Weekender our olympians

Paper straws pave way for positive plastic change

Megan Dean

Thousands of the region’s plastic straws will be recycled and repurposed into a bench seat at Mon Repos as part of the Less is More project.

Local businesses have been embracing positive environmental change and swapping plastic straws for paper straws in their thousands.

The initiative, funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and driven by the Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC), aims to support businesses through the Queensland-wide single use plastic ban which takes effect on 1 September 2021.

LMAC Chair and Less is More Project Manager Sue Sargent said 150,000 paper straws were available to be ‘swapped’ with local businesses.

“A lot of businesses have been holding onto their plastic straws because nobody wants to chuck them away,” Sue said.

“And a lot of businesses have also been contacting us because they want to make a good choice for the environment.

“The challenge, I think, is … what are you going to do with those plastic straws? You don't want to chuck them into the bin.

“What we've done is provided a really simple mechanism that any plastic straws that an organisation has, we've been able to swap those for paper straws instead.

“We're calling it a Plastic for Paper Straw Swap.

“So far we've had over 70,000 straws swapped with that program.”

Sue said what was even better than taking the onus of recycling the plastic straws away from businesses was that, thanks to the Less is More project, the straws would be recycled for the benefit of the local community.

“Aside from the fact that government set a deadline of 1 September to get rid of plastic straws here in Queensland, we're actually collecting all the straws that we have been given and those will be sent off to a plastic manufacturer and they will be repurposed into a plastic bench seat.

“We're buying a plastic bench seat, which will be permanently situated out of Mon Repos

“That way we're closing the loop, closing the cycle of the plastic that's been given to us.

“The bench seat actually represents 500,000 plastic straws. So that's even more than we'll be collecting but that's all repurposed plastic.

“So we're actually helping close the cycle for other people as well.

“That's plastic that won't end up in our oceans.”

This week the Bundaberg Services Club, through both the RSL and Sandhills Sports Club, participated in the Less is More project’s biggest swap to date, handing over 25,000 plastic straws in exchange for their paper counterparts.

Operations Manager Julie Harris said the massive stockpile of straws had been sitting in storage after the organisation made the decision to no longer use the single use plastic straws.

“Originally with COVID, we weren't allowed to give out straws because of cross contamination,” Julie said.

“We actually stopped using straws when we came back from COVID … we made a point of not actually putting them out because we wanted to stop them anyway.”

She said a passionate manager at the Sandhills club had already started phasing out plastic straws.

“And that just shows you how much people use them and how much businesses have in their little stores out the back.”

Sue said the Local Marine Advisory Committee’s target was to encourage 5% of the region’s residents to instigate one positive change for the environment – a target that was reached in just its first year.

“It's exciting and it's really positive to feel that you can do something that is really a catalyst for change,” she said.

“I think that people are always looking around for well, how can I do something simple?

“If somebody gives you something and says, well, this is a simple solution, this is just one thing, why don't you do that?

“And then that leads into more steps and more positive actions that people can do. So it's been great.”

To apply to swap plastic straws for paper straws through the Less is More project, fill out an expression of interest here.

Macadamias Australia expansion a cracking opportunity

Ashley Schipper

A multi-million dollar expansion at Macadamias Australia has cracked open more opportunities to export the popular nut, drive tourism and boost local employment.

The new $2.5 million building was officially opened on Friday 29 August with features including specialised macadamia processing machinery and a tourism facility showcased to the community.

A total of 29 jobs were created during the construction of the 8600 square metre facility and an additional 93 jobs have been made going forward.

Macadamias Australia Director Janelle Gerry said the facility would not only secure the future of the region's cracking facilities but also the many local growers.

"Our family are looking forward to partnering with like-minded growers to create single origin quality macadamia products for the world," she said.

Janelle said the family business was established more than 60 years ago, growing peanuts, corn tobacco, sugar cane and a variety of vegetables.

In 1980, they moved into large scale production of tomatoes and zucchinis and in 2004 they planted 220,000 trees, harvesting around 3,000 tonnes of nut-in-shell each year.

The business has established long term export markets in over 15 countries for bulk kernel and retail products including Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Middle East, Vietnam and Korea.

A focus on research and development will see the business develop new and innovative value-added products in the coming years.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt assisted with today's official opening and congratulated the family on the expansion.

"Bundaberg is the largest macadamia growing region in Australia producing over 20,000 tonnes annually with local production set to increase to 35,000 tonne in the next 10 years based on today's plantings," he said.

"This project will provide an outlet for over 9,000 tonne of nut annually for cracking and value adding and will enable Macadamia's Australia to create a range of innovate products for both its domestic and overseas markets."

The Australian Government provided $4.68 million towards the $25 million project from the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Jobs and Investment Package.

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Students branch out for National Schools Tree Day

Georgia Neville

Baldwin Swamp is set to become a little greener thanks to a partnership between local students and Bundaberg Regional Council to celebrate National Schools Tree Day.

This week Bundaberg East State School planted 183 trees including paperbarks, eucalypts, wattles, crow’s ash and tuckeroos in the Baldwin Swamp land area with thanks to Council’s Natural Areas Officer Sally Obst and Natural Areas Rangers Ian Routledge and Laurence Delbridge.

The native plants were chosen to create a small forest similar to that found at Baldwin Swamp, with a range of plant heights and shapes, with flowers and fruits at different times of year to provide habitat and attract native birds and wildlife.

Bundaberg East State School Captain Dylan Landers said the opportunity to plant the trees was special, having never planted a tree before.

“It feels really special to be able to plant the trees today because I have never planted trees before and I want to help out,” Dylan said.

“If we get rid of all the trees, then there are no more, and they are what take the carbon dioxide and switch it to oxygen so we can breathe.

“I hope to plant twenty trees.”

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said it was fantastic to see students getting involved in the opportunity to learn how to plant trees and be able to contribute to their environments.

“National Schools Tree Day provides a great opportunity for students to do something for the local environment and learn how to plant trees,” Mayor Dempsey said.

“I look forward to seeing the work continue with the wider community as well for National Tree Day on 1 August.”

National Tree Day is an initiative of Planet Ark and is Australia’s largest community tree planting and nature protection event.

The trees will also be counted towards the One Million Trees project tally, a Council initiative that aims to see one million trees planted in the Bundaberg Region by 2024.

For more information contact Council’s One Million Trees Project Officer on 1300 883 699 or head to the project page.

Gidji Café offers food boasting bush tucker flavours

Emma Reid

Gidji Cafe and Catering Company has opened in Burnett Heads making its bush tucker inspired menu more accessible to the community.

The cafe showcases native produce on a new level, with two extensively trained chefs providing the community with a delicious new experience.

Indigenous training organisation Yalga Binbi Institute was engaged by Gidarjil Development Corporation to deliver accredited hospitality training to students in the areas of commercial cookery and front of house operations.

Yalga-binbi Institute Chief Executive Officer Tom Osbourne said Gidarjil was proud to announce the opening of Gidji Cafe and Catering Company near the Port of Bundaberg.

Tom said the new café and catering business was initiated after Gidarjil entered a partnership with the Department of Science and Environment to cater for the Mon Repos Turtle Centre.

The new café, with Indigenous inspired recipes using locally sourced bush tucker, offers tastes to incorporate the slogan “where the bush meets the sea”.

“We have a brand-new commercial kitchen at the training centre and a catering van, so we thought this would be an opportunity to service not only Mon Repos, but also the wider community,” Tom said.

“Our new fully functional commercial facility and café is already attracting customers – local, national and international – with menus featuring bush tucker options for onsite and offsite delivery.

“It is all geared toward what we wanted to do with Mon Repos, but we now have the ability to service and cater for corporate businesses in town.”

Jade creates innovative food at Gidji Cafe

Gidji Café and Catering Company hospitality manager Jade Purcell, 38, is a proud Tarebilang Bunda man who has had an extensive career in the hospitality industry along the east coast of Australia.

Tom said they’re excited to have Jade onboard creating innovative food with an Indigenous twist.

“Jade’s working career actually started with Gidarjil and has turned a full circle with him now back on board as our head chef,” Tom said.

“Twenty years ago, Jade was convinced he wanted a career as a carpenter and enrolled in a Gidarjil Construction training course that was delivered on site at Aboriginal owned and operated training facility, Thornhill.

“Jade loved the program, he recalls it was enjoyable, culturally important and character building, but carpentry wasn’t for him, he wanted to give hospitality a go.”

Starting as kitchen hand, Jade’s determination, attitude, and willingness to work endeared him to his superiors and he was encouraged to become an apprentice, assuming the role of sous chef and then head chef within two years.

“Coming back to Gidarjil means a lot to Jade. It reconnects him to his people and helps him to create and promote traditional authentic Indigenous cuisine to the local, national and international communities,” Tom said.

“He is also committed to passing on his culinary skills to the younger Indigenous community through vocational education.”

Tom said the food at Gidji Café and Catering Company was all prepared onsite, utilising the surrounding gardens to source the native ingredients.

“The bush tucker is grown in our gardens,” he said.

“We have these innovative chefs here, adding Indigenous flavours to produce delicious food.”

Tom said examples of menu items on offer at Gidji Café and Catering Company included:

Mini rolls with roast chicken, rocket, native pepper berry chutney and tomato, fresh salad wraps with warrigal pesto and homemade beef sausage rolls with Kakadu plum sweet chilli sauce.

New Burnett Heads playground set to open next week

Ashley Schipper

The construction of a new playground at South Head Parklands in Burnett Heads is well and truly underway with the area set to be opened by next Saturday.

Divisional representative Cr Tanya McLoughlin said work began in April to transform the grassed area into the perfect spot for young adventurers to explore.

“The playground upgrade includes three separate areas which feature suitable equipment for different age groups,” she said.

“The toddler play area caters for pre-school children and includes a slide, train, swings with a ‘joey’ seat, chimes panel, play hut and play fort.

“Primary aged children can enjoy equipment in the junior play area including an all-abilities spinner and spinning orb.

“Older children will have a ball exploring and climbing the six-metre tower and playing on the four-metre swing.”

Cr McLoughlin said the equipment had been designed by local business Willplay in a coastal theme that matched its surroundings and shade sails had been installed by local contractor Planet Shade.

“Not only does the equipment feature bright colours of blue and green to match with the stunning backdrop of our coastline, other features are also included to make the area aesthetically pleasing and safe for our little ones,” she said.

“This includes shade sails over the equipment and new softfall on the ground.”

Cr McLoughlin said the park upgrade was identified in Bundaberg Regional Council's Parks and Open Space Strategy 2019- 2026 and Capital Works Program 2020/2021.

The South Head Parklands playground is a joint initiative of Bundaberg Regional Council and the Queensland Government.

It's game on at Bundaberg Library

Georgia Neville

Since hosting eSports programs throughout 2020, the Bundaberg Library has started a Gamers Group once a fortnight for those over the age of eight years old.

These groups provide a great opportunity for adults and children alike to share experiences and build skills to create a vibrant gaming community in Bundaberg.

Bundaberg Library’s Information Services Librarian Stephen Harris said this program provides a great opportunity for kids and adults to learn a range of valuable skills.

“The Gamers Group allows the community to learn valuable communication and kinaesthetic skills as well as strong social skills especially when it comes to game explanation and strategy,” he said.

“Members work as a team and gamers understand that everyone is important to ultimate success.”

Stephen said the group also provides an opportunity for parents to gain an understanding of the world their children are currently living in.

“There is often a disconnect between parents and the digital skillsets their children have,” he said.

“Gamer’s Group allows parents the opportunity to see the world their children now live in and the world the children will help build.”

The games are group driven and all suggestions are considered.

Currently the group play Beat Saber, Job Simulator, Among Us, Roblox, H.I.D.E., Space Pirates, Rocket League and Minecraft but future game choice is up to the group.

Over time this group will have an opportunity to be involved with the following activities:

Building a Minecraft server

Learn about and use Virtual Reality equipment

Play various PC and mobile games

Learn how to live stream

The last event was held on Wednesday, 28 July and saw a full house with kids enjoying the session.

The next event will be held on Wednesday, 11 August from 3:30pm – 4:30pm.

Bookings are essential due to limited spaces and can be made online.

The Library has a range of activities on offer throughout the week which can all be found on the library website.

Bundaberg Pottery Group unveils sculptural poles

Georgia Neville

The Bundaberg Pottery Group has completed its Sculptural Poles Project, inviting the community to see the new installation as part of the Craft Centre open day.

The poles project was jointly funded through Bundaberg Regional Council's Microgrant Program and the Bundaberg Pottery Group.

With the Bundaberg Pottery Group's home in the Craft Centre located along busy Walker Street, President Necia Rosevear said the poles would make a statement and attract attention.

“The sculptural poles project started off as a way of making our entrance to the Walker Street Craft Centre more interesting and the idea being to attract people to come in,” Necia said.

“At the moment this place has been here for 20 years and a lot of people still don’t know where it is so we hope the sculptures will help to attract attention.”

While the pottery club led the project it came to fruition with the help of the other groups within the craft centre.

“The whole pottery club was involved in the project as well as the pyrographers and other members from the Woodworkers guild,” Necia said.

“The panels were made from the members here and just about every member contributed at least one panel and some made more and we have eighty panels there.”

With the pottery group previously based at the Bundaberg Showgrounds, the group moved into the Walker Street space around 20 years ago, with the other clubs joining them not long after.

“The craft centre started off with just us as the Pottery group and then the woodworkers came and then the art society came and now it has become a little hub for the three groups who all run classes and workshops.”

The group is always open to new members, with the best way to join being to go in and visit the group.

“People can come in and have a look around and see what areas they are interested and join up,” Necia said.

“Most of us are happy to take members now and we are happy to have people come in on a regular or irregular basis.”

The open day provides a great opportunity for members of the public to visit the Walker Street Craft Centre to see the range of projects the groups are working on.

The open day will be held on Saturday 14 August from 8.30 am until 2 pm.

Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild opens doors

Georgia Neville

As part of the upcoming Open Day being held at the Walker Street Craft Centre, the Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild will be opening their doors.

To show the community what they are all about, there will be many different woodworking practices taking place at the Woodworker’s Guild on Saturday 14 August.

President of the Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild Steve Faulkner said the open day is a great chance for people to come down and explore all that is on offer.

“The open day showcases to people of Bundaberg and surrounding areas what the Woodworkers is all about,” he said.

“We will have everything to do with woodworking happening on the day, from woodturning to wood burning to scroll sawing and making small bits of furniture.

“We hope to have our sawmill operating as well.”

The store will be open for people to browse through, with something for everyone.

“We will be operating as normal on the day, with the sales room open as well to purchase gifts for future and lots of wooden items,” he said.

The Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild started in 1989, running for over 30 years, with about 75 odd members of all ages.

The group also work with a range of community organisations to develop items such as trophies.

It is re-joining time at the woodworkers club with people able to visit on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday morning from 8.30 am to sign up if they are interested.

You can find out more about the Bundaberg Woodworkers Guild on Facebook.

There will be a range of light refreshments and a sausage sizzle available on the day.

Event details:
Where: Walker Street Craft Centre, 95C Walker Street
When: Saturday 14 August
Time: 8.30 am – 2.00 pm

Marilyn’s garden comes alive in Childers

Morgan Everett

Returning to Australia from California 20 years ago and settling in Childers, Marilyn Daly has created a small thriving jungle in her own backyard.

Establishing a garden was among the first jobs Marilyn’s tackled thanks to cuttings that were gifted from locals.

“The whole back row was these dirty, kooky palms and so we took them out,” she said.

“I started a garden club and so everybody was bringing me plants and I started planting.”

Marilyn had no shortage of knowledge having worked at the botanic gardens in California where she specialises in Australian native plants.

“I was in charge of the tours, giving tours through the gardens and introducing Australian plant material,” Marilyn said.

“I had a nursery and I had 18-foot fences around the nursery where I planted climbing rose bushes for security.”

The plants that now adorn her magnificent garden have been planted by Marilyn to represent her love for the colour foliage provides all year round, which is why it is a prominent feature throughout.

“I like the foliage of plants, you have to wait a whole year for a lot of plants to flower,” Marilyn said.

“You can enjoy the foliage and there's some beautiful plants with amazing lines and colours.”

Marilyn said some of her plants needed to be placed in pots to thrive throughout the garden, with the battling of heavy rains leading to innovation in the outdoor space.

“We used to get flooded in here so I'd have nine inches of water under my house, and I was finding that a lot of plants weren't doing well,” she said.

“I started raising up the beds and a lot of the plants in the garden are in big terracotta pots for that reason.”

The best time to enjoy a garden is in the morning Marilyn said, when there is still dew on the leaves and sun shimmering through the trees.

“I get up when the sun gets up,” Marilyn said.

“The birds come, I have a bandicoot that visits, a whole family of possums and I've got some water dragons in the garden here.”

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Isaac Cooper makes a splash at Tokyo Olympics

Ashley Schipper

After swimming a personal best time in his Olympic debut Bundaberg's Isaac Cooper has been smashing more goals in Tokyo, with his latest accomplishment taking the mixed medley team to the finals.

The 17-year-old has made local headlines over the past few weeks for his swimming success, first when he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and again when he made it into the semi-finals for the men's 100m backstroke.

While the passionate swimmer didn't secure a place in the finals, he did conquer a personal best time of 53.43 in the backstroke event.

On Thursday night, Isaac took to the pool again when he swam for the Australian Swim Team as part of the 4 x 100m medley relay heat.

The team qualified for the finals, meaning Isaac is in a prime position to take home an Olympic medal.

To prepare himself for his races, his Dad Alan Cooper said Isaac had spent the past few days making sure he was focused.

“He has stopped a lot of communication on social media just so he can really keep focused on his swimming,” Alan said.

“While he was a bit flat after not making the finals in the backstroke, Isaac has turned himself around again and is on top of his game.

“You know, he did a PB at the Olympics at just 17 years old, he is swimming amazingly well for someone so young and he is beginning to realise that.”

Alan said while Isaac was currently off social media, he was still very aware of all the support he was getting back at home.

“We just want to say a big thank you to the community in Bundaberg,” he said.

“The support here has been so fantastic and Isaac knows it, so thank you to everyone who has been cheering him on.”

You catch the Olympics live and free in Australia on Channel 7, 7mate, 7two and 7plus.