Weekender Col

Old favourites, new events part of Childers Festival

Ashley Schipper

Get ready to experience all of the fun and festivities of the Childers Festival when the 2021 event kicks off in the region in July.

Locals and visitors alike are invited to come together to celebrate the rich history and evolving community across the four-day event, from Thursday, 22 July to Sunday, 25 July.

Bundaberg Regional Council's arts, culture and events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said attendees could expect an impressive line-up of artists performing across the festival and a list of new and old events designed to captivate a varied audience.

“Enjoy a fantastic Friday night at the Paragon Theatre with Australian pop singer Kate Ceberano, take a trip out to the agricultural farmlands of Childers and see the spectacular sight of sugarcane being burnt, or simply get amongst the locals on Saturday night for some street festivities,” he said.

“Opera by the Lake has a new feel this year, giving off picnic vibes with rugs, cushions, antipasto and local wine supplied by Vintners Secret and Hill Of Promise.”

Cr Learmonth said Arts in the Park had also changed for the 2021 festivities, with the event extended beyond the creative hub of Millennium Park.

“Follow the path from Churchill Street to Crescent Street through Millennium Park, discovering a world of critters created by the young people of the region and explore the activated nooks and crannies of this area with a range of artforms and artists on display,” he said.

“The Childers Visual Arts Group, founders of Arts in the Park, will prominently feature with their engaging stalls and activities for young and old to get involved.”

Cr Learmonth said Festival Day would kick off on Sunday, 25 July with a new street design featured.

“Local producers, artisans and businesses will take centre stage with the placement of stallholders having been carefully curated with priority positioning offered to the Childers community,” he said.

“Informative and directional signage has been a key consideration in the development of this year’s festival, while we have expanded into side streets and allies, we hope adventuring is both easy and enjoyable.”

Festival a celebration of everything Childers

Divisional representative Cr Bill Trevor said he was thrilled to see the festival back again after last year's festivities were cancelled due to Covid.

He said the Childers Festival, which had been operating for more than two decades, had become one of the region's premier attractions.

“This festival is a celebration of everything uniquely Childers,” Cr Trevor said.

“Organisers have been busy attracting handmade, artisan and locally produced products with more than 40% of stallholder applications received from Childers and the surrounding areas.

“What a fantastic way to celebrate our local people and businesses. I implore everyone to mark off the Childers Festival in their calendars and get ready to join in on the fun!”

You can view the full Childers Festival program and buy tickets to all of the fantastic events here.

Lauren Wheeler (with baby Jack) and Jasmine Jeffrey are working together to form local charity Wish Upon A Star.

Lauren Wheeler (with baby Jack) and Jasmine Jeffrey are working together to form local charity Wish Upon A Star.

Wish Upon A Star charity launched in William’s name

Emma Reid

Losing a child is something Bundaberg’s Lauren Wheeler hopes no other family will have to go through, but if they do she wants to be there to help.

Late last year, Lauren and her husband Joe lost their son, and little warrior, William after a lengthy battle with cancer.

William’s story touched the heart of the Bundaberg community, which rallied together to help give the two-year-old a few final wishes before he passed away.

That’s why Lauren has now teamed up with close friend Jasmine Jeffrey to start a charity organisation, to help parents and their families through the sickness of a child, Wish Upon A Star.

Through tears, of both joy and sadness, Lauren shares details of the final months of William’s life, a life that has inspired her to help others.

“I remember reading a children’s book with William, just before he passed away, about the moon and the stars,” Lauren said.

“When he suddenly looked up at me and said ‘mum, you’re the moon and I am the star’, it was just the most beautiful thing and from then I thought he would be our little star.

“So, this is why we decided to name the charity Wish Upon A Star, in honour of William’s memory.”

The community came together after hearing the story of the sick little warrior, and to the amazement of William’s family the generosity and passion flowed from strangers into their hearts.

Along with small gestures of turning on Bundaberg’s Christmas Tree lights, support and events started to form around the Wheeler family, including the inaugural bike ride, Ride for William, to help raise funds.

Instigating Ride for William, Jasmine, who met the Wheeler family through teaching William’s older brother Ryan at kindergarten, said there was a certain “pull on the inside” that drove her to do something to help.

“Ride for William ended up bigger than I expected, and it shows what the community can do to help a family in need,” Jasmine said.

“I know after the help given to the Wheeler family, Lauren wanted to do something in William’s honour to help other family’s going through what they did, and under Wish Upon A Star we have organised Dice 4 Dash to support little Dash Leather while he undergoes treatment in Brisbane.”

Along with holding an annual Ride for William event to support others in the community, Jasmine and Lauren are busy creating memory keepsake boxes for families who lose a child, and they have dreams to one day even open a respite holiday home.

“There are so many families going through similar situations to what we went through,” Lauren said.

“I would love to be able to give families the opportunity to reconnect, have that downtime because there is extra pressure when children are sick, and they are facing battles non-stop, and so are the mums and dads and family around them.”

The memory keepsake box kits would allow for parents to take hand and foot prints and plaster casts, along with a lock of hair, to help treasure the memory of a child from birth to 20 years.

The pair plan to make the Wish Upon A Star memory boxes available even in an emergency situation through hospitals.

They are now going through the process of gaining charity status for Wish Upon A Star, so they can continue to help families in need for years to come.

To find out more, or to offer assistance, check out Wish Upon A Star on Facebook.

William Wheeler playing with his two older brothers Ryan and Sam during 2020.

William Wheeler playing with his two older brothers Ryan and Sam during 2020.

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William Wheeler playing with his two older brothers Ryan and Sam during 2020.

William Wheeler playing with his two older brothers Ryan and Sam during 2020.

Parks planning and project team score winning idea

Maria McMahon

Council's Parks Planning and Projects team has come up with an innovative idea to help maintain basketball courts in the region’s parks.

Coordinator Mike Paul said the team identified a solution to overcome some issues they were experiencing with line marking the basketball courts.

“When reviewing Council assets and life costs we’re always looking at ways we can save money and value add,” Mike said.

“We needed to repaint the line marking on Council’s community basketball courts and getting contractors was difficult.

“That’s when I came up with the idea to make line marking templates.

“This meant we could complete the work inhouse thanks to the assistance of our Council painters, without having to wait for a contractor.

“I sketched out the design and spoke to Willplay who cut the templates from 3mm aluminium sheeting.

“We tested the templates and found they don’t warp or buckle and made the lines easy to paint.

“The procedure is not only faster but has resulted in cost-savings for Council.

“This will be our process going forward.”

Maintaining the region’s parks has many benefits and Mike says it's a way of bringing people out to enjoy the outdoors.

“Having parks and outdoor spaces that look new and updated is part of our renewal program,” he said.

“The line marking on courts fade over time and if we want to encourage children to get out and play, it’s important we keep the marking up to date.

“We’ve ensured the courts are marked to National Basketball Association standards which is what’s been asked for by the community.

“Kids will actually use them because the lines we have on our courts are similar to what they have when they play on a proper court at school.”

So far, line marking has been completed at Council basketball courts in Childers at the Skate Bowl Park, Palm Park in Bundaberg, and in Buxton. 

Courts at other parks within the region are also on the agenda.

Couple shares love for food and culture in new business

Emma Reid

He's gone from working on heavy machinery to mincing meat and now Johann Zietsman, along with wife Annette, is serving up supreme South African food in the Bundaberg Region.

The couple moved to Moore Park Beach two months ago to be closer to Annette’s parents, and after falling in love with the region, they have opened JAZ Authentic South African Food.

“I came here last year as I worked in the mines, and Annette’s parents live here,” Johann said.

“We loved the place so much and so decided to sell up everything in Victoria and we moved here just two months ago.

“Annette is a nurse, but we decided to do something for the community.

“I thought what can we do? And because I love food, I thought we would share our love for South African food with the community.”

Growing up in Durban, Johann said it was important for him to showcase the flavours and spices of his home region, while using locally sourced ingredients.

The couple may look back on Johann’s past to inspire their cooking, but it’s the future in the Bundaberg Region that has them most excited.

“Annette is the savvy one with business, I am the cook who makes everybody happy,” Johann said.

“There are a lot of South Africans around us here in Bundaberg, you’d be surprised.

“We find people here love the food we are making, and they come back for more.

“We started with sausage, where we get the meat from Biggenden Abattoir, and make everything fresh, our salad is from local farmers – it is important to support local.”

On the menu at the JAZ Authentic South African Food van are traditional meals, including bunny chow – a hollow bread loaf filled with curry, and vetkoek which Annette says is always a crowd pleaser.

“Vetkoek is savoury mince in a fried bun with toppings, all made here – even the pastry,” Annette said.

“I’m actually a nurse and I’m on long-service leave at the moment, but I watch Johann’s passion and it will be hard to go back.”

The JAZ Authentic South African Food van can be found at Oaks Beach, Burnett Heads 11am to 7pm. For more information check out the Facebook page.

Johann and Annette Zietsman

Johann Zietsman spent most of his life assembling machinery as a heavy diesel fitter, now he spends his time, with wife Annette, assembling delicious South African food, in their JAZ Authentic South African Food van

Johann Zietsman spent most of his life assembling machinery as a heavy diesel fitter, now he spends his time, with wife Annette, assembling delicious South African food, in their JAZ Authentic South African Food van

Dr Denis Ingham out the front of the 110 year-old building.

Dr Denis Ingham out the front of the 110 year-old building.

Dental Chambers celebrates 110 years with makeover

Ashley Schipper

The iconic building which houses the Burnett Dental Centre has been given a major makeover just in time for the surgery's 110 year celebrations.

The heritage building, now tenanted by 1300 Smiles Ltd, was once dubbed the Dental Chambers and was initially constructed in 1911 by dentist O. J. Gruter.

Former partner of the practice and owner of the building Dr Denis Ingham was instrumental in organising the restoration work, which he said had blasted off many layers of paint to reveal the original bricks and uncover some of the building's history.

“The original dentist’s name, O J Gruter, was revealed above the Dental Chambers wording along with a great surprise, six large red hand painted signs saying ‘dentist' on each facet of the façade pillars,” he said.

“This small but imposing building has a very unique architectural feature known as dentil blocks on the frieze.

“Dentil blocks or moulding are found in Ancient Greek architecture on the library at Ephesus in Turkey, the Parthenon in Athens, along with other notable buildings such as the American White House and Gracelands – the former home of Elvis Presley.”

History of Bundaberg Dental Chambers

With more than a century of history to its name, the iconic building on Barolin Street has seen many faces, and owners, walk through its doors.

The business was first established by German-Swiss dentist O.J. Gruter before being acquired by a Maryborough businessman.

Overall, up to seven owners and partners have been recorded in the building's history, but it has always stayed true to its original purpose as a dental practice.

Dr Ingham and Dr Paul Stockham became partners at the practice, and the pair expanded the building to accommodate seven dentists.

In 2008, the practice was sold to the 1300Smiles Ltd. with Dr Stockham and Ingham staying on in a managerial role.

Dr Ingham left the practice in 2012 but stayed on as owner of the building, with his interest in its history remaining strong.

New look for historic building

The new colour scheme for the restoration of the Dental Chambers was masterminded and overseen by Dr Ingham’s daughter, Samantha Ingham.

“We love our building, we are the custodians of it’s history,” Samantha said.

“If the walls could talk imagine the ‘going to the dentist' stories over the past 110 years!”

Samantha said the successful restoration and colour palette of greys, white and gold was achieved with the support of Bernie and his team from local company Mark Haster Painting.

“It was a trial and error in testing the paint selections,” she said.

“Everyone thought my choice of the gold warm spice was slightly too out there, however they all conceded once it all came together to make the beautiful building shine again.”

The Burnett Dental Centre is situated at 11 Barolin Street.

Find out more about the current dental practice here.

Jan's Bundaberg memories live on through diary entries

Ashley Schipper

A former Bundaberg man is paying homage to his late wife by sharing her memories of the region to online history buffs.

Brian Kennedy is an avid poster on the Facebook page called Bundaberg: Remember When, with documented stories from his wife Jan Cedergreen sparking plenty of feelings of nostalgia within the group.

Brian said it was the 50s and he was just 19 years old when he met the enthusiastic Jan at a special dance at the Federal Band Hall in Bundaberg.

“I was a young man about town and decided to check out the dance with a couple of mates,” he said.

“We got there and there wasn't much happening so I decided to leave. However, on my way out, Jan stopped me.”

A member of the Marching Girls, Jan was adamant in keeping as many people as possible at the dance to help promote the night.

“She asked me for a dance, we started talking and we didn't stop for 50 years!” Brian said.

The pair were married in 1959, travelled the world together and had three sons before Jan passed away from pancreatic cancer in her later years.

Since then, Brian has shared notes from her diary to the Bundaberg: Remember When Facebook page about her time spent in the region.

One of those standout memories was at the Siren of the Surf Competition in 1954.

The Siren of the Surf event was established in 1944 as a fundraiser for Prisoners of War.

It was later added as the major event in the annual Railway Picnic.

Siren of the Surf: Jan Cedergreen's story

Read about the Siren of the Surf competition from one of Jan's diary entries:

Every Sunday we would travel by bus to the beach at Bargara which was always the most popular beach.

Most of our time was spent sunbathing and swimming.

It was at Bargara where I entered the Siren of the Surf competition – a contest held during the Railway Picnic which was one of the major outdoor social events of the year. 

At that time the railway lines were mainly unused although train transport was available on this day. Most of the town travelled to the beach by car, bus or train. 

I forget how many teams of girls entered that year – probably about a dozen or more. 

Each team consisted of seven girls with a leader who carried the flag with the team’s name on it.  We were the “Scamps”.

For the contest we were coached in beach marching by a lifesaver and practiced in the parks in town for weeks before the big event. 

Our swimming costumes were black and white and were kept a big secret until the day. 

I remember having to stuff cotton-wool down the front of mine to make it fit. 

Must have fooled the judges alright. 

I was 15 and came second to a girl from the Rockhampton team. 

I was presented with a red sash, an engraved cup and some vouchers for hairdressing and make-up. 

It was a complete surprise to win this as I was in it solely for fun and had little confidence in myself.

Council provides funding support to RFDS and LifeFlight

Ashley Schipper

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) and LifeFlight Foundation have received funding to support the organisations’ work in delivering emergency, lifesaving medical care to seriously ill and injured people.

An amount of $50,000 has been awarded to each of the rescue organisations through Bundaberg Regional Council's Partnership and Sponsorship Program.

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey said Council was proud to support two organisations who do so much for the community.

“The RFDS provides an essential patient transfer service in the Wide Bay with over 1900 flights performed each year,” he said.

“Likewise, the LifeFlight Bundaberg Rescue Helicopter provides an emergency response service for thousands of people in need.

“Non-for-profit services like RFDS and LifeFlight bring peace of mind to the community, knowing loved ones can be responded to quickly and efficiently.”

The RFDS Bundaberg Base includes a new Patient Transfer Facility and is located in the new Aeromedical Precinct adjoining the Bundaberg Airport. It commenced operations in March 2020.

The Aeromedical Precinct is a joint facility which accommodates the LifeFlight Helicopter Rescue Service and the RFDS base.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib thanked Bundaberg Regional Council for the generous donation.

“A total of 1930 patients were transferred through our RFDS Bundaberg Base last year,” she said.

“Vital support, such as that provided by Bundaberg Regional Council, helps fund aeromedical retrievals, as well as a broad range of essential primary and preventative healthcare services, right across the state.

“We are incredibly grateful for this donation and I’d like to thank both Council and the Bundaberg community for your continued support of the Flying Doctor.”

LifeFlight Director Rotary Wing Operations Brian Guthrie said the organisation had enjoyed a successful relationship with Council for many years.

“At the last general meeting, councillors unanimously voted to provide the LifeFlight Foundation with $50,000, from Council’s Partnerships & Sponsorships Grants Program," he said.

“Since the start of the year, Bundy crews have flown more than 100 critical missions. Those airlifts are valued at more than $25,000 each, but come at absolutely no cost to the patient.”

Celebrate World Environment Day in natural spaces

Ashley Schipper

With World Environment Day just around the corner, residents are being encouraged to get out and about to explore the region's natural areas.

Bundaberg Regional Council's Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said the region was surrounded by 10 natural areas which were all home to their own unique flora and fauna.

“We are incredibly lucky to be part of a place made up of plenty of wonderful natural areas including Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park, Vera Scarth-Johnson Wildflower Reserve and Gin Gin Nature Park – just to name a few,” he said.

“They are made up of a variety of ecosystems including freshwater wetlands, bushlands, creeks, eucalyptus woodlands and much more and are important spaces protecting our animals.”

Cr Honor said World Environment Day, on 5 June, served as a great reminder for the community to take the time to explore while finding out more about the role natural areas played in keeping the ecosystem strong.

“The theme for World Environment Day is ‘Ecosystem Restoration' which focuses on assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving ecosystems that are still intact,” he said.

“This special day is observed by the United Nations as an opportunity to stimulate worldwide awareness and action for the natural environment and is celebrated by over 100 countries.”

Council helps to revitalise natural areas through project work

Council’s Natural Areas team, with assistance from Land Protection, has been busy undertaking restoration projects in the region over the past year to help revitalise the local eco-systems.

Cr Honor said the projects included wetland restoration through ongoing removal of Salvinia molesta, an exotic aquatic weed at Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park.

“This particular project will help to create a healthier waterbody for aquatic plants and animals,” he said.

“It coincides with the removal of environmental weeds from the vegetated areas at Baldwin Swamp including Broad-leafed Pepper, Ochna, Asparagus Fern and Easter Cassia.

“The team are also planting sedges and native plants to create habitat linkages for fauna such as frogs and lizards.”

How you can get involved in helping the region's natural areas

Residents are invited to attend a community dune weeding and planting activity at Elliott Heads on Saturday, 5 June from 8am to 10am.

No pre-registration is necessary and participants are asked to meet at beach access ELL04, closest to the kiosk and near the community hall.

Wear closed in shoes, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent and bring a bottle of water to drink.

Cr Honor said for those wanting to help the environment a little closer to home, there were many opportunities to do so.

“Plant native trees at home, remove rubbish from our parks and beaches next time you are out for a stroll or simply volunteer with a local group in your area,” he said.

To find out more about the natural areas in the Bundaberg Region, including locations, facilities, walking tracks and points of interest, click here.

Age no limit for speedster Kerry

Ashley Schipper

A 67-year-old Bundaberg drag racer will be the main attraction at this weekend's Benaraby Dragway event, with racers offered a $200 cash prize to beat the speed demon.

Armed with his bike the Southern Intruder, Kerry Ellis will take to the track on Saturday to race against anyone who dares to take him on.

It's a formidable task, with Kerry clocking a top speed of more than 290 km per hour.

It will be a highlight of the upcoming Outlaw Bike Racers event, according to meeting director Mike Gawley, who said Kerry was a professional is his field and well-known in drag race circles.

“His reputation as a staunch bike racer precedes him and numerous people in the area are well aware of his racing achievements,” Mike said.

“Kerry contacted me a few weeks ago and queried about the Outlaw Bike Mayhem.

“We got to talking and he said he was interested in participating, and that's when we decided to bring a little bit of fun to it all.”

The local racer is excited to take part in the event and while he is set to race at full throttle on the day, Kerry said it was really up to chance as to what the outcome would be.

“It's drag racing, anything can happen!” he said.

Drag racing is a form of motor racing in which two contestants race from a standing start side by side on a a flat, straight course.

Racers are timed in elapsed time (in seconds) and final speed (in miles per hour).

Kerry has a passion for the track and has been racing for decades, starting on the beach in the 70s.

“It was in 1988 when I started racing properly,” he said.

“I have the record for the 1/4 mile which I did in 7.38 seconds.”
Kerry Ellis

Kerry said when it came to racing it wasn't the speed that he loved, it was the feeling of acceleration.

“Some people drink or smoke for their kicks but I love the acceleration of the sport and the thrill that comes with it,” he said.

“It's a buzz – it's all over in a few seconds but I love it.”

Kerry said a special part of this weekend's race would be getting to ride his bike again after a few months off, which coincided with the anniversary of when he bought it from America.

“It's been 29 years ago to the month that I got the bike,” he said.

“Southern Intruder is a Kawasaki which features a chromoly frame and runs on nitrous oxide.

“It's a great bike and is the reason why I live by the motto ‘make it look good and make it go good.'”

Meeting director Mike Gawley said the Outlaw Bike Racers event that Kerry was starring in was part of the 2021 All Bikes event held over the next few months at the track.

“Benaraby has blossomed over the last couple years, with nearly 230 members so far this year and some great events on the calendar,” Mike said.

“The 2021 All Bikes event will also feature a 660 Grudge Bracket, and with a little luck, we can get Kerry in on that action.”

Liane's colourful garden blooms from under the rocks

Morgan Everett

Over the past 30 years Liane Holt Ward has transformed her once rock-filled land into 13 colourful and themed gardens.

Each garden features different florals, scattered with hand-painted sculptures and an array of potted plants, creating an immersive experience as you walk throughout her backyard.

One special garden has angels amongst the plants to honour Liane’s father who passed away from cancer six years ago.

“I have always loved being in the garden,” she said. 

“When I was younger living at home with my parents’ years ago, I would always be out weeding the garden.

“My garden is my sanctuary it takes away all my troubles and worries when I’m in the garden and I just lose track of time. I can spend hours out there in my gardens.”

Starting with just a couple of palms trees has led Liane to letting her creativity flow and the green thumb said she was always looking to create new arrangements.

“I’m always looking at doing different things with my gardens, like putting different statues and lights in or moving plants around,” Liane said.

“I love how over the years all my gardens have come together, they each have their own character with the different plants and colour in each one.”

With rocks just under the surface Liane said it had always been difficult growing plants on the ground, which has led to her innovative gardening style overcoming the challenges at hand.

“To look at my gardens now to when I first started 30 years ago, there has been a lot of time and hard work put into each one,” she said.

Liane said the most recent project had been laying reject bricks around her space to add character to each area, allowing the colourful flora to stand out.

“They each have different shaped leaves and produce different colours - when they are in flower it looks spectacular,” she said.

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Recipe: Windmill Cafe Breakfast Bowl

In the lead up to the Taste Bundaberg Festival, Joey Caruana from the Windmill Café Bargara walks us through his famous breakfast bowl recipe.

Enjoy this delicious recipe by the Windmill Cafe Bargara.


  • Rocket
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Goats cheese
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Parmesan
  • Garlic
  • Sourdough
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Micro herbs
  • Dukkah


  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Seeded mustard

Free fitness classes launched in Be Active Be Alive winter program

Georgia Neville

The Be Active Be Alive winter program starts soon offering free fitness fun to keep residents across the region moving throughout the cooler months.

The Bundaberg Regional Council initiative starts on June 14 and aims to keep people involved in health and fitness activities and to increase their fitness level.

Council’s Sport and Recreation portfolio spokesperson Cr Vince Habermann said there would be a range of different activities for people to get involved in.

“We've got a range of activities, including box fit, tai chi, yoga, aerobics, pilates and a new class of people may not have heard of before, clubbercise,” Cr Habermann said.

“I've seen clubbercise in action, it is basically dancing in the dark with glowsticks and it is very exciting, and people really have a good time."

These programs are run across the region for residents in Gin Gin, Childers and Bundaberg.

“These programs are free as well and they're not just for Bundaberg,” Cr Habermann said.

“There are lots of activities and I encourage people to go to the website and download the program to find an activity near them at a suitable time.”

City Fit instructor Denise Williamson said there were activities for everyone in the program that catered to all fitness levels including clubbercise.

“Clubbercise is different because it's got some simple dance combos as well as some combat and punching style stuff which provides a little bit of toning,” Denise said.

“It gives people a little bit of everything but most of all it is fun to just keep moving because exercise is so important.

“It's about finding what works for you and this program offers a variety of classes so you can see what works for you and what you enjoy.”

Clubbercise participant Amanda Zielke said there was no pressure in the new classes, with participants just encouraged to move however they can.

“I just love that there are no rules and if you can't move the way Denise moves, you can move your body however it feels good,” she said.

“You just feel so great at the end of it.”

The program is available on the Be Active Be Alive page of Council's website where it can also be downloaded and printed.