-waste theme, with more than 100 door-knockers enjoying trick or treating in his neighbourhood.

Joey said Halloween had been a favourite holiday for him ever since he was a boy.

“When I was young I lived in NSW and fell in love with theme parks when mum bought me up to the Gold Coast for a holiday,” he said.

“So I really love theming and Halloween is a perfect time to try my hand at theming our yard.

“I also really enjoy the craft side of it.”

“I’m also a dad, so creating exciting memories for my son and his friends is what it is really all about.”

The Heininger Halloween set up is available to view right up to Halloween on Monday 31 October.

Find the house at Palmero Avenue in Belle Eden Estate… if you dare.

Other local activities happening to celebrate Halloween include:

Ability Diverse Halloween Fun

Bundaberg Library is getting extra spooky for Halloween with a Scooby Doo Mystery Mansion activity to be held at 10 am on Monday.

The Ability Diverse Halloween Fun event will feature the building of a Lego mansion plus games, puzzles and activities themed around the spookiest day of the year.

Support workers must be present.

Event details:
Where: Bundaberg Library
When: Monday 31 October 2022, 10 am to 11 am

Register here.

Spooky Halloween Fun

Sugarland Plaza are hosting Spooky Halloween Fun until Monday afternoon.

Bring your family and friends along to take part in a game that will make your skin crawl.

Located outside Rockmans from 10 am until 2 pm daily.

Find out more here.

CQU Halloween Party

Mini Bee Coffee is hosting a Halloween Party with something for everyone on Saturday, 29 October from 5pm.

Activities include:

Kids ghostly outdoor hunt

Walk along the darkened path and over the bridge with lots of decorations and surprises

Indoor party with dance floor

Free snacks and kids drinks

Find out more here.

Skechers opens at Hinkler Central

Georgia Neville

Shoe brand Skechers is just one of the latest stores to open in Hinkler Central, bringing its performance and lifestyle footwear to Bundaberg.

The store opened on Thursday 13 October next to Rockwear, near Woolworths, after parent company Accent Group saw recent success with the opening of Platypus Shoes.

Skechers QLD/NT State Manager Beau Martin said with stores located in Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast, the team saw an opportunity to open in Bundaberg.

“We have locations in Hervey Bay and on the Sunshine Coast which have been a go-to for so many of our Bundaberg customers over the past few years, so we knew there was a customer base that loved our product in the area,” Beau said.

“After our parent company Accent Group opened a well-received Platypus store in Bundaberg, we saw the opportunity to bring Skechers into this location as well.

“We have bought the full Skechers range to Bundaberg which is incredibly exciting!

“We have everything from walking and exercise shoes, certified workwear as well as fashion and lifestyle shoes for the whole family – we are truly a one stop shop for everything shoes.”

Beau said the store had employed two managers as well as six casual team members, although in the lead up to Christmas they were on the lookout for new team members.

“We currently have two amazing managers, Rebecca and Amber, as well as six casual team members in our store,” Beau said.

“We are also looking to grow our team further as we head into the busy Christmas period.”

Skechers is a global leader in performance and lifestyle footwear, with styles for men, women and kids.

You’ll find the latest innovative Skechers performance shoes including on-trend sneakers, sport shoes and casual shoes.

You can find out more about Skechers here.

Thabeban Takeaway celebrates 20 years

Georgia Neville

Thabeban Takeaway is marking twenty years of business this November, with owners Margie and Dino Vicenzotti proud of how far they have come since opening their doors.

Situated at 282 Goodwood Road, the duo said their business had seen great success, with many customers still coming back from the first day they opened in 2002.

Margie said Thabeban Takeaway had been built on a desire to start something of her own.

“I started on my last lot of wages that I had from when I was employed as a cook before going out on my own to see what I could do,” Margie said.

“The shop space was vacant at the time, so I spoke to the owner and he gave me a month’s free rent at the time to clean it up.

“I bought a little bit of stock with the last lot of [my] wages and put a little bit of till float into the till and that is how we got the shop up and going.”

Margie said the first few years were hard work, with herself and Dino solely running the business.

“We got here at 2 am and finished around 8 pm because our opening hours are 3 am to 8 pm, and we have stuck with those hours for the last twenty years,” she said.

With some of the same customers from 20 years ago still walking through their doors today, Margie said their business wouldn't be a success without the support from locals.

“Our customer base is very loyal, and many people have supported us for many years,” she said.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without their support.”

Margie said the team she had behind her had all played their part in Thabeban Takeaway’s success, including Lisa Lack and Kylie Moran who have both been with the business for 20 years.

“Without the staff, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” she said.

“We have about 20 employees now between this store and Eastside Takeaway, which we opened in 2015.”

Margie said the key to keeping the business running for two decades was simple.

“Our thing is to keep things basic,” she said.

“There are some days where we throw different items out there.”

Looking to the future, Margie and the team would continue to do what they knew best.

“Our goal was to get to where we are now and to still be here after 20 years for what we have gone through including Covid and so on, it is great,” she said.

“We will just keep doing what we are doing going forward.

“I love it and I do enjoy it and I love my staff; they are just like family to us.”

Gin Gin Makerspace series shares creativity

Georgia Neville

Residents, artisans and community groups will delight in the new Gin Gin Makerspace series with creative workshops on the way and a call out for more hosts.

The all-new Gin Gin Makerspace is looking to bring the community together calling for participants and facilitators for the upcoming workshop series.

The series' scheduled events so far feature mosaics, tea making, junk art windchimes, woodworking, water colours and painting.

Organised by the Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre, each workshop will have a different focus with community members or groups teaching others in the community a different creative technique.

Bundaberg Regional Council’s Community Services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee said the workshops would be a fantastic opportunity for the community to come together to learn new skills from one another.

“The workshops are a great way to introduce locals to existing community groups and in turn increase group membership with community groups encouraged to register their interest,” Cr McPhee said.

“The workshops will either be free, or partly subsidised by the Neighbourhood Centre to make learning new skills affordable and accessible for community members to increase social connections within their community and reduce social isolation.

“I encourage anyone who can get to the sessions to attend, you never know, you might just find a new hobby!”

If you have a skill that you would like to share with the community contact the Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre by emailing ggnc@bundaberg.qld.gov.au or phoning 4130 4630.

Gin Gin Makerspace workshops

Eggshell Mosaic

Get out of your shell and enjoy an egg-cellent morning of mosaic art with Gin Gin Artist, Larissa Dabrowski.

Join in the fun and create a poppy inspired ‘eggshell’ mosaic in honour of Remembrance Day, or let your imagination run wild and create an abstract eggshell art piece.

All materials provided.

When: Friday, 4 November
Where: Gin Gin Neighbourhood – HH Innes Room
Time: 9 am – noon
Cost: Free

Bookings essential. Register your place by calling the Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre on 4130 4630 or emailing ggnc@bundaberg.qld.gov.au.

Tea Tasting and Blending Workshop

Enjoy a beautiful morning of tea tasting and blending with Sara from Ettie and Dorrie as part of Gin Gin Neighbourhood’s Makerspace series.

Each participant will take home a jar of tea blend, a box of five flavoured teas and an infuser.

Ettie and Dorrie will provide a Christmas themed tea blend tasting session, followed by a make your own tea where participants can exchange flavours with each other.

When: Thursday, 17 November
Where: Gin Gin Neighbourhood – HH Innes Room
Time: 9 am – noon
Cost: $17.50

Bookings essential. Register your place by calling the Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre on 4130 4630 or emailing ggnc@bundaberg.qld.gov.au.

Windchime Junk Art

Experiment with scrap metal, preloved items and watch as you bring your new junk art windchime to life with Gin Gin Artist Larissa Dabrowski.

All materials will be supplied by Bundaberg Regional Council’s Recycled Goods Shop or bring along some items from home that you would like to include in your junk art windchime.

When: Thursday, 1 December
Where: Gin Gin Neighbourhood – HH Innes Room
Time: 9 am – noon
Cost: Free

Bookings for the Gin Gin Makerspace session essential. Register your place by calling the Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centre on 4130 4630 or emailing ggnc@bundaberg.qld.gov.au.

Christmas Market Day supports good cause

Emma Turnbull

Handmade craft, plants, produce and art will all be available at the inaugural Christmas Market Day at Bargara supporting a good cause.

Community members are invited to get in early to purchase Christmas gifts at the St Peter’s Anglican Church fundraiser, which will be held at the beginning of November.

St Peter’s Anglican Church members Robyn Ind and Sue Galvin are organising the Christmas Market Day, which will help raise money for Little Dreamers, the soup kitchen at Bundaberg, and other community organisations.

Robyn said throughout the year church members held afternoon teas to raise money and this was the first time they had held a Christmas market to fundraise.

“Our parish, St Peter’s, is part of Christ Church in Bundaberg, and we fundraise throughout the year,” she said.

“We hold three afternoon teas a year and they help bring in good money, but our people are getting older, and I hope this will attract the younger generation and families to come along.”

They are hoping the Christmas Market Day will encourage families to stop by and find out what the church offered.

“Our goal is to be part of the community, and everyone is welcome, we help where we can,” she said.

“We want people to know we are there; whether it’s for a cup of tea or coffee, to sit down and have a chat, or if people need professional help – we have resources to help with that too.

“The market is new to us and I am hoping it will let the community know what we have to offer, while browsing the market stalls.”

The Christmas Market Day will be held between 9 am and 3 pm on Saturday 5 November at the hall at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Bauer Street, Bargara.

What's on

Master Reef Guide dives back into region

Ashley Schipper

Lady Musgrave Experience's Steven Pulvirenti is making the Bundaberg Region home again after securing his dream role as a Master Reef Guide.

The former local has recently graduated from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Master Reef Guide program and is taking his skills to Lady Musgrave Island to teach visitors all about its surrounding eco-system.

Master Reef Guides strive to be the world’s leading reef guides and interpreters, sharing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

As reef ambassadors they impart up-to-date scientific and management information about the reef and explain what people can do to make a difference.

“It is a total honour and a privilege to be nominated, let alone be successful for the role,” Steven said.

“I am working very closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which enables me further insight into the intricate eco systems that we have on the reef – how to protect them, how to interpret them and educate the public on how we need to look after this beautiful world-heritage-listed site.”

Steven said he was enjoying his new role at Lady Musgrave Island after travelling and studying over the years.

“I grew up in the Bundaberg Region as a kid and at 18 I went off and travelled the world,” he said.

“My family is still based here so it was a natural progression of coming back once I conducted my marine studies.

“I am still studying and I don't think I will ever stop, the Great Barrier Reef is too big and too interesting.”

Steven said his role allowed him to take part in many programs and activities.

“From director of marine education as well [as] a tour guide and turtle researcher,” he said.

“It is pretty busy but I love everything that happens out here.

“My work is ever-changing and no two days are the same.”

With his days spent surrounded by the turquoise blue waters of Lady Elliott Island and the amazing marine life, Steven said he was constantly in awe.

“This part of the Great Barrier Reef is like no other section, it is basically untouched,” he said.

“Now we are coming into turtle nesting season and we are seeing an influx of the green turtles arriving.

“Summer brings those nesting turtles while winter brings the manta rays and the whales.

“Not only that, the eco-systems and the sheer magnitude of the marine life here is astounding.”

Find out how you can discover more about Lady Musgrave Island here.

Shining light on polio awareness

Megan Dean

The Multiplex fig tree lights have this week been lit orange for polio awareness, 68 years since Bundaberg was the first Queensland town to receive the polio vaccine.

The news was front page of The Courier Mail on 14 October 1954 with the title reading ‘Bundaberg gets polio drug first’.

“Gamma globulin injections will be used for the first time in Queensland today, to combat Bundaberg’s poliomyelitis epidemic,” the article read.

“A supply of the drug was flown to the city late yesterday.”

According to the report, injections were to begin that very day with a pregnant woman whose husband had contracted polio just that week to be the very first to receive it.

“A 32-year-old married man, taken to the isolation ward of the Bundaberg General Hospital at 3.30 yesterday, brought the total admitted since the beginning of July to 12,” The Courier Mail said.

Bundaberg’s 1954 polio outbreak appeared to have been making headlines throughout the state with the Cairns Post reporting on 13 October that the Director-General of Health Dr Fryberg had flown to Bundaberg to investigate.

While polio is no longer prevalent in Australia thanks to a National Vaccination Program, organisations like Rotary International are still working tirelessly to completely eradicate the disease.

Local history enthusiast and member of Rotary Club of Bundaberg Central Ross Peddlesden said he had always held an interest in the campaign with local Rotary groups involved in the international fundraising efforts.

He said Rotary’s campaign to eradicate polio started back in 1985.

“The idea was to eradicate polio through an aggressive international campaign of vaccination,” Ross said.

“By that stage polio vaccination had been around for decades, they knew they worked so the point was to get every child in the world to vaccinate against polio.

“It happens in Australia but not everywhere.”

Since its outset Ross said Rotary routinely raised about $50 million a year for the cause, using the funds to pay for vaccines and for teams of people to travel the world administering them.

While cases of polio had almost entirely disappeared in recent times Ross said it was less developed countries, or countries with access issues as a result of ongoing conflicts, which still needed Rotary’s advocacy.

“The good news is last year there were only six cases of wild polio picked up in the community,” he said.

“So we’re that close to eradication.

“I have to say there are still places in the world where polio virus has been picked up in wastewater - the virus is still out there so we’re having to be really vigilant and keep an eye on things because you know it could change at any time.

“[But] in terms of actually reported cases of infection from wild polio virus we had six cases last year

“It’s pretty incredible.

“It’s that last little bit that is so hard to eradicate … but we’re getting there.

“This would only be the second disease ever to be totally eradicated from the world.

“The first was smallpox.”

Got You Covered library column

Athletes win medals at Special Olympics

Georgia Neville

Special Olympics Bundaberg athletes have plenty to celebrate after bringing home a number of gold, silver and bronze medals from the recent Special Olympics National Games.

Ten local athletes set off to Launceston to compete in the games across a number of sports including bowling, swimming, athletics and basketball.

The games provided the opportunity for athletes to not only compete at a high level but discover new strengths and abilities.

Sports Coordinator from Special Olympics Bundaberg Raelene Whalley said the games provided the athletes with the opportunity to meet new people while building their confidence.

“A number of the athletes made comments about the friendships they have built with all the other states throughout the games,” Raelene said.

“It was great to see them build these friendships with other participants and work closely with fellow Queensland athletes.

“There is never really any bad sportsmanship at these games as they all acted like winners and supported each other which is great.”

Raelene said it could be challenging for the athletes to leave home and learn a new routine but she was proud of how they had adjusted.

“One of the biggest things that they have learnt is their independence and adjusting to being in camp,” she said.

“We work with one guy who didn’t want to go because he doesn’t leave his parents often.

“He ended up winning a number of medals and this really built his confidence and now he wants to come back again.”

From here, athletes may have the chance to be selected for the world games which will be held in Berlin in 2023.

The games were held over five days, with over 700 athletes competing across ten sports.

Through the power of sports, the event provides people with intellectual disabilities the chance to discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success.

Find out more about Special Olympics Bundaberg here.