Food donation a boost for charity groups

Megan Dean

Charity organisations helping to feed those in need have received a boost from Bundaberg Regional Council this week.

Council had its annual staff barbecues scheduled throughout the week but, with the developing COVID situation in south-east Queensland, had chosen to postpone the events.

Rather than see the perishable items go to waste, they have been put to good use after being donated to Angels Community Group and the Anglican Parish Dorcas Soup Kitchen.

Angels Community Group operations manager Jasmine Tasker said the group made about 80 hampers each week and the pre-prepared salads which Council donated would be welcomed by recipients.

“We’re going to put them into smaller containers that are sealed,” Jasmine said.

“We can give them to anyone. They’re going to be a really good donation for the homeless, they don’t have cooking facilities.

“We don’t do pre-done meals usually, if we do, they’re frozen.

“This will be perfect because they can just have it in their bag and pull it out and it will be good to go.”

She said the team who made the hampers were very happy to see the donations, which would be provided to hamper recipients over the next one to two weeks and may be something they continue to offer.

“That’s a cool thing to have made up for them.

“It’s also given us some ideas.”

Bundaberg Anglican Parish administration officer Charlene Savage said Council had also donated fresh food to the Dorcas Soup Kitchen.

“It meant some of our funding, which would have been channelled towards buying items such as fruit and eggs which are the items that were donated, our funding would have had to go to purchasing some of those items,” Charlene said.

“It also adds to our variety that we’re able to offer the clients who attend or soup kitchen.”

And Charlene said any dollar saved was a positive, with the cost of running the soup kitchen increasing as a result of COVID restrictions which meant they could no longer offer dine in options.

“In these days of COVID-19 our outreach has had to become takeaway.

“The money is not meeting its best need by purchasing takeaway containers but there is really no better way to do that at the moment.”

Charlene thanked Council for its continued support of the charity organisation.

Beach a blank canvas for labyrinth artists

The region's beaches provide a blank canvas every morning for local sand labyrinth artists Cynthia, Ramona and Kay.

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RYDA delivers road safety reality to students

Wayne Heidrich

A sobering dose of road safety reality was shared with Year 10 students from Childers who attended a Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) course this week.

Around 60 Year 10 students from Isis High joined on Tuesday with 150 students from schools at Maryborough and Hervey Bay to experience RYDA, which promotes driver road safety and awareness.

Rotarian Lloyd Maddern who oversees RYDA on behalf of Maryborough City Rotary said the week long program was expected to attract between 1000 and 1400 Year 10 students.

“As COVID caused the cancellation of the event last year we also held an additional RYDA in June which resulted in excess of 800 students attending.

“The program of five hours duration caters to Year 10’s basically because they are at the cusp of becoming learner drivers. Upwards of 20 schools across the region are involved in RYDA.

“The RYDA course is presented with the co-operation of Queensland Transport, Main Roads, Police, Driving Instructors, a local transport company, volunteers and families with direct experience with traffic orientated tragedies,” he said.

RYDA sole youth focussed road safety program

Lloyd said the program was delivered across a number of workshops which canvassed topics such as driver fatigue, speed and stopping, road conditions from the seat of a semi, crash investigation process and the mental approach to driving.

“RYDA is the only national road safety program for youth in Australia," he said.

"The course supports the development of social resilience and develops skills for anticipating and managing risk.”

Don Grant, a Childers Rotarian who volunteered at the day, said the workshops were confronting and at times quite brutal in their real-life scenarios.

“Listening to a retired police officer who, during 20 years as a crash investigator, had attended hundreds of fatal road accidents, light aircraft crashes and some murders provided a graphic illustration of the loss to families and friends and the lasting impacts on the investigator," he said.

“I think it shocked some of the students when he pointed out that of the 40 young people attending his workshop, statistics indicate that at least four would be dead from a road accident before age 25.

“Likewise a video of family and close friends speaking candidly about the loss of their teenage daughter and friend, an inexperienced driver who died in an accident after losing control of her vehicle, was emotionally wrenching. It highlighted just how road tragedies can affect anyone at any time,” he said.

“I think the messages regarding road awareness, good choices, driving to your limitations and personal and passenger safety were constantly reinforced at each workshop.”

RYDA suprises with view from semi driver’s seat

Don said one of the very useful scenarios involved the use of local transport semi trailer to demonstrate the road environment from the perspective of a driver.

“Students sit in the driver’s seat to see what a driver sees or cannot see. I think it created a new appreciation for the added pressures drivers of heavy vehicles face in their work," he said.

“I think the speed and stopping distances demonstration presented by local Police officers also surprised many students. Estimating the stopping distances at a variety of speeds was an intriguing test for students."

Lloyd Maddern said the week-long program which is presented cost-free to participants has a budget of around $35,000.

“Due to the great sponsorship we receive the cost to Rotary is confined to our volunteer hours to organise and run the RYDA program. It’s our intention to remain behind the program in its current format as long as those funding sources prevail.”

“It is a marvellous training and learning opportunity for young people who are about to emerge as road users.

"If this can prevent accidents or serious injury then the course has achieved its aim."

Croc pies snapped up at local bakery

Emma Reid

New Paradise Bakehouse owners Huyen Nguyen and Lam Khong say they are living in “paradise” after moving from Western Australia earlier this year.

The big move from the other side of the country has helped give the husband-and-wife team the opportunity to get creative, and they are now taking recipe suggestions, like kangaroo red wine or crocodile pie, from the community.

“People love to try new things, and people are loving the red wine kangaroo pies, crocodile pies and our breakfast pies and seafood pies too,” Huyen said.

“I used to live in Darwin in the NT, and the crocodile pies were popular there, so we thought why not try them here and give people something different.

“If no one told you it was crocodile you may not realise, but people do love it.

“People here also love seafood, so we have our seafood pie; it’s test and try for us.”

Huyen said she and Lam were travelling around Australia when they stopped to visit Moore Park Beach, and immediately fell in love with the coastal vibe and family-focused community.

“We really liked the weather here when we were travelling, so we met with the landlord for a quick chat, it was a quick decision we moved here in April and opened in the middle of May,” she said.

“Moore Park is family, it has a very friendly, supportive community.

"Our new life here is just like living in paradise.

“It (the new bakery) has been going so well because of the community – too much work and so popular, so we had to get more help and now my sister-in-law works with us too.”

She said living in a region surrounded by beautiful, locally grown produce made it easy for them to try new recipes, like the lime and lychee mousse dessert, and sell them at Paradise Bakehouse.

“Most of the ideas we just come up with, as we listen to our customers,” Huyen said.

“A customer asked for capsicum, cheese and onion loaf, so we made it and now everyone loves it.

“We are listening to our customers because we are new here.

“There’s strawberry farms all around us, they are so fresh and delicious, so we now use them too.”

Paradise Bakehouse is open seven days a week, 6 am to 4 pm Monday to Saturday, and 6 am to 1 pm Sunday. For more information click here.

Salt + Wax focuses on benefits of essential oils

Ashley Schipper

New Bundaberg business Salt + Wax is helping to create a chemical-free environment through car diffusers infused with essential oils.

Established by Rebecca Harris, Salt + Wax was formed from a desire to provide products that were good for the mind, body and earth.

Rebecca said each of her boho-themed diffusers were made with a wooden bead that could be infused with essential oils to create a beautiful, non-toxic smell for your vehicle.

“Our car diffusers can be used as an air freshener by simply putting one to two drops of essential oils on to the wood bead, or they can just be used as a decorative piece,” she said.

“Depending on the oil you choose, they can be calming, ease stress and so much more.”

Rebecca said unlike regular car diffusers, her products were free from any harmful chemicals.

“Essential oils are natural, non-toxic and have so many benefits for us and there are a huge range of oils to choose from,” she said.

“Having the option of using essential oils eliminates harmful chemicals used on your normal air fresheners.”

Starting her business in Mackay last year, Rebecca said she and her family had recently made the move to Bundaberg and were excited to introduce Salt + Wax to the wider community.

“I started my business when we were living in Mackay but we’ve always wanted to move back to Bundaberg as it’s my family’s home town,” she said.

“We made the move back in July of 2021 and the local support has been so heart-warming.

“I love that I can offer my customers products that I feel strongly about.”

To find out more about Salt + Wax or to purchase products visit or the Facebook and Instagram pages.

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Café 641 to open on Saturday mornings

Georgia Neville

Saturday mornings are already looking brighter with Café 641 at the Bundaberg Regional Library re-opening on Saturday mornings from this weekend.

Café 641 is run by volunteers from Bundaberg Health Services Foundation and has been operating from Monday to Friday since reopening on the back of the COVID.

Council’s Arts, Culture and Events portfolio spokesperson Cr John Learmonth said it was great to see the café opening on Saturday, providing a fantastic service for the community to enjoy.

“It is wonderful that this service is available at the library, allowing people to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while they browse,” Cr Learmonth said.

“I encourage those who may not have visited the library to come down, grab a coffee and have a look around at everything on offer.

“Thank you to the fantastic volunteers who operate the café and provide us with a warm drink and bite to eat at a great venue.”

Bundaberg Health Services Foundation’s Tanya O’Shea-Drabsch is one of nine volunteers who run the café and said funds raised supported the Bundaberg Hospital.

“It is fantastic to be able to offer the café service to visitors of the Bundaberg Library to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while they pick their books, it makes for a great social outing,” Ms O’Shea-Drabsch said.

“All the money from the café goes back to the hospital so we can assist in providing funding for non-government supplied equipment as well as nursing scholarships.”

The Café now has EFTPOS available for customers and is open from 9am to noon Monday to Saturday.

There are a range of options at the café including coffee, hot chocolate, chai and tea as well as cake, muffins and biscuits.

Alexandra Park Zoo calls for more volunteers

Ashley Schipper

Local animal lovers have an opportunity to gain first-hand experience working closely with a range of creatures by applying to Alexandra Park Zoo's Volunteer Program.

The program is made up of a number of dedicated volunteers ranging from high school students to retirees.

Volunteers have the opportunity to learn about animals, contribute to conservation programs and connect visitors with nature.

It's a job Bundaberg man Brian Johnson has been enjoying for three years.

He said the variety of work and interaction with the different animals made every day exciting.

“I began volunteering at the zoo because I wanted to do something interesting in my retirement and keep myself active,” he said.

“I have always had a love for animals.”

Brian takes part in 16 hours of volunteering each week, participating in a range of activities to help keep the popular attraction operating smoothly and the animals happy.

“During the day we rake and clean the dingo cages, feed and water the parrots and we also walk the snakes around to interact with visitors,” he said.

“My favourite part would be feeding the king parrots because, in my younger years, I used to breed birds.”

Brian said becoming a zoo volunteer was a wonderful way to keep busy in retirement.

“It's very rewarding,” he said.

“You get a full variety of jobs and it's a great experience to try different things.”

Parks and Gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said volunteers were an integral part of the zoo's operations.

“Our wonderful volunteers like Brian assist with all sorts of tasks at the zoo including welcoming visitors, preparing food and providing enrichment activities,” he said.

“By becoming a volunteer you will learn a range of tasks while helping to care for the amazing animals.

“No experience is required as long as you are enthusiastic and willing.”

The volunteer program is open to anyone aged over 16 years.

Volunteer hours are from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm with a minimum of one shift per week required.

To find out more or to apply to become a volunteer click here.

What's on

Woodmason carves creative future

Georgia Neville

At only 12 years old Diesel Vaughan-Carlile, also known as The Woodmason, has started his own business selling a range of products made from wood, stone and repurposed materials.

Diesel came up with the idea to start his business after the Youth Forge artisan markets were established, featuring the work of some of the region's home schooled students, with the aim of teaching children how to earn money and run a successful business.

Having learnt some woodworking skills from his dad, Diesel liked being able to make things that weren’t bad for the environment but were new and different.

And that is where the idea for The Woodmason began.

“When I need to learn new skills and how to use different tools, I work with my dad because he has many years of experience in woodworking,” Diesel said.

“Even though I learn from Dad, I also spend a lot of time prototyping different products and there is often a lot of trial and error before I get a product I’m happy with.

“I look at the best materials for the job, different finishes I might use, the tools and skills I might need to complete the job to a high standard and options for packaging.”

With a creative mind, he looks forward to working through different product elements and ensuring the products are of a high quality and remain unique to his brand.

“I like having the creative license to do what I like with my products such as changing the colour or changing different elements of the product and making a product that I think that my customers would enjoy,” he said.

“I'm always happy when all my handmade products have a consistent finish as I like spending the time to make sure that everyone is getting a high-quality handcrafted product because that’s what I would want.”

The Woodmason products range from games for kids through to home décor, with something available for everyone.

“Currently I have quite a number of products from beautiful home décor that my mum and other ladies would love, to toys, games and crafts for kids," he said.

"All of the products are made sustainably, using local natural fall timbers, seed pods, stones and other natural or repurposed materials."

Diesel’s products can be purchased at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery shop, as well as at markets throughout the Bundaberg Region.

“I loved getting the invitation from Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery to showcase and sell my work in their shop,” he said.

“I think that having other opportunities like this are fabulous because my creative products are in the right places for the people who are interested in them.

“I also regularly attend the bi-monthly Youth Forge Artisan Market at HSG at the Gardens and I will be at the Moore Park Beach Festival on Saturday, 21 August as well as other local markets.”

With The Woodmason being such a success, Diesel hopes that he can work with other young people who may want to start their own business.

“I have had lots of fun learning and growing my business; I think it would be great to be able to mentor other young people like me and help them get started with their own ideas,” he said.

“I also just wanted everyone to know that even if you’re young, you can do big things.”

You can find out more about The Woodmason and order products on Facebook.

The Woodmason
The Woodmason
The Woodmason
Blue Planet II

Author makes a splash in Bargara with Blue Planet II

Ashley Schipper

Bundaberg author Leisa Stewart-Sharpe is celebrating the publication of her first children’s book, Blue Planet II, with a special book reading at the Bargara Book Boutique next week.

With a foreword by Sir David Attenborough, Blue Planet II is the first of four titles in a major new children’s non-fiction series in collaboration with the BBC, aimed at children aged eight years and over.

Already an Amazon bestseller, Leisa hopes fans of the show will delight in seeing some of the iconic stories retold and reimagined with stunning illustrations.

Reimagining stories shared through BBC’s Blue Planet II, the book takes children on a journey to the wondrous world beneath the waves to explore coral reefs and discover creatures beyond their wildest imagination.

In collaboration with BBC Earth, this illustrated non-fiction book captures the wonder, beauty, and emotion of the iconic BBC Blue Planet II TV series.

“My first job was working at Dymocks Bundaberg when it had just opened 25 years ago,” Leisa said.

“I often wonder if that planted the seed for writing children’s books all these years later.”

She said growing up in Bundaberg had played a huge role in her career as an author with a focus on the natural world.

“All of those days spent body-surfing at Kelly’s, snorkelling at Lady Musgrave and listening to the storm birds call from the mango tree in the garden,” she said.

“They all bubbled away inspiring my fascination for the natural world.

“That’s why now, more than ever, I feel like it’s my job to help give a voice to nature. Earth is getting hotter, drier, our weather is getting wilder, the sea is getting higher, and more and more extinctions will happen in our lifetime.

“Books that help kids, their parents, teachers, and grandparents to understand what’s happening around us, and maybe even inspire some change, will hopefully help us make this big blue marble a better place to call home.”

It’s shaping up to be a busy spring for the Bundy-born-and-raised author, who has another non-fiction book out in October; How Does Chocolate Taste on Everest.

The book will whisk young readers away on the expedition of a lifetime to experience the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and tastes of the world’s most extreme places, from Mount Everest and the Mariana Trench to The River Nile.

And if that weren’t enough, her third book, What A Wonderful World, will publish just in time for Christmas.

It will take budding conservationists on a tour of the planet, introducing 35 Earth Shakers– scientists, activists and explorers – who are fighting to protect it.

Leisa has another seven children’s non-fiction and picture books on the way between now and 2024.

“Being an author is a fantastic adventure!” she said.

“I get to do the thing I love most in the world… writing stories about wild things and wild places that make our planet unlike anywhere else in the galaxy.”

Leisa will be celebrating the release of Blue Planet II at a special book reading at Bargara Book Boutique on Saturday, 14 August at 10.30am.

To RSVP for the event visit Bargara Book Boutique on Facebook.

Creatures and creativity flourish in Cordalba garden

Morgan Everett

Dream duo Leanne and Neil Edwards have combined their love of gardening with a passion for hand-crafted sculptures to create a haven for animals big and small.

The journey started 14 years ago when the pair moved into their large Cordalba property, using the garden to create themed areas and wildlife habitats.

“We had no specific plans for our garden when we came here so it has just evolved over the years,” Leanne said.

“I've tried to create different areas in the garden, so you can't just walk out the back door and see it all from where you stand.”

Handyman Neil and gardener Leanne love to come together and get creative in the garden, making a bird aviary out of an old trampoline and a frog habitat to protect the amphibians from predators.

“We've got a dreadful cane toad problem, but we wanted ponds for the frogs,” Leanne said.  

“You've got to enclose it to keep the toads out, but to allow the frogs to breed and be happy.”

Both inside and out has been completely transformed and Neil said it was Leanne who saw the potential from the beginning more so than he did.

Leanne said she took a step back from her career to focus on the garden and the gardening duo have never looked back.

“If we’re both working you can't come home to this,” Neil said.

“You can have an extra few hundred thousand dollars in the bank and none of this or you can enjoy every day of your life and have this.”

Leanne said that their grandchildren helped with the garden sculptures and fantasy areas, thanks to Neil for being handy with the welder.

Remington, a statue in the garden, was built with random pieces of scrap metal and while he was originally meant to be a gangster, he had a career change to a chef.

“You've just got to get started and then the finish will find itself,” Neil said.

“I think it's really important to involve kids in the garden and have gardens that are fun and interesting and begging to be explored,” Leanne said.

To create an outdoor space inviting to native fauna, Leanne said they tried to stick with planting natives in the garden.

“We try to create little habitats for the wildlife,” Leanne said

“I use a lot of mulch around the gardens to help with moisture retention as well as habitat for bugs, lizards, etc.”

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Supercar champ to motor to Bargara

Ashley Schipper

Motor racing legend Shane Van Gisbergen will be in Bundaberg next weekend for a special luncheon event to raise funds for RACQ LifeFlight.

The Red Bull Ampol Racing team member is regarded as one of the most naturally gifted drivers in the world of motorsport and has won a multitude of categories throughout his career.

Organised by Nathan and Penny Curd from Pacific Blue Car Wash, the ticketed luncheon will be held at Club Bargara on Saturday, 14 August with the day also set to feature a free event for the community to meet and greet with the sports star.

“On the day we will be holding a free event to the public on the lawn area where Shane will be meeting and greeting fans, with plenty of other displays featured including the Red Bull promo race car,” Nathan said.

“This will be followed by our Sportsman’s Luncheon held inside the golf club where ticketed guests will experience the up close and personal side of SVG.”

It's not the first time Shane has visited the region, with the Red Bull driver having close ties to Bundaberg thanks to his partnership with the local business.

“This is the second time we have brought Shane Van Gisbergen to the area, the first time was the official opening of Pacific Blue Car Wash,” Nathan said.

“We are a personal partner and sponsor of Shane Van Gisbergen, who is currently leading the championships in the Supercars series and won Bathurst 1000 in his car #97 Ampol Red Bull Racing team.”

The public meet and greet will be held at Club Bargara, 120 Miller Street, from 9 am and will be followed by the luncheon fundraiser event from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm on Saturday, 14 August.

Auction items and raffles will be featured on the day with funds raised going towards RACQ Life Flight Rescue Bundaberg.

“This is a great opportunity for any sporting enthusiast to rub shoulders with one of the best!” Nathan said.

Tickets to the luncheon cost $125 and can be purchased here.

Find out more on the Pacific Blue Car Wash Facebook page.