CMCA park driving positive visitor numbers
The international border closure is driving more tourists to the Bundaberg Region with more than 3000 nights booked at the CMCA Park this year and $2.7 million spent in the area since the park opened.
The figures are on track to be higher than the 2019 record of 4000 visitors for the total year and are providing a range of tourism and economic benefits to the region.
Arthur Bugden, from the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia national member services team, said survey results showed the park had accommodated 12,000 nights since opening in 2018.
He said the average spend of each RV was estimated to be $271.50 per night in the region.
"That's a total economic impact of just under $2.7 million in three years," Arthur said.
"The Bundaberg park has the highest spend per night recorded than any other CMCA RV park which reflects what the city and region has to offer visitors in both attractions and services.
"It also has the longest average stay per visit at just over three nights, with many originally booking for one night but extending for multiple night stays."
Arthur said the park was experiencing full capacity at the moment, largely due to the peak traveller season and COVID restrictions.
"The park has had a stronger shoulder season this year and this would be attributed to the larger number of travellers on the roads across all areas of Australia, but in particular Queensland at present," he said.
"This has been affected by the COVID situation and the inability to travel overseas."
Arthur said the park itself was one of the key attractions that made RV users want to stay in the area, with the low-cost accommodation site providing a relaxed space to rest and recharge.
"Over 70% of our guests have confirmed that they would not have stopped in Bundaberg except for the low cost RV park being here," he said.
"The region also has a large number of RV service industries where people can stop and get repairs done while staying at the park.
"They love the park because it is safe and they can leave their rig whilst they go exploring."
With so much to see and do, Arthur said travellers were enjoying discovering all corners of the region with some even deciding to stay on as permanent residents.
"One of the unseen and unmeasurable side benefits has been the positive reviews of Bundaberg and surrounds such as Childers, Woodgate, Gin Gin and Bargara now appearing on various RV Facebook sites which offer positive vibes as an RV Tourism destination," he said.
"There has also been an increase in house sales with people liking the area and deciding to relocate permanently.
"At least seven known real estate sales can be attributed to visitors to the park."
The CMCA Bundaberg Park is situated at 45 Burrum Street and costs just $3 per person, per night for CMCA members.
Find out more here.
Lost trades rediscovered at Childers Festival
Local tradespeople with special skills from years gone by will showcase their talent as part of this month's Childers Festival.
Resident Lachie McConnel will be part of the festivities, with his blacksmithing, rope making and wood laving skills on display for the Sunday, 25 July event.
Lachie has lived in Childers for 15 years but said his passion for blacksmithing dated back to 1944, before he started school.
"I used to come to Childers as a young fella cane cutting before they got machinery, then I got married and used to work in the citrus industry in Gayndah," he said.
"I started blacksmithing before I started school and I have just always loved it, the joys of bending steel and making art, doing that sort of thing is a real hobby."
The 81-year-old said this year he had been utilising his skills in blacksmithing and rope making to assist the Childers Scouts Group in creating products to sell at the Childers Festival.
"We have been doing some workshops making skipping ropes to sell with the funds raised to go towards the scouts who have seen a drop in numbers due to Coronavirus," he said.
"We will have a good display of blacksmithing and rope making, and I might even bring the wood lave out too."
Lachie said the opportunity to teach others the art of blacksmithing had always been something he was passionate about.
"I have taught heaps of people over the years, hundreds, I have lost count," he said.
"I am 81 years old, how many years have I got? I want to hand the art down before I go."
Lachie said blacksmithing was all about twisting and bending steel to create certain shapes and, with a steady hand and the right tools, anyone could give it a go.
"Firstly, you have to have a forge and you have to get the fire hot," he said.
"It should run at 1200 degrees Celsius when you really get it working so you have to watch what you are doing.
"Once that's done, I can make whatever you want made- as long as I can bend it, it will be made."
Lachie said he was looking forward to showcasing his skills and working alongside the local scouts at this year's Childers Festival.
"My health hasn't been real good for the last few years so I hung the hammer up for a while but I am feeling much better now," he said.
"I will be here with the scouts at the Childers Festival.
"I enjoy the atmosphere of it, everyone does."
The Childers Festival four-day program begins on 22 July and culminates with the main festival event in the CBD on Sunday, 25 July.
View the full program here.
Childers beautification a towering ambition for chamber
The Childers Chamber of Commerce has revealed towering ambitions to see a mural painted on a prominent piece of infrastructure that stands proudly in the town’s CBD.
President Teena Mammino said promoting Childers and its surrounding district remained high on the agenda for the Childers Chamber of Commerce and her executive committee.
“The Chamber is delighted approaches to Bundaberg Regional Council have yielded a positive response regarding proposals to beautify the southern approach to Childers and to explore artistic possibilities for the local water tower.
“The Chamber is aware projects of this nature require significant consultation, planning and costing before any implementation,” Teena said.
“However, we are embarking on this journey to ensure Childers maintains its status as one of the most appealing towns on the national highway.
“Council has indicated that it is prepared to assist the chamber with the beautification of the Lions Drive area with the planting of additional trees. The area already has several Golden Pendas established and Council’s footpath upgrade has enhanced the area.
“While these trees are attractive at maturity the Chamber is of the opinion that a more colourful visage could be created to provide a “wow factor” for visitors entering Childers which is a doorway to the Bundaberg Region.
“Council has also provided permission for the Chamber to seek further information on developing suitable artwork or a mural for the water tower.
“The silo art trail in Victoria is well known and the images produced on grain silos are remarkable and certainly a drawcard for communities displaying this form of art,” Teena said.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was wonderful to see the Childers Chamber of Commerce so proactively engaged in enhancing the area.
“These are projects that have the potential to drive tourism numbers for our entire region, particularly the Childers Water Tower mural concept which I know will be welcomed by the whole of the community,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Council is always looking at ways in which we can further improve our already beautiful part of the world but we know from experience that the best outcomes always come from working together with all stakeholders.
“It is so rewarding to see the Childers Chamber of Commerce taking the lead on this project and as a Council we look forward to supporting them in any way we can.”
Teena said there was still plenty of ground work to be done before the chamber could progress plans for the Childers Water Tower mural.
“Council has clearly identified and advised the Chamber of what may be considered as impediments to the project such as the extent of telecommunications equipment located on the tower.
“Members of the Chamber executive are already engaged in contacting locations where silo art has been implemented. We need to ascertain how to evolve the project and cost factors not only for any initial art but also the ongoing maintenance of the work.”
She said she was also pleased the Chamber was steadily growing its membership and involving the general community in initiatives like the recent successful Grant Writing Workshop.
The workshop provided attendees with the skills to compile grant applications which fully addressed all necessary criteria to ensure a maximum opportunity for project funding success,” Teena said.
Australian, US military arrive for Talisman Sabre 2021
Military personnel are already arriving in the Bundaberg Region as US and Australian defence forces prepare to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.
Kicking off from 18 July, Talisman Sabre is the largest bilateral combined training activity between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and United States military.
Occurring every two years, the Bundaberg Region was first included in the exercise in 2019.
Commander of the ADF’s Deployable Joint Force Headquarters Major General Jake Ellwood said the high-end war fighting exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability between the ADF and the US Armed Forces.
“Exercise Talisman Sabre reflects the strength of the Australia-US Alliance and the close and enduring nature of our military-to-military relationship,” Major General Ellwood said.
“It is a powerful demonstration of the breadth and depth of the Alliance, which includes strong people-to-people links, world-leading capability innovation, and highly interoperable forces.
“This year’s exercise will involve more than 17,000 personnel from Australia and the United States.”
Mayor Jack Dempsey said securing the exercise for the second time was fantastic for the region.
“Council, alongside many local businesses, is working in this space to get our region defence ready,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“The success of Exercise Talisman Sabre in 2019 helped to highlight the suitability of our region for defence operations.
“This year Council has worked with the ADF to utilise more Council facilities and expand its presence across the region for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.
“We look forward to continuing this great working relationship with the defence force.”
The ADF said exercise activities across the state would peak between 18 and 31 July, however the Bundaberg Region’s involvement was expected to be finalised by 24 July.
In addition to the United States, forces from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom will participate in Talisman Sabre 2021, and Australia-based personnel from India, Indonesia, France and Germany will observe the exercise.
A majority of these international forces will participate exclusively offshore, including around 5000 who will participate as part of a United States Navy Expeditionary Strike Group, in a contactless component to the exercise.
Major General Ellwood said Talisman Sabre 2021 would demonstrate that United States and Australian militaries can quickly join forces and execute highly complex, multi-domain operations in a challenging environment.
“The range of COVID-19 safeguards that have been incorporated into the exercise underscores the seriousness with which Defence is prioritising the health and safety of Australian communities Robust COVIDSafe plans have been put in place to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 on exercise participants and the general public,” Major General Ellwood said.
“Talisman Sabre 2021 would not be possible without the generous cooperation of the community, including landowners, local governments, and traditional owners. We are grateful for their ongoing support.”
All international military participants taking part in the exercise onshore have undertaken the mandatory 14 days quarantine.
Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 is the ninth iteration of the exercise and incorporates force preparation activities, amphibious landings, ground force manoeuvre, urban operations, and air combat and maritime operations.
It will also coincide with the 70th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty and the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the US Force Posture Initiatives, demonstrating how the Alliance continues to evolve to meet the security challenges of the day.
The ADF advised that unfortunately, due to COVID-19 considerations, there would not be any public viewing opportunities during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.
Travel and Eat with Dan and Steph hits Bundaberg
Food ambassadors Dan and Steph Mulheron will eat their way through the Bundaberg Region in this week’s episode of Travel and Eat with Dan and Steph.
The former MKR winners are on a food journey visiting growers in holiday destinations, while championing local produce to cook tasty recipes with international flavours along the way.
Living in a neighbouring region, Steph said they enjoyed trips to Bundaberg and as foodies, it was easy to let their tastebuds do the talking.
“We love that Bundaberg is a trip up the road and has an abundance of wonderful produce in the Bundaberg Bowl!” Steph said.
Steph said the region was a treasure trove waiting to be explored and there was something waiting for everyone.
In the fourth episode of Travel and Eat with Dan and Steph, the Fraser Coast family-of-three stay at the Big 4 Breeze Holiday Park in Bargara, enjoy their time meeting locals, and grab a delicious coffee at The Beach Mill Coffee Shop before being educated about turtles at Mon Repos Turtle Centre.
Steph said there was so much to do in Bundaberg that it was hard to squeeze it all in to the one episode of Travel and Eat with Dan and Steph.
“We meet April from Native Magic who grows and creates many of her own products using lemon myrtle.
“And of course, the breathtaking fields of Sweet Potatoes Australia where we dig up our own harvest to cook!”
Steph is keen to share their sweet potato and kale strudel recipe after visiting Sweet Potatoes Australia.
Sweet Potatoes Australia marketing manager Hannah Jacobs said it was fantastic to have the food ambassadors visit the region and showcase what it has to offer to the rest of the country.
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with Dan and Steph for almost a year now,” she said.
“They are doing a fantastic job as our Sweet Potatoes Australia ambassadors and promoting all the benefits and versatility of our favourite vegetable – sweet potatoes.
“Their new show, Travel and Eat with Dan & Steph, amplifies this to another level – promoting not just the wide range of quality fresh produce we have on our doorstep, but also showcasing why Bundaberg is a tourist destination for families and foodies alike.”
Hannah said Moroccan flavours were highlighted in this episode, and the loaded sweet potato recipe was created and filmed in the middle of the farm with fields of sweet potatoes and The Hummock in the background.
“They also feature a sweet potato ice cream, proving you really can use sweet potatoes in every meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!” Hannah said.
Steph said she hoped locals would enjoy taking in the episode featuring the Bundaberg Region as much as they all enjoyed making it.
“To showcase these producers’ passions and how they create such wonderful producers for us as consumers to eat is a real treat,” she said.
“Reminding and showing viewers where food comes from and creating delicious, yummy easy recipes from them it’s a real paddock to plate experience.”
Travel and Eat with Dan and Steph’s episode featuring Bundaberg will air at 5pm, on Saturday, 17 July, on channel 7, or on demand on 7Plus.
Don’t worry if you don’t get the full recipe written down while you’re enjoying the episode, you can get the full recipe in next week’s edition of Bundaberg Now Weekender.
Walk of Life program a once in a lifetime opportunity
Senior Constable Mark Cartner has recently returned from a trip to Cape York with students from around the region as part of his Walk of Life Program.
Now in its sixth year, the program is designed to provide young people with opportunities to learn more about culture, the environment and life skills while completing a Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation.
This year’s group of students have returned from an expedition where they attended the Laura Quinkan Dance Festival, visited reconciliation rocks and experienced a Kup Murri (traditional underground cooking) in the Cape York region.
“As part of the Walk of Life Program we went up to Cape York and showed the students around Cooktown and Laura and we had traditional owners who took us on a tour of their country,” Senior Constable Cartner said.
“The trip was for 12 days and we drove up, staying at PCYC’s along the way up and we camped out at a station just outside of Laura while we were there, sleeping out of swags and learning to cook for ourselves as well as doing our own washing and cleaning.”
Senior Constable Cartner said the aim of the expedition was to encourage re-engagement in education for students and teach them that there was a lot more to life out there.
“The aim of the program is re-engagement and to get kids re-interested in education,” Senior Constable Cartner said.
“As part of the course they do a Certificate II in Outdoor Recreation so a lot of it is for educational purposes and life skills and to show them there is a little bit more to life and the outdoors.
“The students need this sort of program as it shows them about other ways of life, with about half the kids being Indigenous and half of them not, they all came together with an understanding of the culture.”
The students were engaged in a range of activities throughout the expedition that encouraged skill development to help them complete their certificate.
“We have done a couple of units on cooking, some on food safety handling as well as rock climbing, canoeing, bushwalking and navigation work,” he said.
“They will also be doing a first aid certificate and then there are other units that help them to understand what it is like to work and learn general skill that are applicable to a broad range of industries.”
Participant Dakota Stanmore said the opportunity was a once in a lifetime experience that she would highly recommend to anyone.
“This program is amazing, you make so many new friends and see so many new places,” Dakota said.
“We went kayaking which helped us to experience and understand water safety and the hiking gave us bush experience and taught us about plants you can or can’t eat and also taught us about the traditional use for them and the first aid.
“The Walk of Life program is the trip of a lifetime.
“Everything you learn on it you will need to use one day and getting to have a Certificate II in Outdoor Rec makes it even better.”
You can find out more about the expedition here.
Preparing for the single use plastic ban
As part of a state-wide move to reduce waste and help the environment, a range of single use plastics will be banned in Queensland from September including straws, stirrers, cutlery, bowls, plates and containers.
To help residents and community groups navigate through the changes, Boomerang Alliance will be visiting the Bundaberg Region to facilitate an information forum through the Plastic Free Places program.
National program manager Kellie Lindsay said it was important for people to have an understanding of the ban and how it would benefit both industry and the environment.
“It's important for people to remember why there is a ban coming as it is not to inconvenience people, it's because plastic is a huge problem to both our environment and our collective health,” Ms Lindsay said.
“Half of all plastic produced in the world is designed to only be used once and then thrown away and so this explosion of single-use plastic has outpaced our ability to deal with the waste we have created.
“Both local and international communities have decided that, in order to stem the tide of single-use plastics, bans on certain products are needed.”
Kellie said community groups should start preparing for the ban ahead of time to ensure they had ordered the stock they required for when the ban is in place.
“Community groups will need to take stock of their current activities and make a plan for how they will avoid using any of the banned items, as well as consider ways to use up any existing stock of banned items,” she said.
“For some groups this will be a big undertaking, for others it will be a small change although either way, the forums are the best place to start.”
Kellie said the September plastic ban would not be the first, with the phasing out of plastic items to be implemented in stages.
“Under consideration for later bans are plastic coffee cups and lids, other cups and containers and thicker plastic bags,” she said.
The Bundaberg forum will be held from 5.30pm to 6.30pm on Wednesday, 4 August at Bundaberg and District Neighbourhood Centre, 111 Targo Street.
Register for the event here.
Childers Festival ghost tours "the real deal"
Step back in time on a spine-tingling adventure that delves into the supernatural side of the region’s history when Jo Jo’s Midnight Ghost Tours joins the line-up for Childers Festival.
Participants will get to discover the barbaric and mysterious potions used in an apothecary shop in the 1890s before departing on the spooky ghost bus tour.
There will also be a chance to uncover the myths surrounding one of the most haunted pubs in Australia while enjoying a two-course sit down meal.
For those who can stomach even more ghoulish tales, hear about “Luke”, a resident ghost who wanders around upstairs, opening locks and doors.
The bus will then head to the burial site of an innocent murder victim and knowledgeable tour guide Jo Marshall will share other unfortunate tales from days gone by.
“The midnight ghost tour is the real deal, there is nothing made up,” Jo said.
“All I can say to people is to be open minded to what you might feel or experience.”
Jo said one of the fascinating aspects of her tours was the fact that each and every one was different because of the various energies that people attracted.
“Some people feel dizzy or breathless which is part of feeling something around you, although they don’t say anything until they hear someone else say they have felt something too,” she said.
Jo said her own mother was one of the biggest sceptics when it came to the spirit world but even she had changed her tune.
“My mother was an old-style matron down in Victoria and she was a sceptic about the whole thing but she has been on every trip that I have done so far,” she said.
“She has now very quietly gone from a sceptic to saying she has no answer to what she has seen.”
The Childers Festival ghost tour will be held on Thursday July 22, departing from River Cruz Café on Quay Street in Bundaberg at 6pm, returning at 11pm.
The tour is $85 per person and includes a two course sit down meal.
You can purchase tickets for the tour here.
View the full Childers Festival program here.
Live music, dancing and fun to light up Crescent Street
Roving stilt walkers, live music and plenty of dancing and fun will be happening in Childers next Saturday when the community comes together for the Crescent Street Family Festival.
Bundaberg Regional Council's Arts, Culture and Events spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said the free evening of entertainment would kick off from 2 pm on Saturday, 24 July with local and touring performers to put on a show of celebration in the lead up to market day.
“Gather your family, friends and neighbours and enjoy a fantastic evening of live music as we celebrate the wonderful Childers Festival and all of the joy it brings to the region,” he said.
“With entertainment throughout the night, this will be the perfect place to have a dance, enjoy the food and beverages available and get in the mood for Sunday's massive market day.”
International touring band Killer Queen will pay homage to Freddie Mercury with their tribute act while festival favourite Walisuma will be playing their stunning South American sounds to the audience.
Local acts including the Isis District High School and Childers State School string orchestras will also grace the stage while the Childers Country Line Dancers will be getting everyone up and out of their seats.
Cr Learmonth said the Crescent Street Family Festival, which would carry on from the creative activities happening in Millennium Park during the day, was open for all to attend and was the perfect opportunity to enjoy an evening out in Childers.
“This event is about celebrating everything that Childers has to offer while also saying thank you to the wonderful community who come together each year to put on a fantastic festival for locals and visitors alike,” he said.
The event will kick off from 2 pm to 9 pm on Saturday, 24 July in Crescent Street, Childers.
The full list of entertainment for the Crescent Street Family Festival includes:
2 pm – Band of the 1st Regiment
3 pm – Childers State School String Orchestra
3.30 pm – Isis District State High School String Orchestra
4 pm – Childers Country Line Dancers
4.30 pm – Walisuma
5.30 pm – Blues Brothers Show
6.30 pm – Danny Faifai Trio
7.30 pm – Fiesta Fire Show
8 pm – Killer Queen
View the full Childers Festival program here.
Tanya’s whimsical potager garden a place to ponder
Over 12 short months Tanya Olsen has created a garden that engages the senses through colour, form, foliage and fragrance as well as whimsical items that bring interest, fun and function.
Stepping stones lead you throughout the free form, mystical garden, with little hidden treasures and upcycled decor scattered among the plants.
“I didn’t want a constrained, structured monoculture style garden,” Tanya said.
“I craved a productive space full of colour, interest and energy, a space that honoured Mother Earth.”
When Tanya moved in, she said the property was home to a mango tree, passionfruit vine and a massive old tree stump that had remained central in the garden.
“The massive old tree stump would have been a beautiful, majestic tree at some point, so I decided to keep it, I feel it’s earned its place in the garden,” she said.
“I learned from an early age that getting your hands into the earth, exploring the garden and appreciating the new gifts within it each day is food for the soul.”
Tanya said the potager – or kitchen style - garden remains functional year-round, evolving as the seasons come and go.
“I have put in a wide variety of plants including herbs (medicinal, ceremonial, and culinary), indigenous plants including wallaby nut and emu foot, unusual fruit trees such as pitomba, star gooseberry, blue star apple and water plants including delicious water chestnuts,” Tanya said.
“There’s lots of flowers, many of which are edible or used for tea, tinctures and natural food colouring or dyes.”
The garden features various quirky plants, but the green thumb said she had loved sharing classic fresh produce with others.
“Although my garden is still in relative infancy, I have enjoyed and shared the fresh produce, including tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, beans and lots more,” Tanya said.
“I have also been able to share it preserved as relish, sauce, jam and chutney.”
Tanya said she loves connecting with nature, along with her friends who enjoy relaxing among the birds, bees and trees in the garden.
“There’s lots of different butterflies, blue banded bees, native bees, and European bees foraging in the garden, so I know I am on the right track,” she said.
“I am never in the garden without the sound and presence of birds.”
Gin Gin and Childers Welcome Baby Ceremony