Weekender Col

Caring hearts behind community care facility application

Megan Dean

A local disability support service hopes to establish a community care facility on Burnett Heads Road which would pass on life skills like gardening, woodworking and repairs.

Caring Hearts Disability Support Services has lodged a Material Change of Use for a community care centre over a residential property at 362 Burnett Heads Road, Qunaba.

The proposed development would support the Caring Heart’s clients who require assistance or support with daily living needs.

“The use would provide clients with valuable life skills that would be translated to their everyday living,” the application said.

“The proposed development meets a community need to assist those with special needs to be able to learn practical life skills that would ultimately contribute to a better quality of life and to promote a strong sense of community.”

Caring Hearts Disability Support Services is co-owned and managed by husband and wife team Jaydene and Russell White.

Russell said, if approved, the facility would be a place where they could take clients to learn new skills from arts and crafts and landscaping to woodworking and small engine repair.

“It is trying to work with them and trying to show them and teach them different things about what they can do,” Russell said.

“It’s a two-acre block so it’s a big block where they can get out and do these activities.”

He said Caring Hearts had already seen the benefit of similar programs, including through its lawn mowing program.

“We see young guys go out and mow lawns, they love showing people and telling people what they can do.

“It gives them a very good ownership and self-worth.

“They just feel like they are like everyone else and so they should be.

“We’re trying to instil into these guys that they can go home and help with their families and learn as much as they can from it.”

With four support houses and eight child safety houses in the region already, Russell said the proposed Burnett Heads facility would further extend the business’ offerings and help to realise his wife Jaydene’s dreams.

The company started when Jaydene was working part time in the disability sector and was moved to provide greater support by the story of one client who had Huntington’s disease.

“That developed all this and grew Jay into the business,” Russell said.

The development application is now with Bundaberg Regional Council for assessment.

Woongarra State School oval dedicated to Col


Ashley Schipper

The 28 years of work and dedication by a local retired groundsman was recognised by his beloved Woongarra State School today with the unveiling of Col Fritz Oval.

The Bundaberg man was celebrated by the entire cohort at a special parade before the new oval sign, honouring his commitment to the school, was revealed.

It was a moment Mr Fritz said he would never forget.

“I am extremely honoured with the recognition, it was unexpected and I really appreciate it,” he said.

“I'll be remembering this day for a long time.”

The recently retired school facilities officer was not just in charge of the groundskeeping duties at the primary school.

He was also heavily involved in the P & C Association, was the First Aid Officer and had attended the school as a student growing up.

Principal Jeff Irwin said Mr Fritz was known as a “legend” within the school and his care in keeping the grounds pristine was something that would benefit students into the future.

“The well-maintained lawn areas, gardens and ovals provide such a welcoming learning environment for the students,” he said.

“Mr Fritz's long-term contribution and dedication to maintaining and developing the school grounds is well known within generations of our school community and has ensured every Woonie student in the future will continue to be beneficiaries of his work.”

Mr Irwin said the naming of the school oval was specific to the work Mr Fritz had put into its creation.

“We wanted to name the oval after Mr Fritz because he was instrumental in developing it from an old cane paddock into what it is now,” he said.

“He was the one who transformed it into a wonderful space that students in our school will use for many years to come.”

Past staff members and representatives of the P&C Association attended the special parade to acknowledge and celebrate Mr Fritz’ contributions to the school.

“Col put his heart and soul into making sure the grounds were in tip top shape for students, parents and staff alike,” PE teacher Jason Shears said.

“He always had so much pride in his work around the school, having a real keen eye for attention to detail.

“He just didn't do groundman's stuff, he involved himself in many other areas of school life.”

In talking about his time at Woongarra, Mr Fritz said it was the staff and students who had made it all worthwhile.

“It was a major part of my working life- 28 years is a fair chunk. I have really enjoyed it,” he said.

“It's a job that offers so much- the variety of work. It's not just about mowing lawns, it's about the school community.

“That's been the most rewarding part, the interaction with the staff and of course, the children.

“I got to work with a lot of kids, some that probably weren't classroom specialists but really enjoyed being out with me doing something for the school.”

Proposed expansion as region goes nuts for macadamias

Megan Dean

Marquis Macadamias already processes almost half of Australia’s macadamias but has lodged a development application which would see the Bundaberg facility almost triple its throughput.

Founded in 1983, Marquis Macadamias Limited (MML) has two Australian facilities which process 46% of Australia’s nut-in-shell crop.

According to the development application, which would also see the facility’s floor area almost quadruple in size, the expansion would “further solidify Bundaberg as the largest macadamia-producing region in Australia”.

“The macadamia nut processing facility currently handles 10,213 tonnes of macadamias annually, and is considered close to capacity,” the application said.

“Harvest occurs from April to November, and the facility employs up to 180 staff during peak season.

“MML now plans to increase its production to 30,000 [tonnes] per annum.

“This will necessitate the expansion of facilities.

The Bundaberg macadamia nut processing facility, located on Rosedale Road, is one of only two global processers which can deliver certified Log5 pasteurised product.

This product provides the highest level of food safety and therefore requires reduced quarantine periods, giving it a market advantage.

The proposed $25 million Marquis Macadamia expansion has already been supported by the State Government through the Jobs and Growth Fund.

The expansion would allow MML to continue the receival, drying, cracking, sorting, value adding and packaging of macadamia nuts, as per the existing approved site operations.

Marquis Macadamias CEO Larry McHugh told Bundaberg Now that, should the expansion be approved, it would provide a boost to the Bundaberg Region.

“There is going to be an increase in jobs here and, in fact, this factory is already employing about 190 people in our main season,” Mr McHugh said.

“That’s going to increase, it’s probably going to be at least another 30 or 40 jobs coming in across a few years’ time.”

Mr McHugh said that would include a range of roles and skills across the farming sector as well as in the services sector, transport, factory work and repairs and maintenance.

“There’s jobs all around.”

The Marquis Macadamias expansion plans also look to ensure the company can minimise waste.

“We are actually getting around 6000 tonnes of shell and that’s an incredibly good fuel,” Mr McHugh said.

“So we’ll be using that to fire our boiler which then we use the heat to dry our nut in shell.

“When it comes off the paddock it’s wet, we need to dry it down before we process it.”

He said Marquis Macadamias hoped to “turn soil” on the first phase of the expansion in early 2022.

The development application is seeking a boundary realignment and Material Change of Use for a high impact industry.

The significant Marquis Macadamias expansion proposal would add 11,111 m sq to the facility’s existing 4450 m sq floor area.

The Marquis Macadamias expansion proposes to comprise:

  • Increase in gross floor area of the processing facility to accommodate an increase to the processing area and cold storage area
  • New separate steel frames and insulated drying shed building(s) for nut storage and drying
  • Upgrades of existing services
  • Extensions to existing vehicle access and parking areas.

“The current macadamia nut processing facility does not have the facilities or space required to accommodate the intended growth onsite,” the development application said.

“The proposed development will provide expanded, purpose-built facilities that facilitates current and future delivery to Marquis Macadamias.”

Bundaberg Bag Company sends products worldwide

Ashley Schipper

On any given day of the working week you will find the Bundaberg Bag Company team busy cutting, sewing and printing their products to distribute across Australia and the world.

The local family-owned business was established in 1978, supplying packaging solutions for businesses and helping customers present their product in a practical, safe and visually pleasing way. 

Marketing co-ordinator Evol Lloyd-Jones said the team of seven created bags for almost any purpose including gardening, erosion control, recycle collection, bin lining and more.

“We are always looking to introduce new products too,” she said.

“Currently we are working on a grass clipping bag large enough to hold waste from a ride on mower.”

Evol said the team cut and printed their bags on site at 122 Enterprise Street, with each product taking anywhere from one day to a few weeks to complete.

“Whether it's an industrial sandbag, a one tonne bulk bag or a glossy photographic stock feed bag, getting the right product for the job is essential and that's where we come in,” she said.

“The initial creation of each bag is done through our conversion print line which is automated.

“We also use strapping and palletising machinery to speed up the baling process.”

Bundaberg Bag Company also offer bag products for firewood, wool packs for garden waste and bow hunting, bulk bags for building material and more.

“We supply bags to many industries throughout Australia including macadamia, pecan, firewood, ice, stockfeed, fertilizer, chemical, seed, mining, construction, plumbing, gardening, sand and recycling,” Evol said.

“We have also supplied to New Zealand and Vanuatu.”

Bundaberg Bag Company products used in earth building

Evol said the company’s products and materials were so versatile they were even used to build homes in Vanuatu.

In 2016, the business was involved in an initiative aimed at constructing ‘earth shelters' for women communities.

The Bundaberg Bag Company material was used to form the building structures which aimed to provide safe spaces for residents once complete.

“Circular woven cloth was filled with damp earth, tampered down and arranged in layers to form a dome,” Evol said.  

“Strands of barbed wire secured each layer while acting as reinforcement. 

“The structure was then rendered over for strength and to protect it from the elements.”

The homes were so strong they survived a direct hit from a category 5 cyclone.

Evol said their products had since been used in Papua New Guinea and Bougainville for the same purpose.

“We initially donated material to Vanuatu for the women’s shelter but since then have sold a lot of bags and cloth throughout Australia as well as overseas for earth building,” she said.

The Bundaberg Bag Company is located at 122 Enterprise Street.

To find out more, follow the Facebook page or view the website here.

Bundaberg Bag Company materials have been used to create earth shelters in Vanuatu.

Bundaberg Bag Company materials have been used to create earth shelters in Vanuatu.

The completed structure.

The completed structure.

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Bundaberg Bag Company materials have been used to create earth shelters in Vanuatu.

Bundaberg Bag Company materials have been used to create earth shelters in Vanuatu.

The completed structure.

The completed structure.

A special birthday for Solita the cotton-top tamarin

Georgia Neville

Well-travelled cotton-top tamarin Solita is celebrating her 23rd birthday this weekend at Alexandra Park Zoo, making her one of the oldest cotton-top tamarins in the world.

With the average age of a cotton-top tamarin currently 13.5 years, Solita has lived an eventful life since being born in America, spending her early years travelling between the US and Canada.

After years of travel, Solita headed to Perth Zoo where zookeepers eventually began looking for a facility for tamarins that would no longer form part of a breeding program.

She then found her home in Bundaberg’s Alexandra Park Zoo in 2015.

Zookeeper Laura Billing said the critically endangered cotton-top tamarins were lucky to have Solita, who spent the majority of her life bringing up the population numbers.

“This is a very impressive age and milestone to hit as Solita has been a critical part of the breeding program in captivity over her lifetime to increase her population,” she said.

Solita’s 23rd birthday marks a special occasion as she becomes one of the oldest cotton-top tamarins in the world.

The oldest recorded species of her kind lived to be 24.

“On her special day Solita will be getting a special present, a paper mache balloon that we make especially for birthdays,” Laura said.

“We will put mealworms and boiled eggs in them which are her favourite treats.”

Mayor Jack Dempsey wished Solita a happy birthday and encouraged the community to get down to the zoo to see everything on display.

“Solita is an outstanding star with plenty of character and charisma,” he said.

“Being a mother, it is fitting to celebrate her birthday the weekend after Mother’s Day.

“It is a great reason for families to get out, share our beautiful environment and come down and be one with some of the greatest creatures in the world.”

Cotton–tops are social animals and at the zoo they are most active during the day.

Visitors are encouraged to spend some time at the exhibit to hear their range of calls, which vary from birdlike chirps to trills and screams, with some calls so high pitched they can’t be heard by human ears.

The Alexandra Park Zoo is open Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am – 4:30pm, located at Alexandra Park on Quay St, Bundaberg West.

Neighbourhood Centres focus on local support

Ashley Schipper

A spotlight is shining on the region's Neighbourhood Centres this week as part of a nationwide event celebrating the role the organisations play within communities.

This year, Neighbourhood Centre Week focused on the theme ‘Loneliness: the solution is community', highlighting how the centres helped to combat loneliness by providing a space for people to participate in community programs and projects.

Bundaberg Regional Council's Childers and Gin Gin Neighbourhood Centres have been involved in many initiatives within the last financial year to help provide support to those in need.

According to Community Services portfolio spokesperson Cr Tracey McPhee, the two centres conducted 63 community projects and events.

“These fantastic events included senior’s morning teas, governance workshops, Harmony Day celebrations, youth activities and more,” Cr McPhee said.

“The centres also hosted 17 community groups throughout the year and 30 volunteers through services including Meals on Wheels, transport, technology help and tax assistance.”

“This is a prime example of how Neighbourhood Centres bring together residents to supply information and support all under the one roof.”

Staff and volunteers provide hub for community

Cr McPhee said the region's Neighbourhood Centres had more than 23,000 visitors each year.

“People drop by for a range of different reasons, whether it's to participate in groups such as craft, cards or sewing, to brush up on literacy skills, to play chess or just to have someone to talk to.

"The centres are community hubs open to one and all."
Cr Tracey McPhee

“I would like to thank the amazing staff and volunteers at each of our Neighbourhood Centres who go out of their way to provide support to members of the community.

“The work you do and the passion you have for your role is outstanding.”

The Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre, which is independently run, also provides support for residents from its location on Targo Street.

“It’s amazing to know that around 10,000 enquiries and connections are made at the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre each year with around 6000 people visiting the centre in person,” manager Corrie McColl said.  

“Each centre coordinates an interagency network meeting which is the main point of distribution of information to support services, agencies and other interest groups that exist to help people in the community.”

Marlies sticks to collage and finds artistic passion

Video: Adele More

Well-known for her collage creations, Marlies Oakley is bringing her artwork to life with stop motion animation. Her designs will light up the Shine Bright Festival, being projected onto the wall of the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.

"It's not just cutting and gluing, I'm using cut images out of them and telling new stories."
Marlies Oakley

Arj Barker brings newest comedy show to Bundaberg

Ashley Schipper

Comedian Arj Barker will be heading to Bundaberg soon as part of his newest touring show, Arj Barker Comes Clean.

To be held at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Friday, 18 June, audiences are promised a hilarious performance full of home truths, vague truths and information no one is ready to hear but won't be able to forget any time soon.

Bundaberg Now asked Arj Barker all about his next visit to the region and what people could expect from his upcoming show:

Is this the first time you have performed in Bundaberg?

No way! I have been lucky enough to perform Bundy many times over the years. In fact I'm a little hurt that you don't remember. We only went out dancing together after my show!

What do you love about the region?

I love the spirt of the people, the vibrancy of the town itself and the beautiful forests that surround it. AND you can get toast and butter for only $6.95 at a cafe there!

What can people expect from your show?

They can expect it to completely transform their lives, solve all their problems and even reverse the aging process. Or they can just expect to have a great time for an hour and a bit. Either is fine!

What do you love most about travelling to and performing in regional areas?

I think the regional audiences really appreciate that I've made the effort to bring my show out their way. That's something I can definitely feel while onstage doing my thing, and it makes the extra travel well worth it!

Catch the show:

Arj Barker Comes Clean will be at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre from 8pm on Friday, 18 June.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Bundaberg Art Prize back for 2021

Emma Reid

Entries are now open for the return of Bundaberg’s most prestigious art competition Bundaberg Art Prize ’21.

For the first time the exhibition will run across two weeks allowing for more people to attend the highly anticipated art event.

Bundaberg Arts Festival president Phil Oakley said with a colossal $20,000 in prize money the competition not only made it the most admired art prize in the Bundaberg Region, but it was also comparable to other highly esteemed national art competitions such as the Lethbridge Art Award, and he said it was coup for the region.

The successful event draws artist from across Australia to take an interest in the annual competition, and local artist of all abilities are encouraged to enter.

“If Bundaberg is doing a $10,000 first prize and something like the Lethbridge, that is a well-established art prize, is doing $20,000 you can see this is making Bundaberg comparable,” he said.

“To me that is the draw card that will bring in really good artist, but also engage the lesser or armature artist to enter as well.”

There are four sections: easel works, works on paper, digital work and 3D work, in Bundaberg Art Prize ’21 with each having a $2000 prize; along with the Young Emerging Artist Prize that again returns to encourage developing creators under the age of 26 to enter, with a chance to take home $1000 in prize money.

Last year’s overall winner was Ping Carlyon, and the 2019 winner was local artist Gabrielle McDonald for her Outback Avatar sculpture.

Phil said the photo that captured local amateur artist Debbie Bennett’s face last year when it was announced she had won a section prize said it all.

“It was the first competition Debbie had ever entered, and it came down to the judge of the day thought hers was worth the prize over all of the others, and that’s an inspiration for all other artists who have never entered anything,” he said.

“She was competing against some well-established artist and she still managed to win.

Phil said the annual art prize was able to return thanks to the vibrant collective of region’s business community that had come on board to crowdfund the prize money.

“This year the plan is to drive people to the exhibition, and that is one of the reasons why we plan to have it run for two weeks,” he said.

“I’m in the middle of trying to find venues for two weeks, but I think if you don’t dream big, then you don’t get anywhere.

“We are also looking for volunteers to help for the two weeks.”

Key dates for Bundaberg Art Prize ’21

Friday, 27 August

Entry forms and entry fees for all sections must be received by 5pm.

Sunday, 5 September

Delivery of art work between 10am to 3pm.

Saturday, 11 September

Awards night (ticketed event).

11 – 26 September

Art Prize open to public.

Sunday, 26 September

Collection of artwork between 1.30pm to 4.30pm.

Upcycled creations part of Raelene and Gary's garden

Morgan Everett

After moving from an acreage, Raelene and Gary have brought to life their 800 square metre residential block with unique upcycles filled with floral arrangements.

The cottage-style garden was created from a blank canvas in just three years and the duo said it was full of different things to discover for both children and adults to enjoy.

“The first thing I said to Gary, was that we could make these gardens come alive with character, quirkiness and a little bit of cleverness using recycled items,” Raelene said.

Good preparation is the key to a thriving garden, with the couple putting in a few hours before and after work for three months.

Raelene said they refilled the garden beds with quality soil and then laid 100 buckets of hand-dug river pebble, fertilized the lawns, laid brick paths and fixed odd jobs just to name a few.

“We're both pretty much homebodies; we love each other's company and love pottering around,” Gary said.

“Although I do get a little nervous when Raelene starts a sentence with, ‘Gary what if we do something like this?’ holding up an old watering can, wagon wheel or two bicycle wheels.

“Sometimes I wonder where Raelene gets these visions but 99% of the time they work out a treat.”

Many people enjoy the outdoor area, with locals stopping on their walks to admire the garden.

“People give us lovely compliments either when they visit or are just walking by,” Gary said.

“It is truly a lovely neighbourhood with all ages walking by and saying g'day.

“We love standing back and taking a moment to reflect on turning an idea into a project and both being proud of what we achieve.”

Both Raelene and Gary come from a farming background and using an outside toilet growing up, led to the creation of the Thunderbox.

Made of authentic materials collected over the years, during Covid-19 Gary used his time to create the Thunderbox, which he said was an absolute hit with the grandkids.

The backyard is complimented by many upcycled and hand-crafted features, creating an immersive experience for all ages.

“With a cottage garden you can select many plants to fit into smaller areas and dress it up with many little themes,” Raelene said.

“We like the idea that you can look at the garden and see so many little features.”

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Maya takes out top spot in Bargara triathlon event

Vince Habermann

Maya McCrystal has taken out the top female spot for one of junior races in the Bargara Triathlon Club's 1300 Smiles Standard Olympic Distance showcasing last week.

She was part of 15 young guns who battled it out in the Give It A Try event, incorporating a 350m swim, 10km bike ride and 2.5km run.

Maya came in at second overall in 37:06, taking home the Female Trophy on the day.

Max O'Brien beat all comers in 36:46 to be the Male titlist, clear of Levi Marsman (38:44), Lachlan Wyllie (40:25), and Vinnie Vella (41:13).

Ben and Rhys battle it out

For the senior section, Bundaberg's Ben Artup threw down the gauntlet in the Bargara before being taken on by Gladstone gun Rhys Jones.

Ben was leading after the 1.5km ocean swim leg but the younger Rhys took the lead in the 40km cycle leg then held on in the 10km run to claim victory in a slick 2:14.59.

In a field of 27, Ben, 45, clocked 27.23 to have a 1:15 lead at the first transition, but Rhys, 15 years his junior, registered 1:03.32 on his bike while Ben’s split was 1:06.48.

Rhys also managed a slightly better run time of 41:04 to 41:34 to cross the line victorious by 2:06, with another local, Dwayne McKay, a further 3:15 away in third position.

Debra Minor was the Female winner, in 2:40.15, placing 10th overall, with Joanne Findlay and Olivia Curry filling the placings in 12th and 14th with 2:41.39 and 2:45.37 respectively.

‘Worth a Try’ took out the Standard Distance Teams Event.

Fourteen competitors also lined up in the Sprint Triathlon over distances of a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run, and 14-year-old Ben Rudd continued his stellar season, grabbing the Male title in a time of 1:05.19, with Tom McKean (1:08.28) and Trent Hooper (1:18.29) filling the minor placings.

Allison Vella, who ran third overall was the female champion with 1:17.12, from Ann-Marie Chapman (1:23.44) and Ben Artup’s wife Renee (1:24.24).

The Chris Rudd combination, which included Ben Rudd’s brother, were run-away winners in the Sprint Tri Teams category in 1:11.26.

B.A.M. made the GIAT Team event their own.

A day earlier, the Club also conducted the Coral Coast Physio Junior Triathlon and Pub to Club.

In total, they had 38 children who swam, rode, and ran in the Hatchling and Turtles race around Christen Park, and the 1300SMILES Tooth Fairy presented them all with a medal and a little gift bag.

1300SMILES also presented the first placed boy and girl each with a toothbrush, and congratulations goes to Cooper Dale and Bethany Marsman.

In the 3km ocean swim, Dave Moreny beat off Warren Ryan and Colin Stollery for the Male title, while Vanessa Wallace secured Female honours from Janet Cochrane and Olivia Curry.

There was also 1.5km race and Queensland Junior Life Saving champion Kobi Holden, 14, beat 12-year-old talent Max O'Brien for the Male spoils, with senior competitor Bob Johnston coming in third.

Maya McCrystal and Chantel O’Brien tied for the Female No. 1, with Anne-Marie Chapman following them home in third place.